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..

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rant of The Day: Roasting and Toasting at the Sunset Park Public Library

I don't often rant on this blog, though there are plenty of things to bitch about in Sunset Park. I often use the library on 51st street to go in and do some quick work while I move around in the neighborhood. With the sweltering temperatures of July you'd figure that they would quickly fix the air conditioner at this branch if it broke down. I have been going there intermittently for well over the last week and the library has no air conditioning. A look at the wall thermometer inside shows a sweltering temperature of 85 degrees. So the air conditioning which went down last Monday is still not fixed and our local users have had to put up with the unhealthy prospect of having to walk into an oven to do any work or look up books. AND even though it's slightly warmer outside, at least you get a breeze.  We've had to put up with holding events and services at the library under extremely unhealthy conditions. I feel sorry for the library staff that has had to stay indoors under sweltering stuffy air. If the library did business as a bakery I suppose you would have to put up with the heat. But trying to sit down and write a blog while sweat is dripping from your forehead onto the keyboard is asking a bit much. I asked the library staff when it was going to get fixed and the only answer they could give was "soon". I am willing to bet that if the management of the Brooklyn library system had their air conditioning broken they would have it fixed in a nano second. I can understand budget concerns and all that, but keeping a local library at over 85 degrees indoors in the 21st century is asking a bit much. I bet the head honcho who runs the library has new carpeting and chandeliers for his office as a top priority. I bet he's even got gas money for his chauffeur and makes sure he gets his paycheck on time. I hope this post gets to somebody in management at the library. Just so they know there are some really pissed off library users in Sunset Park and we hope we all remember come election time when the head honchos ask for a bigger budget so they can get a pay raise which right now as I see it they don't deserve one. Actually I think a pay cut is in order, and while we're at it, let's make sure they get cuts on their main office budget. I am pretty sure they don't need any new carpets either....

UPDATE July 15, 2014: Day 8 without air conditioning. Today the library was closed early at 5 PM as opposed to it's normal hours 1-8PM. Air conditioning still not fixed. Blog post was posted all over Facebook. Sent a copy to Menchaca's office and sent it to the library via their contact page. A reply from them indicates it was passed on to the "Office of Neighborhood Services". How about the air conditioning repair office?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sunset Park (The Park) wins award.

Sunset Park was in the news yesterday When the playground design won an award for best public project design. The recently renovated playground won accolades according to a story that appeared in yesterday's Daily News. You can catch the whole article here...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Art in The Hood: Tragedy on the third rail..

Sunset Park has always been a neighborhood abundant with street art. I have documented a lot of the wall art as I come across it in my Art in The Hood series. Some of the artists who appear in the hood are many times more often than not from outside the neighborhood and not all art appears on our walls. There was a heyday when the terminal at the 9th Avenue station was a primary target of  taggers before the MTA started to clean the cars. The Gothamist reports that a graffiti artist named Jason Wulf, 42,  who was known by his tag DG met an untimely demise by apparently deciding to try his art in the caverns of our subway system at the 25th street train station on the N line. It's a pity that a life is cut short by an obsession. Sometimes you take unnecessary or dumb risks and you pay the price for such folly. You can read more about it at the Gothamist here..

B37 Bus on third Avenue restored after a three year absence.

The Brooklyn Daily eagle has an article announcing the restoration of the B37 Bus line which had been eradicated when the MTA went through budget cuts a few years ago. Community pressure and organized pressured the MTA and pressure from local politicos to find the funds necessary to put the bus back online. You can read the entire article at the Eagle here...

More signs of Gentrification in Sunset Park

Jeff Bobula and Caitlin Mennen-Bobula with their son, Ellis, and the family cat.
CreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times

The New York Times recently published an article that typified the ongoing gentrification of Sunset Park proper. I think we can all mostly agree that the Greenwood Heights (so named by realtors) section of the neighborhood has already pretty much reached the peak of it's gentrification stage and is now well saturated with Hipsters and yuppies. The story is interesting in two respects. As rents and property values in the northern part of the neighborhood continue to inch up the pressure is to move further south in search for more reasonable rents and values. The second interesting part of the story is that there is a wave that is moving into the Chinatown section of the nabe providing a competitive pressure for housing and competition with the Chinese population. Nevertheless, despite a rather stagnant economy those who have well paying jobs and the cash to spend are moving ever southward into the neighborhood and the only result can be an upward pressure on rents and property values. For homeowners this necessarily means higher real estate taxes because those taxes are based on valuations. For poorer families it means that affordable rents at their income levels will be harder and harder to find.  You can read the entire article here on the New York Times site..

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Store of the Day: Expressway Pharmacy on 3rd. Avenue

Situated on the corner of 47th street and 3rd Avenue Expressway Pharmacy is the only pharmacy on 3rd avenue serving the Western part of Sunset Park. Since the building of the Gowanus Expressway it has been an invisible barrier between the Western and Eastern parts of the neighborhood. Prior to the opening of the Expressway Pharmacy people on the other side of the highway had to venture to either 4th Avenue or 5th Avenue to find a Pharmacy or  trek down towards the Lutheran Medical Center where the only other pharmacy on the other side of the highway is located. Having opened recently in October of 2013 the store is one a number of new establishments that are appearing on the other side of third Avenue which is undergoing a slow process of gentrification both as a result of the development of industry City and an influx or artists as well as some high tech businesses into many of the available lofts and cheaper rents. Owner Hassan Muyir prides himself on being able to provide personalized care to his customers which include many old time residents who for the firs time have a pharmacy within walking distance on their side of the Gowanus divide. It is a full service pharmacy that does compounding as well as filling regular prescriptions and does immunizations as well. The pharmacy offers competitive prices and free pick up and delivery anywhere in the city. To see other pictures and get a better view of the place visit their page on the cyber mall on our website..

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Rooftop Underground Films in Brooklyn

So, I go into this coffee shop in the Greenwood heights section of Sunset Park The Tin Cup Cafe and pick up this card about some film showings in Brooklyn under the stars. I figured I would check out their website at and I noticed that some of the films are showing at Industry City in Sunset Park. Apparently the films started showing back in May but they're running on through until August. The showings are NOT FREE. The website says tickets are $13. Besides Sunset Park showings are being staged in other neighborhoods as well, Gowanus, Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Williamsburg as well as locations in Queens and Manhattan. If you're into this sort of thing it may well be worth your time to investigate and perhaps go to one or two or three etc....

Huffington Post Does Dumplings in Sunset Park

One of the food blogs on the Huffignton post did a write up of some of the local dumpling eateries with pretty decent reviews. The article is worth a read. Often times people live in a neighborhood and only venture within a six or seven block radius of where they live and and unless someone points them to something new in the neighborhood they don't take notice of the changes and goings on around them. The article covers 6 dumpling places. I know two of them very well since I go there often and it's a cheap eat. My favorite dumpling place is Great Taste Dumpling since I live only a couple of blocks from there and was even recently reviewed by Robert Siestema. They have a vinaigrette soy sauce which I prefer with my dumplings and it's convenient. If you're there try the Stir Noodles which are made from noodles using semolina flour. I always think of them as Fettuccine Chinese style. It's very rare to see semolina noodles in a Chinese place. They have a full menu as well so you can also get standard fare and other dishes unlike some of the other dumpling places..

If you want to get a clue where the best food in an area is, watch where the cops eat. For dumpling that would be Kai Feng Fu Dumpling. I haven't been there of late since Great Taste opened nearby but if it's convenient for you to go there by all means try them. The article mentions that Hob Bo Kitchen serves fried shrimp dumplings. I guess I will have to trek up to 58th street and give them a try sometime soon before I forget. Sunset Park has been getting a lot of attention in the food area and not just Chinese cuisine. We'll post on the other reviews when we stumble upon them in the future. For addresses etc. check out the article.  Bon apetite...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Closings: Closeout Heaven on 5th

Another store falls victim to the high rents on 5th avenue as their leases run out. As rents shoot up many old established retailers can no longer stay in business. Closeout Heaven on 49th and 5th has closed it's doors. I remains to be seen how quickly the store will be rented due to the high rents. It is becoming increasingly difficult to start a business on 5th Avenue these days. The high rents are ever changing the landscape of 5th Avenue with a high turnover of stores occurring along the Avenue. Add to that a wave of gentrification that is slowly creeping Southward into Sunset Park which is making residential rents go up as well and you have a recipe for changing the neighborhoods ethnic makeup....