Brooklyn

“Dance and Be Free” With Good Move in Williamsburg

Photos by Hayley Hill & Lauren Damaskinos, courtesy of Good Move

Warm weather is (finally)  just around the corner. If rising temps make you eager for a new work out routine, Good Move is the answer. Located at 56 Marcy Ave, Good Move is the brainchild of Jules Bakshi, a seasoned wellness/fitness guru, professional dancer, and choreographer. Good Move is encouraging of all levels and has a mindful approach when it comes to its curation of classes. From its namesake class, “Good Move” to adult beginner dance (known affectionately as “Hot Bitch”) to good ole pilates, all classes are built to be inclusive and empowering. Bakshi picked the location because she adores this community and all its small business owners.

Photos by Hayley Hill & Lauren Damaskinos, courtesy of Good Move

“Gertie, has been a haven for me while I get the studio up and running. It’s so very comforting to walk in at any time of day and see some friendly faces, they’ve seen me on some rough days and nights and always offer an ear (or a drink!). It’s a really cool, supportive community of founders and makers.” It also helped that the location was about 12-minute walk in sneakers, and 18-minute walk in heels from her home, a must on this long-time North Brooklyneer’s list.

This is the place for you if you feel shy about sashaying in public. Inclusivity is the foundation of this studio with Bakshi working for years to create a “safe space where anyone can experience the pleasures of movement,” with the goal for you to “shake off your day or your week, and just keep on shaking and dancing til you feel alright.”

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Vermin Infested Williamsburg Starbucks Is Closed Again

Starbucks at 154 N 7 St. (Google Maps)

The Starbucks located at 154 N 7 St. in Williamsburg has shut down again following a temporary closure earlier this month after an employee/whistleblower reported a vermin infestation prompting an inspection from the Dept. of Health.

Brown paper was taped over the front doors to the Williamsburg Starbucks on Friday morning with a sign stating “Store Closed,” pointing customers to nearby locations.

It’s unclear if the latest closure is permanent or related to the vermin infestation that resulted in the corporate coffee chain receiving a “C” during a visit from the city on April 30th when inspectors found:

1) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
2) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
3) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.

Inspectors returned a few days later after Starbucks reopened on May 2nd and still found unsanitary conditions related to vermin: “Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.” Continue reading

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Why Is McCarren Park’s Soil Lead Contaminated?

McCarren Park (Ryan Vaarsi/Flickr)

Does McCarren Park have a lead contamination problem? A new report from WNYC found lead contamination levels above 150 ppm in 87 percent of the 30 soil samples taken in the beloved Greenpoint park.

The report also found soil with lead contamination in Prospect Park and Astoria Park in Queens.

For the McCarren soil testing WNYC focused on the grassy circle near the western entrance at the corner of Lormier Street and Bedford Avenue behind the restrooms:

Our focus was on an oval-shaped plot at the northeast corner that’s typically crowded with picnicking families in warm weather. Historic insurance maps reveal a company that made window sashes, blinds and doors once occupied the site in the 1880’s. Present-day aerial images show large patches of bare soil throughout the park.

Out of 30 samples tested in this one area, 87 percent were above 150 ppm. All exceeded 80 ppm. The average lead level was 201 ppm, making McCarren the most contaminated park WNYC tested.

The WNYC Map of soil samples

The map uses color coding to show where the samples measure in relation to differing standards of the current EPA’s New York standard (400 ppm), the proposed New York standard (150 ppm) and California’s standard (80 ppm).

Lead exposure can cause neurological damage and children are especially vulnerable, but the study also notes that the vast majority of NYC children who have elevated lead in their blood were exposed to lead paint in their homes.

A brief explanation in the study as to why the soil in Brooklyn is widely contaminated hints at the manufacturing history of the borough.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg had dozens of manufacturers and industrial businesses emitting toxins as late as the 1990s, possibly impacting the soil in our parks today. A Hunter College study from 1989 entitled “Hazardous Neighbors? Living Next Door to Industry in Greenpoint-Williamsburg” profiles buildings where toxic chemicals were being used and stored for various manufacturers.

The 1989 “Hazardous Neighbors” study from Hunter College summarized the potential sources of toxicity at the time.

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Massive Food +Beer Event “The World’s Fare” Returns to Citi Field (5/18-5/19)

The World’s Fare has brought together a group of the most respected foodies to curate what will be a celebration of New York City’s diversity. More than 100 food vendors and 50+ beers will be on site representing more than 100 cultures.

Choose from multiple 3-hour sessions of unlimited beer tastings, as well as full-day access from 11am-8pm to The World’s Fare.

If the food & drink is not enough, two stages will have live music and cultural dance performances all weekend. In addition, the event includes a shopping bazaar of international goods from jewelry to pottery, cooking demonstrations, art installations, martial arts demonstrations and many other activities.

Use discount code GREENPOINTERS within 48 hours for $10 OFF beer tickets

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Update: Rubbished Removed From 996 Manhattan Avenue

996 Manhattan Ave (soo to be demolished) (via Google Maps)

 

After multiple Huron Street residents contacted Greenpointers with their complaints regarding the rubbish surrounding 996 Manhattan Avenue earlier this week, we posted pictures of the site and shared their story.

We are happy to report that the developer BHLD Capital responded within 24 hours by removing the garbage that included an abandoned car seat from 996 Manhattan Ave. as well as bringing the site up to code by installing lights on the scaffolding.

Check out the pics for yourself:

BEFORE:

AFTER:

BEFORE: Continue reading

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Lottery for Nine “Affordable” Apartments Open at Two Williamasburg Buildings

319 Broadway rendering (courtesy of NYC Housing Connect)

The NYC Housing Connect database lists new affordable lotteries opening today at two Williamsburg developments with a total of nine units to apply.

The new six-story development at 319 Broadway has three one-bedroom units available at $2,211 per month for one to two occupants with an annual household income between $75,806 – $111,020. Apply here by June 7th.

319 Broadway at street level (Google Maps)

The listed amenities include an intercom system and roof deck. 319 Broadway is also approximately two blocks from the Marcy Avenue JMZ subway and close to the Hewes Street JMZ, but as a consequence, the building faces the subway tracks.

88 Walton St. (Google Maps)

Over at 88 Walton St. there are a total of six units to apply for by June 7. One studio apartment is available at $930 per month for one to two occupants with an annual household income between $31,886 – $51,240.

A single one-bedroom apartment is available for $1000 per month for one to three occupants with an annual household income between $34,286 – $57,660.

A pair of two-bedroom apartments are available for $1,213 per month for two to five occupants with an annual household income between $41,589 – $69,180.

The only amenity at 88 Walton St. is simply listed as “elevator.”

 

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The Settlement House’s Long History and Continuing Role in North Brooklyn

The original Hull House in Chicago (courtesy of University of Alabama)

Local settlement houses have a long and honorable history in North Brooklyn and they have served as a cultural and educational oasis for generations of local youths. Still, many people might not fully appreciate the historic and current role settlement houses play in our area.

Settlement houses first appeared in England in 1884. Several young graduates from Oxford and Cambridge saw that the working class had little access to education or to culture, so they opened the first settlement house and hoped to share their knowledge and culture with their low-paid, poorly educated neighbors. The idea quickly spread to America where millions of illiterate, or semi-literate, immigrants with little or no English language skills began to populate the nation’s cities.

Many middle-class Americans feared that these immigrants and their children posed a danger to American culture and democracy. Something had to be done to help “Americanize” these newcomers and the settlement house quickly became the answer.

In 1889, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr founded the famous Hull House Settlement House on Chicago’s west side. Hull House served the needs of recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe and it served as a model for approximately five hundred similar institutions that sprang up around the country.

Two settlement houses based on Hull House were founded in North Brooklyn. One was funded by Brooklyn’s richest man, Charles Pratt, on the ground floor of his model apartment building, The Astral Apartments, which still stands on Franklin Street and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The settlement house in the building ran a kindergarten, English language classes, home economics courses and civics classes for many of the newly arrived immigrants from Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Italy.

The Astral in 1903 (Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Social Museum Collection): Caption states: “Greenpoint Settlement in South End, 85 Java Street. Settlement end of Astral Building eleven flats – for work of settlement Resident’s Apartments, fifth and sixth floors.”

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Brooklyn Community Board 1 Meets Tonight (5/14)

(courtesy of INGA/Flickr)

Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 (Greenpoint and Williamsburg) will hold its monthly public meeting tonight (5/14) at the Swinging 60’s Senior Center at 211 Ainslie St. starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed here and the agenda is as follows:

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996 Manhattan Avenue Blights Street With Garbage Ahead of Demolition

996 Manhattan Avenue

As plans for a new mixed-use development loom, the existing building at 996 Manhattan Avenue has become a magnet for garbage and vagrants, according to multiple neighbors who said their complaints to 311 have yielded no action on the cleanup from the developer BHLD Capital.

The Huron Street side of 996 Manhattan Avenue

One woman who lives on Huron Street near 996 Manhattan Avenue said that she regularly sees people hanging out on the side of the building under the scaffolding, which received a summons from the Dept. of Buildings for lacking proper lighting. A second summons for the strewn garbage on the property from the Department of Sanitation was visible on the outside of the building on Monday afternoon.

996 Manhattan Ave. summons
996 Manhattan Ave. summons

“I called the developer last week and spoke to the management company and they said that they would take care of it but the garbage is still there,” the Huron Street resident said.

Huron Street side of 996 Manhattan Ave.

Jungle Cafe was the former groundfloor tenant at 996 Manhattan Ave. and has since relocated to 131 Greenpoint Ave.

The existing three-story building at 996 Manhattan Ave. is slated to be demolished for a seven-story development by BHLD Capital, who neighbors say is not doing their job to keep the site in order until work begins. Continue reading

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Domino Sugar’s Enduring Lesson of Local History

The Domino refinery in 2008 (courtesy of Doug Letterman/Flickr)

The philosopher George Santayana once famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I do not know if Santayana ever visited our area, but Santayana’s words relate to North Brooklyn’s struggle to recall its unique history and preserve the landmarks that help us remember our area’s fascinating past.


Last Saturday, I led about 75 hard souls who braved the rain on a walking tour of the Domino Refinery, which was once the largest sugar refinery in the world, processing at its height one-eighth of all the sugar refined on the planet! Today, the great refinery is being transformed into a mixed-use development.

Although the façade of the Domino building is landmarked and must be preserved, the building’s interior is being removed and it will become luxury condominiums and offices. Already huge metal stanchions have been attached to the exterior wall to facilitate gutting the historic refinery. Our history is being destroyed before our very eyes. Continue reading

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