Friday, December 30, 2011

NYT: Albee Square West Residents Endure Deplorable Conditions While Awaiting Relocation

Image from NY Times - Albee Square West Residents Endure Deplorable Conditions While Awaiting RelocationThe NY Times reports on the difficult situation of residents in property owned by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
“The residents are entitled to relocation benefits which may include Section 8 subsidies and a preference in city-assisted affordable housing,” Mr. Bederman said in an e-mail. “We have already helped move families into NYCHA properties. Additionally, all HPD and HDC affordable housing lottery announcements are being shared with the tenants in an effort to make them aware of other affordable housing opportunities for which they may be eligible.”

Mr. Shapiro of FUREE said a shortage of affordable housing has made relocation difficult. He also said that during FUREE’s meetings this past summer, the then 20 tenants of Albee Square West completed surveys about their relocation experience. The results revealed that none of them had been offered housing that was comparable in price to what they were paying at Albee Square.
For more, click here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Aloft: Serving cocktails & getting positive press

Here are two positive articles about the opening of Aloft, a new hotel across from the Abolitionist homes on Duffield Street.

From The Brooklyn Eagle article Aloft Hotel Celebrates Opening in Downtown Brooklyn and 100% Occupancy:
This writer was certainly the oldest person in attendance at an opening reception for the media and other visitors on Tuesday on the hotel’s second floor outdoor patio.

Passport Magazine, a gay-themed travel publication, writes:
Trendy and comfortable furniture awaits weary travelers. The basis for the hotel’s advertised “style at a steal” is evident. The w xyz bar, re:fuel 24 hour grab-and-go gourmet eatery, and social area (complete with pool table) keep glasses full and guests entertained.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Observer: The New Aloft Brooklyn: Your Freshman Dorm on Steroids

The NY Observer does not recommend that your grandmother should stay at Duffield Street's newest hotel. In The New Aloft Brooklyn: Your Freshman Dorm on Steroids they write:

Trendy twenty-something travelers who are still hanging on to their college days will love the new, so-edgy-it’s-almost-painful Aloft hotel at 216 Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn, which had its official opening last night.

Pod chairs, bright colors, crazy patterns, brushed steel—they really have all the bases covered. The lobby’s circular front desk features an explosion of bright pink, blue and yellow flowers; the bar is outfitted with steel cafeteria-style chairs; and the desks in the guest rooms come with “plug and play” stations that charge electronics and hook up to the 42-inch televisions (because if you’re going to be hip, you need to appeal to the techies).

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Protest of Unmet Promises of Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports about the latest protest against the Downtown Brooklyn rezoning by FUREE:
According to FUREE, the thousands of new residents in the downtown and nearby Fort Greene areas in the past five years were promised good schools and a supermarket in a bid to get them to move into recently built condominiums. Some were also told that adjacent public housing developments would be torn down. What low-income and working class residents are experiencing is nothing short of “economic segregation,” they say, and they are still waiting for the affordable housing and good-paying jobs that were supposed to come under the city’s Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning Plan.

To read more, click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FUREE: OPEN LETTER to New Luxury Tower Residents, Area Developers, City/State Agencies, Local Elected Officials and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Atlantic Yards is hardly the only example of abuse of eminent domain or of outrageous backroom deals benefiting private developers at the expense of the public. The most vocal and thorough critic of the Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning is FUREE, and they just published an OPEN LETTER to New Luxury Tower Residents, Area Developers, City/State Agencies, Local Elected Officials and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

Here are excerpts of their priorities and shared principles for accountable development, focusing on issues most closely related to this blog:
  • PUBLIC HOUSING: Real estate brokers must stop making false statements to prospective condo buyers claiming that nearby public housing will be torn down. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) must also clearly reject all policies to privatize public housing and must swiftly open up the hundreds of currently vacant public housing apartments in Fort Greene to families in need.
  • ALBEE SQUARE FAMILIES: It is a travesty that the only affordable housing development in Downtown Brooklyn is slated for demolition. Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) owes the low-income, immigrant families living in the Albee Square houses who are being forced out through eminent domain, genuine relocation assistance to new affordable apartments and decent living conditions.
  • ACCESS TO PUBLIC SPACE: The proposed new Willoughby Square Park (and massive underground parking lot) must not become a pseudo-public space that caters mostly to the surrounding new hotels and luxury tower residents. There must be genuine public input from all stakeholders, including the low-income community members, as the planning process proceeds. Other supposedly public spaces, such as Metrotech Plaza, must not discriminate against or harass low-income area residents and youth of color.
Read more here.

Hotel 718 in the press, with some amnesia

A couple news outlets have reprinted the V3's press release about the Hotel 718, the soon-to-be opened hotel on 231 Abolitionist Place, also known as Duffield Street. Here is a sample of how Downtown Brooklyn is now being marketed—this was published in American Banking and Marketing News,, HospitalityNet and (with slight variation) CityBiz:
The property is within walking distance of MetroTech Center, court buildings and both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, offering easy access to Brooklyn’s rich cultural amenities. These include the world-renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Frederick Law Olmsted’s masterfully-designed Prospect Park, and countless vibrant and diverse cultural and entertainment attractions day and night.
The biggest irony in these articles is this statement:
The 19-story, $25 million hotel is set to open in November 2011 and will celebrate the heritage and culture of Brooklyn, New York.

For those who aren't aware of the important historical significance of Abolitionist Place, it was the home of several important abolitionists, and is likely a stop on the Underground Railroad in a city that was violently anti-Abolitionist. The home at 231 Duffield/Abolitionist Place was built around 1850, and while it was not as famous at 227 Duffield, it was potentially even more important. The new hotel "celebrated" this history by demolishing the previous building without giving anyone a chance to study the unusual architectural features.

At least Curbed gives a much more insightful and snarky coverage. The photo here is from their article.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

V3 Hotel now called "Hotel 718"

Brownstoner reports on the new name of the V3 hotel at 229-231 Duffield Street:
A press release brings new info about the V3 hotel rising at 231 Duffield in Downtown: It's going to be dubbed "Hotel 718" and is scheduled to open in November. The release also says the 128-room property will have a 75-seat bar and restaurant, and amenities will include "spa services, a fitness center and cardio room, and 24-hour Brooklyn-centric concierge services."

Abolitionist-deniers lose funding

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, one of the great cheerleaders for demolishing the Abolitionist and Underground Railroad history on Duffield Street, are losing some of their generous taxpayer support. While schools and firehouses are facing massive cuts, Borough President Marty Markowitz came to the defense of the highly-capitalized partnership:

Markowitz indicated the city should continue to help defray the cost of running the DBP.

“I applaud Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s work, and it is absolutely critical that the City continue to support our vibrant downtown — New York City’s third largest business district — and emphasize economic development here as new hotels, Class A office space, residential developments and retail businesses come on line,” said Markowitz.

But City Council member Lew Fidler feels that DBP salaries are too high, with several members getting fairly high six-figure salaries, including President Joe Chan, who makes $220,000.

“There are other ways of planning for and promoting downtown Brooklyn other than an organization funded with public money,” said Fidler. “There’s already a lot of big developers and BID (Business Improvement Districts) that can contribute.”

Read more at BoroPolitics.

City Point dumps scandal-tainted developer

The massive City Point development, which is getting $20,000,000 in tax-exempt federal stimulus, is dumping Aaron Malinsky, the developer associated with the Carl Kruger corruption scandal. Read the Brooklyn Paper article here.

Aloft Opening now scheduled 5/5/11

I put March 31, 2011 into Google Calendar as the opening date of aloft hotel on Duffield Street. What a surprise! It's been rescheduled to May 5, 2011, according to the Starwoods Hotel website.

Back on October 13, 2010, we reported the scheduled opening date to be January 20, 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kruger scandal touches City Point in Downtown Brooklyn

The bribery scandal implicating State Senator Carl Kruger touches on some Downtown Brooklyn issues. In Developer at Brooklyn Navy Yard charged in federal bribery case, the Real Deal reports this:
Prosecutors allege Aaron Malinsky, a principal with PA Associates, made the payments to an entity called Olympian Strategic Development, wand that money was used to improperly benefit Kruger (see complaint below). Kruger allegedly received at least $1 million in bribes from Malinsky and others between 2006 and 2011, investigators said.
The article continues:
PA Associates is developing a 50,000-square-foot retail building at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn.
Read more here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

BK Paper: Downtown BK population up 2,900%

The Brooklyn Paper writes about the dramatic population growth of Downtown Brooklyn due to the rezoning in Boom! Downtown population is exploding faster than the Sun Belt:

Twelve thousand people now live in Downtown, up from a mere 400 residents in 2000. That’s a 2,900-percent increase during the same time when the population of the city overall grew about five percent.
To read the article, click here.

The primary goal of the rezoning was the increase office space, but instead it mostly created office space, displacing small entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BK Eagle: Tight, Family-Based Ownership Still Rules Fulton Mall

There an interesting article on the new Downtown Brooklyn. Here's a bit from Tight, Family-Based Ownership Still Rules Fulton Mall:

Michael Chera and his Allied Property Group, which owns 523 Fulton, told The Real Deal that he sees Fulton Mall as a “34th Street and Times Square hybrid,” where national chains within reach of the middle class can prosper.

Stanley and Isaac Chera of Crown Acquisitions, who in partnership with Eli Gindi own 490 Fulton and were responsible for bringing Syms/Filene’s Basement to the mall, still have 38,000 square feet of street-level retail to lease.

“In the last 60 to 90 days, interest in the property has intensified immensely,” Isaac told The Real Deal. “I’m on the street at least three times a week with different tenants. They’re doing their homework.”

d more here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Developer seeks approval to damage Underground Railroad Station

Here is news from the Hopper-Gibbons advocates. The building on West 29th Street in Manhattan was not only an important stop on the Underground Railroad, it is very important to New York City for its role in the Draft Riots of 1863:

I understand that Mr. Mamounas is planning to appeal the Department of Building's order to demolish the illegal 5th story addition to the Hopper Gibbons house. He has 30 days to appeal this order to the Board of Standards and Appeals. At best, this could delay the demolition of this addition for months. At worst, the Board could well decide to let Mr. Mamounas keep the 5th story addition in place, as they have allowed other owners to do in past rulings. This would be not only a great blow to New York City and American history, particularly that pertaining to the lives of African-Americans and Quakers, but to the architectural integrity of this special oasis of 4 story row houses in Manhattan.


Besides, the Department of Buildings has repeatedly stated that they are concerned that the building must meet fire safety standards and that that's why they let Mr. Mamounas build corridor and apartment walls and doors on the 5th story even after they ordered him to tear it down. However, an 1847 inhabited building can never be brought up to fire safety codes. On that basis alone, apart from the historical importance of the Hopper Gibbons house, the Board of Standards and Appeals must not let Mr. Mamounas get away with retaining the 5th story. It wouldn't be safe. Not only that, but the sliver law only allows a height of only 52 feet.

Also bear in mind that when the building was landmarked in February 2010, Mr. Mamounas' building permit had already been revoked, as I was informed by the Department of Buildings. So, when Mr. Mamounas supposedly amended his plans to conform with the 4 story requirement in February 2010, am I not correct in my assumption that the application should have been under the purview of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, rather than the Department of Buildings?

At this point, I think we have to deluge Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Steven Goldsmith with the message that we need to preserve the original 4 story height of this row house for the above-mentioned historical, architectural, legal, and safety issues.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

FAX (212) 312-0700


Deputy Mayor Steven Goldsmith
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
(212) 788-3000
FAX (212) 788-2460
[ or perhaps MEDIA CONTACT:
Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958