Greenpoint

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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Will Eisner: Williamsburg’s Father of The Graphic Novel and Legendary Comic Artist

Will Eisner at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con. (Photograph by Patty Mooney)

North Brooklyn has produced a slew of creative geniuses in many fields, but Will Eisner created a new genre of art. A gifted and innovative comic artist, Eisner was the first to realize that comics were literature, and the first to coin the term ‘graphic novel.’ Wizard magazine named Eisner “the most influential comic artist of all time” and one of the comic industry’s most prestigious awards, The Eisner Award, is named after him.

Recognized as the ‘Oscars’ of the American comic book business, the Eisners are presented annually before a packed ballroom at Comic-Con International in San Diego, America’s largest comics convention. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years and eight decades — from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics, Eisner truly dominated his field and by the end of his life had become a living legend. He broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics and was the creator of such famous comics as “The Spirit,” “John Law,” “Lady Luck,” “Mr. Mystic,” “Uncle Sam,” “Blackhawk,” “Sheena” and countless others.

His innovative storytelling, layouts, and drawings in his newspaper series “The Spirit” inspired a generation of cartoonists, and his creation of a heralded series of graphic novels, beginning in 1978 with “A Contract with God,” helped create the form. Like many other Williamsburg creative geniuses, Eisner was born into a poor Eastern European Jewish family. His boyhood was full of struggles on many fronts. Eisner was born on the Southside in 1917. His family, like many other local families, had crossed the Williamsburg Bridge in hopes of finding a better life in Brooklyn than in the crowded Manhattan tenements.

Young Eisner was subject both to bullying and to anti-semitic taunting as a boy. Eisner became addicted to pulp fiction magazines and film, even avant-garde films. To his mother’s disappointment, Eisner inherited his father’s love of art, and his father encouraged him by buying him art supplies. Eisner’s mother was angry about their impoverished circumstances and frequently berated his father for not providing the family a more comfortable life, as he went from one job to another. The family experienced particularly hard times during the Great Depression and In 1930, the family situation was so desperate that Eisner’s mother insisted that the 13-year-old Eisner work. Eisner began selling newspapers on street corners, but again became the victim of bullies who wanted to take the best corners for themselves.

High school helped him find his talent. Eisner attended DeWitt Clinton High School where he drew for the school newspaper (The Clintonian), the literary magazine and the yearbook, and did stage design, leading him to a career as an artist. After graduation, he studied under Canadian artist George Brandt Bridgman for a year at the Art Students League of New York, which led him to a position as an advertising writer-cartoonist for the New York American newspaper. Eisner also drew $10-a-page illustrations for pulp magazines, including “Western Sheriffs and Outlaws.”

In 1936, high-school friend and fellow cartoonist Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, suggested that the 19-year-old Eisner try selling cartoons to the new comic book “Wow, What A Magazine!” Wow Editor Jerry Iger published an Eisner comic strip called “Captain Scott Dalton,” a hero who traveled the world after rare artifacts. Eisner subsequently wrote and drew the pirate strip “The Flame” and the secret agent strip “Harry Karry” for Wow as well.

Wow folded and Iger and Eisner formed a partnership, producing and selling original comics material, which were in short supply because the depression killed so many magazines. Their partnership prospered and by age 22 Eisner had made a considerable fortune.

In 1939, Eisner wrote and drew the first issue of Wonder comics with a hero who was similar to Superman. The following year a newspaper syndicate approached him about creating comics for newspapers that would appear across the country. Eisner accepted the offer and reluctantly broke up his partnership with Iger. His syndicated creation, “The Spirit,” became a major success that lasted until the 1950s. In 1971, Eisner was inducted into the Comics Hall of Fame, but he still had other achievements to realize. In the late 70s, Eisner brought out the first of many graphic novels. Although he was a rich man and had no need to earn money teaching, Eisner began teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he published Will Eisner’s Gallery, a collection of work by his students and wrote two books based on these lectures, “Comics and Sequential Art” and “Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative,” which are still widely used by students of cartooning.

In 2005, Eisner passed away. One of his fellow comic artists, Scott McCloud, the author of “Understanding Comics” summarized what many other comic artists and fans felt about the boy from Williamsburg stating, “Will Eisner is the heart and mind of American comics.”

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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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Thursday Spotlight: Meet Director Dina Vovsi

Dina Vovsi

When we discuss the art scene in Greenpoint, we often focus on the Pencil Factory’s many inhabitants or the other visual artists working out of their studios, homes, and even in our neighborhood parks. But North Brooklyn has always been teeming with artists of many different stripes, including versatile theatermakers like director Dina Vovsi. Dina has worked in collegiate and Off-Broadway theaters, crafted plays centering on immigrant experiences, and created immersive experiences in outdoor settings. Below, we get to know the Greenpoint-based director while discussing her career, the importance of affordable housing, and — of course — her dog Bruce.

Greenpointers: How long have you lived in Greenpoint, and what brought you here? 

Dina Vovsi: I’ve lived in Greenpoint for about two and a half years. Before moving here, my partner and I were in Kensington for a year, and before that, I lived in Williamsburg for six years, so I’ve spent a lot of time in North Brooklyn. I am super lucky — my name was drawn in the affordable housing lottery for an apartment in a brand-new, mixed-income building, which has made being an artist significantly more possible over the past couple of years. It’s been a financial game-changer, and I can’t stress enough how everyone needs to be submitting for these buildings on NYC Housing Connect; I know quite a few people who have been selected recently, so it’s really not as impossible as legend says. We live in the quieter, north end of the neighborhood, and I love being near the water and walking our dog, Bruce, to Transmitter Park and Greenpoint Landing. More people know his name than mine, which I’m totally fine with. Continue reading

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