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Lined with Gold: Street Name Change to Honor Founding Black Female Civil Rights Activist

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Ida Wells portrait

Gold Street, between Myrtle Avenue and Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn, may soon be renamed to honor Ida B. Wells, an African-American investigative journalist, teacher, feminist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Wells spent several years on Gold Street in the early 1890s (living near today’s existing Chase Bank), after her Memphis journalism offices were destroyed by white mob violence.

Born into slavery in 1862 Mississippi, Wells became freed a year later after the Civil War and resulting emancipation. Relocating to Memphis later as an adult, she would become one of the founders of the NAACP, and is most remembered for her investigative journalism, dispelling stereotypical myths around the lynchings of black men. Wells’ writing exposed her findings that the lynchings were the result of white social control and subjugation, and not the common claims of attack or sexual violence against white women.

Jacob Morris, the head of the Harlem Historical Society, conceived the idea for Gold Street to bear Wells’ name as a part of his citywide effort to honor prominent black New Yorkers by renaming streets after them. Councilman Stephen Levin introduced the application to rename the street to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee which granted approval in April. The Executive Committee will vote to make a final decision later this year.

Map of Gold Street to be renamed

Free Dance and Yoga Classes at Albee Square in May

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Free dance and yoga classes at Albee Square
Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

City Point and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership have teamed up to offer free workouts to the neighborhood. For the first three Saturday mornings in May, take your pick of yoga and dance classes including hip-hop, jazz funk and Broadway dance, or do all three if you’re feeling ambitious. Music will be provided by DJ Mike-Doelo.

Bring your own mat. Water will be supplied.

Schedule

9AM Yinsa Flow Yoga with Daniele Gates
Combination of slow-flow vinyasa and Yin yoga.
10AM At Your Beat
May 5: FitBEAT Dance & Tone
May 12: BoxBEAT – Hip Hop Boxing
May 19 BashmentBEAT Dance
11AM Dance with the Dodge YMCA
May 5: Jazz Funk with Victoria
May 12: Retro Dance Party with James
May 19: Broadway Dance with James

Discounts at Dekalb Market Hall for National Small Business Week

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Dekalb Market Hall Nobletree

We’re smack dab in the middle of National Small Business Week, which spans April 29th through May 5th this year. To celebrate, our favorite local food court, Dekalb Market Hall, has several vendors offering discounts.

Vendors with sales include Cuzin’s Duzin and Paella Shack, with many others also participating in the ten-percent discount promotion. There’s no doubt you’ll be able to find something to fit your tastes and mood down there.

Dekalb Market Hall opened last year, and has quickly become a destination for all of Brooklyn. With over 40 vendors to choose from, there’s certainly something for everyone. And if nothing strikes your fancy, you can always grab some groceries at Trader Joe’s.

New York City’s Small Business Services helped several of the food vendors in Dekalb Market Hall open earlier than planned, by helping with the regulatory paperwork and scouting of locations. This is the vendors’ way of giving back to the community.

If you want the discount, you’ll have to mention National Small Business Week to the cashier at checkout. Bon appétit!

Borough President’s Hearing for 80 Flatbush Towers

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BoroPresHearing-80FlatbushTowers

Despite the rain yesterday evening, a couple hundred folks lined up in Brooklyn Borough Hall to voice their opinions on the controversial 80 Flatbush Towers. It’s been a heated subject among residents of Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.

Dépanneur to Open This Summer

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Sandwich from Dépanneur
Dépanneur is known for their savory weekly special sandwiches. Photo via Instagram.com/depanneurbklyn/

There’s been some activity at 300 Livingston Street. The French general store has begun building out their newest location (part of the retail component of 33 Bond Street). Calling themselves “a better bodega,” Dépanneur will be a welcomed addition to the Downtown Brooklyn lunch circuit. They’ve gained popularity in Williamsburg (their first location) and Clinton Hill with unique weekly sandwich specials that they announce on social media.

According to Winick Realty Group, Dépanneur signed two leases for two separate ground-floor spaces so they’ll have a rather spacious general store component as well to pick up bougie local pantry goods.

So how soon can you expect to bite into a mouth-watering baguette sandwich? Well, a quick call to the shop confirmed it will be mid-summer at the earliest before their doors are open. It’s back to salads till then.

The argument against the argument in favor of 80 Flatbush Tower

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80 Flatbush daytime mockup

We’ve covered a lot of the negative emotions around the development of a giant tower at 80 Flatbush, right across from Atlantic Terminal, including neighbor protests and a CB2 vote against.

With a public hearing hosted by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams happening tonight, why not take a look at the reason people are for the new building?

Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, penned an op-ed in Crain’s New York Business today. Note that Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a nonprofit local development corporation of which Jared Della Valle of Alloy Development (the company proposing to build 80 Flatbush) is a board member. Whew. Got that?

The piece starts by talking about the large number of people who have moved to Brooklyn in the past year:

Nowhere is the city’s housing-affordability crisis more pronounced than in Brooklyn, where an influx of 144,000 residents over the past decade has added pressure to a market struggling to keep up.

With that premise, Myer implores us that it’s not just about building new units for all these people, but about being thoughtful about where we build. Her argument for 80 Flatbush mostly being that we need mixed-use buildings like this close to hubs such as Atlantic Terminal.

But solving the housing crisis shouldn’t entail building just anywhere. We have to be thoughtful about where we provide that critical supply, with key priorities in mind: Build where there’s infrastructure to support new and existing residents, and where density has historically and continually existed.

It’s a valid argument…if you don’t think about it too hard. So let’s think about it a little hard.

This is the same argument that was used to re-zone Downtown Brooklyn in 2002 (in addition to wanting to build new bustling areas outside of Manhattan in a post-9/11 city). Downtown Brooklyn is ideal because it’s close to nearly every single train line, and it’s one stop outside Manhattan on several lines.

In fact, Downtown Brooklyn is even closer to the city than Atlantic Terminal.

That re-zoning in 2002 ushered in the huge construction projects that we’re seeing today. We’re getting a lot of new residential units. I mean, a lot. As in, how the hell are prices going to hold at their current levels?

According to the New York Times, there are 28,400 rental units expected to be built in Brooklyn over the next several years. Holy moly. Let that sink in.

Now let’s go back to Regina’s piece in Crain’s. All of Brooklyn has seen an influx of 144,000 residents in the past decade. Yes, all of Brooklyn, from Brighton Beach to Williamsburg. Yes, “residents” not families. Yes, over the past ten years.

Will the market be able to fill all those new rental units? Based on those numbers, it seems very unlikely. Especially given the fact that all these new rental units in Downtown Brooklyn are “luxury,” with fancy appliances, floor-to-ceiling windows, and amenities up the wazoo.

Needless to say, we do need new housing closer to large transportation hubs. That’s why we re-zoned Downtown Brooklyn in 2002. And it was such a good idea, that we mayyyy have overdone it a little bit.

But if we already re-zoned Downtown Brooklyn to allow towers like this, why does 80 Flatbush need special approval? It’s because it’s not in Downtown Brooklyn.

It’s in Boerum Hill.

Proposed 80 Flatbush Tower on map

So, yes, the city did need more apartments near transportation hubs. They needed it 16 years ago. Now we have more apartments than we know what to do with. Expensive ones, too. Not affordable to most New Yorkers.

That’s no longer a valid argument, especially when you’re trying to build outside of Downtown Brooklyn. We have an entire new neighborhood dedicated to having housing near infrastructure that can support them. If you want to develop giant towers, do it there.

Although, I guess we could use more office space, and two new public schools (also all part of the proposal). So who knows?

Hello, Gothamist. Welcome back.

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Gothamist Website screenshot

Have you heard the news? Gothamist is back!

Last year, after a vote to unionize, they were shut down. Apparently, that made WNYC sad, so WNYC brought them back. They launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money and rally the troops. And today, they’re officially back.

I couldn’t be happier. I missed them. I know this isn’t directly related to Downtown Brooklyn, but Gothamist is a fantastic resource for all New Yorkers. So I had to celebrate here.

Retail rent prices are soaring in Downtown Brooklyn

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Fulton Mall mural at Albee Square

From The Raw Deal, regarding retail rents going up up up in Brooklyn:

Downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall from Boerum Place to Flatbush Avenue remained the most expensive strip with average asking rent of $359 per square foot, up 10 percent from a year earlier.

I doubt anyone is surprised. With the sheer number of chain stores in our zip code, how could the rent not be that ridiculous? Not that I was expecting any mom-and-pop stores in the neighborhood.

Speaking of high rents, has anyone else noticed that nearly this entire block is full of shuttered stores?

Shuttered stores on Fulton Mall

I wonder if the owner(s) are trying to plan some big construction project for this space. Seems crazy to just keep all those retail locations empty, when they’re worth so much.

New Hotel beginning to rise at 61 Bond

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Construction at 61 Bond

There’s some intense construction happening at Schermerhorn and Bond, right across the street from the upcoming Chelsea Piers Fitness. No, it’s not more luxury apartments. This time, it’s a fancy new hotel.

I mean, look how fancy:

61 Bond Hotel Rendering

Image via Broadway CG

According to Broadway Construction Group, the hotel is going to be 13 stories (spooky) with 287 rooms and a restaurant. It’s estimated for completion in Q4 of this year, so it’s no wonder it’s going up so fast.

No word yet if it will have a pool. The existing Holiday Inn a few doors down has one, but it’s next to impossible to get access unless you’re actually staying at the hotel. We even tried to give them money. No dice.

Anyway, I guess we’re getting a new hotel for all your out-of-town guests. In case they weren’t happy with the existing selection of hotels.

More construction pictures at 61 Bond

Even more construction pictures at 61 Bond

Chelsea Piers Fitness coming to Downtown Brooklyn

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Chelsea Piers Fitness future storefront

We’re getting a fancy gym. Chelsea Piers Fitness is coming to Downtown Brooklyn. The “showroom” is now open for new members. I heard through the rumor mill that “founding member” prices are about $150 per month, and that price will go up once the gym actually opens. That puts this gym in roughly the same category as Crunch, Equinox, or (RIP) David Barton.

The place sounds pretty sweet. Aside from all the regular workout equipment, there’s a A 3-lane, 75-foot pool, two areas for CrossFit-like HIIT training, steam and sauna, and even a “co-working space,” whatever that turns out to be.

From what I hear, the original Chelsea Piers is pretty popular, and this is their first outpost of the brand. If high-end fitness is your thing, it’ll be worth checking out.

If you don’t want to pay that much, there’s always Planet Fitness around the corner.

The new gym is going to be at 265 Schermerhorn Street (between Bond and Nevins), but the “showroom” for interested members is at 442 Atlantic Avenue.