By Aaron Simon

Memories of a 90s Childhood in Williamsburg Recalled in Group Photo Exhibit

Before the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront ushered in dozens of luxury buildings with the 2005 rezoning, the yearning to create something out of nothing permeated the native youth in the 1990s recalls Dominic Bielak, who was born and raised with his identical twin brother Damian on Berry Street.

Dominic and Damian in McCarren Park in 1999

“Things felt neglected,” Dominic said recalling the days when he would explore the abandoned, decrepit industrial buildings near the Williamsburg waterfront.

A group photo exhibition, “I CAN BE PRETTY TOO” from the creative collective The Brooklyn Social Club, which includes the Bielak twins and photographer Terrence Miele, will showcase 90s-era photos from their forthcoming book on Friday, March 29, at the Sideshow Gallery (319 Bedford Ave.) at 7 p.m. The show will be displayed through March 31st.

 

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Williamsburg Waterfront. North 7th Street and Kent Avenue. 1991. Photograph by Ted Barron. When me and my brother were young this was our playground. In some ways it was dangerous and it other ways it was safe. It felt safe for us always maybe because we were small and Naive from the worlds dangers. No one bothered you here and no one owned it so you were able to get away with anything and everything. My dad used to come here and go fishing and drinking with his polish friends and sometimes catch a fish maybe to eat it or throw it back into the east river restoring its life. #Williamsburg #Brooklyn #Film #Photo #Photography #Pretty #Escape #Greenpoint #Williamsburgbridge #Home #Family #documentary

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Third-of-its-kind Industrial Development Gets Green Light

103 N. 13th St. rendering ( via CityLand; Albo Loberis/CPC)

Another Industrial Business Incentive Area for a seven-story office, retail, and light manufacturing development at 103 N 13th St. was approved by the City Planning Commission in February, making the greenlighted development the third-ever in NYC. Another IBIA will be needed for Acme Smoked Fishes’ redevelopment at 30 Gem St.

103 N . 13th St. (Google Maps)
The planned office and manufacturing building to (tentatively) open in 2021 at 12 Franklin St. (FXCOLLABORATIVE/BEZIER)

The other two unique IBIA developments, 25 Kent Ave. and 12 Franklin St., are also within the Greenpoint and Williamsburg Industrial Business Zone and gained approval for special permits to increase the legal floor to area ratio and to remove parking lot requirements. Continue reading

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Environmental Cleanup to Begin at Toxic Williamsburg Parking Lot

510 Driggs Ave. in 2012 (via Google Maps)

Environmental cleanup will begin this month at 510 Driggs Avenue under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The cleanup will be performed by “187 North 8 Street Owner LLC” with oversight by the NYDEC.

510 Driggs Ave. in 2018 (via Google Maps)

The vacant parking lot has been closed for the past year and was home to the Bulletin Market during recent summers. A manufactured gas plant (MGP) was demolished on the site in 1887, and it later became a garage and a chair manufacturer after an industrial conversion in the 1940s.

508 Driggs Avenue in 1940 (via NYX tax photo archives)

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Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found in Nassau Avenue G Subway

A Ruth Bader Ginsburg poster was vandalized in Greenpoint on Tuesday inside the Nassau Avenue G subway station with the words “Die Jew Bitch” along with a drawing of a swastika.

The hate graffiti quickly drew condemnation from Mayor de Blasio who is asking for public assistance in identifying the person responsible:

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Emergency Blood Drive This Sunday (3/17)

An emergency blood drive is being organized by the North Brooklyn Chamber to help the NY Blood Center meet the needs of their patients during an ongoing shortage. The blood drive takes place Sunday, March 17, at Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church, (275 N. 8th St.) from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; donors can signup for an appointment here if they can’t make it this Sunday.

The NY Blood Center released a statement explaining that donations have lagged this winter:

Four weeks ago, the New York Blood Center announced a blood emergency because donations had been lagging through the month of January. O- and B- inventories have not recovered. O- is the most needed blood type, transfusable to all other blood types and most urgently needed.
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West Street Brownfield to Undergo Environmental Cleanup

The cleanup site (courtesy of DEC)

The environmental cleanup of toxins at part of the former American Manufacturing Company/Greenpoint Terminal site is slated to begin this month under the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.

Remediation at 47- 53 West St. and 2 – 24 Oak St. will last approximately five months and includes excavation of historic fill, backfilling and construction and maintenance of an “impervious cover (e.g., concrete) or two feet of clean crushed stone,” according to the DEC fact sheet. A community air monitoring plan will also be implemented during the cleanup.

Some site history from the DEC:

The site is 3.98-acres and is bordered on the west by the East River, on the south by Former Consolidated Freightways (BCP Site No. C224191), on the east by West Street, and on the north by Noble Street. It is currently used for storage of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, granite, and flatbed trucks. The site was previously occupied by five separate buildings that were demolished by a fire in 2006. The only remaining structure is an approximately 1,400-square-foot concrete silo, which will remain in place after RAWP implementation. Historically, the site was used as a shipyard, a manufacturing facility, a mill, and the Greenpoint Terminal Corporation facility.

Rendering of 11-41 West St.

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New Greenpoint Landing Towers From Architect of Shenzhen Stock Exchange

(Rendering courtesy of OMA)

Renderings of two additional Greenpoint Landing mixed-use towers with 745 rental units (30 percent ‘affordable’) were released today resembling a “ziggurat and its inverse,” Curbed reports.

This is Brooklyn’s first development from the architectural firm OMA (founded by the esteemed Rem Koolhaas), who is also behind the McKinsey & Company Hong Kong office, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center, among dozens of other “world-class” buildings.

(Rendering courtesy of OMA)

The two incongruent Tetris-esque buildings are part of the 10 building, 22-acre Greenpoint Landing development, bringing 5,500 apartments to the northern-most area of the neighborhood, abutting the  Nuhart Plastics Superfund site and on a Zone 1 hurricane evacuation area (most prone to flooding and future rising tides). One tower will be 30 stories and the second 40 stories with a total of 768,000 square feet of residential space and 8,600 square-feet for retail. Continue reading

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Apply for Affordable Apartments at 123 Hope Street

(123 Hope St. rendering via Aufang Architects )

Applications for a fresh batch of 41 affordable apartments at 123 Hope St. in Williamsburg are opening on March 7th, with a May 6th deadline to apply; access the application here.

The 136 unit, seven-story building was designed by Aufang Architects and features studios, one and two bedroom apartments with in-unit washers and dryers and stainless steel appliances.

123 Hope St. under construction (via Google Maps)

At the lowest price point, there are nine studios available at $1,231 per month for one to two occupants with an annual household income between $44,160 and $55,480 per year. Check out the full list of available units and income requirements: Continue reading

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Ben Jorgensen Gets His “Break” at Stuart Cinema (3/7)

“The Break”

In an alternate universe Ben Jorgensen’s debut co-starring role alongside the legends Martin Sheen and Valerie Perrine in the 1995 tennis drama entitled, “The Break” was a blockbuster that garnered universal acclaim; instead Jorgensen, who goes by the name Monk, recalls the review byline, “Gone with the Wind it ain’t.”

“I flew to Miami for the premiere with Rae Dawn Chong and the movie had limited distribution for one sad weekend,” he said. While “The Break” went on to air occasionally on Showtime, Jorgensen never had a screening with friends; his sweet redemption will take place with an upcoming screening of the film at Stuart Cinema (79 West St.) on Thursday, March 7th, at 8 p.m., where Jorgensen will read an excerpt from his autobiographical book that is in the works.

Stuart Cinema is the new affordable theater space near the Greenpoint waterfront for artists to screen their films at a fraction of the cost of many Manhattan theaters.

The synopsis from IMDB:

 A depressed and destitute Nick Irons, a tennis pro banned from the tour for slugging a player during a TV match, agrees to coach a bookie’s “head case” son, Joel, who wants to turn pro. The bookie wants his son to get out of tennis and contracts Nick to discourage him. Nick begins to do that but after an episode with his old flame, Jennifer, and after seeing the kid’s determination he decides to teach him all the tricks, both physical and psychological, of the trade. The two battle the kids of a famous coach, unfair refs., injuries, travel all over the southern US, while Nick tries to woo his love back, finally to reach the big championship tennis match where all is resolved in dramatic fashion.

Full disclosure: I met Jorgensen three years ago when he moved into my Greenpoint apartment for a few months and we’ve since become friends; our mutual friends in the neighborhood have learned of “The Break” through Jorgensen but have never watched the movie, so we ordered a copy for the screening,

When Jorgensen moved to New York City in 1977 from Australia with his mother Tina Date, they lived in an artist loft on Wooster Street in SoHo where his godfather Stephen MacLean would often visit. As a Greenpoint resident today, Jorgensen is right at home: “I feel that I’ve returned to the 70s in Greenpoint, it reminds me of the artistic vibe with a local flavor that used to be in SoHo,” he said.

Jorgensen began acting as a teen when he landed the starring role in a Calvin Klein “Obsession” ad campaign (which was parodied on Saturday Night Live) and went to study under Bill Hickey, Austin Pendleton and Reed Birney. He worked on the soap opera “All My Children” in the 90s as the day-time television pioneering gay teenager Kevin Sheffield, during a season that went on to win two GLAAD awards and an Emmy. Jorgensen is currently preparing his for his role as a gay mafioso in the queer play, “Death of a Mobster,” while putting the finishing touches on his autobiographical book “Name Dropping.”

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to Host “State of the District” in Upper East Side (3/10)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is hosting a “State of the District” presentation on Sunday, March 10, at Hunter College W714 (E. 68th Street and Lexington Avenue) from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. “Join me at my State of the District presentation this Sunday at 1pm! I’ll be discussing my legislative work in Washington, infrastructure investments in NYC, and the status of ongoing projects in #NY12. Hope to see you there,” Maloney posted on Facebook.


Maloney represents NY’s 12th Congressional District including parts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Long Island City, Astoria, the East Village, Midtown East, and the Upper East Side.

The congresswoman recently doubled down on her backing of the failed Amazon bid to build a second headquarters in Long Island City in a deal that would have granted the trillion dollar corporation upwards of $3 billion in state and city tax subsidies in exchange for 25,000 high-paying jobs. Read the letter published in the NY Times addressed to Jeff Bezos last week that Maloney signed urging the Amazon founder to reconsider:

We know the public debate that followed the announcement of the Long Island City project was rough and not very welcoming. Opinions are strong in New York—sometimes strident. We consider it part of the New York charm! But when we commit to a project as important as this, we figure out how to get it done in a way that works for everyone.

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