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Dec. 10th, 2007

An Icky Photo Exclusive - The 8th Ave Condos

A little church on Eighth Avenue in Park Slope sold its 50x100 foot churchyard, one of the only never-ever built sites in Park Slope. (!) The plot, purchased by New York Property Fund, will soon sport ten condos. Opposed to a glass-and-steel box, the church chose their buyers purposely for their desire to build "in the character of the neighborhood." While the loss of a churchyard is a terrible shame, it is nice to have some assurance that 8th Ave's newest mini-manses will sport more qualilty than the recent rash of South Slope Stucco Shacks.

Only further construction will tell, but if the buyer's other properties (mostly restorations and four-wall retrofits) are any indication, this project looks awfully good. A quality building "in the character of the neighborhood" a block from Prospect Park a few feet from the subway in mid-slope sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Perhaps this will start a trend - new buildings that are actually nice to look at.

I had occasion to grab a view of the site a few weeks ago, and may I say, it is nice to see a local developer living up to their word. Everything in order, gates closed when they should be, permits in place, a spotless construction site, after hours permits in place (although I'm told they haven't really used them much), and special attention being paid to the 1888 building next door - the church building is nicely and properly shored-up and reinforced.

Nov. 14th, 2007

Dream Home

Every Gotham renter has his or her own individual non-negotiables when it comes to renting a New York City habitat - closet space, shopping nearby, ceiling height, hell ... working plumbing. (The list significantly expands and contracts, directly proportional to how much we can afford per month in rent.)

Most New Yorkers can offer some great apartment horror stories. My particular tale involves an apartment with no insulation, no front door, electricity that frequently went out, a broken boiler, and the apartment on the other side of the wall operating as a flophouse. (And this apartment was obtained though a broker.) It was also a three-avenue walk to the R train, or a eleven block walk to the F.

I quickly realized that one of my particulars (besides basic dignity) is "close to transportation." I think this Windsor Terrace home qualifies ...

Nov. 11th, 2007

Gentrifying the Gentrified?

I've been having trouble with some neighborhood terminology lately.

I've noticed a lot of jabber about Windsor Terrace being "the new Park Slope," along with the word "gentrification" getting tossed about.

Yes, the condo-construction sandboxes on the Southeast side are seeing a large infusion of "young, urban, professionals," however, Windsor Terrace remains a pretty diverse place (even among new home buyers), and a proud working class neighborhood.

WT's Wikipedia entry mentions "a recent influx of yuppies as a result of gentrification." What is there to gentrify? Who are these gentrifying yuppies? The bi-racial couple down the block who recently bought a house to raise their child? The gay working-class couples? The African-American family on the opposite side of the street? Our large home-owning Latino population? The ex-hippes? The tradesmen that have inherited their homes?

Although I can't speak for the sellers of the just-minutes-old listing pictured below, I suspect that all walks of life and ethnicities will continue to be welcome (and present) on our blocks. My neighbor and I are a few decades apart in age, differ majorly when it comes to politics, and are polar opposities on the liberal/conservative charts.

But as he says, "Everybody is welcome, as long as they're good neighbors."



Annon writes, "i agree - windsor terrace has been trashed by snobby perk slopers as "white trash" cuz some of the residents happen to be republicans, with flags on their homes, etc. and although i'm a proud liberal i actually prefer the diversity (ethnic, political, age, etc) that we have here...much more than being surrounded by a homogeneous super-lib, super-PC crowd a few blocks north/west, which many times comes off as pretty phony ... without sounding too corny, i think windsor terrace is a lot more "real" brooklyn than many other hoods, especially the ones that were only recently discovered."

Nov. 7th, 2007

Windsor Terrace, You're Grounded.

And no, you can't go to the dance with Park Slope.

The NYC Dept of Education recently graded each of its own individual schools - each school's performance receiving a mark, A through F, just like its students. The bad news? Windsor Terrace's PS 154 is pretty near flunking.

The Times reports that grading is complicated, and that these things are, to a degree, subjective. However, most schools in the city received As and Bs. PS 154 received a D. As our parents might have been heard to say, "If you got a D, I'm sure you did something to deserve it."

That's it, young man. No more condo sales until your grades improve! And I don't want to catch you hanging out with Tribeca. Her grades are good, but she's a slut.


SOME GREAT COMMENTS, from other folks in the area ...

The NYC board of Ed screws up pretty much everything it touches. Now they've come up with this grading system that by their own admission is difficult to explain and complex and we're supposed to believe they've gotten it exactly right and these scores are an accurate assessment of a school's merit. Nonsense. I'm sure that if the "grading process" were looked at carefully and thoroughly, it would be found to be the flawed mess we're used to from the B of E. OTOH, maybe the bad grade will scare away all the displaced Park Slopers and I'll actually be able to afford an apartment here again.


"Please dont spread the myth that these "grades" mean that 154 is doing bad. It is a deceptive grading system.

This is how the school grades generally worked:

Improving School: Year 1 - Kids score: 40 out of 100 on a standardized test (meaning they are doing horrible) Year 2 - Kids score: 50 out of 100 on standarized test (meaning kids had 25% improvement - but of course are still doing horrible) School gets an A for the 25% improvement (ignoring the fact that the kids are doing horrible)

Already Good School: Year 1 - Kids score: 85 out of 100 on a standardized test (meaning they are doing pretty good) Year 2 - Kids score: 90 out of 100 on standarized test (meaning kids had 6% improvement - but of course are still doing very good) School gets an B for the 6% improvement (ignoring the fact that the kids are doing really well)"

Nov. 1st, 2007

Ambulance Chasers, The New Breed

As I took a morning walk today, I noticed a shirt-and-tie guy standing talking to a few of the old-timers about real estate. (That was all I caught.) On my way back and around the corner, another shirt-and-tie was talking to a different old-timer around the block. I heard things like, "Oh, this house is going to my kids," and then, "Well if you ever change your mind," with a card being handed.

I think they have figured out that the older folks hang out on the stoops in the morning. Are we being invaded by obituary-reading-row-house-chasers?! Ah well, let's bring down our blood pressure with some of the more serene sights and sounds of the neighborhood from this week.

Oct. 22nd, 2007

Local Color: Windsor Terrace Homes

Oct. 2nd, 2007

Norma Desmond is Alive and Well and Living in Ozone Park

Today, I came across a great photoblog,
Queens Reborn - For Better of For Worse.

There's much talk about the growing proliferation of Kardboard Kondos here in Brooklyn. QRB provides us with a look at a related trend in our sister borough of Queens ... the rise of the NYC McMansion (and Mansion McNugget), giving us "a continuing tour of some of these additions to our Queens communities." The visual commentary is terrific, and the photos speak volumes.

Photos courtesy of

Sep. 27th, 2007

Around the Neighborhood

Feeling a little battered this week, I stopped of at the new CHINESE ACCUPRESSURE CENTER at 7th Ave and 16th Street today for a thirty minute appointment.

My only real beef was that it was pretty noisy - you can hear the door swooshing open (a lot), the windows rattle every time the door opens, a decent amount of loud talking from the staff. Not too troubling, but peace and quiet goes a long way towards making you feel comfortable when you're essentially naked under a towel on the other side of a curtain. That said, the staff knows their stuff and I came out feeling great. The prices are definitely great - $30 for 30 minutes, $60 for a hour. As a bonus, the ladies were very, very sweet and I got a tiny little cup of Chinese tea when I left.

Our local pet stuff store ALL FOR PAWS continues to sell off remaining inventory. Store staff are still hoping to move up the block (Windsor/Prospect), and are waiting to hear if they have been given the lease on the space.

Carpenters were working in the old/new WESTERN UNION space today. Wood going in and out, but I didn't have a chance to stop and ask if there was a tenant yet.

Rumors have begun to circulate that our local tween school HOLY NAME might not be around next year. (This is completely neighborhood chatter, for what it's worth.) Although talk of empty classrooms, low enrollment, and vacant floors is pretty common, this is the first rumor I had heard of a closing. I wonder what one does with a big Catholic school building if the school closes.

UPDATE 9/28 - According to a neighbor, there had been difficulty in the past, but a recent upswing in the school's fortunes ensures that Holy Name is on better footing than it had been previously, and in fact, enrollment is up.

Sep. 22nd, 2007

Circle of Sighs - 3 Businesses Gone!

Just off the circle (which is really Bartel Pritchard Square), we've had quite a run of Prospect Park West businesses closing lately-and-soon. The Western Union went out (now re-drywalled and split), Universal Video's closing was much posted about here, and the Pet Store is currently having a blow-out sale. (Although they are moving up the block.) In an era of perfect timing, the new Real Estate agency hung their pseudo-trendy shingle right out over the Avenue recently.

The cranky cry of condos pushes Southward, bringing with it retail banality.

Sep. 20th, 2007

Universal Video Loading Out

Breaking News from Prospect Park West at 7:15pm ...

The gates are down, and a crew of guys at Universal Video on Prospect Park West is loading out the inventory into a U Haul as we speak. Things did seem amiss the other day. However, when I was in the store yesterday nothing was mentioned and no signs had gone up. Seems like a bit of a Midnight Flit or a Vamoose. Either way, it's certainly without fanfare, and they look like they're in a hurry. The guys at the truck didn't want to be bothered.

Does this mean I don't have to return my videos?

Sep. 12th, 2007

Wet Windsor Terrace

Just a few pictures from the on-and-off dousing we got yesterday ... Steam from the Arrow Linen Company, cars in the rain, and the Western Union storefront. I tried to catch a stealth pic of the interior, but it didn't work out. Looks like something is going on in there - the windows are covered, but there is new drywall and studs all the way around. It also seems to have aquired an extra door, maybe has been split into two spaces. Meanwhile, no signs of life a few doors down at Enzo's.

Sep. 9th, 2007

The Corner of Ninth and Braxton?

Evidently, if I had been alive and blogging in the 1890s, I would be coming to you from near the corner of Ninth Avenue and Braxton. The name of the avenue bordering the park had not been changed to "Prospect Park West" yet, Windsor Place looks like it was known as "Braxton," and something called "University Park" sat where the Brooklyn Botanic Garden now is. (And of course, what used to be 18th Street is now the big ditch we call the Prospect Expressway.) Check out this incredibly cool 1890s map of Windsor Terrace and environs from Brooklyn Genealogy. Click the map for a larger view.

Sep. 8th, 2007

A Sampling of Bad-Ass Cool Houses

I tend to be neat and tidy. One symptom of this is that I easily over-categorize things; but it also means like my apartment kept nice, which is a plus for our landlords.

Being a lowly renter, I tend to lump NYC property owners into two columns. You might guess that I am a big fan of Working-Class-Folks-Who-Sweat-for-What-They-Have and bought when the market was sane. You might also guess I am usually not a big fan of Trust Fundies or any derivation of The Wealthily Oblivious. But, like my neighbor Moe says, "Ya gotta let people be people."

So let us not throw rocks at glass condos. Today, let us celebrate the individuality and beauty of some of the homes in Windsor Terrace. In other words ... here are some bad-ass cool houses in my neighborhood.

Aug. 7th, 2007

That and $1.2 Mil Will Get You a Rowhouse

With their bargains-in-the-window and pseudo-hip signage, two new real estate offices have opened up on The Block and around the corner in the last several weeks. Scary. This, in a neighborhood that had one lone real estate/law office/notary combo for years. And I'm putting bets on the old Western Union space being number three.

So long, suckers.