Friday, April 18, 2014

Picture Of The Day: Happy Easter Week-End

In a front yard on First Street between Court and Clinton Street.
Happy Easter week-end, everyone.

Another Gowanus Landmark Bites The Dust: The Demo Of Burns Brothers' Coal Pockets

Photo By Eymund Diegel

Gowanus, as we know it, is disappearing before our eyes.
Barely days after the demolition of the iconic silos at Carroll Street on the shores of the Gowanus Canal, comes news that the Burns Brothers coal pockets are in the process of being torn down. The photo above was taken yesterday by my friend Eymund Diegel. By today, Friday, the concrete silos opposite Whole Foods at 6th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue will be history.

Eymund also sent along the kite photography pictures below, which he took in 2012.
The Burns Brothers Coal Pockets were in operation at 2nd Avenue on the banks of the Goawnus Canal from 1915 to 1938. According to the Historic District Council's Guide to Gowanus:
Coal was one of the major freights shipped on the canal in the 19th and 20th centuries. Initially, coal
was used for domestic heating and cooking, and it later was burned to generate electricity. Coal pockets
were used to move and store the coal from barges on the canal to wagons and, later, trucks for delivery.
The eight pockets closest to the water were built between 1915 and 1924, and by 1938 there were 10 more. These 40- and 50-foot tall structures are no longer used today but remain as relics of the canal’s crucial transportation role.

As Eymund adds, "the pockets were an intelligent way of reducing the area needed for the coal piles. I understand the pockets were also used for industrial minerals / oxides after their coal use. The coal would come from Pennsylvania via the newly built barge and canal system."

The image below shows the Scranton Coal mine in the early 1900s (via the Paul Ivazes archives)
And here is a historic photo of Gowanus Bay Manufacturing Gas Plant coal barges at Navy Pier Grain Terminal provided by Eymund.

Here is a screen capture of an areal from circa 2010
The two kite photographic images below were taken by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy's  Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping Program in 2012.
It is simply breathtaking with what speed the Gowanus Canal area is changing.  It would seem that every day, the landscape is changing to make way for a future that will no doubt be very different.

The demolitions that are now underway no doubt illustrate the incredible pressure Gowanus is under to change from a mostly manufacturing area to one that will allow more housing.

Here is an amazing article by friend and photographer Nathan Kensinger on the transformations in this unique neighborhood, which was just published on Curbed:
Visiting the Gowanus Canal's Under-Transformation 'Wild West'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sam's Restaurant On Court Street Temporarily Closed By NYC Department Of Health

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 7.11.51 PM
photo credit: Dennis Berman

Sam's Restaurant, the old-time Italian restaurant at 238 Court Street that was founded in 1930, has been temporarily closed by the NYC Health Department. The photos above were taken by Dennis Berman on Thursday.

A quick check on the Health Department's web site shows that Sam's was inspected on March 26th and received a score of 27. The eatery was sited for several 'critical' violations, but has retained an A rating. Obviously, the Department re-inspected the place in the last day or two. As per the web site, the Health Department monitors "inspections at a restaurant that has performed very poorly on its re-inspection. The Health Department may continue to inspect the restaurant roughly once a month until it scores below 28 or the Department closes it for serious and persistent violations."

Let's hope that Sam's gets a handle on the problem and gets to re-open quickly.

EPA Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group Will Meet Next This Coming Tuesday

The Environmental Protection Agency'Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, April 22, at 6:30 PM.  The meeting will be held at Mary Star of The Sea Senior Apartments, 41 1st Street, Brooklyn

Items on the agenda include updates on EPA's Record Of Decision implementation,  discussion and comments on NY State Department Of Health's Draft Gowanus Public Heath Assessment and  updates from various CAG committees.

The public is always welcome at the CAG meetings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Picture Of The Day: Gowanus Croci

On the shore of the Gowanus Canal on Second Street

Before The Downpour and Snow

Carroll Gardener Dianna D'Amico just shared this lovely photo of a Magnolia tree in full bloom on Smith Street taken before last night's  rain, snow and wind.
Many of the blooms were knocked down by this set back in the weather, but some still remained this morning.
As for the daffodils in my own garden, they were sadly beaten down.

Thanks for sharing the photo, Dianna.

350 DeGraw Street: The Story Behind A Façade Without Building

The original building at 350 DeGraw Street. (image credit:
Where once stood an old brick building at 350 DeGraw Street between Court and Smith Street, there now stands a sole ghostly façade. Since October 2013, the construction site has been in limbo because of a blatant disregard for rules and regulations.

Permits for alterations to the existing three story building to a four story building were issued by the NYC Department of Buildings in May 2013.  However, instead of enlarging the existing structure, the entire building was demolished.
Though the DoB received several 311 calls in regards to the illegal demolition, the agency did not act until the structure had been entirely dismantled and a new façade was going up.

By October 2013, the Department issued a 'notice to revoke' the permit and several violations were noted, including one violation for demolition work that did not conform to original plans.
In addition a complete stop-work-order was imposed because the percentage of existing walls remaining was less than what had been indicated on the approved plans. In addition, the existing foundation wall had been undermined and had become unstable.
The Stop Work Order has been partially rescinded by DoB to allow installation of a waterproofing membrane on the adjoining building and to backfill the excavated foundation.

The owner of 350 DeGraw Street subsequently filed for the legalization of the demolition and for the proper permits for a new 4,998 s.f. four story residential apartment building.  The plans were approved on March 31st, 2014.

Hopefully, the façade will soon be reconnected to a real structure.  I would like to point out that the original sister building at 352 DeGraw Street was recently lovingly restored.  Too bad the owner of 350 DeGraw did not do the same. 

As Predicted, Big Apple Gourmet Now Defunct

Big Apple Gourmet at 303 Court Street at the corner of DeGraw Street has just closed it's doors for good.  It's end was predictable ever since a hand written "Store For Rent" appeared in Mid-March, though the store had only opened  six months before.
As of a few days ago, the business is officially closed and most of the store has been emptied.
Only the outside flower action remains for the time being.

Big Apple Gourmet was owned by Billy Solmaz, who also runs Pacific Green, a popular Cobble Hill store at 303 Court Street at Pacific Street. In June 2013, it was reported that Solmaz was being forced out of his Cobble Hill location by his landlord, because national retailer J.Crew had penned a ten year lease for the space. Everyone seemed happy that Solmaz was able to relocate to the corner of Court Street and DeGraw Street.
But strangely, Pacific Green is still very much open to this day. Perhaps, J. Crew pulled out of the deal or Solmaz was able to renew his lease on Court Street at  Pacific Street.

I spoke with the flower vendor outside Big Apple yesterday and he seemed hopeful that another grocery store would be opened in its place.  Till then, he was going to continue selling flowers outside the store.

Of course, this location was once the home of Mastelone's, an Italian deli/superette that is still very much missed by many in Carroll Gardens.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Carroll Gardens Greenmarket This Coming Sunday

The nice folks who organize the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket every Sunday would like to remind everyone in the neighborhood that this coming Sunday, April 20th, the Greenmarket will be CLOSED for the Easter holiday. Also, there will be NO food scrap collections or textile recycling.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday's Bark Avenue Adopt-A-Thon In Carroll Park A Great Success With 15 Adoptions.

Marion Fiore, organizer of the event

How very cool! 15 dogs and cats found new homes during 'Bark Avenue Adopt-A-Thon' held in Carroll Park this past Sunday. Organized by Marion Fiore, pictured above, the event brought together several adoption organizations, as well as non-for-profits that aid shelter dogs and cats.
Besides drawing a huge crowd, the Adopt-A-Thon highlighted the wonderful work of the volunteers who donate their time to rescue these animals in order to find them new owners.
The dogs and cats that were brought to the park on Sunday had received all their vaccinations and had been neutered.

Of course you can contact these organizations at any time if you wish to open your home to a pet or if you would like to make a donation to support their work.
Here is the list of Sunday's participants:
Animal Care And Control of NYC
Seam Casey Animal Rescue Inc.
Second Chance Rescue NYC
Mobile Mutts
Pillows For Paws NYC
Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers
Mobile Mutts
Love Thy Pet
Dogboy Inc.
Prospect Heights And Crown Heights Animal Hospital
Carroll Gardens Veterinary Group
British Canine Academy

If you were one of the people who adopted a feline or canine yesterday, please keep us informed on how things are going and consider sending PMFA a photo at pardonmeinbrooklyn at gmail dot com.

With Warmer Weather, Local Artist Regina Perlin Brings Her Easel Oudoors Once Again

There is no surer sign that spring has come to Carroll Gardens than to see artist Regina Perlin set up her easel once more.  This past Sunday, she could be found at the corner of Smith Street and Carroll Street capturing the view across the street, looking up Smith Street towards Second Place.
Regina's scenes of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Gowanus are just beautiful.
If you are not familiar with her paintings, you can see more here.

Savoia On Smith Street Closed For Good

Savoia, the Italian eatery and wine bar at 277-279 Smith Street has called it quits. Despite a note in the window indicating that the restaurant was "closed today", the signs have been up for more than two weeks now and a neighboring business owner confirmed that the space is now for rent.
Inside the restaurant, all the chairs have been stacked up and equipment has been moved to the front.

For the first few years, the food at Savoia was consistently good. Their brick oven pizza selection was extensive, their focaccia was delicious and their salads offered very interesting pairings. For years, Savoia offered home made gnocchi in a mushroom sauce that were simply amazing, especially accompanied by a glass of Primitivo.
Most of all, Savoia's unpretentious atmosphere made it a great choice for a casual dinner with friends.

Unfortunately, recently, the place seemed empty, even on week-ends.   Will you miss the place? What would you like to see in this space besides another nail place?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Return Of One Of The Red Hook Trolleys

(photo credit: Steven Skollar)

Reader Steven Skollar sent us a photo he took yesterday in Red Hook. It shows one of the vintage trolleys that seems to have re-appeared on the tracks behind Fairway.  And it looks as though it has been restored and been given a new coat of paint.
In February, this and another trolley had been removed and it was speculated that they were heading to the scrap yard.  Glad to see this one is back where it belongs.

Good-Bye Gowanus Silo: Phase Two Of Lightstone Group Demo Begins On Bond Street

Rendering of Lightstone Project on the shores of the Gowanus Canal (via Lightstone Group)
363 Bond Street (on the left) and 365 Bond Street (on the right) in fall 2013
The same view on Thursday this week
The building at 363 Bond Street that will be demolished early next week
The silo at 388-400 Carroll Street slowly being demolished
The iconic silo at Carroll Street on the shores of the Gowanus Canal will soon fade into history as  Lightstone Group has begun to dismantle the structure to make way for its 12 story, 700-unit rental complex. The Department of Buildings has issued demo permits not only for the silo, but also for a one story brick warehouse at 363 Bond Street at First Street which is in the footprint of the development.
In late December 20013, a similar old building at 365 Bond Street between First and Second Streets was taken down.
According to a flier that was placed on cars parked near 363 Bond Street, the area will be blocked off on Monday, April 14th at 6 AM, presumably for the demolition of the building.
Asbestos remediation was already  underway yesterday.

As for the Silo at 388-400 Carroll Street, it is being dismantled piece by piece and will most probably be gone by next week.  Until recently, the lot was known to many in Brooklyn as The Gowanus Grove/ Brooklyn Yard, where hundreds gathered on Summer week-ends for concerts, movie screenings and quite a few marriages.