Monday, June 18, 2007

Prices neighborhoods where crime does, too

There's an interesting link in this morning's Brownstoner (courtesy of a New York Post story) about crime rates in Brooklyn for the first half of 2007. Murder rates in the Brooklyn North borough command area are up 34 percent, with a chunk of that coming in places like Bushwick; even in the tonier areas of BN (i.e. Brooklyn Heights), robbery, assault, and grand larceny have spiked. Brooklyn South, which includes PLG, has seen an overall decline.

Interestingly, Brooklyn North features many of the neighborhoods -- Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy -- that have had a certain amount of frenzied real estate interest as of late. And while Brooklyn South has it's surging neighborhoods (Windsor Terrace, Ditmas Park, Sunset Park), PLG remains, even with the recent spate of activity, priced relatively below almost all of the other classic brownstone areas. (Judging from what's come on the market over the past several weeks -- check out the first three of Brown Harris's local listings, which you can do by clicking on the Prospect-Lefferts link -- that might not be true for long.) If anything, this reinforces my theory that services and acquaintances drive real estate in NYC as much as anything...including location. PLG, by dint of the one-family zoning in the historic district, curtails the waves of new denizens other neighborhoods have experienced, which therefore limits the overall demand for services. (Families, after all, are not going to be hitting the town as often as, say, single thirtysomethings.)

All of this could be changing; at least the development rumors seem to be pointing in that direction. And a half-year's worth of data is just that: a half-year's worth of data. But it is interesting.

(An aside: this was pretty much the only precinct map I could find. There must be better ones than that. Anyone have any idea where they'd be?)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

27 Lincoln Road: No active permits...yet

In response to Gary's question on the previous post...according to the city's Department of Buildings, it appears that 27 Lincoln Rd. does not have any active building permits on file. The lot, which also includes 35 Lincoln Rd., also doesn't have a C of O; at the moment, it's zoned for a 2-story business/office. (Of course, there's enough pro-development sentiment that that wouldn't likely present a problem.) This doesn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other: a sale might not have gone through yet; the phantom developer could be waiting to finish up with the asbestos removal; the permits could still be working there way through the pipeline. But it is worth noting...

(In other development news: it looks like the former PPLG HQ doesn't have any active permits out either...)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This should be interested: seven-story condo to go up on Lincoln...maybe?

According to what would qualify as unconfirmed rumor out there in the, um, straight journalism world, a seven-story luxury condo is going up next to the Lincoln Rd. entrance to the B/Q. (That's the space where a storefront is currently being gutted/going through asbestos abatement.) This, according to someone who read something on the PLG Listserve, where someone said she'd talked to one of the workers at the site.

The beauty of this rumor is, like all good rumors, it makes a certain amount of sense. After several years of whispers of imminent development, a bunch of actual projects are actually in the works. There's also talk of other action -- like, for instance, at the homestand of the former, fearless PPLG leader, which was bought (by a developer, natch) for about a 30% above asking.

Of course, that rumor that everyone in the final scene of the Sopranos had been featured in previous episodes made sense, too...and that wasn't true. There also the fact that a workman may or may not be the best source. But if this is true, it certainly augers for big changes. Anyone investing that kind of scrap is going to look for a major retail presence to anchor the ground floor. And I'll bet dollars to donuts that that would bring a whole lot more action...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Upcoming events at the Inkwell Cafe

One of the joys of New York is the many opportunities to see and experience great culture for less than the price of a movie ticket. That's certainly true at the Inkwell Cafe, located at 408 Rogers Ave, between Lefferts and Sterling. (The Inkwell, for those of you who don't know, is possibly the country's only jazz and comedy club. Thankfully for all concerned, those two performing arts haven't been combined...yet.) The Inkwell has been nothing if not active in the PLG Arts Scene, and one of its driving interests is bringing more opportunities to PLG.

There are some upcoming dates, all of which benefit PLG Arts. They are...

Tuesday, June 12, 7:30-10:30
The Steve Bernstein Group (Note: not Steven Bernstein the trumpeter, Sex Mob member and former Lounge Lizard.)
Steve Bernstein - g, Mathias Schaefer - b, Dan Walsh - d

Tuesday, July 10, 7:30-10:30
The George Mel Group

Visit the PLG Arts Site or email for more info...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Transparency (and equal access in, blogosphere?)

The discussion which began two weeks ago and continued last week over PLUS's application for a community redevelopment grant and the issues brought up therein continues, and we wanted to make sure we drew attention to the thoughtful post PLUS president and executive director Mark Dicus made in the comments section. Anyone interested in PLUS or the PLG community would be well served to read it.

All of this discussion highlights one of the things that's so great about PLG, namely the intense connection people feel towards the neighborhood and the dedication people show to improving it. We here at PPLG are huge proponents of getting involved on any level -- in your community, on a municipal level, on a national level, on an international level -- and it's extremely rare in NYC to see so many neighbors who feel so passionately about where they live. (An extraneous and tangential plug: all Brooklynites would be well-served by checking out -- and supporting -- 826NYC, an after-school tutoring program locating in the back of a superhero supply store. 826 is located at 327 Fifth Ave -- yes, the other side of the park -- but still, it's one of the most necessary and most wonderful organizations out there. Feel free to drop by, or to email if you're interested in more info. OK, tangent -- and for that matter, post -- over.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It's back: the PPLG annual housetour slideshow

Carrying on a great PPLG tradition, we present to you...the 2007 Prospect-Lefferts Garden Housetour Slideshow. It's set up as a Flickr slideshow; leave comments here so everyone can read them. The absolutely gorgeous pics were taken by a fellow PLG resident Tim Sutherland, who deserves mucho kudos for getting these posted so quickly.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: (The inimitable) Bob Marvin has his pics up as well, also handily assembled as a slideshow. Along with today's Brownstoner link, hopefully we'll get some folks talking about what they liked, what they thought, and what they'd wished they'd seen...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Voyeuristic thrills at $20 a pop

The gods smiled on PLG yesterday: with a forecast of three days of rain set to begin around midday, the weather stayed dry (if overcast) until well after three, allowing most people to get through this year's house tour sans raingear. (It's a good thing, too: I would not have wanted to have been one of the homeowners who opened up their abode only to fret about mud being tracked across my meticulously maintained floors.) PPLG dragged along Mrs. PPLG, his parents, and his grandmother, and mom's frequent pronouncements of "fabulous" were pretty much on the mark. (The troupe did not make it down to the Parkside and Clarkson houses, so any reports are much appreciated.)

Several people volunteered for the job of unofficial PPLG photographer; one of those backed out (although not, unfortunately, until two hours after the tour had started, which didn't do a whole lot of good) but hopefully we'll get some electronic files soon...and, as always, the inimitable Bob Marvin will have B&W shots we should be able to post in the next several days. In the meantime, here are some of our personal highlights...

The ultra-modern 176 Lincoln Road and the lovingly restored (and recreated) 72 Midwood Street provided a very stark contrast in what direction you can go in with a house that was born with an abundance of hand-carved wood detail. 176 was more or less gutted thirty or so years ago; now the house features an open, lofty feel that wouldn't be out of place in, say, On Prospect Park. Our favorite feature: the master bathroom, with a deliciously indulgent tub. It's filled from a water spout in the ceiling. 72 Midwood, on the other hand, has been being worked on for thirty years, and it's as true to its era as is possible, from the rococo Bradbury and Bradbury wallpaper (maybe it's our baseball loyalties speaking here, but it looked like the company's Fenway line; the William Morris "Vine" line was also in full effect), antique furnishings, and Victorian wall hangings. Without seeing the interior, there's no real way to do the house justice; suffice to say that the tour booklet write up included the following words: gesso, lincrusta, etagere, tournaphone, anaglypta dado gesso (a sculpture plaster) lincrusta (plastic) etagere, and tournaphone.

One of our favorite stops was 210 Midwood: it was the first time we'd seen one of the neighborhoods English basements truly converted into another fully functioning livable floor. Remarkably, on a day that was overcast, the space didn't feel either dark or artificially lit, an effect which we assume was achieved by the copious (and smallish) overhead lights installed throughout the exposed wood beams. The other intriguing alteration was the kitchen/dining room swap at 166 Rutland, which originally featured a traditional grand dining room leading to a half-width kitchen built into an original extension. This won't work in every house -- the entrance to the kitchen at 166 is in line with the walk-throughs that connect the two front parlors with the original dining room -- but for those that can do it (and have the time and money), it seemed like an ingenuous way to address the fact that today's inhabitants are will likely spend more time in the kitchen and less time seated around a formal table. 166 Rutland also had our favorite garden, a Zen-ish, pebbled affair.

As always, other reports/impressions/digressions are welcome. And hopefully we'll have some pictures up soon.