Calling All Disgruntled North Brooklyn Renters!

May 28, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

rentalhellYour golden silver parachute has come! Jenny wrote:

I’m trying to forward you a cool email that I got from the Working Families party about a video contest to tell stories of “renters’ hell,” but it keeps being labeled “spam.” Any workaround?

We worked it out and here’s the deal. Per the Working Families Party website:

We’re holding our first ever video contest, where you have a chance to win a month’s free rent just by telling your rental hell story on camera. You’ll also be raising awareness about an important issue that affects millions of New Yorkers: the need for stronger rent laws.

Everyone who has ever rented has a story: rent increases, broken heating and cold showers, new owners trying to break your lease, that one bedroom next door rented to four budget conscious students, or waking up to discover that you(r) building is turning into an illegal hotel.

We know it was awful, and we’re sorry. But guess what? There could be a silver-lining! The Working Families Party is teaming up with millions of renters across New York City for the first ever video contest highlighting Rental Hell.

Entering the contest is easy:

1. Tell your story on camera.
2. Upload it to Youtube and tag it with “Rental Hell”.
3. Fill out our entry form.

What’s more, you can win one month’s free rent up to $1,999— or whatever your monthly rent is! Be advised your video must be between 30 seconds and five minutes. You can peruse the complete rules and regulations for this contest by clicking here. The deadline is June 6th— so start grousing!

To close on a distinctly Greenpoint note, I would strongly advise anyone who resided at 156 India Street (or resided at 95 Clay Street for that matter) to enter this contest.

Miss Heather

North Greenpoint Photos Du Jour: Bodega Daze

March 30, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

The following photographs may not necessarily depict bodegas per se but they do represent the way north Greenpoint has changed, for better or worse.

eaglestbodega

R.I.P at Eagle and Franklin Street.

joses

Renovated, empanadaed and in demand down the block.

sanda

This was my bodega of choice when I lived on Clay Street.

acapulco

This is not a bodega. However, Acapulco Deli & Restaurant resides next to the S & A Deli and is one of the most underrated diners in the Garden Spot. What’s more, now they’re sporting a fancy new awning!

donedeals

Greenpoint Furniture formerly (and possibly currently)  known as “DONE DEAL$”.

minimarket

I was never too big on this one (too much emphasis on meat) but the “presentation” is nice. Good place to buy soda, though.

oldandnewoneaglenys

Such is the life nowadays in north Greenpoint. Of all the people depicted in the above photograph who do you most identify with? More importantly, does it even matter?

We’re all in this together for better or worse, Greenpointers. Best to direct our angst or get a collective chuckle out of people who write stuff like this:

I have to say that all of the places in Brooklyn and Manhattan that I considered moving to, I did not consider Greenpoint at first.  Then I saw the posting for the 305 McGuinness Lofts in early February. I am a huge sucker for apartment porn, as I call it, and the new condo-turned-rental developments are great for that.  This was a Craigslist listing for a brand new triplex: 3 BRs, 2 BAs, brand new appliances, loft like ceilings, on-site parking and a gym. Shane and I quickly agreed: Yep, going to see that. Per the broker, Baris, these had just hit the market and so far they had curious locals coming to see the building.*

So we went on a cloudy Sunday. Getting off of the G train at the Greenpoint Ave stop and seeing the Starbucks warmed the cockles of my heart. We had a lot of time so we went to see the open house that was posted on Craigslist for 110 Green St.  The road itself was desolate but on the right-hand side there was this huge building. It had no sign (later discovered it had been called the Viridian, and was very famous for having Magic Johnson as an investor, and even more famous for going bankrupt last month) and it was very clearly still under construction. We checked out the model apartment, which was extraordinarily tiny. They were, and still are, charging $2,900 for a 2 BR and $3,600 for a 3 BR, so I was curious to check them out. There were many potential tenants and only 1 sales rep. He took us to see the area where there supposedly will be a huge, olympic sized swimming pool (suuuuuure), and then this enormous atrium, which was supposed to have had a fountain, but then explained that the original plans had already been downgraded to now include a simple lounge area instead. At that point, we ran out of time, so we left unimpressed, thinking they needed a reality check.  With those prices and 138 new units to rent, each with limited space, it seems to be a daunting task, indeed.

After that disappointment, we headed off to 305 McGuinness Lofts. McGuinness Blvd, for those who don’t know (and I didn’t) is a very noisy, busy road with traffic gunning to and from Brooklyn and Queens via the Pulaski bridge. The apartment building was under heavy construction (and still is), with wires dangling and walls unfinished. We were shown the triplexes and duplexes. The triplexes were cool: 1200+ sq feet in each, with 2 entrances, 2 bedrooms & 1 bathroom on the bottom floor, kitchen with huge windows and decent living/dining space on the 2nd floor and then the third floor mezzanine with another room that will (one day, in theory) have sliding glass doors overlooking the living/dining area, and another bathroom. W/D comes with every unit, as does central air, lovely new appliances and huge windows. I wasn’t crazy about the bedrooms, which were small, and the limited amount of closet space in each, but overall, it was a nice place for a relatively decent price.

But nice floors, beautiful appliances, kitchen, huge windows and only $3,000 with a free month thrown in. Add in on-site parking and the gym? Awesome! Duplexes with 2 bedrooms plus an area for an office space, had a nicer view but the 2nd floor/mezzanine had a ridiculously low ceiling, barely clearing Shane’s head, and they only had 1 bathroom. Additionally, the mezzanine/2nd bedroom shared a huge window with the master suite, and the two rooms were not completely shutoff from each other due to that window, so we figured, if we lived here, it’d be the triplex…

Yes, this was ostensibly written by a “real person”. While gloating over the “lovely new appliances” and “huge windows” our wannabe/soon-to-be neighbor didn’t notice the rather fragrant and enormous waste treatment plant one block away.

Real estate shill or simply clueless?

I’ll let you make the call. A triplex overlooking the Shit Tits, anyone?

Miss Heather

*This is true. We stare in dumbfounded amazement at this edifice wondering why some dumbass, a bankrolled one at that, would build such a turd on McGuinness Boulevard. Daily. It is a constant source of amusement.

P.S.: The 184 Eagle Street post is a HOOT:

When we were first heading over to Greenpoint to check out 305 McGuinness I also put in a call to check out the listing for a luxury 2 BR, 2 BA with mezzanine place (pics above), complete with on-site parking.  Was told by the real estate agent that it was for 184 Eagle Street but that tenants were in the place so I couldn’t see it that day (Sunday).  Weekdays weren’t good for me so I passed.

Then a few weeks back Brownstoner picked up on a story posted by New York Shitty about 184 Eagle St doing hostel duty on the side.  Apparently a tipster found the Craigslist posting.  So…while they wait for a real rental, they’re making money by renting out the place on a weekly basis where you can get either a bunk bed ($28 per night) or a private room ($78 per night).  Um, ew?

Um, welcome to my reality lady. I have seen a number of my neighbors— renters all— “displaced” by development. It happens like this: a developer purchases 1,2,3 lots in a row— usually because the landholder cannot afford the real estate taxes— and the tenants are forced to vacate. And in the place of their former homes are erected testaments to gentrification such as 110 Green Street, 184 Eagle Street and 305 McGuinness. Their target demographic: people like you.

But the locations are deemed “too crude” by people like you (greed and easy credit makes developers do silly things) so they have to find more creative ways to meet their loan debt like skipping over the whole Certificate of Occupancy thing.

184eaglepart2

Or employing a dead condo (“nondo”) as an illegal hostel/hotel. Thus generating what is my opinion one of the most hilarious complaints I have ever seen on the Department of Buildings web site.

184eaglepart1

Who says gentrification/displacement can’t be funny?

More Fun With The Luxe Guesthouse

February 28, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

184eaglest

It’s Saturday afternoon and I am pleased to announce that the fun isn’t over yet with Greenpoint’s newest luxury hostel— in fact, it looks like it has just begun. Apparently the Luxe Guesthouse at 184 Eagle Street (as seen above) is only one of three hostels Fizzburg Equity Partners LLC has set up in Greenpoint. And it doesn’t stop there: three more such establishments are in the works. Don’t believe me? Read the following email thoughtfully provided by an anonymous tipster who writes:

Thought you might want to read this, since I saw a posting on your site. I got it a while back from a girl in town who was working with the local businesses to try to get us to hire her firm for PR. We didn’t, but apparently this is her new venture…luxury hostels.

fizzburg

SIX?!?

Miss Heather

P.S.: Be sure to mark your calendars kids; per their Facebook page the Luxe Guesthouse’s Grand Opening is March 15th! For more info on Kisha (and her plan to take over the world) click here.

Presenting The Luxe Guesthouse

February 27, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

(or: Where Condos In Greenpoint Go After They Die).

This item comes courtesy of a tipster who prefers to remain anonymous. As you read on you’ll understand why: the following “digs” are probably illegal as hell.*

privateroomsrev

This establishment purports to be located in Greenpoint. But where, you ask? Try this one on for size!

184eaglest

184 Eagle Street. Yes, sir. If you’re looking for a place to hang your hat (and the Greenpoint Hotel is not your cup of tea) why not give the Luxe Guesthouse a whirl? A single bunk will set you back a paltry $28.00 a night! Those seeking more private accommodations will be asked to tender $79.00 a night. The catch: you have to sign a one week lease! Don’t believe me? Point and click your way over their web site or look at this ad on Craigslist and see for yourself! Sleep tight…

…and don’t let the bedbugs bite!

Miss Heather

*What could possibly be shady about an operation whose “directions” page says this?

directions

Much Ado About Bricks

Yesterday was a series of revelations for yours truly. Among the lessons I (re)learned:

1. When going to 11231 TAKE A MAP.
2. The gent who laid out Greenpoint’s streets (at least the northern part of it, anyway) is, in yours truly’s opinion, anyway) an unsung genius. For those of you who are not in the know, Greenpoint’s streets were (and still are) alphabetical. They start with Ash Street and end with Quay.

Granted, Lincoln has since become Greenpoint Avenue and P Street became Calyer. But the principle still stands. This is about as “idiot-proof” as it gets. In other words: if you get lost in Greenpoint, you do not deserve to be found. But I digress.

3. Getting lost is fun.
4. Getting un-lost is even more fun. Especially when you stumble upon such niceties as “Millie’s Garden” as seen at the beginning of this post. Follows are a few more details.

What is that I spy with my Garden Spot eye? A brick! From the good ol’ 11222 courtesy of John Cooper! Naturally I had to get down to the bottom of this matter when I got home. And I did. Which brings me to…

5. There is an entire brick collecting community in cyberspace. Brick foamers, if you will. And thanks to Brickcollecting dot com I learned a little about the provenance of this brick:

The Manhattan Fire Brick and Enameled Clay Retort Works (as described in New York Illustrated (New York: D.Appleton & Co., 1876) was located on East 15th Street near the East River. Henry Maurer learned the fireclay manufacturing business in his uncle’s firm, Maurer & Weber, and then established his own firm which relocated from New York and Staten Island to Maurer, New Jersey, in 1874

There were several firms in New York City that took advantage of the nearby deposits of fire clay and manufactured both clay retorts and fire bricks. In 1845 Balthazar Kreischer established a fire-brick works in Manhattan, later known as the New York Fire Brick and Clay Retort Works; Kreischer acquired a fire-clay deposit on Staten Island in 1852 and established a works there which eventually replaced the Manhattan factory (his son’s house, the Charles Kreischer House and the workers’ houses for the company, the Kreischerville Worker’s Houses are both designated New York City Landmarks). Joseph K. Brick established the Brooklyn Clay Retort and Fire Brick Works in 1854. The Maurer & Weber Company later known as the Manhattan Fire Brick and Enameled Clay Retort Works, opened in 1863.

In 1868 John Cooper established a business, later known as the Greenpoint Fire Brick and Sewer Pipe Works, at 413-421 Oakland Street, Brooklyn. While there were 350 fire brick manufacturers in the United States in 1895, the New York-New Jersey area remained one of the major fire brick manufacturing centers.

I did a little digging around the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archives and lo, I found a story involving the Greenpoint Fire Brick & Sewer Pipe Works. Albeit not what I exactly expected. Without further ado, here it is: a tale of newlyweds and a mother-in-law. Enjoy!

As with most tales of this sort it reminds of a story. One which I suspect the Mister would prefer not be told. Much water has gone under the proverbial marital bridge by now. At some point he will think it is funny. I know my mother-in-law* (who is really cool) and I do.

But I’ll refrain from writing at length about what is now known as the Chez Shitty Couch Incident for the time being. All I’m saying is there are more effective ways to get a sofa than this. READ: throw the old “couch” (in my case a futon mattress) out while your husband is out of town. This will ensure you a new sofa— or in our case: a rather inexpensive and durable love seat. FAST. I speak from experience when I write this. Direct action and one bad ass mother in law: that’s how you get things done in Greenpoint.

Miss Heather

*Thanks Barb.

Red Shed Garden

I have walked by this community garden (which is located just across Kingsland Avenue from the Greenpoint Hospital) many times. This weekend, however, I was lucky enough to swing by while their volunteers were busy beautifying north Brooklyn. They were also kind enough to let me come in and take some pictures. My complete set can be found over at Flickr. Here are a few highlights.

I’m not too sure what this chap, the littlest volunteer at the Red Shed Garden, was doing. But whatever it was it required the use of a plastic baseball bat. Doing a spot of weeding, perhaps?

The work these people have done is really impressive. I for one loved the use of a wheelbarrow as a planter.

This is the beginners’ garden. Interesting Garden Spot Fact: the land currently occupied by Mary D’s Housing For Seniors on Eagle Street used to be a community garden. When Mary D’s was built it was promised there would be a community garden on the premises. There isn’t one. The garden you see on Eagle Street is for Mary D’s residents only.

Here’s a nice shot with the old Greenpoint Hospital in the background.

And of course what would a post about the Red Shed Garden be without featuring its namesake? Anyone who is interested in volunteering at this beautiful oasis nestled in the heart of uglyass condoville should contact the folks at Red Shed via their brand-spanking new web site.

Miss Heather

Animal Planet Lands In Greenpoint

April 3, 2008 ·
Filed under: Crazy Cat Lady, Greenpoint Magic 

The slightly older newcomers to this neighborhood will recognize this storefront. It used to belong to The Vortex* until February of last year. That’s when the landlord decided to double the rent from $2,000 to $4,000 a month. As a result, this property (which is located between Eagle and Dupont Street) stayed on the market for an entire year. It is an enormous (if ill-maintained) space. I would love to know what these people are paying for rent. I doubt it is four grand.

For pet owners in far north Greenpoint I suppose this is good news. I am cautiously optimistic. We already have Pets On The Run, NYC Pets, Petland, District Dog and (for those you willing to cross the bridge to LICLand) City Dog Lounge. I fear pet supply stores are going to become like Thai restaurants or banks here: too much of one thing.

Animal Planet
1084 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11222
(718) 349-0602

Nonetheless, I wish them the best of luck and look forward to checking out their wares.

Miss Heather

*Which has moved to 222 Montrose Avenue Brooklyn, 11206.

American Sugar and Refining Company

September 21, 2007 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic, Williamsburg 

Before I left the house this morning I read this article on Brownstoner about the Havemeyer family. Here’s an excerpt:

Cousin Frederick C. Havemeyer Jr. (1807-1891) stayed in the sugar trade and in 1857 established the longstanding South 3rd Street factory on the Williamsburg waterfront. His son, Henry Havemeyer (1847-1907), named the company Domino’s Sugar in the early 1900s and worked to corner the market. His Sugar Refineries Company, or “Sugar Trust,” functioned like Standard Oil–monopolistically (and like Standard Oil did battle with the government over makret (sic) control).

What many people do not know is the Havemeyer family had a refinery in Greenpoint. And if this article (from the May 9, 1886 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle) is any indication, the employees there were not very happy ones.

Now jump forward to 11:30 this morning. I was sorting and pricing fabric remnants at work and found this.

Sugar Bag

Although this item has virtually no monetary value whatsoever, it has a lot of value to me. A lot of hard, thankless work went into filling this bag. I wonder what a worker of Havemeyer’s American Sugar Refining Company would think of the current controversy regarding his former place of employment? I doubt he would be very happy— or surprised.

If there is a lesson here it is this: never confuse a building with its creator. The Havemeyer family was as nasty an employer as could be had in the 19th century. Union busting was one of their favorite practices. We can’t change this building’s past, but we can shape its future.

Domino should offer ample affordable housing, not crumbs.

Miss Heather

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