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Ruth Bader Ginsburg honored with statue in City Point

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg statue

The legend herself is now immortalized at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn. You should pop in and see it next time you’re in the area.

I must say, the location of the statue is pretty cool. It’s right inside the entrance to City Point from Flatbush. It’s one of the lesser-used entrances, north of the typical Trader Joes entrance. But you can see it easily from the street as you’re walking past.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg statue

Aerial view of the Dekalb/Fulton/Flatbush triangle

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Demolition at Dekalb, Flatbush, and Fulton

I discussed the demotion that’s happening at the triangle between Flatbush Ave, Fulton Street, and Dekalb Ave in a prior post, but didn’t have this super-cool aerial view at the time.

I know that Redsky Capital own the lot that’s at the bottom of hte photo, closer to Albee Square, but I’m not sure about the lot along Flatbush Ave. I assume they own that, too?

If both lots are owned by the same company, I imagine there are quite a few stories about trying to purchase that middle section that’s still in-use.

I’m super curious about what’s going to happen here. I really like how open Albee Square feels without any building there, but I imagine that we’ll get another skyscraper in there soon enough.

It’s a good lot own, since the old Dime Savings Bank (the dome you see in the bottom left of the picture) is landmarked, so air rights are already protected.

Dekalb/Fulton/Flatbush triangle with labeled streets

New York City takes top honors for most car-congested city

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Brooklyn Queens Expressway Traffic
Photo by Rachid H

From the New York Post:

New York City roads also accounted for the second, third and fourth most congested in the country, according to INRIX’s analysis — with the Brooklyn Queens Expressway from I-145 to Tillary Street, the Cross Bronx Expressway west of the Bronx River Parkway, and the BQE between 38th Street and Downtown Brooklyn taking the dubious honors.

We win!

But seriously, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. An obscene number of people got cars during the pandemic. We’re going to feel that for years.

Passing Moments: Saturday, February 27th, 2021

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Construction on 9 Dekalb as seen from Bond St

Saturday, February 27th, 2021. Construction on the 9 Dekalb Skyscraper rising up from the Dime Savings Bank dome. As seen from Bond Street. Photo by Dann Berg.

Tallest Office in DoBro set to open amidst uncertain rental market

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One Willoughby Square office building
Photo from 1wsq.com

One Willoughby Square is certainly impressive. The architecture so striking that the architecture firm that designed is has leased three floors in the building. So far, they’re the only tenants.

But the fact that the firm that designed the building is leasing space is definitely part of the marketing story for the building. In fact, the New York Post has a full story on that fact.

FXCollaborative, previously known as FXFowle, is the anchor tenant at JEMB Realty’s nearly-finished One Willoughby Square in Downtown Brooklyn. The 34-story, 500,000 square-foot structure next to the DeKalb Avenue subway hub is the borough’s tallest new office building and scheduled to open later this year.

“We’re not just the tallest in the borough but the best-in-class asset in Brooklyn,” JEMB principal Jacob Jerome cheerfully boasted.

The entrance to the building is on Albee Street, right across from the entrance to City Point, providing easy access to Target, Trader Joes, and the Alamo Drafthouse (someday…). The location is also right next to the future Willoughby Square Park, which will exist someday, right?

Downtown Brooklyn was originally conceived as an office hub, similar to the Financial District in Manhattan. At least that was the original vision when the neighborhood was re-zoned. Instead, residential after residential building has popped up instead. One Willoughby Square is the first big new office complex (aside from Jay Street Metrotech, which has existed for a while).

The neighborhood is idea for commuting, with nine subway lines nearby, many of which are a single stop or two out of Manhattan.

But the Post buries what I feel is the real lead:

FXCollaborative is the only office lease so far.

Oof. I may be misremembering, but I think that lease deal was in place before the pandemic started.

I think a lot of people are just waiting. Waiting to see how this all shakes out. With more and more companies telling their employees to work from home indefinitely, even the companies that want a “home base” are waiting to see how things shake out.

Will offices of the future look like offices of the past? Will people only come into the office a couple days a week? If so, how will offices change to adapt?

Office leases, unlike apartment leases, are usually for 5+ years or more. They also involve working with contractors to design the ideal layout for your business. Whenever everything about working in an office is up in the air, it’s no wonder the market is soft.

I’m personally optimistic for office working, and for One Willoughby Square. I love working in an office. But not everyone is of the same opinion. And we’ll have to see how things shake out.

 

NYC cinemas to re-open in March, Alamo Drafthouse a little later

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Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given the thumbs up for cinemas in New York City to re-open on March 5th at 25% capacity. It’s been nearly a full year since they (and everything else) shut down.

It might, however, be a bit longer before Downtown Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse is open again. The Baltimore Sun reached out to a spokesperson:

We don’t believe we’ll make it by March 5th — there’s a lot to do — but we look forward to reopening City Point [in Brooklyn] as soon as possible, and we’ll make plenty of noise when we do.

I miss the Alamo Drafthouse. I can’t say I’d personally be comfortable sitting in a theater as soon as March, but it feels like that time is getting closer and closer. Maybe this year? I guess it all depends on the vaccine rollout. And of course how all these variants play out.

Our Alamo Drafthouse was in the middle of a huge expansion, and I haven’t heard anything about the status of that project. Was it delayed due to the shutdown, or did they get everything finished? I guess only time will tell.

Passing Moments: Monday, February 22nd, 2021

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Sunset from Downtown Brooklyn
Monday, February 22nd, 2021. Sunset from Downtown BK. Photo by nyknicks16.

Gage & Tollner now open for pickup & delivery!

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Gage & Tollner Window

Gage & Tollner was one of the sadder Downtown Brooklyn stories, with the grand re-opening scheduled for just days after the city shut down due to the Coronavirus in March 2020. Seriously: March 12th was my (and many other’s) last day working in an office, and their opening was scheduled for March 15th. Oof.

Prior to that, there had been a lot of well-deserved hype around the re-opening. Gage & Tollner is one of Brooklyn’s original fancy restaurants, and had operated for more than a hundred years before shutting down in the mid-90’s.

The space was purchased by some well-known restauranteurs, who wanted to restore it to it’s former glory, as the building is now landmarked and much of the interior was left intact despite several transient tenants in the mean time.

The main restaurant was to be an oyster and chop house, joined with a tropical-themed cocktail bar. Which is pretty badass.

With so many restaurants disappearing, I was worried that Gage & Tollner wouldn’t make it. Which is why I was so excited to get an email from them announcing the launch of pickup and takeout! This new hype isn’t just coming from me, the New York Times is also getting the word out.

Gage & Tollner pickup and delivery sign

From the founders St. John, Ben, and Sohui:

As you know, off-site dining was not part of our original concept. We wanted every Gage & Tollner meal to take place in our landmarked dining room. But the world has changed, and demands that we change with it. We truly believe that our new delivery concepts carry the original spirit of Gage & Tollner into the pandemic age, and we hope you agree.

Ordering is available online from both the chop house and the Sunken Harbor Club. Food prices from the Tiki bar are about what you’d expect if you’ve been running up that Doordash bill this past year. Most dishes are between $10 and $20, and cocktails are $15.

But what’s really speaking to me are the “At-Home Dining Experiences” from Gage & Tollner proper — meal kits designed to feed entire families. For $180 you can feed four to six people a Braised Heritage Pork Dinner.

Gage & Tollner's Braised Heritage Pork Dinner
Photo from Gage & Tollner

Currently, my household is just two (my wife and me) so I don’t think we’ll be ordering one of these experiences. But I may have to splurge on a cocktail or two for my upcoming birthday at the end of March. Hooray for a second pandemic birthday!

Gage & Tollner Storefront Gage & Tollner sign

Gage & Tollner, 372 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker art installation at Albee Square

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Sarula Bao’s Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker installation

You may have noticed some really cool artwork in the windows of the former Century 21 (RIP). Award-winning artist Sarula Bao is a Chinese American illustrator and graphic novelist based in Brooklyn, and her Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker installation will be on display through the end of March.

From Brooklyn Paper:

The installation will feature twelve images from Bao’s Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker 2021 calendar as a tribute to the Lunar Year.

I wonder will will end up happening to the giant retail space that’s now sitting empty after Century 21 shut down. My biggest fantasy is that it will become a bowling alley. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Sarula Bao’s Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker installation Sarula Bao’s Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker installation Sarula Bao’s Hanfu x Chunky Sneaker installation

Former “Cafeteria” signage peeks through on Fulton Mall

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Waldorf Cafeteria Old Sign

It’s always cool when a piece of the past pokes through to the present.

I noticed the half-sign a few weeks ago when walking past with my wife, but didn’t know what I was looking at, at the time. Thanks to Brooklyn Paper, I now know that it’s the site of a former Waldorf Cafeteria that operated at the corner of Fulton and Jay street.

With the removal of an old Metropolitan Dental Associates banner, the vintage “TERIA” (part of “CAFETERIA”) as well as most of an apple logo is now showing.

Removed dental associates sign
Old sign that was removed to expose history.

A jump into the NYC tax photo archives gives us a few of what this block looked like back in 1940, when the Waldorf Cafeteria lived next to a very prominent Bond Clothes suit store (now Ann Taylor).

Fulton and Jay in the 1940s

That cross street intersection is full of history that pokes through to the present, as diagonally across the street is the historic Gage & Tollner restaurant, although that’s a much sadder story. First opened at that location in 1892, Gage & Tollner was the restaurant in Brooklyn for decades. It started struggling in the 1970s, battling against a changing city, and eventually closed in 1994. A few unsuccessful tenants moved in (T.G.I. Friday’s, Arby’s, and a costume jewelry store to name a few) before it was finally purchased by three restauranteurs with a plan to restore it to its former glory. There was a wildly successful marketing campaign (starting with a crowdfunding campaign and resulting in tons of press coverage).

Gage & Tollner was poised to re-open as a restaurant about a week after the pandemic lockdown started, and as a result never got to open their doors. I even had reservations for my birthday at the end of March that never ended up materializing.

There’s still hope of Gage & Tollner re-opening after the pandemic, and I certainly hope it does. As for the re-opening of the Waldorf Cafeteria, I’m much less optimistic.

Close up old Cafeteria sign

Waldorf Cafeteria across the street