By Aaron Simon

Congresswoman Maloney Hosting Town Hall in Williamsburg Sunday (2/24)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) is hosting a town hall on the 2020 census to discuss the impact of the current presidential administration’s policies this Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Williamsburg Hotel (96 Wythe Ave.) at 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. With Amazon HQ2 still fresh on the minds of her constituents and the news media, there’s a chance more topics might be brought up at the public meeting.

As the representative of  NY’s 12th Congressional District Maloney reps parts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Long Island City (where HQ2 would’ve been constructed), Astoria, the East Village, Midtown East and perhaps most-fittingly, the Upper East Side. The multi-millionaire and UES resident whose lagest donors include real estate developers and BlackRock Inc continues advocating for the failed Amazon bid in NYC.

Appearing on CNBC after the HQ2 deal died, Maloney bemoaned the loss of 25,000 high paying jobs stating, “Along with most of the constituents that I represent, I was terribly disappointed. If Amazon had come to New York, it would have made New York the high-tech capital of the East Coat, cementing permanent good jobs for generations to come. It’s a terrible loss for the city’s economy and jobs for its people.” Amazon also received pushback in the city council hearings on it’s resistance to labor unions and treatment of warehouse workers, which Maloney doesn’t mention in the interview.

The national debate on if cities should compete by bidding on contracts from mega-corporations has been sparked by the failed Amazon project in NYC, and the backroom nature of the deal brokered by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew “Amazon” Cuomo, where they offered upward of $3 billion in tax subsidies, was met with widespread condemnation by the NYC City Council and many Queens residents and activist groups.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo for having beat out 220 other localities, cities and states to win Amazon in the first place. I would hope that all of us would try to renegotiate, reach out to Amazon, and try to get them to reconsider,” Maloney said. Continue reading

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Greenery Unlimited Pushes Botanic Design to New Heights

There was no trace of the blustery snow falling outside of the new bountiful, tropical-feeling retail space of Greenery NYC, a Greenpoint-based botanic design company whose first brick and mortar store, Greenery Unlimited, celebrated its grand opening last week at 91 West St. near the entrance to Transmitter Park.

Outside Greenery Unlimited

Owners Rebecca Bullene and Adam Besheer based Greenery Unlimited on the concept of the beneficial interaction between humans and plants known as Biophilia. The space is overflowing with plants, and the store’s setup allows for the discovery of charming nooks accented by greenery, despite the geometric shape of the floor.

Inside Greenery Unlimited

Greenery Unlimited’s sister company Greenery NYC (195 Dupont St.) has been around for approximately nine years, offering large scale design, installation and maintenance services mostly for interior gardens. The online store opened three years ago shipping plants nationwide and delivering large plants in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

The retail space features plant installations built into and on top of the walls and store fixtures, fed with automatic drip irrigation, grow lights and natural sunlight, along with a mist machine that sprays a relaxing fog of water droplets to the leaves below.

A green wall behind the office/desk space

“We really want to set people up for success and make sure that what we’re installing is reasonable,” employee Madeline Sachs said. “Even though it is automatic, there’s irrigation involved; there’s still maintenance, and I think it happens more often in office spaces where people get to enjoy it,” she said explaining that the green wall installation near the desk area in the store is more common for office settings than for residential.

Custom designed plant installation at Greenery Unlimited

A custom designed plant installation is displayed in one of the front windows of the space with an industrial aesthetic and wooden planter boxes, similar in design to the Etsy office installation. For customers seeking something smaller in scale, Greenery Unlimited’s stock spans all budgets;  a baby ponytail palm tree costs $30 while a full-grown version sells for $1300 without a planter.

The large ponytail palm tree for sale at Greenery Unlimited

“We really want anyone to be able to walk in and buy a plant; anything from a little tiny fern to this large ponytail,” Sachs said. “The problem in New York is people struggle with light in their apartments,” she said, adding that beginner plants that require minimal maintenance are a wise choice for people just starting out with plant care.

Greenery Unlimited is open Wed.- Sat. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and by appointment Mon. – Tue.

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Suspect Sought in Potential Hate Crime at Chabad of Bushwick

Courtesy of Chabad of Bushwick

The NYPD is seeking information regarding the identity of a suspect in connection with an alleged hate crime at a Bushwick synagogue last weekend.

The suspect (courtesy of NYPD)

Video surveillance released by police shows one of two potential suspects that are sought for questioning for breaking the front windows of the Chabad of Bushwick (1087 Flushing Ave).

There were approximately 15 people inside the Chabad when the front window was smashed at around 2 a.m. Saturday morning, no one was injured. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to “go towards increasing the activities of Chabad of Bushwick, and towards renovating the Chabad House.”

Hate crimes in NYC have approximately doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018. The NYPD has tallied 47 hate crimes so far in 2019, with 2/3 cases targeting the Jewish community, CBS reports.

A pattern of hate graffiti and harassment with hate speech has been documented over the recent months in Greenpoint.

Mayor de Blasio held a rally just last Thursday at the Kingsway Jewish Center in Midwood where he denounced the rise in hate crimes in NYC.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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Safe Way Home Act to Provide Free Transportation Home to Sexual Assault Victims

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (Courtesy of Joseph Lentol)

Following a meeting with volunteer victims advocate and Greenpointer Deborah Spiroff, State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol introduced The Safe Way Home Act this week, to provide sexual assault victims free transportation home from the hospital following treatment.

The budget would be provided through seized forfeiture funds from the district attorney’s office and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services would be the program administrator.

Spiroff, who identifies as a survivor, has volunteered for the past two years at Wycoff Heights Medical Center in the Violence Intervention Treatment Program, working on call two to four days per month for 12 – 15 hour shifts. Volunteers like herself must go through training and a background check to volunteer their service to victims of sexual assaults.

“I’ve had more than one case where after the person has been treated they’re just released, and they literally were walking home from Wycoff Hospital at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the in the morning,” Spiroff said. “And even if it’s earlier in the day depending on where an assault may have occurred, it could have been near a subway; assaults happen everywhere. And frequently cell phones are stolen, wallets are stolen, metro cards are stolen, it’s just a very overwhelming traumatic time.”

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Amazon Cancels Long Island City HQ2 Plans

Amazon’s Seattle HQ (courtesy of Joe Wolf)

After Governor “Amazon” Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio offered the trillion-dollar company, Amazon, upwards of $3 billion in tax subsidies to locate part of its HQ2 campus in Long Island City without public discourse, Amazon has canceled its plans for Queens. Read the full statement from Amazon:

After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.

We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion—we love New York, its incomparable dynamism, people, and culture—and particularly the community of Long Island City, where we have gotten to know so many optimistic, forward-leaning community leaders, small business owners, and residents. There are currently over 5,000 Amazon employees in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and we plan to continue growing these teams.

We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have worked tirelessly on behalf of New Yorkers to encourage local investment and job creation, and we can’t speak positively enough about all their efforts. The steadfast commitment and dedication that these leaders have demonstrated to the communities they represent inspired us from the very beginning and is one of the big reasons our decision was so difficult.

We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.

Thank you again to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the many other community leaders and residents who welcomed our plans and supported us along the way. We hope to have future chances to collaborate as we continue to build our presence in New York over time.

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Floating Timber Bridge Proposed to Span Newtown Creek

Courtesy of CRÈME Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design

Williamsburg-based CRÈME introduced renderings of Timber Bridge at LongPoint Corridor: A 275-foot-long, 16-foot-wide, floating pedestrian and biking bridge made of sustainable glue-laminated and pressure-treated timber, to span Newtown Creek from Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint to Vernon Blvd in Long Island City.

Courtesy of CRÈME Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design

The bridge is designed to have pivoting features to open and close in around 3 minutes for the many boats and barges on Newtown Creek, the 3.8 mile-long federal Superfund site that will undergo remediation over the next decade.

Courtesy of CRÈME Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design

To prevent flooding, the bridges’ platform would move with the tide and have green spaces on either side. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that the bridge was the idea of Jun Aizaki, a 20-plus year North Brooklyn resident and Pratt Institute graduate.

Construction would take approx. two years and cost more than $32 million to build. LongPoint Bridge could potentially receive city funding and additional backing from private donors, such as Amazon, who the firm is exploring as a donor. The bridge is also backed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Assemblyman Joe Lentol; a newly registered nonprofit, Friends of Timber Bridge, is seeking to raise funds for the project.

Courtesy of CRÈME Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design

A Kickstarter campaign by the design firm raised $30,266 last summer, which was short of the $50,000 goal. Momentum for the bridge may pick up with the anticipated localized tech industry boom led by the potential for Amazon to build HQ2 in Queens, bringing tens-of-thousands of new jobs and residents to the area served by the proposed bridge.

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L Train Non-Shutdown Begins April 26 With Night and Weekend Service Changes

(Image courtesy of Roshan Vyas)

Five weeks after releasing a statement announcing that the L train shutdown is averted, the MTA announced its “Alternative Service Plan” for construction on the Canarsie Tunnel during nights and weekends, when L trains will run every 20 minutes from Bedford Ave to Manhattan.

The work would begin on April 26, and is estimated to last 15 – 20 months. The previous plans to lengthen the G train and provide shuttle buses across the Williamsburg Bridge are not included in the new plan, but service will increase on the G, M and 7 subway lines. An MTA shuttle will run from Bedford Avenue to the J/M Marcy Avenue station and to the G/L Lorimer Street station and back, according to amNew York.

According to NBC New York, the plan includes (and excludes):

  • Work on overnights/weekends begins the weekend of April 26;

  • The MTA does not anticipate closing 14th Street to vehicles, which would have happened under the previous plan;

  • The MTA is not  planning shuttle buses or HOV lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge;

  • The MTA is not planning shuttle buses or HOV lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge;

  • Beginning at 10 p.m. every night, L trains will run every 20 minutes;

  • The MTA recommends customers use other subway lines – the G/J/M especially;

  • The MTA will not be lengthening G trains as previously planned;

  • The MTA will run a “loop bus” from Bedford Avenue to those other subways;

  • concerned about crowding at First Avenue and Third Avenue in Manhattan. They are considering making those stations EXIT ONLY;

  • Work should last 15-20 months but an end date is unknown

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L Train Petroleum Stench Linked to Bushwick Avenue Gas Station Spills

The Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. in September 2017 (via Google Maps)

A shuttered Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. where five spills were reported from 1989 – 2006 is being identified as the potential source of the L train petroleum stench that has resulted in multiple sick passengers and workers since last week, NY Daily News reports.

The Dept. of Environmental Conservation received the spill reports from the former gas station owners whose business operated directly above the L train between Grand Street and Graham Avenue as recent as 2017.

The Shell gas station at 2 Bushwick Ave. in 2018 (via Google Maps)

The DEC is not officially placing the blame on the former gas station for the L train oil smell, the NY Daily News explains:

Transit officials said the tank was abandoned for more than 20 years after DEC officials opted not to remove it, citing its proximity to the subway tunnels. But their timeline may be off — fuel was sold at the gas station as recently as 2017.

DEC spokesman Sean Mahar said Monday that the agency had not yet identified a single source of last week’s disturbing odor, and that a comprehensive investigation into the issue was ongoing.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, whose district includes the vacant station, said his office received very little communication from the MTA on the source of the L train stink.

“To make matters worse, the information we have received is conflicting and leaves many unanswered questions about the gravity of the situation and its impact on the health of the riders and residents,” said Reynoso. “This is especially angering and adds insult to injury when considering that north Brooklyn has a history of experiencing environmental injustices, specifically oil spills.”

 

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Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern Closing on February 28th

Rosemary’s Greenpoint Tavern is closing on February 28th following 60-plus years at 188 Bedford Ave. where it opened in 1955. The Williamsburg cash-only throwback to pre-luxury times is known for its affordable drinks, chummy bartenders and rockin’ jukebox. Rosemary’s closing was originally reported by Brooklyn Based.

The bar’s namesake, Rosemary Bleday, worked at the bar since her 20s after her family relocated the watering-hole from its original Green Street location in Greenpoint. Now at age 86, Bleday is seeking to move from her apartment above the bar after she is released from the hospital where she is being treated for a recent injury.

Gothamist spoke with her grandson Eric Carson who said that the demolition and development on both bordering parcels threaten the structural integrity of the wood frame building at 188 Bedford Avenue:

Carson says that the bar held out for a long time, even as they got offers left and right over time, and in recent years as the developer bought up the buildings beside Rosemary’s, which is located at 188 Bedford Avenue, near North 7th Street. In 2016, RedSky Capital bought the three-story, three-unit building next door, at 190 Bedford Avenue, for $13.2 million, as The Real Deal reports. In what the publication dubs a “nearly block-long assemblage,” the developers also purchased the building next to that, at 192 Bedford, as well as Rosemary’s other neighbors at 184-186 Bedford Avenue.

“Unfortunately in doing that—them knocking down two buildings on either side of us, being a wood frame building—according to an engineer report, puts us at serious risk for damage,” he says. “And my grandmother living up here wouldn’t be safe or conducive to running a business.”

There are no plans to reopen another Rosemary’s according to the family, who are seeking to go out in a spirit of celebration over the final three weeks.

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Developers to Expand Acme Smoked Fish Facility With Office Space

Pennsylvania-based developers Rubenstein Partners are seeking to build a 583,000 square-foot commercial development with office space at the site of Acme Smoked Fish at 30 Gem St., the Wall St. Journal reports.

Acme would not have to relocate as the development would include an 80,000 square-foot manufacturing facility for the production of their popular smoked fish. Acme’s current facility measures approx. 65,000 square feet.


Rubenstein Partners previously negotiated with the Dept. of City Planning to build dual eight-story commercial/light manufacturing office buildings known as 25 Kent Ave., where the original zoning allowed two stories, according to the Commercial Observer.

A special land use framework would once-again have to be negotiated for 30 Gem St. to rezone the area from manufacturing to commercial use. Continue reading

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