"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

"Court Street Tavern" : New Owners Of Former P.J. Hanley's On Court Street Hit With Stop Work Order For Doing Construction Without Proper Permits

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Just days after the Body Elite Gym building collapsed at 348 Court Street at the corner of Union Street in carroll Gardens , PMFA received an email from a reader in regards to the building at 449-451 Court Street that housed the former Irish Tavern P.J. Hanley, one of Brooklyn's oldest.

The reader reported:
"I’m not sure of who the new owners of Hanley’s are and I do not need to make any enemies, that being said we all saw the Body by Elite building collapse. The new owners of Hanleys just had a Stop Work Order issued because they did not get permits for their demolition and alteration work. One of the items was failure to file permits for work to reinforce the main girder structural beam in the cellar supporting the first floor Itself. The work may have been done properly but by not filing a permit a city inspector would never review the work, this is dangerous. Hanleys has been vacant too long. I can’t wait for it to reopen. I wish the new owners had done things by the book. They will now be delayed. Their liquor license has yet to be granted, this will not help. "

Sure enough! The New York City Department Of Buildings did indeed issue a Stop Work order after an Emergency Response Team visited  the address and discovered that recent  structural, electric and plumbing work on the ground floor retail space and the basement had been done without permits. In addition, a support beam may have been compromised.

The commercial space has been empty since 2014, so the community was excited when it became known this past fall that a new business had taken over.
In November, representatives of the new venture came in front of Community Board 6's Permits and Licenses Committee to ask for an "on-premise" liquor license,  Thee Committee voted to recommend approval to the NYS Liquor Authority.
Matthew Shendell of the Paige Hospitality Group, which also owns The Ainsworth, a small chain of restaurants in Manhattan, seemed to be behind the business.

The new family friendly restaurant was first supposed to be named Flora, but according to new signs in the windows, it has been renamed "Court Street Tavern." 

Construction work at this address has been going on for a while, including during the City's Covid-19 lockdown, as another reader reported and which we witnessed ourselves on May 3rd, when all construction was stopped in the city.

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Photos showing work at the site during the City's shutdown on May 3rd, 2020

As much as we would like to see a thriving new tavern at this location, we are concerned that the  business failed to secure the necessary building's permits and that the place could have easily opened to patrons while structurally unsound. It does not speak well of the operators.

This corner location of Carroll Gardens has had its fair share of problems in the past.
Many in the neighborhood may remember  McGown, the previous commercial tenant of 449-451 Court Street.

McGown, known as 'the bankruptcy baron' for the trail of failed businesses and real estate investments he left in New York City, took over Hanley's in 2005. By February 2013, he filed for Chapter 11 for the bar. Months before, he had done the same for his South Brooklyn Pizza chain that occupied the retail space next door at 451 Court Street.

Rather than vacate the premises to return it to the Hanley family, he remodeled the space (without permits) and renamed the bar Goldenrod.

The matter ended in court when the Hanley family accused McGown of having "breached his lease by making substantial alterations without getting consent from the building owner or the Department of Buildings" and for paying rent only sporadically. The Hanleys began eviction proceedings and City Marshals finally seized the property in November 2014.
The place has been empty since then. 

The entire building was up for sale in 2019 for $6,750,000. It was being marketed by Meridian Capital Group. We could not determine if it sold yet.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Large Amount Of Coal Tar And CSO Pollution Flowing Into The Already Remediated Gowanus Canal 4th Street Basin

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The Gowanus Canal's 4th Street Basin near Whole Foods earlier this year
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Coal Tar sheen clearly visible on the surface of the water at Gowanus' 4th Street Basin
Looking Towards Whole Food's parking lot
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CSO and Coal tar visible from Third Avenue, looking at the 4th Street Basin
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From Whole Food's Esplanade.
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The photos and videos above were taken early this morning in Gowanus.  They were taken byBrad Vogel of the Gowanus Dredgers and clearly show a large amount of Coal Tar and Combined Sewer Overflow at the Gowanus Canal's 4th Street Turning Basin near Whole Foods and 3rd Avenue.
The Environmental Protection Agency was immediately notified of today's condition.

The sight is heartbreaking. Why? Because the 4th Street Turning Basin was the first portion of the canal to be cleaned and capped as part of the EPA's Superfund remediation of the polluted canal.  The basin had been chosen for a  Dredging and Capping Pilot Study, the results of which informed and helped EPA fine-tune different techniques that will  be applied to the entire canal.
E.P.A.'s plans to begin the dredging of the main canal sometime in late 2020.

The pilot study was completed in late 2018 and represented a huge milestone. The work consisted of dredging the contaminated sediment at the bottom of the basin and capping it to prevent recontamination.  It was the first time in over 100 years that a section of the Gowanus was clean of debris and toxic 'black mayonnaise', the thick coal tar sediment at the bottom of the canal, which is a result of heavy industrial use in and around the Gowanus over centuries.

This is why the sight of new coal tar and CSO floating on this remediated section this morning is so upsetting. The pollution was flowing into the Basin from the main canal.  Perhaps Wednesday's heavy rains are to blame for the current conditions?

This illustrates the complexity of remediating such a polluted body of water . It also demonstrates  the fragility of the environment after decades of abuse.
Surely, the sight of little ducklings swimming around on the polluted water in Vogel's video above is just so sad.


Thursday, July 02, 2020

A Happy Update On Miele, The Court Street Appliance Store Cat


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Miele, the former Court Street Appliance Store cat in October 2017.

Who in Carroll Gardens could use some good neighborhood news after yesterday's building collapse?

You may remember that back in October 2017, one of Carroll Gardens' friendliest store cats was looking for a new home. Miele, a then-7 year old female tabby with white markings, was known to many in the neighborhood for greeting passers-by on the sidewalk and for sunbathing in the shop window of Expert Appliance Center at 293 Court Street.

The appliance store vacated its Court Street location that November to move to 212 Smith Street, where it is still currently located. Unfortunately, the store owner was unable to take Miele to the new location and he could not take Miele to his home since his son is allergic.
However, the owner was committed to finding the cat a new home.

We are happy to report that Miele, who was named after the German appliance manufacturer, did indeed find a loving new place two and a half years ago.
Yesterday, we received a lovely email from her new human, C. Claiborne Ray, who writes:
Hi, I just wanted to thank you for posting the story about Miele, the cat who used to run Expert Appliance's shop on Court Street. She has been living with me since they moved to Smith Street -- in October of of 2017! As you may recall, the new location does not allow cats and she needed a new position.

The guys were sorry to see her go, which I can certainly understand. She is a really good companion for my long self-quarantine, has caught (and eaten) several rather large mice, and never scratches the furniture. She sharpens her claws exclusively on cardboard boxes and a designated scratching post, and I always make sure to have a box of some kind for her to sleep on.

Miele had many fans at the store, and something I really feel bad about is that I have never had her former people visit her on Bond Street. I am sure if she saw her former staff, she would remember them. In fact, I have to be very careful never to let her escape, despite many clever efforts to do so, because she would almost certainly head for the old store, which of course isn't there anymore.

Anyway, you have my sincere admiration for keeping track of neighborhood issues, both large and small. I have attached the original picture of her with her namesake appliance brand and some more recent shots. She isn't losing any weight! She still has her Greenie snack habit and has developed a serious catnip addiction, but luckily it is a legal drug in our state.
C. Claiborne Ray sent along some photos of Miele to show us how the happy feline is spending her days.
Now, isn't it nice to get some good news?


Miele in 2020 in her new home
photos by C. Claiborne Ray


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Body Elite Building On Court And Union Street Collapses In Carroll Gardens

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The Body Elite building at 348 Court Street at the corner of Union Street in Carroll Gardens collapsed at around 4:45 pm.
Currently, the Fire Department and Police are on the scene. It is unclear right now if anyone was in the building when it fell down. Body Elite, the gym that occupied all floors of the building was temporarily closed because of Covid-19 restrictions.
For years, the side wall along Union Street had bowed out dramatically.  Just recently, a crew had begun work on that side wall, and it looked pretty dangerous yesterday as we walked passed it.
Today's heavy rains certainly did not help matters.

Local residents gathered across the street and seemed shocked by the sight.

More information as it is coming in.

The Body Elite building, photo courtesy of Apartment.com
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View of the bulging wall  of 348 Court Street on Union Street
photo courtesy of Mary P.
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The last post on Body Elite's Facebook Page

A Moment In Time:The New Covid-19 Normal

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A Moment In Carroll gardens a few days ago.
Together, but distanced.

Dear Carroll Gardeners! During The Covid-19 Pandemic, Are You Managing To Pay Your Apartment Rent?

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Currently for Rent in Carroll Gardens 
July 1, 2020 Screenshot from Apartments.com

In the past few weeks, as New York City has been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the sighting of moving vans here in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill has increased dramatically.
Many young families relocated to the suburbs or to Upstate New York to wait out the pandemic as soon as it became clear that residents had to quarantine.
They were followed by residents who decided to move back 'home' to be closer to family, giving up on their New York City dream.
And then, there are the many Carroll Gardeners who are committed to the neighborhood in good and bad times, but have lost their jobs and just can't afford to stay. 

Friend and PMFA reader C. is currently in that situation and has the following question for you:

With rent due today, how are readers of PMFA who are apartment renters feeling about making July rent?

As you know, there are many renters in the neighborhood who have lost income because of the Coronavirus pandemic and state-wide lockdown.

In the building where I live, there are renters who have lost between 25% to 50% of their usual monthly income yet the property owners have not offered any form of Rent Relief to help their tenants. Rent is due as if life is normal.

We know of renters in other buildings in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill who have negotiated with their landlords or property managers for deferred rent or payment plans, allowing them to pay rent over installments. We know of one instance where May rent was outright forgiven.

After July 31, 2020, making the monthly rent will become an even bigger concern. That’s the week when the largest portion of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC) package is set to expire, and therefore any renters who have been able to survive through Unemployment Benefits or some form of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that includes that weekly $600 payment will then have to do without.

Sadly, with moratoriums on evictions that were put in place in New York state due to the pandemic that have now since expired, this probably means an increase in evictions in August, and a lot more by September, October and November, 2020.

I'm not sure how we’re going to manage. How are your readers coping with this?


We would love to start a conversation about this issue. Have many people in your BoCoCa building moved lately? Will you have to move? Have you been able to renegotiating your rent with your landlord?

Above, we have included a map of currently available apartments in Carroll Gardens.  There seem to be quite a lot on the market, which should mean that landlords face a lot of competition for their apartments. Perhaps this is not the time to raise the rent or to lose a good renter because of a reluctance to lower the rent.

We want to hear from you, renters, owners, real estate folks, or even business owners, since this affects you, too.