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  1. #61
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    Oct 2002

    Default Vinegar Hill

    The Little Town That Prices (Almost) Forgot


    slide show

    THE Brooklyn waterfront, once upon a time, was seen as a place where artists and artisans lived and worked, basking in cheap rents, old architecture and a sweet sense of isolation. But lately that reality has changed. Market-rate condominium towers and luxury conversions dot the Kings County coastline, their presence telegraphing a need for a higher income bracket.

    Yet in Vinegar Hill, a hamlet within New York City if there ever was one, the old ambience is mostly intact. Nudged into a corner of the waterfront that seems, at least in part, forgotten by time, the place is a few blocks long and a few wide. Despite its handful of new developments, it still feels as secluded and unpretentious as in decades past.

    “The longer you stay in Vinegar Hill, the harder it is not to know your neighbors,” said Nicholas Evans-Cato, a longtime worker and renter in the area. “If you see someone who hasn’t moved their car for alternate-side-of-the-street parking, you generally know who it is and you ring their doorbell.”

    Many locals are, in essence, living above the store. Mr. Evans-Cato, an artist, rents an apartment upstairs from his studio on Hudson Avenue, which he has operated since 1995, and a carpenter friend does the same. A friend who makes furniture lives a short walk from his own work space, as does Adam Meshberg, an architect and president of the local neighborhood association. People like to stick around, it seems, and others are noticing.
    “Up to the mid-’90s,” Mr. Meshberg said, “rents were low, and it was very, very, very quiet. Now we’re in 2010, and it’s coming on the radar.”

    For the most part, quiet still reigns along the cobblestone streets, save for trucks from the massive Con Edison plant on the waterfront or from the Damascus Bakery, which episodically infuses the area with the singular aroma of baking pita. These are reminders that industry still has a presence, as it did back when the neighborhood was a bedroom community for workers at the Navy Yard next door and in Dumbo’s factories and warehouses.

    Of all the issues raised by the waterfront area’s increasing popularity, it is the truck traffic that takes precedence — especially its effects on the cobblestones, said Robert Perris, the district manager of the local Community Board 2. “It shows how much people are invested in the architectural character of the neighborhood,” he said, “as well as how sort of sleepy it is.”

    In the last year or so, the Vinegar Hill House on Hudson Avenue, a restaurant that opened in late 2008, has focused a spotlight on the neighborhood. The last place to eat on the street was a diner that closed in the 1970s, Mr. Evans-Cato said. The restaurant’s fare is creative and seasonal — right now, braised wild boar shank and pumpkin ravioli are on offer — and the owners, Sam Buffa and Jean Adamson, are both locals. In addition to approving critics, the place has garnered its share of regulars, happy for a nearby place to dine well.

    “We figured that we would be busy enough, but we didn’t expect this,” said Mr. Buffa, who also lives above his business, having vacated a carriage house on the property to make room for storage and office space. “We get people who drive from the Upper West Side. I can’t tell you how many times people just had no clue this was here.”


    The neighborhood was named not for any unusual wellspring of vinegar but for a 1798 battle of the Irish Rebellion (one historical theory has it that the name was chosen to attract Irish immigrants). It takes up all of 9 or 10 blocks, and residents most likely number no more than a few hundred.

    They have something of a love-hate relationship with their neighbors in Dumbo, appreciating the many services and stores now ensconced next door, but disturbed by increasing traffic, by the shadows of new condo towers and, it must be said, by unwelcome evidence that Dumboites are walking their dogs in Vinegar Hill.

    “As Dumbo changes, we change,” said Mr. Meshberg, the neighborhood association head. “The more people moving into Dumbo, the more parking gets screwed up over here.”

    Hudson Avenue is the area’s focal point, even with just the one public establishment in the Vinegar Hill House. The road is lined with pre-Civil War row houses. Around the corner on Evans Street, visitors encounter an even older structure: the Commandant’s Mansion, an 1806 estate overlooking the East River from behind an imposing gate. (It remains inhabited today, actually, though not by a commandant.)

    Moving west from Hudson Avenue toward Dumbo, sturdy-looking old town houses, with fine examples on both Gold and Front Streets, are interspersed with the occasional warehouse or factory. Vinegar Hill’s new market-rate condo developments include one at 100 Gold Street, next door to the Dorje Ling Buddhist Center, with its bright yellow facade. And on York Street, across from the towers of a public project called the Farragut Houses, further housing construction is in its early stages.

    Vinegar Hill may soon have stores to call its own, as the city is seeking a developer for a retail complex in the Navy Yard. The businesses would take the place of Admiral’s Row, a much-loved but decrepit group of row houses; many preservation groups have cried foul.


    Buyers expecting Dumbo-like prices may be pleasantly surprised; values generally soften as one heads east from the Manhattan Bridge and south toward the Farragut Houses. A $445,000 studio in Vinegar Hill, for example, might go for $550,000 at the J Condominium a few blocks away in Dumbo, said M. Monica Novo, a senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

    Prices have come down since 2006 and 2007, but percentages are hard to calculate because of the low inventory of properties. Town houses don’t often come on the market, but when they do they are significantly more affordable than comparable properties in nearby Brooklyn Heights or Fort Greene. Often, they also need work; prices start at about $1.1 million but can reach $2 million for a house in pristine shape, according to Steven Gerber, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group.

    “It’s not going to be a Brooklyn Heights number” in price, Mr. Gerber said, “but if it does have a view and it’s nicely done on the inside, that’s not uncommon.”

    In terms of new and conversion properties that have sprung up, prices per square foot are staying in the $600 and $700 range, according to David Behin, a partner at the Developers Group. At 100 Gold Street, a 10-unit development, three units are now in contract, and prices for studios, one- and two-bedrooms range from $445,000 to $885,000.

    Renters can opt for market-rate buildings like 99 Gold Street, where the Core Group Marketing is listing units from studios to two-bedrooms for $2,650 to $4,900 a month. Older units in town houses are seldom available. When they are, said Mr. Evans-Cato, a longtime renter, one-bedroom units start between $1,000 and $1,500.


    Vinegar Hill is home to one school, Public School 307 on York Street. In 2009, 61.2 percent of third, fourth and fifth graders met standards in English, 78.3 percent in mathematics.

    Junior high students can be zoned for the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, on Park Avenue in the upper part of Fort Greene near the Navy Yard. In 2009, 62.9 percent of students met standards in math, 54.4 percent in English.

    One high school nearby is the Freedom Academy, on Nassau Street close to the Manhattan Bridge, where SAT averages last year were 413 in reading, 388 in math and 408 in writing, versus 480, 500 and 470 statewide.


    Outside of warm evenings at the Vinegar Hill House and community meetings of the neighborhood group, the neighborhood seems almost purposefully quiet. But busier areas aren’t far away. Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene all offer plenty of shopping and dining. The growing green spaces of Brooklyn Bridge Park are nearby, and a stroll across one of the bridges is always an option.


    Most residences in the neighborhood are no more than a 10-minute walk from the York Street subway station, the first stop into Brooklyn on the F line. The trip to Midtown takes 15 to 20 minutes.


    Part of the original Dutch town of Breuckelen, Vinegar Hill was farmland until its purchase in 1784 by the Sands brothers, merchants and traders for whom a local street is named. They called the area Olympia, hoping to attract summer visitors from Manhattan; it was later known as part of Irishtown. The present name wasn’t in the picture until the land was bought by John Jackson, a shipbuilder, who sold part of it to the federal government for use as a navy yard. Vinegar Hill soon grew into a small village of laborers and those who catered to them. (In 1822, nearly a quarter of all residents listed their occupations as tavern proprietors.)

  2. #62
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    Jan 2007
    west village


    i put together a four part walking tour of brooklyn's bedford-stuyvesant neighborhhod last week -- enjoy!

    bed-stuy threads --- parts 1-2-3-4:,22790.0.html,22792.0.html,22793.0.html,22794.0.html

  3. #63
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Superb, thanks for posting here Meesa .

  4. #64
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    Oct 2002

    Default Fort Greene

    Of Captains, Caulkers and Hoop Skirt Makers


    Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, about 1950. The view is from Myrtle Avenue to the location of the present Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
    The peaked gables of 128-132 Vanderbilt are characteristic of this very unusual street. In the distance is the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Today, the same block of of Vanderbilt goes from glassy 21st century, like No. 122 at left, to front-porch simplicity, at right.

    The tiny houses at 141-143 Vanderbilt are from the 1830s

    No. 141 Vanderbilt

    Drip moldings around windows and pierced verge board detailing at the roofline
    are typical of the neo-Gothic style, like that of the houses at Nos. 117 and 119, seen here in a 1940 photo.
    Part of No. 121 Vanderbilt is also visible at right.

    119 Vanderbilt (center)

    Lots of front porches mean lots of columns and lots of capitals, like these Egyptoid ones at No. 102 Vanderbilt

    The striking, gable-ended houses at 92-94 Vanderbilt show the variety of later siding on the block, unpopular in the landmarks fraternity

    76 Vanderbilt

    Federal style detail at 73 Vanderbilt

    69 and 71 Vanderbilt

    No. 69 is battered by noise and vibrations from the adjacent Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

    slide show

    THE little 1830s house at the foot of Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn is beyond wrecked — it’s close to wreckage. It’s at the end of one of the most unusual blocks in Fort Greene, from Myrtle Avenue to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a wide downhill boulevard flanked by Greek, Gothic and Italianate houses, an amazing salmagundi of the constructive arts.

    The gentle descent begins with the tiny pair of houses at Nos. 141 and 143, certainly from the 1830s or earlier. Their lumpy wooden porches and unruly front plantings, rivaling the houses themselves in size, give the two a piquant touch of New Orleans decay; Blanche DuBois may stumble out the door at any moment.

    Jumping across to the even numbers on the west side of the street, a rare triplet of Gothic-style houses from the 1850s, at Nos. 128 to 132, confirms that this block of Vanderbilt is unusual. Although they are altered, early photographs indicate that they had delicate little brackets under the peaked gables.

    The standout row-house group on the street, at least in masonry, is the Gothic-style pair at 117 and 119. Built in the 1850s, they have mellow, irregular red brick facades — indeed so irregular that they were probably at first covered with stucco. The drip moldings around the windows and the verge-board — pierced wooden trim — at the cornice line make these a particular pleasure to contemplate. The 1870 census lists the occupant of No. 119 as Thomas Sperry, “Hoop Skirt Manufacturer,” who gave the value of his house as $6,000.

    Vanderbilt descends directly to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and census and directory listings are redolent of salt air, with Sandy Hook pilots, sea captains, caulkers and similar occupations; the 1888 Brooklyn city directory finds Henry A. Kloeppel, shipmaster, resident at No. 117.

    Vanderbilt is a street of columns and capitals, and the yellowish houses at Nos. 98 and 100 have a joint porch with a Doric portico, probably of the 1850s. One house has fish-scale shingles, the other aluminum siding; it is likely that both were originally clapboarded. No. 102 has some fine capitals, tending toward the Egyptian more than any Classical order.

    Two more gable-end houses of Gothic styling survive at 92 and 94 Vanderbilt. No. 92’s decay ventures beyond the charming into the alarming, with its falling-off siding and collapsing front stoop. Photographs from the 1940s indicate that it, too, had intricate verge-board trim, and show a delicate Gothic-style window at the top. It is a pity they are gone.

    At the same time, the asbestos-like shingle siding, perhaps from the 1940s, is a tour de force, vertical stripes in maroon, gray and other colors, like a weird 1950s blazer. It would be a tragedy to lose that, too.

    In 1854 an ad in The Eagle offered No. 92 for lease with seven rooms, an attic, a “woodhouse,” gas, speaking tubes and “water in kitchen,” all for $200 per year.

    The low-stoop brownstones at Nos. 80 to 86 were built in 1878 as an investment by the Pratt family, whose mansions are not far away on Clinton Avenue. If you like the romance of decay, prepare to propose to No. 84. Not only is it delaminating and flaking, but in places its blocks themselves are heaving out of line. Some have been secured with blobs of roofing tar, an endearingly innocent repair.

    The sizzling electric blue shingles of No. 76 contrast nicely with the demure Federal-style house across the street at No. 73, built in the 1830s. The sharp-edged floral carving on the wood panels over the doorway of No. 73 is impossibly intricate, and by rights should have rotted out decades ago, but looks sharp enough to open an oyster.

    Next door, the little two-story house of around 1850 at 71 Vanderbilt was completely rebuilt in the 1980s and is now a brilliant white, although most of the facade, including the columns, is invented. But the owner who renovated it in the 1980s lovingly kept the worn wooden threshold at the front door, cupped like the marble steps on a Greek temple. Over it walked the guests at a 33rd birthday party for Willis Van Duyne, a ferry master, in 1889. The Eagle reported that the house was “ablaze with lights and gayety.”

    The house at the foot of the block, No. 69, looks near collapse, with dingy asbestos-type siding, broken windows and a sagging porch. The house is well known to the Department of Buildings, which ordered it vacated in 2009. The owner’s listed telephone numbers are either disconnected or don’t answer.

    The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years. There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.

  5. #65
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    Oct 2002

    Default Flatbush

    She’s the One Holding the Keys


    By design, there is no “For Sale” sign staked outside the formidable 12-room colonial-style house at 225 Marlborough Road in Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Park South neighborhood. The pale stucco home, built for the long haul in 1922 but lately a bit under the weather, is in need of someone to coddle it. But Mary Kay Gallagher, the woman charged with finding that someone, is not interested in drive-by gentrifiers who might be seduced by its location and curb appeal.

    Signs, Ms. Gallagher said, attract attention-wasting voyeurs, not serious buyers. She can discern the difference in a heartbeat. Psychology is a big part of the real estate game.

    “A sign is a sign of desperation,” she said simply, definitively.

    If Ms. Gallagher, who began referring to some sellers as greedy back in the Gordon Gekko-esque 1980s, cannot say it with authority, she does not say it. Every syllable is a declaration: “I’m honest, and not everybody in this business is.”

    Mary Kay Gallagher got into real estate as a kind of civic duty, to help find responsible guardians for the shingled, gabled and columned behemoths in her own backyard. Forty years later, at 90, having become wealthy by selling — and reselling — these homes on what used to be seen as the wrong side of Prospect Park, Ms. Gallagher still envisions the business that way. If the lovely but too often unloved landmark homes of Victorian Flatbush outlive her intact, she can die a happy woman.

    Not yet, though. She’s busy making up for last year’s comatose sales.

    Despite her age and recent double knee-replacement surgery, Ms. Gallagher remains the heart, soul and boss of the boutique real estate firm that bears her name. She specializes in — detractors say monopolizes — the 2.5 square miles bordered by Prospect Park, Avenue H, Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue, commonly called Ditmas Park (though it is actually 12 microneighborhoods, whose distinctive qualities she will happily expound upon). It is her turf, and she guards it with the bellicose vigilance of a junkyard dog. Julie Kestyn, a longtime competitor with her own eponymous firm, called her an icon.

    “Mary Kay was the broker who, in the white-flight days when the neighborhoods all around Brooklyn were going down, helped keep this neighborhood good,” said Ms. Kestyn, who is 66 and lives in Midwood. “I get along with her, but there are people who don’t. She’s tough. I’ve been waiting for her to retire for the last 23 years, but why should she?”

    Ms. Gallagher — grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of four — works out of the barn-red, seven-bedroom house at 196 Marlborough that she and her husband bought for $29,500 in 1959. It is a privilege granted decades ago by the state licensing board after she lectured officials on why that made perfect sense: houses like hers on blocks like hers are what she markets, so why waste anybody’s time in an anonymous office on some busy boulevard? She was instructed to post her broker’s plaque in a front window, which is where it remains. She is coy about her commission, but insists it is lower than the going rate of 5 or 6 percent, and she says she always reduces it on sales above $1 million because “enough is enough.”

    Some say Ms. Gallagher saved this time capsule, composed of sprawling one-family homes, no two quite alike, from being chopped up into boarding houses or infiltrated by apartment buildings. Others say she unfairly steered minority buyers from the best properties. Ms. Gallagher, a nightly devotee of Bill O’Reilly, is no diplomat, and sure, her best friends (most of them dead) were white. And yes, she tends to grill prospective owners like a one-woman co-op board.

    “But I sell to blacks, to Asians, to Republicans; I sell to Jewish people, even though I would make a bad Jew because they have too many rules,” Ms. Gallagher said. “I don’t think I’m racist. I don’t say I’m such a good Catholic, either, but I know I’m not a bad one.”

    The stucco at 225 Marlborough was the first house she ever sold, in 1970, for $59,000, to a doctor who wanted to walk to work from his own Victorian-style home down the block. He ripped out the kitchen, turned the elegant first floor into an office suite and the second into an in-law apartment. Forty years later, after his death, his family — naturally — retained Mary Kay Gallagher. Asking price: $890,000 (reduced to $850,000).

    “I want to sell it to someone who restores it back to a one-family home,” she said after an open house that failed to net an offer. “But what I want, I don’t always get. Buyers these days don’t want to do any renovating. Especially if both the husband and wife have jobs. Who has time to sit around waiting for the contractor? They want things to be perfect, even in an old house.”

    Ms. Gallagher, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, one of five children of a leather salesman, got into real estate quite unintentionally at age 50. She was married with six children, that big house to keep up, and a hard-won tennis membership in the hitherto WASP-only Knickerbocker Club. But she was civic-minded. And the antithesis of a shrinking violet.

    As suburbia beckoned many of the middle-class white families that had populated the Flatbush area, the minority population surged to 20 percent in 1970 from 2 percent in 1960 (today, it is 58 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian), and blockbusting by brokers wanting to repurpose the area became a viable threat. Once the so-called Old Guard moved out, what mattered to her was replacing them with owners who cared enough and could afford to maintain their properties and preserve the neighborhood’s aesthetic. In 1970, Elliot Miller, then president of the Prospect Park South Civic Association, convinced Ms. Gallagher that she had the chops to recruit people like herself and her husband, Jack, who ran his family’s funeral home business on nearby Church Avenue. He told her to regard it as a community service. She did, and does.

    “I don’t sell houses, I show them,” she said. “I push, but I’m not pushy. I push up the neighborhood. I don’t pull those real estate agent stunts. I live here. I care who moves in, because what happens to these houses matters to me.”
    She never imagined it would make her a millionaire. In 2004 she became the first to sell a home in Victorian Flatbush for seven figures — a yellow palace on 17th Street that went for $1.17 million. Her most expensive listing ever was the Tara look-alike on Albemarle Road for $4.2 million in 2005 — she said she was relieved when it failed to sell. “It was a ridiculous price,” she admitted. “I knew people were saying, ‘What’s she been smoking?’ ”

    In 2007, her best year, her company grossed more than $1 million.

    Ms. Gallagher was one of the ringleaders pushing for Prospect Park South’s landmark designation, which it gained in 1979, the first of five of the area’s microneighborhoods to do so. Vinyl siding and bricked-over facades, along with the invasion of corporate real estate firms that delved deeper into Brooklyn in sync with rising property values, are the bane of her existence. When This Old House magazine ranked Ditmas Park among the top dozen places to buy an oldie in the United States, it seemed almost a tribute to her life’s work.

    “Corcoran and those other ones who come over here from Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope are a thorn in my side, but I still have the best houses,” she said. “Most people who want to buy or sell a house in this neighborhood know enough to come see me. I am a resource. No one knows this neighborhood like I do.”

    She is, as her granddaughter and heir apparent, Alexandra Reddish, observed, “essentially a brand.”

    “This is her whole life,” noted Ms. Reddish, 30. “It’s not just one big transaction.”

    A handful of young people eager to trade the convenience of brownstone Brooklyn for the space and grace of Victorian Flatbush were on the forlorn doorstep of 225 Marlborough by 1 p.m. on a recent Sunday for the open house. A few brought their checkbooks.

    “Hello, I’m Mary Kay,” Ms. Gallagher hollered into the expansive foyer. She wore an ancient cardigan, baggy corduroys and sensible shoes. On bad-knee days like this one, she is the downstairs docent while grandchildren act as tour guides of the upper floors.

    Though the original sale helped secure her a broker’s license, she was never totally happy about it. Undoing the changes made by the doctor and restoring the home’s original integrity will, she said, be daunting and expensive. “Here, take a brochure and a map,” she commanded all who walked in, generous with both handouts and opinions on the home’s untapped potential. “You’re going to have to use your imagination on this first floor, but take down these Sheetrock walls, put in a kitchen, and look at the space you’ve got. Oak parquet. Original moldings. A fireplace!”

    Heads nodded, and a bunch of imaginations proceeded to engage in renovation pipe dreams, apparently undaunted by the asking price or a backyard that cozies up to subway tracks. “There is a little bit of noise from the back,” she acknowledged. Later, she explained, “I don’t want to kill the sale, but you have to be honest with people about what they’re getting into.”

    It reminded Ms. Gallagher of the young man who showed up with a magnet and a marble to see a century-old house: “I don’t remember what the magnet was for, but he told me he brought the marble to test the floors: if it rolled at all, it meant the house was flawed.” Ms. Gallagher told the young man it was idiotic to think that houses don’t settle a bit in 100 years. Occasionally it can be worth losing a buyer.

    In 2009, Ms. Gallagher’s firm sold seven homes, the fewest of any year since she began. She has sold two so far in 2010 — 694 East 17th Street, for $1.075 million; 1409 Glenwood Road for $925,000 — plus a co-op apartment, and has contracts signed on two more houses and another apartment. The market, she said, is “coming up.”

    The first open house of the year, on Valentine’s Day, was at 722 Argyle Road, a vacant spring-green Victorian-style home listed for $995,000. Ms. Gallagher stood guard in blue baseball cap, vintage camel’s hair coat and beat-up leather gloves: the heat would not work, even for her.

    But she plowed on, apologizing to visitors with an indignant shrug toward the balky boiler in the basement and extolling the virtues of the place: “So much breathing room! And a turret!” She got two offers that day and recently sent it into contract for $910,000.

    Her listings are posted on her handsome, modest Web site — she says she created the first Brooklyn real estate site, in the late 1990s — and elsewhere online. But she said she relied as much on word of mouth, which is how she found her own house half a century ago: by chatting up a local homeowner after becoming disenchanted with the (male) real estate agent showing her around. She maintains that men make lousy real estate brokers because they do not pay attention to their clients’ wish lists, which in her case specified a driveway (she kept getting parking tickets in Prospect-Leffert Gardens), a serious front porch and closet space for a family of eight.

    Ms. Gallagher faithfully backs her blue 2005 Mercedes E320 into that driveway, a maneuver that inspires equal parts awe and incredulity among her neighbors, many of whom bought their homes from her.

    “We were wandering through the neighborhood checking out the houses and we ran into an elderly couple who asked if we were looking to buy a home,” said Amy Glosser, who with her husband, Janno Lieber, bought a seven-bedroom home three doors down from Ms. Gallagher’s in 2000. “When we told them we were, they said, ‘Then you must see Mary Kay Gallagher: she’s the mayor of the neighborhood.’

    “Mary Kay is like old wine, full of contrasts; she’s wonderfully direct and charming at the same time,” added Ms. Glosser, a 44-year-old mother of three. “But she was the only one selling houses here in the ’70s and ’80s, when people couldn’t bail out fast enough. The old-timers all attribute the stability of this neighborhood to her.”

    Inside Ms. Gallagher’s home are two computers and two land lines. There are phones in every room — yes, including the three and a half bathrooms. Ms. Gallagher gripes about being available 24/7 for “Nervous Nellie” buyers and sellers, but said that her only real regret about her career is that it forced her and her husband to give up Jets season tickets: she has always worked Sundays.

    Her concession to the chronological reality of being 90 is a motorized chair that whisks her upstairs. Her children insisted she have it installed after her knee replacements last year. For Christmas, she bought herself a 50-inch plasma television to watch sports.

    “The oldest thing in this house is me,” she said, settling into a recliner (the house itself was built in 1903). “I never used to tell people how old I was because I thought it might hurt the business. Nobody believes I’m 90, anyway.”

    She has lived here alone since her husband died of a heart attack in 2001, and said she would leave feet-first: “You’d never get me into a condo, and anyway, my family would die if I ever sold this house.” She estimates it could sell for $1.2 million — the 1960s kitchen and baths could use some updating.

    Ms. Gallagher’s first intended successor, her daughter Eileen Cullen, worked alongside her for 10 years before her death from breast cancer in 2005.

    “We really worked well together, and after she died, I thought, ‘Oh, this is it for the business; I can’t handle it alone,’ ” she said. “But Alexandra picked it up right away; she’ll be Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate someday. Or she can call it whatever she wants.”

    Ms. Reddish said she did not plan a name change. “In the first place, my grandmother is going to live forever. And in the second place, they didn’t change the name Corcoran, did they?”

  6. #66
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    Oct 2002


    Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn


    slide show

    Sterling Street

    Adjacent to Prospect Park

    Maple Street

    Rogers Avenue

    Sterling Street

    KIMBERLEE AULETTA grew up in Midtown, and for a long time Manhattan was where she imagined she would stay. Despite family roots in Brooklyn, where her father had grown up, she had never really considered moving there.

    But time brought a few epiphanies. The first came in a late 1990s winter, when friends who had moved to Brooklyn invited her to a Christmas party. It was at their house in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, on Maple Street, which has as many trees as the name implies. Ms. Auletta, now 40, was in her 20s. As she recalled recently, “I just couldn’t believe that they owned a house.”

    She later moved to Park Slope, that quintessential first step from Manhattan, and got married. But she never quite forgot the house, where her friends still lived. Last year Ms. Auletta — having, apparently after another epiphany, left a job at her father’s public relations company and graduated from a theological seminary — gave birth to her first child. Soon after that, she and her family finally joined her friends in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, buying a single-family brick house on Rutland Street in the neighborhood’s historic district.

    The advantages, she said, are obvious: a location adjacent to Prospect Park, attractive tree-lined blocks of houses and prewar apartment buildings, and the sense of community that comes from living in a place where the scale is small, turnover is low and neighbors greet one another on the sidewalk.

    The neighborhood is not cheap. Ms. Auletta would not disclose what she paid, but real estate records show that similar houses in the historic district, generally the most expensive, sell for around $1 million. Still, residents say that for an area so close to the park, they own a lot for their money.

    “We bought a whole brownstone for the price of a one-bedroom in Park Slope,” said Carrie McLaren, who has owned a two-family house on Hawthorne Street for almost five years, and blogs at “And,” she added, “we have rental income, because we have a tenant.”

    Hakim Edwards, an associate broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman and a resident, says a long history of homeownership — some of the area’s African-American and Caribbean families have lived there since the 1960s — creates a pleasant sense of familiarity.
    “You know most of your neighbors, you see them every day, you talk to them,” he said. “It’s been like that for years. It’s probably one of the friendlier neighborhoods that you’ll find.”

    Ms. Auletta said residents’ tendency to stay put was a big part of the area’s appeal. Her family is no exception: She and her husband, Eric Landau, who works for the Prospect Park Alliance, are expecting their second child. Their son, Beckett, is 14 months old. And she likes the way residents respond to shared challenges.

    “It’s a very, very strong community where there are active block associations, active neighborhood associations,” Ms. Auletta said. “Where you really feel that people’s involvement makes a real difference.”


    Pearl R. Miles is district manager of Community Board 9, which covers the 11-block-long, 5-block-wide area. She describes it as predominantly residential, with most of the roughly 30,000 residents leaving to go to work. The largest nearby employers, she said, are in the complex of hospitals just east of the area, Kings County Hospital Center, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Kingsboro Psychiatric Center among them.

    The main commercial strip is Flatbush Avenue — a relatively leafy stretch of that thoroughfare, but one that many residents still wish had more to offer. Mr. Edwards said commercial rents there had climbed too high for most small businesses to afford. Ms. McLaren said the strip had been hurt by unresponsive absentee landlords, and by the lack of a business improvement district — a group that promotes the well-being of a commercial district in exchange for fees from business owners.

    Apart from Flatbush, retail corridors are Nostrand Avenue, typically busy only around the subway stations, and Rogers Avenue, which can feel desolate even at midday.

    The greenest blocks in the neighborhood are closer to Flatbush. Most of the historic district is in an enclave called Lefferts Manor, an early development between Flatbush and Rogers Avenues where restrictive covenants require most houses to remain single-family dwellings.

    Even so, there are plenty of apartment and co-op buildings — many along Flatbush Avenue, but some sharing blocks with detached houses on streets like Lefferts Avenue and Lincoln Road. A number of the buildings along Ocean Avenue, facing the park, are prewar rentals and co-ops. New construction is rare in the area, but some condominiums have been built around its fringes recently, including a 30-unit building at 2114 Bedford Avenue, just over the southern boundary.

    One project now going up is in a busy section. A company called Park Tower secured permits in June to build a 24-story, 88-unit building next to the Prospect Park subway stop at 510 Flatbush Avenue. Just downstairs, in a building surrounded by the project’s L-shaped site, is K-Dog & Dunebuggy, a coffee shop that is a hub for new residents.


    Alyssa Morris, a vice president of the Corcoran Group who is Ms. Auletta’s neighbor on Rutland Street, says prices for single-family houses range widely, from around $700,000 up to $1.3 million. Two-family houses, she said, cost around $900,000 — more if they are in the historic district, and less if they are smaller or need more work.
    Mr. Edwards says that because the neighborhood is small and stock is relatively limited, price ranges vary based on subtle factors.

    “If you’re on Maple between Bedford and Rogers,” he said, “you’re paying a different amount than if you’re on Rutland between Bedford and Rogers. It all depends on the block, it depends on the architecture, and it also depends on the quality of the renovations you’ve done.”

    For condos and co-ops, Ms. Morris said, two-bedrooms range from just over $300,000 to $450,000, depending on size. A check of Craigslist showed one-bedroom rentals between $1,200 and $1,400 a month, and two-bedrooms at $1,500 to $1,700.


    On the western border, Prospect Park — at 585 acres, according to the Park Alliance — is the largest attraction nearby, with its lake, ice-skating rink and zoo near three large entrances on Parkside Avenue, Lincoln Road and Empire Boulevard. The park’s Audubon Center, near the Lincoln Road entrance, features exhibits dedicated to wildlife preservation and nature education. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is just northwest of the neighborhood, adjacent to the park, with an Empire Boulevard entrance.


    The B and Q trains stop on Flatbush Avenue, both at the Prospect Park stop, in the northwestern corner, and at the Parkside Avenue stop, to the southwest. The Nos. 2 and 5 trains run under Nostrand Avenue, to the east, stopping at Sterling and Winthrop Streets. The Q, 2 and 5 trains all typically run express when they enter Manhattan. Finally, the Prospect Park stop is home to a shuttle line that connects to the 2 and 5, and to the C train at Franklin Avenue. The trip to Midtown takes roughly 40 minutes.


    Elementary students are zoned to attend one of five public schools, all of which received A’s on their most recent city progress reports: Public Schools 91, 92, 161, 375 and 397.

    Some middle school students are zoned for Ebbets Field Middle School, where 40.1 percent tested proficient in English last year, 70.8 percent in math. Others attend either Middle School 61, on Empire Boulevard, or No. 2 on Parkside Avenue. At No. 61, 70.4 percent were proficient in English and 69.4 percent in math. At No. 2 the numbers were 50.7 percent in English and 56.8 in math.

    The nearest public high school is Medgar Evers College Preparatory School, on Carroll Street in Crown Heights. It scored an A on its most recent progress report, with SAT averages of 457 in reading, 474 in math and 449 in writing. State averages were 435, 432 and 439.

    The Lefferts Gardens Charter School, which will teach kindergarten through fifth grade in an environmental science program, will begin operating at Public School 92 in September, admitting children from all over the city.


    The land that is now Prospect-Lefferts Gardens was farmland before residential construction began there in the 1890s, continuing into the 1930s. The historic district, which includes Lefferts Manor and a few blocks to the northeast along Lefferts Avenue and Sterling Street, was designated in 1979.

    As for Lefferts, the name originates with a 17th-century Dutch settler, Leffert Pietersen van Haughwout, whose family retained the land for centuries. One descendant, Peter Lefferts, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Another, James Lefferts, sold the land to develop row houses. The name was officially conferred on the neighborhood in 1969.
    Last edited by Merry; July 23rd, 2010 at 09:03 PM. Reason: Prospect-Lefferts Gardens

  7. #67
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    It wasn't clear exactly where in Brooklyn is is (anyone?).

    Not very good for the building probably, but it looks lovely.

  8. #68
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Brooklyn, planet Earth


    Caption says Sunset Park waterfront. This is probably in the vicinity of the Bush Terminal warehouses. My pops worked there back in the day.

  9. #69
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Here 'tis (large image):

    Brooklyn Army Terminal Warehouse, 58th Street

    Very handsome building.

    Brooklyn Army Terminal

    The Brooklyn Army Supply Base (also known as the Brooklyn Military Ocean Terminal) was built in 1917-1918. It one of seven such facilities created to handle increased overseas shipping demand during the first World War when the limitations of the existing commercial facilities quickly became obvious. Bush Terminal owner Irving T. Bush made initial studies for the base based on both his own experience with his facility and a municipal plan from 1906 that had never been realized. Quartermaster General George W. Goethals had overall responsibility for construction...
    Lots of pics of Sunset Park

  10. #70
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Sea Gate, Brooklyn

    By C. J. HUGHES

    A view of the southern shore beaches. Sea Gate has a wide range of home styles,
    though its numerous Mediterranean-type houses, with curvy roofs and red tile,
    help to heighten the community’s seaside feel.

    FOR New Yorkers who don’t make it out to the far western edge of Coney Island too often, Sea Gate might be more familiar as the skinny thumb of land that appears below window seats during some takeoffs from Kennedy International Airport.

    But getting into the neighborhood by land is another story. True to its name, Sea Gate is a gated community, surrounded by beaches. Although this type of secure enclave may be unusual in an urban setting like New York City, its 832 homes seem no less exclusive than their suburban counterparts. Drivers will have a hard time getting past the checkpoints at the 90-acre community’s only two entrances, on Surf and Neptune Avenues, without the sticker given to residents.

    Mark Koganov, a builder, enjoyed a sneak peek in the mid-1990s when delivering lumber for a construction project. On jobs around the region, like in Connecticut, he had come across gated communities, “but it seemed kind of weird there was one here,” he said.

    Surprise soon gave way to amazement as Mr. Koganov found 19th-century mansions nestled by modest brick midcentury styles on streets that seemed much calmer than Midwood, Brooklyn, where he was renting a two-bedroom. And a few years later, when it came time to buy, that first impression tipped the scales toward Sea Gate over Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay.

    Today, Mr. Koganov, 46, and his family live in part of a two-family house, with five bedrooms and two full and two half baths, that cost $400,000 in 2002, though he put in an additional $70,000 for new windows, doors and a deck. The other unit belongs to Mr. Koganov’s mother, Sofia.

    It is not uncommon for multiple generations to live under one roof in Sea Gate, where families stick around for decades. Renee Levinson, for instance, moved into an apartment in her parents’ house in 1963, after getting married, and has lived within a few blocks of that address ever since.

    And today, Ms. Levinson, 68, plays host to her own son, David, in a red-brick 1920 house with 2,000 square feet of space. Like many properties it seems to have been constructed for a single family but was subsequently divided up, which means decades of renters have left rooms worse for wear.

    Ms. Levinson even rented out the home for 17 years after buying it in 1983 for $80,000, so when it came time to relocate there herself, in 2000, she had to invest $100,000 to redo the bathrooms, replace all 32 windows and paint the walls. Recently, she said, it was appraised at $475,000.

    While homes may be improving with age, what hasn’t changed is the serenity that comes, perhaps, with a carefully controlled environment. “I still don’t feel like I’m New York,” she said, “because if somebody talks outside, it’s like they’re disturbing us.”


    With a nearly continuous ring of sand around Sea Gate’s perimeter, the beach is never far away, though it’s far wider in some places than others.

    A jetty built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1995 at West 37th Street to replenish Coney Island’s shoreline actually pulled sand away from the southern edge of Sea Gate.

    Yet some of that sand wound up on the neighborhood’s northern shore, creating a series of rippling dunes where waves once splashed against seawalls.

    A popular place to view that shore is “Lindy Park,” named for Charles Lindbergh. Ships can also be seen hauling checkerboard stacks of containers under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Most beachgoers who want to swim, though, head to the end of Beach 42nd Street, where residents can pay for a pass to get access to a shore with a pair of concrete former gun mounts from World War II.

    The seaside feel in Sea Gate is heightened by a number of Mediterranean-style homes, whose curvy roofs recall Spanish missions. One whose deep eaves are topped with bright red tiles stands at Lyme and Highland Avenues, while the rounded dormers a few steps away recall the profile of the Alamo.

    Other exuberant historic styles include Queen Annes, like the one with a turret and ample shingles on the property of the 75-foot Coney Island Lighthouse. It was the former home of Frank Schubert, the country’s last civilian lighthouse keeper, who died in 2003.

    While rentals abound, there’s just one true apartment building, at Sea Gate and Poplar Avenues. And condominiums were nonexistent until a few years ago.

    Once a stopover for sailing aristocrats like Astors and Vanderbilts, Sea Gate has seen its ethnic makeup shift over the years.

    Mr. Koganov, who emigrated from Azerbaijan in 1993, is part of a wave of ethnic Russians that has moved to the neighborhood, according to the Sea Gate Association, which owns the neighborhood’s public spaces. Other residents are from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine, according to the 2000 census.


    In late August, there were 13 properties for sale, from a $349,000 two-bedroom condo to a $1.5 million two-family house. Brokers say the number is actually high, because turnover is so rare and inventory low.

    Similarly, the first six months of 2010 were also busy, with four sales at an average of $580,000 and seven contracts pending, according to Rich Schulhoff, the chief executive of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors, using data from the Brooklyn New York Multiple Listing Service.

    At that pace, 2010 will surpass 2009, when five homes sold for an average of $484,000, and even the boom year of 2007, when seven homes sold at an average of $528,085, according to the data.

    What gives some buyers pause is that homeowners must pay annual dues to the Sea Gate Association to cover security, street maintenance and park upkeep, which are 13 percent of assessed home value and comparable to one’s property tax bill.

    But that “double tax” should be weighed against prices, which are lower than in comparable areas like Mill Basin, said Natalia Tandler, a broker with Fillmore Real Estate. Indeed, from January through June, 21 homes sold there for an average of $761,047, the listing data shows, which makes Sea Gate about 25 percent cheaper.

    Plus, “Sea Gate was never a commercial area like other places, so there was no garbage dumped that can lead to health problems,” Ms. Tandler said. “We’re ecologically clean.”


    There are no stores “in the gate,” as locals refer to it, just a few food vendor trucks, like the yellow-and-white one with ice cream on a recent morning near the beach entrance.

    Another, with an American flag draped over its hood, sold sausage and pepper sandwiches ($6.50) from a parking lot behind the Nova Gymnastics Center, where young girls played foosball.

    The Sea Gate Beach Club, whose striped beachside cabanas cost $4,995 a season if shared between two families, has 2,000 members, but most of them are from elsewhere. The club, whose members have use of special magnetized gate keys, closes for the summer season this weekend.


    The closest elementary school is Public School 188, where 33 percent of fourth-graders this year met standards on the English state exams, while 53 percent did in math.
    At top-performing Intermediate School 239, meanwhile, 84 percent of eighth-graders met standards in English and 95 percent did so in math.

    At Abraham Lincoln High School, which enrolled 2,533 students last year, the graduation rate is about average, at 61 percent in 2009, which was up from 50 percent in 2005.

    On last year’s SATs, students averaged 432 in math, 411 in reading and 401 in writing, versus 502, 485 and 478 statewide.


    The nearest subway stop, which offers D, F, Q and N trains, is about a mile and a half away, though the B36 and B74 buses deliver commuters there from the neighborhood’s gates.

    There’s also the X28 express bus to Midtown Manhattan from Neptune. On weekday mornings, five buses leave from 6 to 8:01 a.m. for a 1-hour-and-20-minute trip, for $5.50.


    Once known as Norton’s Point for the owner of a casino where the lighthouse stands today, the neighborhood was developed in 1892 by Alrick Man, according to Charles Denson, the author of “Coney Island: Lost and Found” (Ten Speed Press, 2004).
    But a seedy image may have persisted, as a 1917 brochure to lure buyers promised that patrols kept out “peddlers, beggars, picnickers, hurdy-gurdies and other jarring factors,” the book says.

  11. #71
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    The Williamsburg Special: From hipster haven to hotspot, this nabe is an NYC real estate draw

    BY Jason Sheftell

    Forget the hipster stigma, housing crisis, lack of schools and stunted condominium projects. For style, culture, food, music and livability, Williamsburg might be the best neighborhood in the United States, surpassing the East Village, West Village and Silver Lake in Los Angeles as the place to build a young, creative life.

    If Williamsburg plays its cards right, and local business, real estate and political leaders think strategically about growth, parts of it could exceed Melrose Ave. and South Beach in defining cool for the fashion, design and young celebrity set, who have slowly marked their territory with stealth rentals, new boutiques and condo purchases.

    First, let's stop talking about it as one neighborhood. It's six, with areas as distinct from each other as the upper East Side is from Tribeca. Williamsburg is so huge that if you picked it up and placed it over lower Manhattan, it would stretch from Houston St. to the tip of the island.

    Ethnically, it's as diverse as any place in the city, with 80-year-old Italians who have lived there all their lives, multiple Latino nationalities, trendy twentysomethings, growing families, high-tech gearheads and artists and musicians sticking it out as once-desolate streets radically change every six months. Around here, though, the old guard doesn't mind newcomers who bring vitality, youth, energy and style to wide streets that overflow with sunshine due to the mostly low-scale architecture.

    WHY NOW?

    Something worked here. It might have been a rezoning program that emphasized taller buildings on the waterfront and highly trafficked streets, while protecting the three-story residential neighborhoods inland. It could be the affordable rental prices that appealed to young adults moving to New York for the first time from cities as close as Philadelphia and as far as Sao Paulo, Brazil. It might have been cheap retail that drew new restaurants like Fette Sau to an old garage on Metropolitan Ave. or Brooklyn Bowl to an old warehouse on Wythe Ave.

    It might have been all of the above, but developers and residents are as high on these streets as anywhere else in the city right now.

    "There is no doubt that Williamsburg is and will continue to be the hottest neighborhood for the 25- to 35-year- old demographic for the next 10 years," says Jeff Levine, CEO of Douglaston Development, builder of the Edge, the 1,000-plus unit, mixed-use complex on the waterfront. "For fashion, arts, entertainment and now for home buying, there is no finer place in New York. It has it all and it can only get better."

    1 2 3 4 5 6 Next Page

  12. #72
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Borough Park, Brooklyn


    The view down New Utrecht Ave with the D train running overhead

    The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States

    slide show

    IN late September, during the final days of the weeklong holiday of Sukkot, young boys in white shirts and black hats could often be seen lining the streets of Borough Park, a large neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. Standing behind folding card tables arrayed with long, thin willow branches to be waved in synagogue, they called out in Yiddish, hoping to attract customers from among the crowds of shoppers who exited, bags in hand, the kosher markets of 13th Avenue.

    The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States — “the Jewish capital of the United States” and a “kosher utopia,” according to David G. Greenfield, who lives and works in Borough Park, in addition to representing it in the City Council.

    Religious tradition and ritual touch nearly every aspect of neighborhood life. During Sukkot, sidewalks and apartment balconies sprouted sukkahs, the traditional wooden booths commemorating the structures that ancient Israelites lived in after their exodus from Egypt.

    Borough Park’s commercial strips, 13th and 16th Avenues, are lined with independently owned businesses, many of them religious-themed. The few chain stores — Rite Aid, Duane Reade, the Children’s Place — are closed on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

    Although Orthodox Jews make up the majority of Borough Park’s residents, other groups are represented. Residents like Amy Sicignano, who was brought up amid the neighborhood’s considerable Italian and Irish populations, have ended up acquiring an appreciation of Orthodox rituals.

    Ms. Sicignano, 63, has a childhood memory of her parents’ being asked to turn on the lights in Orthodox neighbors’ houses on Saturdays. The reason for such requests — the Orthodox rule prohibiting the operation of anything mechanical or electrical on the Sabbath — remained a mystery to her until adulthood, when she gained familiarity with Orthodox traditions and holidays through a job in a neighborhood flower shop.
    “Living in Borough Park is living in another world, really,” she said.

    Borough Park (sometimes written Boro Park) is about 200 blocks in area, and has a population of more than 100,000, census figures show. The abundance of children, and strollers, is a striking feature of street life — a reflection of the Hasidic tradition of raising large families. And the 711-bed Maimonides Medical Center, which abuts Borough Park, is said to deliver more babies than any other hospital in New York State, according to Eileen Tynion, a spokeswoman. In 2009, 7,704 babies were delivered; Ms. Tynion said projections for 2010 exceeded 8,000.

    In addition to its abundance of independent stores, Borough Park demonstrates its self-sufficiency through a variety of all-volunteer service groups. In September four members of Shomrim, a volunteer security patrol, were wounded by gunfire in a confrontation — an unsettling anomaly in this generally low-crime neighborhood, residents and officials say.

    There is also Chaveirim, a free service much like AAA, for residents who find themselves with a flat tire or locked out of their houses. Aron Kohn, Chaveirim’s founder and director, said its hot line received about 150 calls a day.


    Bounded by Fort Hamilton Parkway to the west, 60th Street to the south, McDonald Avenue and Bay Parkway to the east, and McDonald Avenue to the north, the neighborhood is home to more than 300 religious institutions, according to Councilman Greenfield. Most are Jewish: yeshivas and synagogues abound, some of them huge, their exteriors bearing Hebrew signage, others smaller and less noticeable.

    But there are also exceptions, like St. Frances de Chantal, a Roman Catholic Church on 58th Street, delivering Masses in English and Polish; a statue of Pope John Paul II stands out front.

    “There are four houses of worship on my block,” said Mendel Zilberberg, a lawyer who lives with his wife, Zissie, and children, 9 and 10, in a six-bedroom house on 55th Street. Mr. Zilberberg is involved with several area schools and social organizations, as well as his synagogue, across the street from his home.

    “In a community like this, which is really set up to help its fellow man,” he said, “you cannot simply be on the receiving end.”

    The typically large family size is reflected in the housing. Although there are some detached single-family homes, they are far outnumbered by large brick multifamilies. (In recent years, these have spread beyond the neighborhood’s southern boundary on 60th Street.) With space at a premium, three- and four-story homes are common, and many are built out nearly to the sidewalk. “Every square inch is being utilized here,” Mr. Greenfield said. In neighboring Bensonhurst, the contrast is evident: there is simply more space between houses, many of which have front yards and landscaping — rarities in Borough Park.

    In 1968, after moving out of her childhood home on 51st Street, Ms. Sicignano moved five blocks away into her current house, a five-bedroom two-bath single-family previously occupied by relatives.

    Ms. Sicignano, whose husband died eight years ago, put her house on the market in May, at $849,000. The thought of leaving Borough Park pains her, she said, but she would like to be closer to her son and his family on Long Island.

    Jack Favaloro, who grew up in the area and owned an electronics repair store on 11th Avenue, remembered a street of detached and semidetached houses. “It’s like day and night,” he said. “Now it’s wall-to-wall brick houses, three and four stories high.”

    Mr. Favaloro, who is in his late 50s, now lives in Staten Island. A few months ago he learned of the Facebook group “Old Boro Park Brooklyn,” and visits the site two or three times a week, to chat about the area and view photos posted by other former residents.

    Karol Joswick, the assistant district manager of Community Board 12, described affordable housing as a perennial concern. In August, the City Planning Commission approved a proposal for the construction of about 68 units of affordable housing on the site of a former elevated subway line in the north of the neighborhood. The plan awaits the City Council’s review.

    Other changes are afoot. An application has been filed with the Department of City Planning for the conversion of Maple Lanes, a bowling alley, into 116 residential units and a synagogue, a department spokeswoman said.


    Brokers and residents say Borough Park prices are largely recession-proof. Since observant Jews must live within walking distance of their synagogues, demand is high. Detached single-family houses and semidetached multifamily houses routinely fetch more than $1 million, said Charles Fabbella, an agent with Ben Bay Realty Company of Bay Ridge, though smaller apartments in the $300,000 to $400,000 range can be found. The average list price in the neighborhood is $773,000, Mr. Fabbella said, adding that about 20 properties are currently listed. Homes average 30 to 45 days on the market; last year, he said, the selling process would often last more than six months.

    In recent years, Asian-Americans have been buying homes in the neighborhood, brokers say. Still, the majority remain Orthodox Jews, in large part because children tend to settle close to their parents, said Joseph Devito, an agent for Fillmore Realty.


    There are dozens of shops and restaurants on the commercial thoroughfares of 13th and 16th Avenues: schnitzel bars; the fast-food restaurant Kosher Delight; hat and wig shops; men’s and ladies’ clothing stores; maternity shops. Eichler’s, a “Judaica superstore,” is stocked with music, children’s books, clothing, and framed photographs of prominent rabbis. Toys include the Jewish Viewer, a viewfinder with slides showing scenes from Jewish history.

    The Living Torah Museum, on 41st Street, exhibits ancient artifacts.

    The Brooklyn Public Library branch is on 43rd Street at 13th Avenue.


    In addition to the wealth of yeshivas and religious schools, public elementary schools include Public School 164 Caesar Rodney, on 14th Avenue, serving prekindergarten through Grade 5. Last year 52.5 percent of fourth-graders met standards in English, 78.3 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

    Among the closest public middle schools is Junior High School 223 the Montauk, on 16th Avenue, serving Grades 6 through 8. Last year, 35.9 percent of eighth-graders met standards in English, 53 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, on 20th Avenue, serves Grades 9 through 12. SAT averages in 2009 were 390 in reading, 489 in math and 387 in writing, versus 434, 458 and 432 citywide.


    Borough Park is served by the F and D trains; it is about 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan. Bus lines include the 16, which runs along 13th and 14th Avenues, and the 11, which runs along 49th and 50th Streets.


    The neighborhood’s first synagogue was built in 1904, and the construction of the elevated New Utrecht Avenue train line — now the D — fueled the area’s growth after World War I.

  13. #73
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    Oct 2002


    Red hot Red Hook: Out-of-the-way Brooklyn nabe is a draw all on its own

    BY Jason Sheftell

    A look at a peaceful corner of Pioneer St in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


    SEE: Van Brunt St., Fairway, art galleries and shops, the waterfront and old houses on Coffey St. and Pioneer St. Also: Red Hook Park & Atlantic Basin.
    EAT: The Good Fork, 391 Van Brunt St. & Red Hook Lobster Pound, 284 Van Brunt St.
    BUY: Erie Basin, Folk art and 19th-century jewelry, 388 Van Brunt St.
    TRANSIT: A/C/F to Jay St. and transfer to the B61 bus or F/G to Smith St. and walk or transfer to the B61. Water Taxi runs from Wall St. Pier 19 to Ikea; free on weekends, $5 weekdays.

    Conservative real estate speculators and house hunters used to think of Red Hook as too out of the way, too hard to get to and too raw for any serious cash commitment.
    That's changing quickly, as this little hamlet jutting into the harbor like Brooklyn's big toe offers the closest thing to small-town, almost affordable, living anywhere in the five boroughs.

    As the New York City waterfronts continue to explode and thrive as the best places to live in town, Red Hook can only get better.

    Spending time here is like being in a Nantucket fishing village. It's on the water, close enough to almost touch Governors Island. People ride bikes all over normally empty streets, and four garden centers keep it more green than other combination industrial and residential areas.

    Baked is just one of the many shops along the ever-changing Van Brunt Street.

    Small restaurants and boutiques selling hand-made jewelry and bizarre antiques, such as 17th-century elementary-school desks, pop up around corners. Painted signs on warehouse walls point to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies, a local shop.

    Cruise boats that dock nearby are in constant motion, and the ferry to Ikea from Wall St. maneuvers the seashore like a pesky bumblebee. The B61 bus ambles along quiet streets, running from downtown Brooklyn to Prospect Park with stops in Cobble Hill, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace.

    A look inside the Mercado, the outdoor food station where you can get authentic Mexican food.

    Small city parks adjoin antique radio towers, giant satellite dishes and boat-repair shops. One house still has a wooden, thick-wired pulley above a second-floor window. It was once used to hoist bushels of produce to a storage space above the ground-floor office. All this makes for strange-but-true urban eye candy.

    On the waterfront, the Fairway market is next door to one-story art galleries and workspaces. Lofts above Fairway have large windows opening on New York Harbor. Huge, with 18-foor ceilings, these spaces start at $3,500, available from the O'Connell Organization, a family-owned development group that brought Fairway to the area.

    The path behind the Fairway Supermarket is lined with benches for waterfront relaxing. (page 2)

    2 3 4

  14. #74


    Red Hook might be the best neighborhood to live in if you want to be in NYC but never go into the city.

  15. #75
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    Oct 2002

    Default Cypress Hills

    Where Prices Are Practical, and Cuisines Colorful


    slide show

    IN August, Debra Kayman bought her first home, a two-family on Ashford Street in Cypress Hills, in the East New York section of Brooklyn. She came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago in 1985, living in East Flatbush with family until her move to Cypress Hills in 1988. There she rented a succession of apartments, including one on Arlington Avenue near the stately Arlington branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, built a century ago by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

    Ms. Kayman’s house, which consists of a four-bedroom owner unit and a two-bedroom rental, cost $424,831; she lives there with her fiancé and her 13-year-old daughter, and works in Fort Greene as an education assistant for the New York City Board of Education.

    She has never considered leaving Cypress Hills, despite East New York’s reputation for crime — a reputation reinforced last month when the Police Department identified the precinct that includes East New York as one of three with the biggest increase in robberies.

    Ms. Kayman says she has never felt unsafe. On the contrary, she enjoys browsing the specialty shops along Fulton Street, with their foods and merchandise evoking the richness of distant countries whose immigrants make up much of the community: Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana.

    Over the years, various efforts and changes have helped Cypress Hills vanquish much of the blight and danger Ms. Kayman alluded to. But the specter of that past still lingers, especially among longtime residents and activists, who are only now beginning to see a return on their investment.

    “When we go back two decades ago,” said Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, a lifelong resident whose district includes Cypress Hills, “there were issues in regard to public safety, the infrastructure was crumbling. But we have solidly turned that around, and there is a vibrant new feeling out here in this area. It’s no longer a community of last resort. It’s a community of choice.”

    Among the agents of change is the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, founded in 1983. It is responsible for more than 300 units of affordable housing, and has 200 more units now in progress, said Michelle Neugebauer, the corporation’s executive director.
    Ms. Kayman is one who has benefited. Her home would have cost an additional $140,000 without subsidies from the city and the local group.

    It also works with merchants to improve the retail corridor along Fulton Street, and collaborated with the city Department of Education to create a new school, Public School 89 Cypress Hills, which opened in September and serves students through Grade 8.

    “It’s always been a first-homeownership kind of place,” said Bishop David Benke, an activist who since 1974 has been the pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on Highland Place. “A lot of people come here wanting to push their kids through school, people who want the best for their families. They’re first- or second-generation immigrants, and the young-adult crowd that follows is usually very dedicated to family.”

    His more than 30 years in Cypress Hills have provided glimpses of this ethic from a previous era — German and Irish immigrants who once, he says, operated an abundance of ice cream shops in the neighborhood — as well as among the currently dominant Latinos.

    Lance Wenceslao, 65, who was born and raised in the area in a Catholic family, said the Cypress Hills of his youth, “quiet and bare,” had become “a far more vibrant Hispanic neighborhood.” Mr. Wenceslao retired to Georgia in 2002, but only recently put his house on the market; his grown children lived in it after he moved. The colonial, on Barbey Street, is listed at $400,000.


    Occupying a little more than a square mile, and wedged just south of the mass of cemeteries that separates Brooklyn and Queens, Cypress Hills is home to more than 40,000 people. Although neighborhood contours are often a subject of contention, its boundaries are described by the Encyclopedia of New York City and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation as the Queens border to the north, Atlantic Avenue to the south, Pennsylvania Avenue to the west and Eldert Lane to the east.

    From the vantage point of Jamaica Avenue, the expanse of cemeteries to the north, with Queens on its far side, offers views of mausoleums, headstones and markers, along with huge brick arches and abandoned buildings.

    As Bishop Benke put it, “Our neighbors to the north are very quiet.”

    Fulton Street is a mix of barber and beauty shops, bodegas and storefront churches beneath the rusted yellow elevated tracks of the J and Z trains. Latino restaurants proliferate as one moves eastward: takeout joints; sprawling seafood places advertising Saturday-night karaoke; Salvadoran pupuserías, where men gather over a lunchtime Presidente beer to the soundtrack of unwatched Univision soap operas. Eventually, the tracks diverge from Fulton Street and begin a northward curve, giving riders a close-up of the cornices of otherwise anonymous buildings.

    “We’re starting to see a lot of redevelopment of our commercial strips, making it more exciting and viable for the next generation of homeowners,” said Assemblyman Towns, noting that Cypress Hills was not yet a “Starbucks community.” (While residents elsewhere might wish for fewer Starbucks outlets, Mr. Towns implied that if one arrived, it would be a key marker of progress; he noted with pride that the local Dunkin’ Donuts offers WiFi.)

    The development corporation occupies several storefronts along Fulton Street, and has helped bring in businesses like a day care center and a sporting goods store.

    In January, Javier N. Solis opened a new franchise of Los Taxes, a tax preparation company with a mostly Hispanic clientele, in one of the development corporation’s Fulton Street buildings. Mr. Solis, who lives in Queens and has worked in Cypress Hills for about 15 years, recalled more dangerous days.

    “I had the cellphone number for a D.A. in the narcotics division,” he said, adding that in the 1990s he would alert the official to suspicious activity.

    To speak to residents and business owners is to hear stories of progress made, work yet to be done and protectiveness of the community’s image.

    “We had to work to better the neighborhood,” said Wilson Piña, who owns a travel agency, the Atlas Travel Group, as well as the Highland Driving School. He cited the variety of restaurants, affordable shopping and convenient transportation as reasons people are increasingly willing to stay. “This is not a bad neighborhood,” he said. “This is a good neighborhood.”

    “It’s such a diverse area, in terms of housing types,” said Raymond Parasmo, a broker with Fillmore Real Estate. In the southern portion, blocks are lined with attached houses; as one travels north, the land inclines and detached houses become more common, including large ones near Highland Park, bordered by metal fences or brick walls.

    Single-family houses are priced from $275,000 to $350,000, brokers say, and two-families start around $400,000. Houses tend to linger four to six months, as they did last year, said Cirilo Rodriguez, a broker with Charles Rutenberg Realty. Recent buyers have been from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

    Rentals are scarce, said Lassaad Messai of Best Way Home Realty. Some can be found in multifamily homes, one-bedroom units for about $1,000 and two-bedrooms for about $1,250.

    Mark Kerr, an agent with Fillmore Real Estate, said prices in Cypress Hills and surrounding areas were down 15 to 20 percent over the last year or so.


    The J and Z trains serve Cypress Hills; commuting to Midtown Manhattan takes about 50 minutes. Area buses include the 56, along Jamaica Avenue, and the 24, along Atlantic Avenue.


    The Arlington branch of the Brooklyn Public Library went up in 1907, one of the original libraries built by Carnegie. The split-level building has various wooden staircases leading to reading rooms, one of which has a nonfunctioning brick fireplace.

    The 141-acre Highland Park has tennis courts and a synthetic turf field for football and soccer that opened in 2009.


    Elementary schools in the general area include Public School 108 Sal Abbracciamento, through Grade 5. Last year 39.1 percent of fourth graders met standards in English and 66.4 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

    Junior High School 302 Rafael Cordero teaches Grades 6 through 8. Nineteen percent of eighth graders met standards in English, 18.5 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

    Franklin K. Lane High School, on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, serves Grades 9 through 12. SAT averages last year were 353 in reading, 379 in math and 341 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


    About 380,000 people are interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery, according to “Cypress Hills Cemetery,” by Stephen C. Duer and Allan B. Smith, published in September. Among them are Mae West and Jackie Robinson.

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