News

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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“Bath Haus” Renderings of the Under Construction Huron Street Bathhouse

The Bathaus (courtesy of Perkins Eastman)

Sales have officially launched along with the release of new renderings of the”Bath Haus” condo development by Caro Enterprises. The luxury development is currently under construction at 139 Huron St. with 9 units hitting the market ranging in price from $750,000 to $3,300,000. The architectural firm Perkins Eastman is behind the redesign and have a global portfolio spanning the Hilton Lagos in Nigeria and the Abu Dhabi Court Complex in the UAE.

139 Huron St. in 1940 (Courtesy of NYC tax photo archives)

A state mandate in 1895 required the construction of public baths in cities with more than 50,000 residents. The city’s poor were previously given access to floating baths off the shores of the East River, but they fell out of favor due to unsanitary pollution.

Greenpoint’s former Huron Street Bathhouse was built 1903, opened 1904 and closed 1960, it’s completion was a result of the City Beautiful Movement, which inspired ‘beautiful’ public architecture and increased municipal amenities to improve the living conditions of the city’s poorest residents.

The Bathaus (courtesy of Perkins Eastman)

25 baths were built in the Classical Revival Style around NYC with seven constructed in Brooklyn. All were based on the baths of ancient Rome. 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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Tonight: ReversaL Public Forum on L Train Partial Shutdown at A/D/O

MTA employees using a pump train to pump water out of the Canarsie Tunnel under the East River in Nov 2012. The tunnel was flooded during the unprecedented 13-foot storm surge of Hurricane Sandy. (Courtesy of MTA / Patrick Cashin)

Tonight, a public forum on the partial shutdown of the L train entitled ReversaL will take place at A/D/O (29 Norman Ave.) from 6:30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Admission is free and you can RSVP here. The URBAN-X YouTube Channel will host footage of the event shortly after the talk.

Work on the Canarsie Tunnel is set to begin on April 26, with night and weekend service disruptions lasting 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 and an MTA shuttle will run from Bedford Avenue to the J/M Marcy Avenue station and to the G/L Lorimer Street station on a loop.

Speakers at the ReversaL public forum include:

Greg Lindsay – Moderator – Urbanist in Residence at URBAN-X

Rodrigo Bautista – Principal Change Designer at Forum for the Future

Phil Jones – East Coast Senior Director at Lime

Benjamin Solotaire – Community Organizer, North Brooklyn & Director of Participatory Budgeting for Council Member Stephen Levin

Toby Moskovits – CEO at Heritage Equity Partners

Kate Slevin – Senior Vice President, State Programs and Advocacy, Regional Plan Association

 

 

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Get ready to eat! Grand Street Restaurant Week starts TODAY! (Mon, 2/18)

 

(via Thompson Brooke Restaurant)

Grand Street Restaurant Week is back and starts TODAY (Monday, February 18)! Through Sunday, March 3rd, diners can enjoy discounted prix fixe menus with special offerings at 15 Grand Street restaurants!

Long-time neighborhood favorites like Desy’s Clam Bar as well as neighborhood newcomers like Thompson Brooke are participating as well as local favorites including Le Barricou, AmmazzaCaffe, and Forcella. Two-course lunch offerings start at $10 and three-course dinner offerings are all less than $35 per person. For a full list of participating restaurants and their menus, visit grandstreetrestaurantweek.com. Continue reading

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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.”

Continue reading

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A Fruit Salad More Than a Decade in the Making

Mr. Berry in Greenpoint (via Google Maps)

His first day in Brooklyn, Joon Yoon was baptized in true New York City fashion—with bird poop. While others would consider this an ill omen, Joon saw his unexpected baptism as a harbinger of success. “Some people say it is good luck if you get pooped on,” he explained matter-of-factly over email.

His optimism was warranted. More than two decades since his 1997 arrival in New York from South Korea, Yoon—along with his brother, Jun Yoon—now manages a small green-grocery empire. The brothers own 11 stores (including two in Greenpoint), all of which are a gentlemanly variation on the original store’s name, Mr. Kiwi at 957 Broadway in Brooklyn. They have even expanded into Queens, opening Mr. Avo this year in Long Island City.

Although now bonafide American entrepreneurs, the Yoons originally lived in a provincial capital of middling size in South Korea. Rootless and with financial difficulties, they moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s, knowing no one in the New York area. When Joon first arrived at age 23, he began working in grocery stores from the Bronx to Queens at an exhausting pace—seven days a week at 14 to 18 hours a day.

Mr. Plum (photo: Ben Weiss)

In 2006, he was faced with a choice. The Woodside grocery he worked at was closing, soon leaving him without work. Joon and his family decided to take a leap and open Mr. Kiwi, the idiosyncratic name chosen spontaneously during a road trip. In the beginning, it was hard to gain traction. “They didn’t come with a lot of money or anything… When you don’t have money, there is no one who will give you money. So, they had to start with very little product in the store. Literally, maybe a one-item-per-shelf situation,” explained Jae Lim, their office manager, over the phone.

Mr. Plum (photo: Ben Weiss)

The brother-and-father team operated the store 24 hours a day, working in shifts. Junseok Yoon, their cousin, came soon after and became an integral part of the operation. Customers appreciated the cheap produce—sourced from Hunts Point Market—and generous portions from their juice bar, detailed Lim.

13 years later, one store became 11. And Mr. Kiwi was joined by Mr. Coco, Mr. Piña, Mr. Melon, Mr. Lime, Mr. Berry, Mr. Mango, Mr. Lemon, Mr. Plum, and Mr. Avo. The Yoon family has even recently opened a salad bar in Bushwick. Continue reading

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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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