Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Developers of Underground Railroad Building Under Investigation

The Manhattan building at the center of the Draft Riots of 1863 and an important Underground Railroad station is being illegally modified. DNAinfo reports in Developers of Underground Railroad Building Under Investigation:

The Department of Buildings is investigating whether a developer is illegally continuing construction on a 150-year-old Chelsea row house that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The probe follows complaints by neighbors about ongoing work on a fifth floor addition to 339 West 29th St., also known as the Hopper-Gibbons House, which makes it taller than the buildings next door. That's significant to preservationists because former residents fleeing Civil War riots used the level roofs to escape.

"It feels like they are slicing away a piece of history with a serrated knife," said neighbor Fern Luskin, a CUNY art and architecture historian who said she had in recent weeks she repeatedly witnessed construction on the partially-built fifth floor. "It's very angering that this owner has not the slightest care in the world."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Willoughby Square Garage Development Opportunity RFP

Want to build a parking lot on the site of an Underground Railroad station? Now's your chance! Here's the Request for Proposals by the NYC Economic Development Corporation at Willoughby Square:
New York City Economic Development Corporation (“NYCEDC”) is seeking proposals for the development and operation of an underground parking garage (“the Garage”) and the construction of an approximately 1.15-acre street-level public space on top (“Willoughby Square”). Through this RFP, NYCEDC expects to select a developer to successfully develop and operate a below-grade garage under a long-term ground lease with the City. Respondents can submit garage proposals that accommodate up to a maximum of 694 spaces.

NYCEDC is currently developing schematic designs for Willoughby Square. The selected developer is expected to complete this design process at its sole cost and expense. The selected developer will also be responsible for the construction of Willoughby Square on behalf the City, for which the City expects to make funds available.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Observer on Willoughby Sq: Mayor's Latest Libertarian Park

Remember that the Bloomberg administration wanted to confiscate 227 Duffield to build a micro-park and parking lot? 227 was saved, but the Observer rips into other aspects of the plan.

Here are some highlights from "Brooklyn's Willoughby Square: Mayor's Latest Libertarian Park" by Matt Chaban:
[New NYC parks] are being built by the public sector but maintained through private development on or near the parks—in the case of the former, through multi-use piers; the latter, residential development, though the Brooklyn Bridge Park plan has drawn considerable scorn and is currently under reconsideration.

Never mind that there may not even be enough money coming in through said development to keep the parks going.

With Willoughby Square, and the much larger Governors Island just across the harbor, the city has taken its plan a step further toward the Libertarian ideal of private-public space, which is what concerns so many critics: that eventually such spaces will cease to be public at all, more admission-only amusement parks than public amenities. (This is already common practice at many National Parks.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hotels coming slowly, but stores are changing

One of the hotels being built on Duffield Street has new delays. Hotel reports in Brooklyn Won't Get Aloft Until January :
Opening a hotel in New York City is a treacherous business--there are always delays. Which is what Starwood is finding as it tries to get the city's first two Aloft Hotels up and running.

Aloft Harlem has had a busy dance card of opening dates, with the latest not too far off on October 21. That was also meant to be the big day for Aloft Brooklyn, but HC reader AboutGirl was right when she said that she'd heard this opening had been pushed back as well. According to its website, Aloft Brooklyn is now scheduled to open on January 20, 2011.
Aloft's delays haven't prevented existing businesses from being pushed out. NBC New York, as well as the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, seem to think that certain shoppers are invisible. Fulton Street is bustling... unless you are blind to certain demographics, like the writer of Filene's Basement/Syms to Open in Brooklyn:
It seemed like only a matter of time before chain stores set their sights on the somewhat desolate strip of real estate at Brooklyn's Fulton Mall. Joining Aeropostale and H&M—both of which should be opening soon—Filene's Basement/Syms announced it will open its first Brooklyn store at the Fulton Mall in early 2012.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Thomas Truesdale

Jim Driscoll, historian at the Queens Historical Society and a longtime advocate of the historical importance of 227 Duffield, pointed out that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about Thomas Truesdale, previous owner of 227 Duffield. Here is a quote from Emerson's journal from 1847 (pages 332-333):

Emerson was one of the most prominent American intellectuals of the time. He was one of the greatest spokesmen against slavery, and Mr. Driscoll thinks this passage might possibly indicate the attendees of an Underground Railroad meeting.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Brownstoner: V3 Hotel Rising

Brownstoner posted about the developments of the V3 hotel at 229-231 Duffield Street:

When we checked in on the V3 hotel in January, the foundation was just going in. Now, six stories (out of an eventual 19) are up. There's a small rendering of the what the finished product is supposed to look like here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brownstoner: EDC wants your help with Willoughby Square Park

Brownstoner posted this:

Help Design Willoughby Square Park

Calling all aspiring landscape designers and concerned residents of Downtown Brooklyn! Willoughby Square Park is getting a move on and the EDC wants your input. There will be a Community Design Charette held on Wednesday night at the Zeckendorf Health Science Lecture Hall of Long Island University. The park's designer, Hargreaves Associates will be on hand to steer the workshop participants through a serious of questions and considerations that will help inform the ultimate make-up of the 46,000-square-foot public space. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Josh Nachowitz at NYCEDC at jnachowitz@nycedc.com.

Monday, February 22, 2010

City Point Phase 1 Revealed

The NY Times blog and Brownstoner report on the latest iteration of the proposed City Point project, which is just behind Duffild Street. See

photo from fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com

Saturday, January 30, 2010

40 hotels in Brooklyn... some imaginary

While the Brooklyn Eagle reported about all the upcoming hotel projects coming up in Brooklyn, they said this about the existing hotels:
They join The Marriott on Adams Street (656 rooms with its new addition); the conjoined Aloft/Sheraton on Duffield Street (500 rooms); Hotel Indigo, also on Duffield Street (164 rooms);
And Brownstoner dutifully republished the information here. These article follow up an Eagle article from December 2009 talking about the ongoing construction of Hotel Indigo.

The Duffield Street Blog now has exclusive photos from inside the hotel! It is the most cutting edge hotel, neo-post-modernist design, as you can see from this photo taken January 29, 2010:

Somehow, everyone missed the grand opening of this exciting new hotel.

....Maybe because the opening didn't happen. Brownstoner already reported on the BS of statements touting the opening of Hotel Indigo by the end of 2009. So I guess the folks at Brownstoner have stopped reading Brownstoner, and few bother to fact-check press releases.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Duffield Street photo essay

Here are photos from January 6, 2010.

The new gym:

The hotel at 237 Duffield Street. Several reports a few months ago said that this would be open by the beginning of 2010:

The foundation of the V3 hotel at 229-231 Duffield Street. The previous building had a false wall in the basement that several academics think could have been a stop on the Underground Railroad:

Another view of 229-231 Duffield Street construction:

This building is slated for demolition by the NYC Economic Development Corporation:

This building is also slated for demolition. The ground floor is home to an African-American themed bookstore:

Another set of buildings slated for demolition in order to make way for a mini-park and underground parking lot:

The former site of the Albee Square Mall. This is the planned location of the City Point project, recipient of Stimulus funds. For more on this project, read Feds’ CityPoint bailout is a bad use of taxpayer dollars: