Thursday, April 30, 2015

Still Dreaming

The pre-opening Golden Mens Wear, last fall

Oy vey.  480 Fifth,  home to Dreamys Golden Mens Wear, is now being listed by CPEX, instead of Century 21, and its price has been reduced from $6,500,000 to a modest six million.

The property is located two blocks away from the F, G, and R Subway lines at the 4th Avenue-9th Street station. The B61, B63, and B103 MTA bus lines service the immediate area, providing direct access to and from Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, and Bay Ridge. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (I-278) & Prospect Expressway are in close proximity, providing quick access to Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Long Island, & the JFK International Airport.

But what about the Bronx, damn it?  It seems the owners here really are dreamers - this one's been flirting with the market for years.  Queen in Bazaar, we remember you with fondness.

New at 11th
In Sleep and Dreams
Real Estate Monday
Another Bar Down
Ongoing at Dreamy's

DeLuxe Awning Co. Inc.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

593 Third

"...this commercial strip is demanding that residents of Gowanus and its environs take notice and change where they shop, eat and play." (Ideal Properties)

Just a few days ago I noticed that 595 Third, near the corner of Prospect Avenue, had hit the market. Hot on the heels of that one, next-door 593 is now for sale, at a listed price of  $1,499,000 (ReMax ). Will someone snap up both of them for the bigger prize?

Earlier, on 593 Third ...


The psychic keeps early hours. An open door at 7:30, Sunday morning.

Hart Crane: In the Shadow of the Bridge (Brooklynology)
"The very idea of a bridge is an act of faith. The form of my poem rises out of a past that so overwhelms the present with its worth and vision that I'm at a loss to explain my delusion that there exists any real links between that past and a future destiny worthy of it.

Gowanus Film Biz Recycling to close (Gothamist)
A visit several years ago...

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pricing upon Request

A listing from CPEX.  Retail space immediately available "on a highly desirable retail corridor."

Bank of America, Capital One, Chase Bank, Harbor Fitness, The Fifth Estate, Commonwealth, Sidecar, Kumon, Foot Locker, Dunkin Donuts, Rite Aid, T-Mobile, GameStop, and Radio Shack

Here's the rendering in the CPEX listing.  I'm not quite sure what the Essentials in the nominal Retail Store might be, but the image of the place is hardly encouraging.

The new building at 540 Fifth was built under a permit for "2nd to 4th floor vertical enlargement on an existing one story commercial building." The fact that the existing one story building was demolished & the site was excavated for completely new construction, was of little concern to the DOB, who ruled the work to be "substantially per plan."

CPEX has also listed lower-level retail space available at 416 Fifth (7th/8th) which many will recognize as the address of the 5th Avenue Bingo Hall.   The neighbors list for this space - an "unmatched floor plate" - is, like the one for the 540 listing, composed almost entirely of chain stores and banks.  Instead of our stalwart diners, record & hardware stores, local food market, old-school bar - name your own favorite  - the big retail draws are:

Citibank, City MD, Clear Choice, Subway, Chase Bank, New York Sports Club, CVS, US Post Office, YMCA, Dunkin Donuts, HSBC, Rite Aid, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon.  

Couldn't they at least have thrown in Tip Top Gift?

Hanna & Her Sister's Nail (on Broadway)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pocket Handkerchiefs

Tiny 153 16th Street went on the market this week.  The house (two storey plus basement, around 12' 6" x 26') takes up the whole of the 369 sq.ft. lot.  At back it overlooks a parking lot for condo buildings on 15th & 16th. At the side it directly abuts the entrance to the lot.  This entrance is where 155 once stood.

An 1880 Bromley map shows a row of sixteen wooden houses the size of this one on 16th Street between Fifth & Fourth.  In 1880, apart from these little houses, & four brick houses down towards Fourth, the block was completely empty.  Of the row of wooden houses indicated on the map, it looks like six remain today: 153, 157, 159 & 161, and higher up the block, 181 and 183.

Bromley Atlas of the City of Brooklyn (1880) - NYPL

153 last sold in 2006 for $375,000. It's on the market today for $985,000.  It's a nice-looking tiny house without an inch of outdoor space, & a parking lot for neighbor on two sides, but the listing tactfully omits any details of these location issues.  There are bland two-bedroom condos around here going for considerably more than this.  Who knows what prices mean any more? Is a million (ha ha) a steal?  Up the block, 161 was sold in late 2013 for $450,000 & flipped a few months later for $600,000. Renovations there seems to be stalled.

Real Estate Monday (161)
When your neighbor is a curb cut (157) (IMBY)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

May the Dust Never Settle

Here's a new listing - an "excellent opportunity to own in trendy Gowanus" for $2,199,000.

Gowanus is hot and now is time for you to be a part of its evolution!
At the crossroads to several major thoroughfares, 595 3rd Avenue is your opportunity to own a fantastic three-story federal style mixed-use building.
With its 23-foot wide footprint, the building offers spacious rental units above a great commercial space and all can be delivered vacant!
Plus, with an R6A/C2-4 zoning designation a savvy investor or end-user will know that there is the inherent promise of additional square footage should the 3,700 SF not be enough...

...this commercial strip is demanding that residents of Gowanus and its environs take notice and change where they shop, eat and play. (Ideal Properties)

At the crossroads for several major thoroughfares?  YES!

595 is at left, above, and may be additionally spotted in the photographs below (all courtesy of Google).

In the twists & turns of our local real estate market, all roads inevitably lead back to the dear old Prospect Ave. nexus.

Follow links from the post below:

Rooms with a View

Store Available

Turn-key sale at Green Olive Food Market 423 Seventh (14th Street) just listed, with all equipment included.  The price is $326,000 & the rent is $6,500, with eight years remaining on the lease. Seems like a prime corner these days.


On U

Last week I walked along Avenue U from Stillwell to Gerritson Avenue.   There are some fabled eating establishments along here, like Joe's of Avenue U, & Brennan & Carr's, & L. & B. Spumoni Gardens is only a short walk away on 86th.   Food looms large here, be it Dairy Maid Ravioli, Holy Schnitzel, third-generation Jay & Llloyd's Kosher Deli, or G. & S. Pork Store.  Screw the diet in this part of town.  If you take a street far enough, you see its different incarnations ebb & flow: Italian, Jewish, Asian, Irish.  This is why you live in New York.

It was sunny when I visited, the time of year for elderly men to resume their warm-weather posts on the sidewalk.  Seated in front of stores, on chairs plastic or wooden, they chatted to familiar passers by, or nodded into sleep, or assumed expressions of sturdy suspicion.  I entered a cafe guarded by a chair-sitter and found it almost empty.  Copies of La Repubblica were scattered on the counter, and a couple of guys in back were watching European football.  The coffee was good. Outside Brennan & Carr's the smells were divinely meaty, but inside the bear of a waiter who served me my hot roll was beefier by far than the food itself.  I wanted to like it, but it disappointed.  It was fun in the dining room though & with lots of laughs and snatches of sentences drifting past. "So I smacked him in the back of the head..." "Who the fuck do you think I am? Fred Astaire?"

I'd have taken more pictures, and better ones too, but I felt like an idiot taking out my camera.  I kept things snappy.

We resole crepe shoes

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pavilion Theater to be Replaced by Apartments?

Cinema Treasures

"The Pavilion Theater, the nine-screen movie theater at the corner of Prospect Park and 15th Street in Brooklyn, will be turned into apartments. The Real Deal reports, Hidrock Realty, a Herald Square-based firm that bought the iconic Art Deco property at 188 Prospect Park West for $16 million in 2006, is planning to build a 24-unit building on the site," according to a Department of Buildings permit application obtained by the website. 
The application also reveals that Hidrock is planning for a new six-story building that is slated to replace the 33,000-square-foot cinema.  New plans call for nearly 46,000 square feet of residential space and 24 apartments. The building will also include roughly 8,000 square feet of commercial space. The median sales price for homes in Park Slope between January 15 and April 15 was roughly $1 million, according to Trulia, which is almost 64 percent higher than the median sales price in the rest of the borough.
Hidrock also bought the neighboring restaurant, the former Circles Cafe, and has been talking to architecture firms, even though the theater's lease was set to last through 2022. The firm Morris Adjmi Architects, whose projects includeThe Wythe Hotel, is listed as the architect of record on the DOB papers filed yesterday."  (Gothamist)

The first theater at this site was the Marathon, which operated from 1907 to 1927.  Its replacement, the Sanders (the current Pavilion building), opened in 1928, and had a fifty year run before screens fell dark.  It reopened in 1996, with the new owner, Norman Adie, promising its rebirth as an art-house venue. Sadly this was not to be.  Instead, it offered only run-of-the-mill big-budget films, and a less-than-clean movie-going experience.  Broken seats, filthy floors, erratic screening times, and rumors of bedbugs became the new norm.  Adie, who also took over the former Flatbush Plaza & the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, sold the Pavilion in 2002.  In 2011 he was convicted of Federal Securities & wire fraud & served time in Federal prison. In 2012, Cinema Holdings group promised better services, & provided something of a makeover, but its reputation did not significantly improve.  
Surely there'll be a fight to save this neighborhood landmark? In fact, it is officially landmarked, so you would think this would have to be a conversion rather than a new building, and it's hard to see how it could be easily altered for residential purposes.  Still, one doubts that there'll be more screenings there.
With the Heights cinema recently closed, the long-gone Plaza an American Apparel, and the ill-fated Pavilion apparently about to depart, our local cinema choices are dwindling.   Cobble Hill Cinema, please stick around.

Further Reading
The Pavilion Theater (Cinema Treasures)
Feds: Heights Cinema Owner was Ponzi Schemer (Brooklyn Paper)

And here's an afternoon update from The Real Deal.  Building stays, & smaller, "sophisticated" movie theater replacement "contemplated."

"UPDATED 2:35 p.m., April 22: The Pavilion Theater in Park Slope is going residential.

Hidrock Realty, a Herald Square-based firm that bought the iconic Art Deco property at 188 Prospect Park West for $16 million in 2006, is planning to convert the property and add 24 residential units to the building, according to a permit application filed with the city’s Department of Buildings Wednesday. 

A spokesperson for the developer said on Wednesday afternoon that Hidrock is planning on leaving the building intact, but plans to heavily renovate the interior. Hidrock is contemplating opening a more “sophisticated” movie theater in the building’s commercial portion, the spokesperson said, and would be more “reasonably sized.” It is, he added, “the end of the existing theater.” 

In 2006, Hidrock’s Abraham Hidary said that the firm didn’t have any plans of turning the theater into a residential building. “There’s no merit to ever thinking that it might be a conversion,” he told the Park Slope Courier at the time. 

A Hidrock representative couldn’t immediately be reached on Wednesday morning.

New plans call for nearly 46,000 square feet of residential space and 24 apartments. The building will also include roughly 8,000 square feet of commercial space."

Grand Re-Opening of the Vegas Auto Spa

Come to the grand re-opening of the Vegas Auto Spa this weekend, & celebrate the victory of the Auto Spa carwasheros.  After fighting for their rights on the picket-line, through brutally cold winter conditions, they are now unionized, &  have contracts that included pay raises, paid time off, & protections for immigrant workers.

On Tuesday, March 31st we FINALLY won the fair contract at Vegas Auto Spa. Everyone involved worked hard for this, and after four and a half months on the picket line, the carwasheros returned to work with wages and protections we deserve. This victory ensures they will now be treated with dignity and respect at work. 

Join the Carwasheros Sunday April 26th at 11 a.m., at Vegas Auto Spa (557 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY ) as they host a grand re-opening of the car wash. We will come together that morning to celebrate Brooklyn's FIRST union car wash! Drive on over and get your first car wash this spring! 

(Special) Greetings from Astoria!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Footwear on the Avenue

    When I noticed that a restaurant was in the works for 700 Fifth, I did a little idle Google searching for past businesses at that address.  You never know what results Google will spit out, and this time it came up with the altogether prosaic, dull-to-the-point-of-compelling trade paper Shoe Retailer & Boots & Shoes Weekly, Vol. 72, (August 1909).  Based on a report on local Brooklyn stores, I learned that a century ago there were at least fourteen shoe retailers between 10th and 22nd on Fifth.  Granted, at least one of these was a department of a larger store, but still, that's a lot of shoes.  Today, on the same stretch of Fifth, there are just four five: Payless, Windsor World of Shoes, Bobby's, Fabco, & Foot Locker.  The shoe store locations of 1909 are now occupied by the upcoming restaurant at 700, the Hellenic Charter School, the Prospect Expressway, the CNS Hardware Store, an apartment building, a Subway, a 99c store, a bank, Bicycle Habitat, Rite Aid, & Windsor World of Shoes.  Yes, it's up to Windsor, a comparative newcomer on the avenue (though a longtime presence in Windsor Terrace) to revive shoe history at 484!

Apparently August of 1909 spelled a period of "seasonable dullness" in the shoe trade.  Business was quiet.  Samuel Bloomberg (638) "had not accomplished wonders in the way of profits," and the report for 462 Fifth - its sub-heading, Bought Only Staples for Fall - was equally cheerless.  Several stores employed incentives to encourage potential customers, with premium ticket prizes (tea spoons, cigar jars, cut glass) for set levels of buying.  Other business & personal events were recorded.  According to the Retailer, M.R. Sorenson, at 574, had come to the States from Denmark in 1883, & shoemaking practices in the two countries were quite different. New tungsten lights at the Douglas store (478), a death in the family at Hadfield's (476) and vacation plans at Ruhman Regal Store (466) also made the news.

While the prose in Shoe Retailer & Boots & Shoes Weekly is as stodgy as it gets, the ads. are another matter altogether, and will make you quite depressed about the footwear of today.  Consider the poetry of genuine calf tops, pearl & ivory shoe buttons, boudoir slippers and Mayfair patents.  Dream too, of H.F. Volquardsen's Wood Sole High Cut Shoes with Klondike Eyelets & Rawhide Laces, Blucher Lace Short Vamps, John Kelley Dainty Shoes, & Spenceria Shoes for Men who Work.  The Moulder's Original Asbestos fire-resistant shoe sounds a little scary, and the S & M Shoe for Men sounds pretty exciting, though in actual fact the latter is just a Slater & Morrill style.  Oh well - the shoes on display in the pages here are still thrilling.


Here's the roll-call of shoe retailers on Fifth in 1909:

700 Fifth - George Huber
638 Fifth - Samuel Bloomberg
634 1/2 - D., I. & E. Rogon
S.W. corner of Prospect Avenue & Fifth - Louis Stolitzky
584 - Danheiser's
574 - M.R. Sorenson
542 - Val Hoffgaard
525 - Thomas Garvey - "considered one of the landmarks of this rapidly growing section"
484 - McCormick's Department Store and (?) Merit Shoe Store
478 - Douglas Store
476 - John Hadfield
466 - Ruhman Regal Store
462 - ?

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Great to see packed aisles at the longstanding Record & Tape Center (Fifth & 9th). The future of the store still seems to be hanging in the balance, but I'm hoping they get a new lease and stick around. The place is a treasure-house.


The platform of the Bay Parkway D (northbound) has a seat directly opposite the building. You might just want to skip the incoming train & stick around.  There's the past up close & in your face - all to yourself, above the shopping crowds on 86th.  Have you ever seen the month of establishment inscribed on a building?  I certainly hadn't before this one.  What pride of ownership that single word August suggests.

I wanted to find out something of Orloff's history, and one of the first things I came across online was a treat. In response to a photo of the building at the blog Eating in Translation:  the best possible comment:

My great grand father, Henry Orloff (translated at Ellis Island from Khuny Ortleyevich) born in 1869 in a Jewish Settlement in the Ukraine, emigrated to the United States in 1885. In 1900, he is a feed dealer in New York. He built a store in 1902. He is established as a shop keeper in a building he built called the Orloff Building. It was used for several purposes including the housing of horses. Henry owned several properties around New York and would take his grandchildren around whenever they would visit. My father, same name, told me about this building with pride.

An 1909 ad found by Gravesend historian Joseph Ditta (Kevin Walsh's Forgotten NY) shows Orloff's Big Store selling dry goods, furnishings & shoes.

Henry & his wife Dora (also recorded as Ona in the 1930 Census) had three sons & one daughter.  At an archive newspaper site I found that one of the sons, Walter, made big news in the local press in 1933, when he was released from Nazi authorities after imprisonment for "alleged Communistic activities":

Walter Orloff, Brooklyn medical student who felt the iron hand of the Nazi Government while in Germany, was officially welcomed back to Bensonhurst last night by a crowd of more than 4,000.
Failure to gain admittance to the packed clubrooms of the Paola Democratic Club, 2211 86th Street where the celebration was held (the Orloff's building pictured above), the crowd about the doors overflowed onto the elevated structure, from where it was possible to see into the club, and hear the speeches by means of a loudspeaker hastily installed on the street.

The returning student, who had faced a sentence of up to seven years, but was released after a few weeks, spoke only briefly to the crowd, and urged them not to condemn all Germans for what was happening in Germany.  Rabbi Louis B. Michaelson, of the Coney Island Jewish Center, had a contrary opinion, however, and "decried Germany's return to barbarism." The Orloff family was honored (and declared free from "Communistic taint"), speeches were made by democratic club members & local dignitaries, & messages read from Governor Lehman & other politicians.  A forty-piece band from Our Lady of Peace, in Manhattan, supplied music.

Henry Orloff lived only six years longer.  An Eagle article from 1939, detailing his estate, gives his profession as real-estate broker.  His children are listed as the beneficiaries, with the biggest share of the estate going to his daughter.  One son, Carl, is set to receive ten dollars.

Think of the crowds, up there on the train platform in 1933, listening to the band and the speeches, and straining to look through the buildings' windows.  Think of that same view available eighty years later.  The circumstances are less dramatic, but still quietly heroic.  Even flanked by a Petland Discount and a Baypkwy 99 Cents Discount, Orloff's has held its ground.