Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sunset Park Library Air Conditioning Issue finally getting traction in local press




The Sunset Park Library's lack of air conditioning is finally getting attention in other outlets outside of the neighborhood after three weeks. My first post after five days when I saw there was not going to be a fix may have been the impetus. But I won't take any credit for it. Yesterday a story appeared in the The Brooklyn Paper and today  DNAinfo a website that covers all of New York City picked it up. A temporary fix is due to be in place by next week when the "news" will already be old. However, it's nice to see that the neighborhood is finally getting some attention and people are beginning to realize that things are going on in the nabe besides just the library issue. Is there a chance that one of the three main newspapers will be next on the list? We can only hope..

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sunset Park On The Web Today





So much stuff and so little time. The web is full of stuff about Sunset Park today and not enough time to write about it in detail..





And there's a bunch of dupes on other blogs. You would think that someone is story dumping on the press and hyping the story to get reaction. From experience in politics I can tell you that none of this happens by accident. All these fluff pieces are designed to evict a certain reaction and not from long time residents of the nabe. This is all by design to accelerate the process of gentrification, attract investors and renters to the complex. Coincidence that this avalanche of stories appear a few days apart on all the mainstream press? I think not. One theme has been running in all the economic stories about Sunset Park, GENTRIFICATION..

Our Library Situation Makes The Brooklyn Paper





Our library situation made The Brooklyn Papers today. This blogger gets honorable mention in the article. At least we got some coverage and people beyond our little nabe will know what's been happening here.. You can read the rest of the story here..

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Brief Visit to The Industry City Food Court



Wall Art as you enter the building at the food court at Industry City..


Industry City has been in the news a great deal lately. Whether it is warranted or the articles are paid for in an effort to hype the place is a discussion for another time. I suspect that it's a little bit of both. I happened to be a few blocks from 36th street and had a few minutes to kill so I walked over to see what the food court was about. There are huge flags hanging on the outside of the building at 36th street but I didn't see any store fronts. I asked a security guard where the food court was and he pointed to the entrance and I went in. The ground floor is festooned with wall art to try to give it a different atmosphere from the reality that this is basically an industrial building where all the plumbing and wiring is on the outside rather than in the walls. It's very clear that the place was just recently completed and revamped and half the locations on the ground floor have yet to be either rented or are undergoing further construction. I would guesstimate that half the floor space is still to be rented. a walk a little further down the hall I saw the first establishment A Place called the Modern Primitive Cafe. The sort of trendy cafe  that you would see somewhere in upper Park Slope rather than here. I took a card and went on taking a few snapshots with my iPhone  as I went along. On the sides you could see through the windows small shops where people were preparing food. On one side you could see it was some kind of bakery setup and about a half dozen people working with dough. As I walked a little further down there was a small shop and some people inside waiting for their orders. I briefly went inside and looked around. There were three workers behind the counter and one of them was making sandwiches which looked more like pannini.  I took a business card  and It said the name of the business was Ninja Bubble Tea. Across from Ninja was a setup with dining tables and about four people either eating or looking at their iPhones. I noticed WIFI was painted on the walls so I turned on WIFI on my iPhone and sure enough there was a connection (Industry City) free open WIFI. Apparently the entire building is wired. Further down the hall I notice an open door where there seemed to be a courtyard and sure enough there was. A number of people were seated at tables eating and a group was playing Boccie ball (in a Boccie ball court that was put there at the other end of the courtyard. I started to wonder if this is where the Mister Sunday parties I wrote about a few days ago take place. I snapped a shot and went back inside to continue my exploration, at the end of the hall was another cafe. This one must be pretty popular since there was a line of about six people waiting to give their order. A place called Colson Pattisserie. My exploration over I walked outside and asked the security guard where I could find any of the art galleries that are supposed to be in Industry City. He pointed out to the other end of the building at a separate entrance and said there was one on the third floor but they might be closed. I figured I'd give it a shot and walked over. Sure enough after I went to the third floor the doors were closed. My brief visit to that building told me a couple of things. half the spaces are empty. They have yet to rent them or they may be coming in at some point. As I walked out the building towards third avenue I notice two moving vans and movers bringing stuff in like desks and assorted office stuff.  So I guess at least somebody is moving in. In any case, Somebody out there is going through a lot of trouble trying to hype the place. I start think way back when the northern part of Sunset Park was almost overnight renamed Greenwood Heights after trying to sell it as South Slope failed to catch on.  Somehow I see a repetition of the same tactic here. Well, it seems to be working...

Inside Ninja Bubble Tea at the food court..

Playing Boccie Ball at the courtyard..

Eating area in Front of Ninja..

Wall art and a small dinnete table in the hallway..

Blue Marble Ice Cream hasn't opened yet..

Entrance at the other end of the food court..






Industry City in Sunset Park In The News, Again





Industry City seems to be in the news a lot lately. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal published an article about how both private developers and the City plan to dump over $100 million into three sites in Sunset Park to upgrade and turn int some kind of "industrial" zone and bring in the type of firms that don't need abundant manufacturing or development space. The article was followed by another piece siting it on the Gothamist website.  The reason manufacturing collapsed in the city is what a lot of bureaucrats and Real Estate developers don't seem to understand is that manufacturing technology changed and New York City was not the place to operate. When manufacturing began to change from a vertical mode of production to a horizontal one manufacturers slowly began to leave the confined spaces of the city and move to places where a number of conditions had to be met to build horizontal manufacturing plants which are today's mode of production. The needed to move somewhere where the was a lot of land, either the suburbs or further out. They also needed to be near transportation (highways, railways). It had to be cost effective which meant no taxes or very little. In the competitive atmosphere cities are just not the places to be with high taxes, costly housing, higher wages etc.. That was the main reason most manufacturing left Sunset Park and the City. Planners don't seem to get that. The only rationale for small manufacturers and developers to move into Sunset Park would be if they have a high profit margin in order to deal with the higher costs of working in the city. So the types of businesses willing to relocate there are anything but "industrial". That being said, I took a visit this morning to the new food court and walked around on a few floors on one of the buildings at 36th street. I will write about that separately. How much of the money being spent will be of benefit to the local population is another matter. Brooklyn Army terminal never panned out as the type of manufacturing and development center they have planned for industry city for precisely the above reason I stated above. We will have to see what develops. On the other hand, the modes of manufacturing are changing as we write, from 3d. printing and custom pieces made to specific order and specifications May make a lot of the empty space at Industry city more palatable and attractive to some specialized firms..

Map that as part of the article on the WSJ page.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Utrecht Artists' Paints In Sunset Park Under Improvement





When my father was alive and living in Sunset Park since 1970, being an artist/painter he occasionally used Utrecht paints in his work. Although he never attained wide fame his paintings showed at Galleries in Manhattan such Minerva Arts and Ligoa Duncan (who was a niece of Isadora Duncan). Before emigrating to the United States he was a member of Asociación Estímulo de Bellas Artes of Argentina and shared a Studio with Guido Cinti. In New York he was a member of New York Artists Equity Association. My father was listed was listed in Marquis' Who's Who in the east and Who's Who in the world because of his art. In any case, when one paints and uses a product he never gives any thought as to where the paints are made or manufactured. Who knew? We were in the same neighborhood where Utrecht artist paints are manufactured. The New York Post has an article on the 20,000 sq. foot plant located right here in Sunset Park which has been in operation for over 60 years. Recently Utrecht  Art was bought by rival Blick Art based out of Illinois and Blick is investing money into the plant.  So if you're a local artist in Sunset Park or in New York City give the paints a try and support a local institution and the local economy..



Image from NYPOST Robert Markus in front of new machinery to fill tubes brought into the Utrech paint manufacturing plant.
Photo: Helayne Seidman
CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK POST


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Waterfront Park in Sunset Park Nearing Completion




Stretching along the shore from 43rd Street to 51st street a new park, part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Initiative will finally see the light of day as the city has announced plans to open The Bush terminal Pier and the park being constructed on it to the public. It appears that construction will finally be completed sometime in August or at the very latest in September according to a piece on the DNAINFO webstite which got it's information from the city's NYCEDC's blog logging developments and construction progress. The park named the Bush Terminal Piers Park will comprise of roughly 22 acres of space. Almost the same size as Sunset Park which is 24.5 acres. Sunset Parkers will have a new place to go and hangout. That is provided of course they make a trek across 3rd Avenue under the Gowanus Expressway which has always been an invisible border dividing the western part of the neighborhood from it's eastern sister.. Lots of stuff happening in the nabe at an accelerated pace....Stay tuned..

From the NYCEDC blog announcing pavement of the road towards the park entrance..



Friday, July 25, 2014

New Restaurant Of The Day: Gran Villa Restaurant





A new restaurant has opened on third Avenue and 40th street at a location that was formerly a Glat Kosher takeout place. Located across the street from the iconic Frankel's boot and shoe store, Gran Villa restaurant offers a menu of traditional Salvadorean food as well as some standard Italian and American dishes. The location was renovated and the interior is brand new. The food is very good, so if you are anywhere near there I urge you to try out their food., Check out their page at our main website and look at their menu. Oh, and did I mention they deliver? Anywhere in Sunset Park...

Library Update: AC Coming First Week of August





Yesterday I got a call from Councilman Menchaca's office telling me that portable air conditioners have been ordered and if all goes according to plan they will be installed by the end of the first week of August on or about the 8th.. I also raised the issue in my conversation regarding pier 4. I was told that they are arranging a tour and will inform me of the when it will be set up. Under current plans only the southern part of the pier will be used to park barges. The northern half of the pier will still have unobstructed views of the bay and the Manhattan skyline. The story regarding the library seems to be getting traction. This morning I got a call from a reporter for the Community News Group and our family of weekly newspapers (Bay Ridge Courier, Bay News, etc..);so I suppose it will get coverage outside the nabe as well. Stay Tuned....




Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Perspective on Genrtification in Brooklyn






In my meanderings on the web regarding gentrification I stumbled on an article by Daniel Hertz at his Blog. Aside from his take on income disparities I found the above map on his site rather interesting. Showing changes in real estate prices in Brooklyn over a two year span from 2012 to 2014. As you can see prices in the Sunset Park area have shown a rise of between 21% and 16% respectively. While northern Bay Ridge showed a rise of 10% Southern Bay Ridge shows a decline of 19%. There is of course a positive in the numbers for long time residents seeing their houses rise in value. On the downside is the fact that since valuations are the peg the city uses for Real Estate Taxes maintaining a property has become more expensive in that regard. The article also points out that average income throughout the borough has declined slightly. Obviously there is a correlation between the pink areas and the process of gentrification where people are moving to. Of interest are also the comments left at the blog, in particular the ones regarding Sunset Park. Basically it confirms what many residents have deduced from casual observation about what is going on in our neighborhood.



Mister Sunday Parties Move to Sunset Park







As if we needed more proof that the neighborhood is changing rapidly comes this piece in the New York Times. From the article:  

Over the last few years, in a dappled grove on the banks of the Gowanus Canal, the weekly Mister Sunday parties built an ardent following as a laid-back disco day camp. This year, forced out of its bucolic birthplace by a real estate development, the party relocated to Industry City, a warehouse complex in Sunset Park. Could it recreate that same mellow magic in its new locale?“I went every Memorial Day for the last five years,” said one exasperated devotee outside the gates at the season opener, surveying a gunky queue of thousands. One gentleman, resplendent in a promiscuous gondolier costume, appeared dejected as he was unable to navigate the human logjam. Having perhaps underestimated Brooklyn’s unquenchable thirst for outdoor boots-and-pants parties, event organizers have increased capacity and streamlined ticketing, and the early chaos has since subsided.

Disco? I didn't know anybody still did disco. In any case, the article provides details if you want to be one of the locals crashing the party. Maybe some of the local Motorcycle Clubs can show up, no extra costumes needed. Just another sign of the ever changing nabe..



Is Sunset Park slated to become a New York Fashion Center?






Is Sunset Park slated to become a New York Fashion Center? If you believe a blog piece just written by Brady Dale at his blog Tchnically that appears to be the case. Following up on a piece in The Epoch Times on plans by Manufacture New York to open up a fashion design incubator at a facility in Sunset Park that is slated to open soon. Sunset Park has always been a center of sweat shops that have opened in the neighborhood since the Chinese moved in, so in a sense we have always had part of the fashion industry here. The plan though is to make Sunset Park a design center to supplement 7th Avenue in Manhattan. We will have to see what develops. As Sunset park's Bush terminal and Industry City become centers of all types of trendy businesses that encompass everything from film production to high end electronics we will continue to see more economic development in Sunset park that will also accelerate the gentrification process that is going on in the neighborhood as the people working in these enterprises decide to move into the neighborhood to be close to their work...






Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Library Update Day 16, That Damned Air Conditioner






It's a hefty 87 degrees inside the Sunset park library today. It appears that Menchaca's news on Monday was bogus. It's still not Thursday so we will se tomorrow if crews show up. In the meantime they just posted the above at the library entrance and according to some staff they will install portable air conditioning units the first week in August. That doesn't sound like they will be installing a new air conditioner or fixing the old one. I hope it's not a temporary solution to keep us off their backs. Keep the pressure going folks. We need a permanent solution....

Sunset Parker Fights Losing Battle with Gentrification..







The Daily News has a story on local resident Imani Henry and his project to try to stem the tide of gentrification in our borough. It is not the first nor wilt be the last. When I came to Sunset park in 1970  the neighborhood was a mere 6 years old. Modern Sunset Park having been created by taking northern Bay Ridge and southern Park Slope to cobble together the areas that were in decline and separate them from the  other two neighborhoods to preserve their real estate values which the city uses to raise revenue via real estate values.  The place has changed radically in all that time. It is now the largest Chinatown in New York City. Most of the predominantly Puerto Rican population has left. The Norwegians, Finns, Irish and Italians who once dominated the southern part of the nabe have mostly moved on though a few are left. There are still strong pockets of Dominicans left but most of the Hispanics in the nabe are now Mexican or Central Americans. On my block gone are the Puerto Rican and Italian neighbors replaced by Chinese on either side who rent to Mexicans and Hipsters that have started to move in due to the cheaper rents. The northern part of the neighborhood has become a subset named Greenwood Heights since realtors have renamed the area in a marketing ploy to get higher prices for rentals and houses. The irony is that they have to revert back to naming it Sunset Park if the gentrification wave continues though old timers still living there will tell you it's still Sunset Park. If there is one constant in this neighborhood it's change and the only recourse is to be able to adapt to the new conditions. If there were no change the neighborhood would have remained the depressed, drug infested, crime ridden area that it had been in the late 60's and 70's. I am not at all nostalgic for those days when the Park Itself had become known citywide as "Needle Park". Some residents will remain behind like myself. Others will be newcomers. The Chinese will stay here for some time since they tend to settle long term in an area for generations. But even there change has occurred with the original Cantonese settlers being quickly replaced by Fujianese .  The only constant is change and like it or not our neighborhood is gentrifying. We may not even recognize the place in ten years..


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5TH Avenue Festival Already in Planning Stages



The Annual Sunset Park 5th Avenue festival is already in the planning stages and will take place next September 14. You can contact the BID at the above number to set yourself up with a table if you're a local business or wish to participate..


Sunset Park May Lose half of Pier 4 to Commercial Use..




Sunset park may lose half the public space at Pier 4 by the Brooklyn Army Terminal according to an article at the DNAinfo website. Pier 4 is the only accessible pier in Sunset park where the ferry terminal is located. Many public events have been held there and is used by some local fishermen to drop hooks into the water. According to the article; "The proposal would allow the Baltimore-based marine transportation business to “license and improve” about 1,000 linear feet of the pier near 58th Street, as well as one row of parking along the pier, according to a public presentation shared with DNAinfo New York."

The proposal would leave the only totally accessible pier to be the one at 69th street in Bay Ridge. It might also impede one of the best views of the bay and Manhattan in the distance since it may no longer be accessible by the public. If you have any opinions on this you should make an effort to contact the office of councilman Carlos Menchaca at 718-439-9012..

More Gentrification: Sunset Park and the Burgeoning Industry City Food Hall





As if we needed more proof of the accelerating gentrification of the neighborhood comes this piece from the blog Fashion Whirled. From the article; "A quick ride on the N express takes you to the 36th Street stop, where you walk west to the water. Trust me, this will be the next new “Chelsea Market” of hipsterville (Chelsea market developers own 50% of this venture). Already anchoring the retail fashion, food and art scene are the Nets, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Steve & Andy’s Organics Modern Primitive Café, Ninja Bubble Tea, Colson Patisserie. Slated are The Fashion Chef, Ruby Beets’ vintage furniture and Liddabit Sweets."

What it all boils down to is that the changes in the neighborhood are accelerating at a fast pace to the degree that in a couple of years we won't even recognize the waterfront area of the neighborhood. We all knew this was going to happen with all the plans on the drawing boards to completely redo the waterfront part for some time now. It appears that the process or actual changes are beginning to take hold in the physical sense. Check out the piece at the blog to see more pictures and read the rest of the piece..



Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 14 without air conditioning at the Sunset park Library





Finally some good news. I got a call from City Councilman Menchaca's office earlier notifying me that they will finally begin to install the air conditioning in our local library this Thursday. It's a sweltering 82 degrees inside and the coming days are slated to reach into the 90's. It appears that the calling from our community members from our Facebook postings and this blog have been effective, though not as fast as we would have hoped. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that all goes according ton plan and the air conditioning will be up and running before the week is out. If not, it's back to square one and Plan B. Thank you all for helping the BPL system and our local politicians feet to the fire. 


Friday, July 18, 2014

Around New York: Changes, The constant in our World.




I stumbled on this website thanks to a Facebook post. The tile of the post 

Photos of New York City storefronts taken 10 years apart show gentrification and decay [36 pictures] Gentrification is a process that is the opposite of decay and an unavoidable consequence of progress. Imagine if nothing had changed in the last thousand years. Monty Python would be going around with a cart yelling "Bring out Your Dead!" and we would all be illiterate. Oh wait, our education system is making most of us that.. But on a serious note. The site is worth a visit if you're a long time New Yorker or have been here at least ten years. If there is one constant in New York it's change..

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Continuing Rant: Day 9 at the Sunset Park Library in Sweltering Heat



Progress Report:

In my last post I reported over the lack of air conditioning at the library for one whole week. Since my post, it appears the community is having some effect. I was told that yesterday they sent people over to look at the air conditioning unit. That I suppose is some progress, but do we have to bitch and moan to get things done in this community? And are they going to fix it? Today as far as I know they are not repairing it. The temperature inside is 82 degrees and 70 degrees outside. What would it be inside if the temperature outside was 90 degrees? I stopped by the local office of our councilman Carlos Menchaca and inquired what they were doing about it. The answer is that they have been getting reports from the BPL that they "are working on it". Their tactic appears to be to close the library early (which robs the community of it's services) to compensate for the heat. Are we the victims of bureaucratic foot dragging? Appearing to do things and excuses for delays (the air conditioner is old)? We will have to see.. In the meantime we need to keep the pressure on or they will think we will just go away. This community has been getting the shaft from all our city politicos for far too long. If don't YELL people are not likely to listen to you much less pay attention. 

So here are two things we can do to keep the pressure going. Let's keep calling the main number at the BPL and courteously demand they get their act together and fix the damn air conditioning.. Call the President of the Brooklyn Public Library Jeanne James at 718-623-7000..


Secondly, send them a short email at their contact page on their website LOCATED HERE..   

Let's see if we can get some action, keep the pressure up..