Sunday, December 31, 2017

Taking the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day

New Yorkers don't get put off by the absolutely frigid temperatures. Or at least that's the message that New York is offering as the annual New Year's Day polar bear plunge comes up tomorrow. Two New Jersey towns have actually canceled their annual plunge due to the incredibly cold temperatures sweeping the East Coast at the moment.

But, the president of the Coney Island club said there is no way they will cancel. As Dennis Thomas said,  “We’ve never canceled a swim due to the weather and we’re not going to start this year. We’re going ahead with it and we expect a huge turnout.”

Thomas explained that the plunge has been taking place for 114 years, and it will take place this year as scheduled.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Snapshot of Kensington

For those new to Kensington, Brooklyn, or even for old-time residents, this video put together by a NYC-based YouTuber, takes us through the Williamsburg neighborhood.

Monday, December 4, 2017

New Brooklyn Business Offers Real-Time Train Updates in Local Stores

A Brooklyn startup has tied its success to local subway delays. The company, called The NYC Train Sign company, creates LED real-time train countdown signs for stores, bars, restaurants and even homes using commuter data. Based in Bushwick, the company was founded by Timothy Woo in 2016 when he realized that unreliable L train schedules and poor cellphone service often left people waiting at subway stations for much longer than necessary. 

The goal of the startup is to help people take control of their schedules by knowing exactly when their train is going to arrive. NYC Train Sign co-founder and head of marketing Dara Denney explained that the intent is not to "hate on the MTA," though the "system needs to be fixed to improve the average New Yorker's quality of life. NYC Train Sign was created to take back some control we lose while dealing with delays, stalled trains and trains that never come."

According to Woo, more than 15 stores currently have one of the signs on display. Online sales have also soared since last month.

Local businesses have stated that the signs have helped to support their business as well.
"Customers might squeeze in another round because they can see that they have the time," explained Pizza Party owner Kristen North. "It's a no-brainer. I just think of all the times I've left a bar just to end up sitting on the subway platform for the amount of time if could have taken me to have another drink."

Houdini Kitchen Laboratory partner and manager Massimiliano Bartoli added that the signs are particularly beneficial during the winter. "In cold weather, people wait until the last minute to go to the subway," he said. "It's a great idea. It's like the cherry on the cake when you see it."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

New Apple Store Coming to Brooklyn

Apple has announced the grand opening of their new retail location in Downtown Brooklyn. The official grand opening will be next week on December 2 and the store will be located at 123 Flatbush Avenue, in the heart of Brooklyn.

Last year, Apple opened a store in Williamsburg, but this one is even more centrally located near the main shopping artery of the city.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Environmental Activists March Across Brooklyn Bridge On 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

Thousands of activists marched across the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend in an effort to raise awareness of climate change and spur the government in to action on the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane, which swept across NYC and left nearly $75 billion of damage in its wake, was only one of numerous large storms which hit the United States and Caribbean over the last few years.

The environment advocates claimed that these natural disasters are directly linked with climate change, and that society needs to make a change in order to prevent further disaster.

Executive Director of New York Environmental Justive Alliance Eddie Bautista said:
"Here we are on another warm day in October, and we know why! Five years ago tomorrow, the city was visited by a severe weather event, the likes of which we had never seen, and then this past summer we have seen hurricane after hurricane devastating the global South and communities of color throughout the lower parts of the United States."

Rosa Zuchuk, an activist, explained:
"We're here today to be part of this reminder to our city and state.... we're here as part of the defense of our city against this."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brooklyn Buildings

Proposals for a 68-storey skyscraper in Brooklyn were recently released by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox. To be known as the Brooklyn Point tower, it will be the second tallest building in the region (the tallest one being the 1,000 foot SHoP Architect skyscraper). Open House New York was just completed. Marking its 15th anniversary, the public is now invited to take a peek into some of the city’s architectural gems over the years which have been “repurposed and transformed.” Around 200 buildings took part in this – and these are usually closed to the public. One example was the Jefferson Market Library Tower which – originally erected in 1877 as a Venetian Gothic building – has since been home to: a courthouse, fire tower and a women’s detention center. Meanwhile, another NY architecture firm has done something entirely different. A single-family home has been constructed completely out of abandoned shipping containers. Nicknamed the Carrol House, LOT-EX constructed this on Williamsburg Street, as the area was designated specifically for it. Featuring a ground floor kitchen, dining and living room, a media room with tiered seating, the first floor has two containers for children's rooms as well as a playroom. On the top floor there is an open plan master bedroom and dressing room. Container walls are used for privacy and each level has a dedicated outdoor space. So it seems like all around Brooklyn buildings are certainly making headlines!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Revamps Planned for Brooklyn Parks

New York City is launching a project to renovate public spaces, and several parks in Brooklyn are getting a makeover! The first three are to be Bartlett Playground and Pen Triangle in Williamsburg and Lewis Playground in Bed Stuy, with community meetings already being held to determine the next spots as well.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Batter Up in Prospect Park!

This is exciting news for baseball fans in the Brooklyn area. Fields 6 and 7 in Prospect Park are back and ready for use. All sorts of people were on hand to cut the ribbon including elected officials, little league players and park workers. Friday, they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the two fields.

Now, the two field shave new dugouts with benches and water fountains. They have fresh fences and new infields.

As Eddie Albert, the President of the Prospect Park Baseball Association told Patch,
"When you have 194 teams, scheduling 194 teams every week is real chore, because the fields in most of Brooklyn are not really in great shape. Now that these fields can accommodate every size, from softball all the way out to hard ball, 90 feet, we have the flexibility to do so much more."
Learn all the details here and get ready for the next pitch!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Alexander Wang Fashion Show Comes to Brooklyn

Alexander Wang's Spring 2018 New York Fashion Week runway show is underway in Brooklyn! Top WangFest models include Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Greenest Block in Brooklyn Announced in NYC

The Greenest Block in Brooklyn is a contest held by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. More than 20 years old, the competition measures the green-ness of all Brooklyn streets, and this year's winner was Stuyvesant Avenue. Nestled between Bainbridge and Chauncey, this block does not appear to be dramatically more green than any of its neighbors.

Nina Browne, community program manager at the botanic gardens, runs the contest and trains the judges each year. In a visit to Stuyvesant Ave. for the New York Times, Browne explained that a winning block's title comes from more than just its vegetation level; it comes from its citizen participation.

"It boils down to people more than plants," she says. "It's where you get that tangible sense of love. Which block felt the most unified? Where is that sense of community really most palpable? That's urban resilience right there."

"It's really about people power," she added. "It's a testament to what people can do, despite not having dirt to dig in."

Stuyvesant Ave. block captain Serge Vatel explained that the communal goal is "to set the bar for the entire Stuyvesant Heights."

"It's our lobby," he added. "It's the gateway to our neighborhood-- the first block people see on their way to work in the morning. It's like a watermark for our neighborhood: It tells everyone, new and old, 'This is our standard of leaving.'"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Newfound Love: Naomi Campbell and Louis C. Camilleri

In recent celebrity news, Naomi Campbell has been secretly dating Louis C. Camilleri, the Maltese-Egyptian CEO of tobacco company Philip Morris International and director of Ferrari. Worth over $192 million, the 62-year-old business mogul apparently shares a love for Formula One with the 47-year-old supermodel, who also attended the grand prix races.  

Though both are generally rather close-mouthed about their personal lives, the pair has become a bit more public about their relationship over the last few weeks. 

A source revealed that “Naomi and Louis have been secretly dating for weeks,” according to The Sun. “They’re all over each other when they’re out. Naomi likes to keep her relationships private and it is early days, but there’s a real spark between them. Their close friends are aware they’re dating.”
Until now, the lovebirds have managed to avoid public scrutiny by meeting secretly via private jet. They have also rendezvoused at various locations throughout Europe, and have been spotted dining in some of London’s restaurants.

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."