Monday, June 22, 2020

Kensington, Brooklyn: What a Great Neighborhood


Kensington Brooklyn has always had a lot to offer.  Now it seems that even people not looking to live there – but to invest in property ownership – are catching on.   With its vibrant mix of different cultures (including Bangladeshi, Chinese, Latin American, Orthodox Jewish, Ukrainian to name but a few), real estate investors are seeing its potential and looking into developments.

And why not?  It’s a beautiful place, featuring a lake, horseback riding, baseball fields, tennis courts and more.  It is great for families, has good schools and a positive buzzing environment.  With a newly opened middle school (on Caton Avenue), more people are moving in.

This is great news also for local business owners.   Although on the one hand rent is getting more expensive, on the other hand, more customers are being brought in. and for residents it’s good too as with new people brings new services and a younger vibe. Locals say they love it due to the suburban and close-knit neighborhood feel that has been created over the years and is developing even more so, now.



Saturday, June 6, 2020

Coronavirus Chronicles: Keeping up the Kensington Culture


Although they are still having to “stay home” those in Brooklyn are not reneging on their commitment to local culture. Thankfully the annual DanceAfrica weekend from The Brooklyn Academy of Music is still taking place… and be even better and longer than usual.

Rather than a weekend in person event, it has been going on for three weeks already and will continue for another week. The virtual event has comprised of many dance performances, music events and culturally-rich sales in jewelry, apparel and more.

DanceAfrica was established over 40 years ago and today it has a large place in local culture throughout North America as well as the Carribeean, Europe and South America. New Yorkers have traditionally attended events as part of a reunion of sorts.

Some of this year’s events have been:

a)      Mikki Shepard talk The Early Years with Charmaine Warren, a dance historian.  Shepard was the producer of the original 1977 DanceAfrica event.
b)      Omar Victor Diop’s display of works.  This photographer from Sengal was a virtual artist in DanceAfrica four years ago.
c)      Dance Party
d)      Live Broadcasts with Tosca and Maria Stuarda

Friday, May 22, 2020

Affordable Local Housing

Thirty-seven affordable new housing units have been put in a lottery in the Brownsville neighborhood.  The eight floor building – known as Edwin’s Place – has set prices which begin at just $666 a month.   There are 26 one-bed units; 9 two-bed units and 2 three-bed units.  Prices are capped at $1,279 per month. The building – currently under construction – will comprise 24-hour security, a computer lab, garden, laundry room, storage for bikes and a workout room.   Architects are Robert A. M. Stern and Breaking Ground developers.  In 2018 the land became an LLC, having previously been an HPD. Housing unit applications must be submitted by July 8, 2020.

In addition, 10 days ago a lottery for income-restricted units in Brooklyn was launched. The two buildings have been earmarked to make up for those 100 or so families/individuals who have been on the waitlist in the Crown Heights/Prospect Heights neighborhoods. The location – 816 Washington Avenue and 615 Sterling Place is in walking distance from the Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum, the central branch of Brooklyn Public Library, Mount Prospect Park. The construction was completed last year. Applications close June 12, 2020.





Friday, May 8, 2020

Seniors, Social Distancing and Isolation: Finding a Solution


Social distancing can be incredibly isolating for everyone but especially those who are not able to connect virtually.  That category of people is often the elderly population, many whom do not even own devices that can enable them to connect to the rest of the world.

Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, that problem may be solved.  With a program that has received $5 million in funding, 10,000 seniors who live in NYC Housing Authority units will be getting tablets connected to the web.  Initially this program will start in Brooklyn and thereafter be in other regions around NYC.  As well as providing the tablets to the seniors, they will receive help through the phone to guide them through the process of becoming web-savvy.

This announcement was given as part of a larger approach to the fight against COVID-19 which includes walk-in testing for the novel coronavirus at these housing developments as well.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Beer in Brooklyn?


A little over a month ago, permission was given by NY governor Andrew Cuomo for stores to sell alcoholic beverages “for takeout from the licensed premises or delivered to the customer’s residence.”    According to NYC Brewers Guild Ann Reilly, the NY State Liquor Authority responded to the challenge COVID-19 is posing for these businesses and substantially relaxed takeaway, to-go and packaging regulations.

One such brewery is Brooklyn’s Threes Brewing which is “aspir[ing] to connect people to each other over good beer.”  Since COVID-19 is preventing that possibility within the brewery’s bars, they are still committed to their customers in their homes.  They can buy beer for “delivery, shipping or no touch pick-up.”

Threes Brewing CEO and co-founder Joshua Stylman reported that because of what’s been happening, he had to lay off the majority of his staff.  Those who remained took a dip in salaries.  The work that is being done however is same-day delivery in New York City and shipping throughout New York State. Pickup is also available.

The NYC Brewers Guild is now regularly updating their website with information on what local breweries are allowed to do in real time.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Local Eateries Partner with the LEE Initiative


Chef Greg Baxtrom of Brooklyn’s Olmsted restaurant discusses how his partnership with The LEE Initiative is assisting his working since the Covid-19 outbreak.



Kindness in the time of COVID-19


There is a worldwide crisis.  Coronavirus.  COVID-19.   Call it what you will.  But while we are all scared and practicing social distancing and taking care of ourselves as best we can, we are faced with a choice:  will we be kind or selfish?  Look at what we can do for others (while being safe) or make like it’s not our problem?

Here in Crown Heights, some people are really focused on what they can do for others.  One example is the restaurant, The Bergen which recently began giving out free meals to children and their families in the local community.  Thanks to Ty Brown who owns the restaurant, these individuals are getting food.  And while his business is down, he is able to give out this free food thanks to generous donations from local New Yorkers.

Initially the restaurant was delivery free brown-bag lunches for school children but once schools closed they found another way to help.

There is always a way to help. No matter what the situation. It’s just a matter of choice.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Generosity in Greenpoint



These are hard times.  Really tough financially, emotionally, physically and more.  But then at other times you get to see the true kindness, the selfless actions, the people – even though they too are going through their own set of very harsh challenges – are reaching out to others and saying ‘here, let me help.’

That is what local Brooklyn landlord Mario Salerno is doing. He owns approximately 80 apartments and has told his tenants (around 200 in all) that he is waiving rend for the month of April as he just “wants everybody to be healthy.”

One of his tenants described him as “Superman…a wonderful man,” relating how she has been out of work since she had to close down her hair salon.  Even though Salerno is taking a big hit he explained:

“it was more important for people's health and worrying about who could put food on whose table. I say don't worry about paying me, worry about your neighbor and worry about your family."

One of his tenants said she's been out of work since she was ordered to shut down her hair salon. "He's Superman. He's a wonderful man," Kaitlyn Guteski told NBC New York. "It's a game-changer."

Then there are eateries which have just begun offering “pay what you want” and free meals and drinks.  There are at least three restaurants offering free food.  Brooklyn Sweet Spot is one of them which is giving out free lunch meals to adults and children on Friday. A couple in Greenpoint is trying to offer some help to those restaurant workers who have lost their jobs by giving them free meals as well.