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Beloved abolitionist Landmark finally getting much-needed stabilization work

Stabilization work at abolitionist 227 Duffield Street
Photo by Susan De Vries

Downtown Brooklyn played an important role in the underground railroad and the larger abolitionist movement. Most of those relevant neighborhood locations have been torn down (many in the past decade). But there’s one building that survived — 227 Duffield Street — and has since been granted landmark status and promised some much-needed stabilization work. Brownstoner recently spotted some construction workers at the site, meaning that work may be moving forward:

Workers were busy at the beleaguered former home of 19th century abolitionists in Downtown Brooklyn when Brownstoner stopped by Monday — a possible sign that stabilization of the landmarked but neglected building might be inching forward.

With all the history of this building (and the street), I’m happy that at least one location will remain standing amongst all the new construction.

The Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood has changed so much over the past decade and a half, and Duffield Street is one of the most striking illustrations of that change.

If you’re not familiar with the how this neighborhood used to be, you should take a step back in time to 2009 using Google Street View. Take a look around at block full of Brownstones and (relatively) short buildings. Then travel through the years using the navigation panel in the top left to watch it transform into the street we know today.

Duffield Street in 2009 from Google Street View
Photo via Google Street View

I’m looking forward to the day when we can finally see a clear view of 227 Duffield Street, unblocked from all the construction work. Much like the remnants of the old “Cafeteria” sign on Fulton, this building will be a singular glimpse into the past in a neighborhood that’s otherwise unrecognizable.

Comedy Variety Spicy Medley Show at Dekalb Market


Spicy Medley Comedy Show

Spicy Medley is the HOTTEST comedy variety show in Brooklyn. Hosted by Tess Tregellas and Sara Bergmark who are iconically known as the “girls in the pepper suits.” Spicy Medley features a mixed bag of comedic acts including, Stand Up Comedians, Musical Comedians, Character Actors and always something SPICY. This show is perfect for a memorable night out in Downtown Brooklyn. Bring a group of friends, invite your visiting parents, or have a unique date night, without breaking the bank. Each show features new acts that are guaranteed to spice up your night, every other Wednesday at the Dekalb Stage.

Upcoming Shows:

When: September 1st, September 15th, September 29th!
Time: Doors at 730pm Show 800pm
Where: DeKalb Stage 445 Albee Square W, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Downstairs in the Markethall!)
Who: Acts from Comedy Central, Netflix, Broadway, and many more!

Sept. 1st Line Up

We’re Having Gay Sex Podcast, Comedy Central, Netflix is a Joke

Netflix, Vanity Fair, Comedy Central

A Little Late with Lilly Singh, ABFF Comedy Festival

Co-Host of The Clowncast Podcast, Comedy Album “Girls Don’t Twerk to Jokes”

Co-Host of The Clowncast Podcast, The Comedy Store

UCB, The Bell House, Union Hall

Ruth Bader Ginsburg honored with statue in City Point


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


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

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


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

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


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


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

Gage & Tollner now open for pickup & delivery!


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