Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Island Escape at Trendy Brooklyn Bar

If the Brooklyn heat is getting you down, you don’t need to look far for an island respite. A Tropical Bar called the Diamond Reef is making a splash in NYC with an outdoor Island-themed patio complete with tiki torches, fairy lights and cocktails. Opened by the owners of cocktail lounge Attaboy in March, this downplayed venue is easy to go to and easy to like. 

Island getaway
Decorated with tropical print wallpaper, wood panels, glass bricks and teal accents, the bar sets a true contrast to its surroundings: the Bedford-Stuyvesant industrial zone. Background music, patio furniture and a wide selection of craft beers successfully provide an immediate getaway without much effort.

All mixed up
Throughout the day the Diamond Reef offers a fun family experience with space for children to run around, while at night the pace winds down to compliment the Reef’s famous drinks, which include the frozen slushy ‘Penichillin’, the ‘Booze and Juice’ and the ‘Spicy Flamingo’. The crowd is mixed, a healthy combo of hipsters and suits all there to enjoy the summer-y atmosphere.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dome Park Entering Phase II of Planned Upgrade

Infamously known as one of “Brooklyn’s worst basketball courts,” the court, located in Dome Playground between Kensington and Williamsburg, is about to lose its negative title.

As Phase II of the park’s renovations gets underway, both the basketball and handball courts on the eastern side of the park are getting complete makeovers.

The Parks Department timeline expects the work to be done by April 2018. The park’s eastern side is near the intersection of Dahill and Courtelyou Roads.

The decrepit nature of the basketball court was first revealed citywide when Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo biked around town for two weeks in 2015 checking out the state of Brooklyn’s courts. Ranking them best to worst, Dome Park’s courts came in number 143 out of 172 total courts in the borough, known for its rapid gentrification and general improvement of facilities.

"This triangular-shaped park has a full court and two half courts, all filled with bad paint and worse cracks," wrote Woo in his article.

Phase II, which is also the last phase of the renovations, also includes the addition of accessible ramps, an adult fitness zone, a rebuilt park entrance, new benches, better lighting, improved gardens, and an easy to reach water fountain.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dog Run Coming to Prospect Park

Border Collie Enjoying Freedom to Run
After years of discussions and requests by neighborhood dog-owners, it looks like Kensington will be finally getting a dog run in Prospect Park.

Activists and members of the Kensington Dog Run Association were pleased to hear that their dreams will soon be a reality after only a few more hurdles to overcome.

"There’s really no areas for dogs to run around and be off leash," Sal Garro, president of the association, said. "We’ve got off leash hours at PP, and those are pretty limited and a lot of people can’t make it to those."

Garro said that his organization is happy with the design for the run, which has two areas, one for smaller dogs, and another for larger. Dog owners will also be supplied with benches to watch their pets run free.

"The designs are incredible," Garro said. "They’re exactly what we wanted. I feel like they really listened to us when we first sat down. They clearly saw our vision."

The run was designed by the Prospect Park Alliance, and will be funded by money which will come through a partnership between two districts; that of Councilmen Mathieu Eugene and Brad Lander

The borough of Brooklyn, through the office of Borough President Aric Adams, will also chip in.
Before the actual construction can commence the project will need to be approved by Community Board 14’s Community Environment Committee, which will be meeting on April 19 at 7pm to vote on the issue. If the vote is in favor, dogs and their owners can expect to see a dog run in Prospect Park within about two years.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

No Horsing Around: Kensington Stables Looking for Highest Bidder

Good news for horse lovers. The historic Kensington Stables, the last horse stable next to Prospect Park, still has a good chance to remain a stable despite the hard times it has fallen on.

First opened in 1930, the stable is for sale as part of a bankruptcy process by owner Walker Blankinship. He is looking to sell off the property in order to pay off debts accrued by his father, who passed away.

The property is being auctioned by Marc Yaverbaum, whose services were retained by Blankinship’s mother, Edna. The original date for the auction had been set for February 21st, but has since been postponed. The hope is that the extra time will allow for a greater possibility that a buyer will come along who will commit to maintaining the property as a horse stable.

Windsor Terrace Councilman Brad Lander has been lobbying on behalf of a stable on the site, stating that:

 “…the community strongly supports the preservation of a horse stable at this location, and that bidders should be clear about this expectation. I would not support a rezoning of this property that did not commit to preservation of a horse stables," Lander wrote.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rents Rising at Ridiculous Rates on Bedford Avenue

Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of LWYang
According to an annual real estate report published by CPEX Real Estate, rents on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn have skyrocketed faster than any other retail corridor in all of Brooklyn. In the past ten years shops on Bedford Avenue have experience rent hikes averaging 477 percent.

The CPEX report states that the going rate for retail space on Bedford between North 3rd Street and North 8th Street is over $300 per square foot. CPEX is a brokerage that focuses on commercial business. The area in question now is home to Whole Foods, Apple, Equinox and WeWork, among others. The extreme rental rise has rendered that 5 block stretch the single most desired, and expensive, shopping area in Brooklyn, says the report.

Not far away on Bedford Avenue, just a few blocks south between Metropolitan Avenue and South 5th Street, rents are now up to $149 per square foot. Ten years ago the cost to rent was about $40.
Ryan Condren, a managing director at CPEX who helped create the report explained that the north section of Bedford is “way more prime.”

"The train obviously allowed it to be what it is. The retail has only gotten stronger and stronger," he said, referring to the L train stop on Bedford and North 7th Street.

Condren says the trend is going to continue, since people will "go far out of their way to go to Apple or to that Whole Foods. All of a sudden, other retailers want to be there because they'll feed off of that."

The report goes on to point out other areas that are on the brink of a rent cost explosion. He said to look for rapid growth on: Fulton and Lafayette in Fort Greene, Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, Flatbush Avenue and Church Avenue in Flatbush, Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick and Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Excelsior Scholarship Plan Announced by Governor Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an astounding new plan that will help poor and middle class families receive higher education. Called the Excelsior Scholarship Plan, this game-changing plan will allow almost one million students enrolled in any of New York State’s public colleges and universities to send the tuition bill to the state.  The plan was announced this past Tuesday by the Governor at a press conference with Vermont State Senator Bernie Sanders standing beside him.

"The American Dream lives in the state of New York and nobody is taking it away," Cuomo said. "And that's what this program is about."

The plan will still need to pass through the state legislature, but if it does it will allow students to go to State University of New York (SUNY) campuses, City University of New York (CUNY) campuses and two-year community colleges completely free, as long as their parents are earning under $125,000 annually. Once the plan is fully implemented it will cost the state about $163 million per year.

The plan will be phased in beginning this year when the cut-off for eligibility will be set at $100,000 annual income. In the fall of 2018 the cut-off will rise to $110,000, and by 2019 Excelsior will reach its upper limit of $125,000.

"I applaud Governor Cuomo for this bold move to educate our youth and keep them in New York," said Democratic State Senator Todd Kaminsky of Rockville Centre. "We need to think big and give our young people the opportunities to excel without crippling debt."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Der Pioneer Bringing Strudel to Ditmas Park

If strudel is your thing, then you are about to have a reason to rejoice. Any day now Der Pioneer is set to open at 737 Church Avenue. This restaurant/bakery is the brainchild of German pastry chef Björn Böttcher, and savory pastry chef Greg Barbiero.

Böttcher, who is originally from Hamburg, has been living in Kensington for 14 years. Barbiero makes his home in Bay Ridge.

Štrůdl. by Che
The pair met in 2010 when they were working at the same restaurant, Ciano NYC. Since then they have worked at different restaurants, but have continued to stay in touch and discuss their dream of opening a specialty bake shop-restaurant together. Finally, their dream is becoming reality.
They plan to keep the store open seven days a week, from 7am to 6pm.

Barbiero will do breakfast, brunch, and the lunch menu. He hopes to put sandwiches, soups, salads, quiches, burgers and other traditional American cuisine up for sale. Böttcher will take charge of the bakery items, all of which will be made by him in the shop.

What can we expect to see from the bakery? Traditional offerings will include: oatmeal cookies, brownies, muffins and scones. On the more exotic side we are looking forward French macaroons, German-style apple strudel, stollen (a German classic: like panettone bread with dried fruits and nuts inside), house-made bon-bons, and franz bröchen, which translates literally to a "French roll."

How does the pair feel about their new adventure? Of course, they are thrilled, saying that when you work for other people “you're learning a lot, but you're being taken advantage of," Barbiero said, mentioning 16 hour days and working during holidays. "This is our thing."