Saturday, November 29, 2014

20th - mid 80s

I got lost in the 80s tax photos again.  Even though I'm put off by live markets - the wafting stink of ammonia and chicken shit, the general hostility towards onlookers (put those cameras away!), and those innocents awaiting their fate in all-too tiny cages - I find them fascinating.  A favorite building of mine in the neighborhood is the Al-Noor Halal Chicken market on 20th Street between Fourth and Fifth, Here's a moment frozen in time from thirty years ago, with the building under different ownership.

The details on the purpose-built building are still there today.

The warehouse next door once housed a contracting company.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Library Business: Linda Johnson BPL Links

More from the non-librarian President & CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library:

BPL's Bklyn Bookmatch - A Match for the Human Race's Book Future?: Electronic Books and Robot Librarians (Noticing New York):

"At the BPL’s September 16, 2014 trustees meeting, Ms. Johnson and her staff proudly unveiled a way to replace on-site reference librarians with an electronic service substitute, a sort of virtual reference librarian system that can respond to a patron's inquiry, and by virtue of calculating "appeal factors"(BPL’s terminology to describe the service) will tell e-mailers what books they want to read with a week's turnaround time.
Here is a quote from the presentation given the trustees:
You don't usually get this chance to have such a conversation with someone at the reference library desk.
Of course, as you are not face to face with a live person this won't be exactly such a chance either, but it goes along with how we shrink libraries for real estate deals." 

Drive the Branches?  You Can Now Rent a Zipcar at the Park Slope Library (South Slope News)
"Since last Friday, Brooklyn Public Library branches — Park Slope, Bedford, and Bay Ridge — have six Zipcars parked nearby (in spots they say were previously unavailable for public use) and available to rent. Not only are the cars named after “famous literary figures” according to a release, but if you’re a book-lover with a library card, youcan get a discount on the car sharing company’s annual fee as well as a $25 driving credit."
...“Borrow it when you need it, return it when you’re done — it’s a cycle of sharing that is the foundation of both Brooklyn Public Library and Zipcar,” said Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library, in a statement.


Thursday, November 27, 2014


In the window of Jesus Never Fails Church of God, the storefront church at Third Avenue at 9th Street:

November, 2014

December, 2012

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Finally a fix-up at 500 Fourth?

Work is ongoing at 500 Fifth, where a partial vacate has been in place since July of 2013, owing to


On the eastern side of the building (above) you can see where the balconies have been partly disassembled.  Below you can see the same side of the building in 2012

According to the permits filed at the DoB, there are plans for a daycare center in some of the building's commercial space (the corner of Fourth & 12th?).

When there were ads

Mid 1980s tax photo

There has to be a mistake here, as this is clearly Fourth Avenue, looking south, with a coffee shop where the check-cashing store is today.


Van Wagner's billboard unit was bought out by CBS Outdoors this summer.


Would you run this one right now?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

At Play

Earlier this fall, the Massey Knakal Real Estate Summit took place at the Brooklyn Museum:

The Brooklyn Real Estate Summit is back for it's (sic)5th year, set to take place on September 16! Last year, the Massey Knakal Brooklyn Real Estate Summit brought in over 600 of the top retail, condo, multifamily and office players to discuss the real estate trends of New York's fastest growing borough.
This year's event focuses on the theme of how Brooklyn's developments will shape the borough into a place to live, work and play. For example, how will the new tech companies shape new development and what is the domino effect of the large projects such as Brooklyn Heights, Industry City, Domino Sugar Factory and the 'Brooklyn Riviera' in Gowanus.
There's a lot of playing going on here. Two of the summit seminars were If You Live Anywhere Else, You Ain't Living! Multifamily & Condo Development Issues ("Is there a specific deal you have done that best reflects the trends in multifamily in Brooklyn?") & Have Your Cake & Brooklyn Too: Value Add Strategy Session ("Coping with harsh rent regulation constraints & administration costs to add value and get returns"; "Are ground up condos the only way to go for value adders?")
Massey Knakal is certainly doing their bit for the value-add effort,  Let's look at a few of their multifamily & development listings, in a five block stretch between 17th & 22nd Street. For the most part, lower-income rental buildings, between Third & Fourth, all ripe for repositioning

Affordable housing?  Maintaining community diversity?  Hah!  Utterly worthless propositions.

146 -8 17th Street (Third & 4th) $5,000,000 New!

A 25 unit building made up of studio, one & two bedroom apartments.  Rents currently range between $659, for a two-bedroom, and $1,900, for a one bedroom.

335 18th Street (6th & 7th) $1,900,000 

A 6-family walk up apartment building.
"The units are all 1-bedroom rent stabilized units. Units 1L and 1R are duplexes with spiral staircases down to additional basement space. 1L and 1R also have access to the backyard. All of the units are currently vacant. The owner recently added individual heating units for each apartment, and the tenants pay their own heat. "

262 18th Street development/conversion site 28 x 100 $1,995,000 New!

This one's familiar!
"The site currently has a 4,500 SF two-family house with 10 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a rear 2-story garage. This dwelling can be easily transformed into a three-family residence. With zoning regulations permitting additional 1,100 square feet of buildable floor area, this property offers various conversion and development possibilities.
Recent new real estate development in the area has brought an influx of luxury condominium apartments and strong retail into a residential area that was mainly made up of 1- and 2-family homes." 

287 19th Street (Fifth & Sixth)  $1,850,000

A brick three story, 5-unit walk-up. 
"The units are all free market and have below market rents with great upside potential and short leases. The building is 2,902 SF and has an additional 1,054 SF of air rights. This offering is a great opportunity to investors or users."

213 & 215 20th (Fourth & 5th) $3,200,000  New!

"... The site is an ideal development site for condo, rental, or townhouse development.
... The site is located on a quiet block in Greenwood Heights. "

144 20th Street (Third & Fourth) $2,100,000 

144 20th is the yellow building, & 142 the smaller, blue house to the right. 

An 11-unit walk up apartment building located on 20th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue. 
"The building contains one 1-bedroom unit that is owner occupied, and 10 studios that are rent stabilized. Rents range from approx. $850-$1,000/month.
The property is conveniently located in rapidly changing Greenwood Heights." 

187 20th Street (Third & Fourth) $1,750,000

"The offering is a 25’ x 100’ development site with approved plans and a foundation in place. The current zoning is R6B, however, the plans and foundation are grandfathered in at the previous R6 zoning, allowing for 5,500 buildable square feet.
The approved plans include mezzanine space with 7 foot ceilings and cellar recreation rooms that maximize square footage. The gross square footage including cellar, mezzanine, and roof space total approx. 9,700 SF over 5 floors and 8 units... 
... The property is conveniently located in the rapidly changing Greenwood Heights area of Brooklyn..."

343 22nd Street (Sixth & Seventh) $1,600,000 $1,495,000 

A three story, three family townhouse.
"This large brick townhouse features 3,420 square feet with an additional 586 feet of available air rights. The current set-up allows for flexibility in converting the floors to multiple units or condo conversion. The property is fully occupied with month to month tenants with below market rents. "

And just for the hell of it, here are a couple more listings from some other realtor players.

133 20th Street (Third & Fourth) $1,195,000

This one was a M.K. listing earlier this year, at $795,000, but it's currently listed at with Highline Residential:
Fantastic 6 unit / multi-family investment property opportunity ... Great investment for both short and longer term prospects. Steady income property with low expenses and tremendous rental income upside. Email me today to ensure your own private viewing.

"160" 21st Street (Third & Fourth) $5,500,000

This one's peculiar to say the least.  Here's the Loopnet listing (presented by Company not Provided): 

Rare opportunity to purchase 16 unit building on 21st st between 3rd & 4th Ave. Many units are free market - a number of other units are below market, including the super's apartment - offering considerable upside rent expansion. Located in rapidly developing South Slope / Gowanus neighborhood.
Pity the super.  The address here is misleading. The building in the listing photograph is 168 21st.(160 is the home of Inner City Electrical Contractors). 168 is shown above, at left. Similarly, an ad for an apartment rental at 168 was listed as being at 160, with the disclaimer:

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rally at Vegas Auto Spa

Today's rally at Vegas Auto Spa, 557 Seventh Avenue.  Workers at Vegas have been on strike since Wednesday.

Brooklyn car wash workers who sued their boss say they’re still getting hosed and plan to walk off the job Wednesday morning.  
Employees at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope are hoping to form a union to protect themselves from what they call dicey working conditions and retaliation by bosses at the Seventh Ave. suds spot, said Santos Lopez, 28, who’s worked there since 2004. 
“First and foremost, we want respect at our workplace,” Lopez added. 
Eight employees sued owner Marat Leshehinsky in October, alleging he cheated them out of more than $600,000 in wages. They claim he has cut wages even more as retribution. 
Workers plan strike at 8 a.m. and ask the National Labor Relations Board to recognize their union on Wednesday.  (Daily News, 11/18)

Third & 20th

In the Shadow of an Expressway, Saints, Lovers & Others (NY Times, February, 2007)

Tony the Sculptor (Red Hook Star Revue, August, 2014)
" In September Antonio Cuonzo will open his Italian Sculpture Garden with an entrance on Dikeman right behind 361 Van Brunt."

Ruby Washington, NY Times

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Station Archway (Half) Revealed

Remember the MTA's press release from February 2012, when the eastern entrance to the Fourth Avenue station was reopened, after a forty-year closure?  It included a projection for completed station renovations.

Although this entrance is now open, there is much more work to come. The set of doors leading to and from 4th Avenue are temporary and the doors leading to and from 10th Street will remain closed at this time. Both sets of doors are scheduled to be completed later this year. In addition, the historic arch spanning 4th Avenue, which had been closed in with advertising billboards on both sides, will be restored. This will give the station a lighter, more open look.
Also underway at the 4th Avenue station:
  • Repair and restoration of all exterior tower stone and brickwork;
  • Repair and painting of viaduct underside over 4th Avenue;
  • Replacement of lighting beneath viaduct over 4th Avenue and sidewalks (will double existing illumination);
  • Restoration of all four entrance globes (on 4th Avenue and on 10th Street);
  • Restoration of all storefront windows (on 4th Avenue and on 10th Street). There will be 3 stores on the east side and 3 on the west side, and MTA Real Estate is projecting a contract award in 2013;
  • Restoration of some platform windows;
  • Restoration of station platforms and canopies; and
  • Installation of a PA system on station platforms.
Expected completion date for the component work at 4th Avenue-9th Street is fall 2012.
Well, that turned out to be a bit of a joke.  Two years after the "expected completion date" much of the listed work remains unfinished, leaving some riders indignant, and other, less innocent souls, merely wryly amused.  Today, however, marked an exciting development in the station renovation saga.  The scaffolding on the southern side of the archway came down, revealing its dazzling renovation.  And it looks good!  I went up to the F platform, to see if you could look through any of the archway windows, but they're still covered up.  I hope they get opened soon.


While things are looking up for the archway exterior, it's business as usual inside the station. In the eastern entrance way, there were familiar looking pools of water, and some listless mopping activities.  

I love the old place.

Changing Hands

Early morning, 2011 

Bay River Wines & Liquors, between 14th & 15th on Fifth, has new owners, & is transitioning into Park Slope Wines & Liquors.  This has been a friendly, reasonably-priced, go-to spot in the neighborhood for many years, attracting a broader range of customers than the newer, boutique wine stores. I'm told that it will not be changing in any significant way - good news.  Keep those $5.99 bottles of vinho verde in stock guys!

Con Ed Appears at the Jo, Brian & Joseph Corner!

Could this mean a re-opening is on the horizon?

We remain sceptical.


Third Avenue

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back on 19th Street

Another day, another development.  Last month I was sad to notice that a group of properties at 198 - 204 19th Street, including two remaining back houses, were slated for demolition.  This week NY YIMBY* reports on permits filed for their replacement:

The five-story building will pack 22 units into nearly 15,000 square feet of net residential space, for an average unit size of just 680 square feet – surely rentals (three on the ground floor, six on floors two and three, five on the fourth floor, and two at the penthouse level)... 
The 19th Street project is set to include 12 parking spaces (one more than required by zoning) in an open area at ground level, though the contextual zoning will require that the parking area be tucked behind the building.
... The strange 75-foot-wide property (which had four structures containing seven housing units, for which a demolition permit was filed in September) has not yet been officially sold to the developer...

Photo taken in 2012.  The house at left was demolished earlier this year.

This corner of Brooklyn - Park Slope, South Slope, Greenwood Heights, northern Sunset Park - is rich with early wooden buildings, predating the tidy sweep of brick and brownstone blocks to the north & east.  The houses here tell a history not of the comfortably middle or upper-class, but, for the most part, of lower middle & working-class residents, of tradesmen & artisans, of blue-collar workers in an anarchically booming nineteenth-century city. In another boom, this quiet history disappears, lot by lot by lot.

*We at One More Folded Sunset prefer Brooklyn's IMBY.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

816 58th

Cameras and Photo Supplies
Learn Transphography - Make beautiful colored transparent photographs, on watch dials, chinaware, silverware, glass, celluloid, etc., with Transparo.  Costs 1c each, sell $2.  Learn in one hour.  No tools required. Knowledge of photography unnecessary.  Mr. St. John, Bridgeport, Conn., says, "Transparo is O.K."  Sample bottle, formula, and instructions 25c.  E. Greenhaigh,  816 58th, Brooklyn, N.Y.  "If it isn't from Greenhaigh - it isn't Transphography."
                                                                                             Popular Mechanics, April 1913

Monday, November 17, 2014

19th & Fourth

Just over a year ago, the Seafarers Union buildings, at the corner of Fourth and 19th, were sold to 635 4th Avenue Holdings LLC for ten million dollars.  The following spring, 635 Fourth was put back on the market for $24,500,000 - with plans in place for a 12 storey apartment building - but no sale took place.   Construction plans for a new building are yet to be approved, but demolition has begun.

Through an empty window, I spied remnants of naval-themed wallpaper.

Fire at the Station

There was a trash fire at the beleaguered Fourth Avenue station today.  According to news reports an MTA worker suffered minor injuries.  I went by at midday, when trains were bypassing the station.  From the street, there was no evidence of fire,  but at SubChat you can catch a view of the smoky platform.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On 58th

Most of the north side of 58th Street between Sixth & Seventh is taken up by an unbroken stretch of two-storey frame rowhouses. Today they're almost entirely aluminum or vinyl-clad, and have lost any decorative details they once possessed.  Their bays are intact though, and most have acquired awnings over their doorways.  Their sweep along the block is a stark, bright, geometry. There's just one house to tell us how this row once looked, with its cornice and the pediments that match its sharp-angled bay.

It looks almost identical to the asphalt-sided houses John D. Morell saw, when he walked this street fifty-six years ago.  I'm assuming the facades were originally wooden, but it looks as if the row got its brick-look treatment en-masse. It looked good in 1958 though, & still has some vintage grace today.  These were never grand houses, but look at the dignity afforded here.  It's priceless.