Friday, January 23, 2015

Picture Of The Day: 'Do Not Enter"

"Do Not Enter" traffic sign submerged in the Gowanus Canal.
Good advice, don't you think?

Local Residents Report "Insane Noise And Vibration" From Pile Driving At Sterling's 345 Carroll Street Construction Site

Rendering of the Sterling Equities condo development under construction at 345 Carroll Street
The past few months have been hell for Gowanus residents who live next to the Lightstone Group construction site near Bond Street between Carroll Street and Second Street. Between the toxic smells from the environmental remediation at 363-365 Bond Street, the idling trucks, and the pile driving, their lives have been greatly affected.

If that was not bad enough, residents now have to deal with construction right down the block at 345 Carroll Street where Sterling Equities is erecting a 32 -unit luxury condominium building.
A few days ago, pile driving has begun at the 345 Carroll Street site and neighboring buildings are shaking.
PMFA has received a few emails on the subject. This one is from Reader R, who writes :
"I was wondering if anyone had reached out to tell you about the insane noise and vibration being experienced by the work done at 345 Carroll Street.
I live up the road and my house is literately vibrating plus the noise is deafening. It sounds like they are driving piles into the ground.
Happy for you to mention this on the blog, I would like to see if others have had the same issue."

Two other residents in nearby buildings reported that yesterday, the shaking and pounding noise from pile driving was terrible.

If you live nearby, let us know if you are experiencing the same problems.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

331 DeGraw Street: A Pretty Contextual Alteration

DeGraw Street between Smith Street and Court Street
 331 DeGraw Street before extension and renovation. Photo courtesy of  Google Map
331 DeGraw Street Google Map

DeGraw Street between Smith and Court Streets has seen quite a few building alterations in the past months, some more successful than others.  In the past year, a small brownstone was turned into a modern town home clad in gray brick at 325 DeGraw Street. Street.  Then there is the long drawn out construction at 350 DeGraw Street that started as an alteration of an existing building and turned into an illegal demolition, followed by several stop-work-orders and $13,600 in monetary fines from NYC Department of Buildings.
Directly across the street, at 331 DeGraw Street, a two-story building has just been transformed into a
three-story brick town home during the same time frame as the two other buildings.
In late 2013 The NYC Department of Buildings issued permits for:
"Interior renovation of existing two family dwelling to include partitions, millwork, flooring and cosmetic finishes. Exterior work to include a vertical and horizontal rear extension and rear yard deck."
The architecture/ design firm on file is Walsh/ Walsh Studios of Brooklyn.

By far, this transformation is the most contextual of the three on this block.  Walking past, one could easily mistake 331 DeGraw Street as having existed amidst its neighbors for the past few decades.  It just proves that proportion, type of materials and a cornice makes all the difference.
What do you think?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Picture Of The Day: Sidecar

Parked on President Street near Carroll Park.
Any idea what make and model motorcycle this is?

Update On Construction At Lightstone Group's 700 Unit Project Next To Toxic Gowanus Canal

Lightstone Group's development in Gowanus as seen from the Carroll Street Bridge

The development site as seen from Bond Street at First Street
The 700-unit Lightstone Group development project at 363-365 Bond Street between Carroll Street and Second Street, adjacent to the Gowanus Canal, has been progressing at a rather fast clip these past few weeks. So far, most of the actual construction has been taking place on the 365 Bond Street site, which was the first of the two sites to have been environmentally remediated under the New York State Brownfield program this past summer.

The 363 site, which is much more polluted, still needs to be remediated.
Late last week, Lighstone issued a construction update to the community via Geto & de Milly, Inc.,  the developer's public relations firm.  It reads:

Dear Neighbor,

I’m writing to provide you with an update on construction activities at Lightstone’s 363-365 Bond Street project in Gowanus.

Bulkhead installation is anticipated to begin along the Canal on Wednesday, January 21st. This work involves the installation of metal sheeting that may be intermittently noisier than typical day-to-day construction. As always, Lightstone will continue to do its best to mitigate disruptive noise.

Test piles at 363 Bond Street will continue next week, and environmental remediation work at 363 Bond Street will continue during the month of January.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at


Julie Hendricks-Atkins
Geto & de Milly, Inc.

Though only a fraction of the Lightstone Group development has gone up so far,  it has become all too clear to most local residents that it will change the nature of Gowanus forever.  When completed, parts of the development will rise 12 stories along the canal and will be visible from as far as Carroll Park and Smith Street.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Met Food On Henry Street Becomes A Key Food

This week, the Met Food supermarket at 486 Henry Street  here in Carroll Gardens is transitioning into a Key Food.  Though the awning in front of the store has not yet been changed, the store receipt already indicates that it is officially a Key Food.
It will probably not make much of a difference, except for the sales items and the store brands stocked on the shelves. I think most neighborhood residents will just be glad that this will remain a supermarket.

Carroll Gardeners have been complaining about a lack of reasonably priced food shopping options in the neighborhood.  In the past few years, the neighborhood has lost two supermarkets.
First, the old  Key Food supermarket on Court Street between First Place and Second Place closed and became a CVS.  Then this past summer, the Met Food on Smith Street closed its doors to make way for a new building.

Below is a bit of history about the building housing the current supermarket at 486 Henry Street.  It was once the home of the Pilgrim Chapel and later became the Oriole Theatre.
-4 by you.
Architectural drawings of Pilgrim Chapel
A photo of the 1930's
-5 by you.

This is from the New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

The Pilgrim Chapel began as the Columbia Mission, established in 1845 or 1846, when a few active Christians began a Mission in Freeman's Hall at the corner of Amity and Columbia streets in South Brooklyn. The neighborhood was inhabited mostly by foreigners, many of whom were Irish Catholics. As the Sunday-school was established and prospered, a few benevolent gentlemen purchased three lots of ground on Warren Street, between Hicks and Columbia streets. On this ground, a chapel was erected that could accommodate 400 to 500 persons, and it was completed in November 1852, free of debt. The cost of the land and chapel was about $9,000. Over the next few years membership increased and on March 20, 1854, a church was formed. Financial support for the Warren Street Church was provided by Plymouth Congregational Church and the Church of the Pilgrims, in addition to contributions from members. In 1876, the Church of the Pilgrims assumed charge of the mission, and it was renamed Pilgrim Chapel.

On July 10, 1878, the cornerstone was laid for a new building on Henry Street at the corner of Degraw Street. The site consisted of four lots and measured 100 feet square. J. Cleveland Cady (1837-1919), the prominent architect, designed an Italianate-style building with a tall tower that had an exterior of Philadelphia pressed brick trimmed with Belleville stone and terra cotta. The auditorium had a high ceiling with open timbers, and was lighted by a continuous clear-story in which were windows filled with rolled cathedral glass of beautiful designs. There were 15 rooms grouped around the auditorium, all having direct light, ventilation and heat. When the Sunday-school rooms were opened into the auditorium, there was a capacity of 1,200 people. The new Pilgrim Chapel was formally opened on December 15, 1878.

The Church of the Pilgrims merged into Plymouth Congregational Church in 1934, but it has not yet been determined when the Pilgrim Chapel was disbanded.

A while back, Reader Carol commented on PMFA that she had spoken to her mother who told her that when she got married in 1947, this supermarket "was known as the C-Town Market. Then it became G & G, which was owned by the Gallatto Brothers."
According to Carol, Mr Park's, who also owned the Met Food on Smith Street, opened this Met Food in the 1980's.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reserve Early For Gowanus Art + Production's Pre-Valentine's Day Dinner + A Movie at 501 Union on February 13th.

Gowanus Art + Production
Movie Still from the 1945 film Brief Encounter

I know it's a month away, but when it comes to Valentine's Day, it's always smart to plan ahead.
Gowanus Art + Production is planning a wonderfully stress-free pre-Valentine's Dinner and a Movie event on February 13th at 501 Union in Gowanus. The event is bound to sell out quickly so don't wait to get your tickets.

GAP Presents! Dinner + A Movie
Friday, February 13, 2015
7:00pm 9:30pm
501 Union
501 Union St, Gowanus, Brooklyn

Avoid the Valentine's day rush and stay close to your loved one on February 13th during Dinner + A Movie at 501 Union. Join us for a fabulous 3-course dinner from Purslane, a few rounds of drinks, and the 1945 film Brief Encounter. This British classic centers on Laura, a married woman with children whose conventional life becomes increasingly complicated because of a chance meeting at a railway station with a stranger, Alec. They inadvertently but quickly progress to an emotional love affair, which brings about unexpected consequences.

$65 Ticket ($130/couple) includes 3-course dinner + 3 drinks + admission.

Seating is limited. Reserve your tickets here.

St. Agnes Church In Carroll Gardens Launches Campaign To Restore Rare Brooklyn-Made Wissner Concert Grand Piano From 1891

St. Agnes' Wissner piano after having been moved to the nave from a hidden corner of the church
photo courtesy of Anthony Cucchiara

video of Wissner Piano being moved to the nave.
Courtesy: Anthony Cucchiara

St. Agnes Church at 433 Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens just started a wonderful Kickstarter campaign to restore its long neglected Concert Grand Piano, which was built in 1891 by the Wissner Piano Company on Atlantic Avenue. To that end, St. Agnes is asking for donations to cover the $13,091 needed to fully restore this beautiful instrument. The elaborate restoration work will be done by Brooklyn’s master piano restorer, Brian Whiton.

Once funding is in place, it will take Whiton about two months to complete the work. Once the Wissner is returned to St. Agnes, the church will launch a community concert series in this wonderful neo-gothic style edifice designed by Brooklyn ecclesiastical architect, Thomas Francis Houghton (1842-1913).

So please help save a piece of Brooklyn history and allow this beautiful instrument to shine again.

Here is more information:

Saint Agnes Church launches Kickstarter campaign to restore its concert grand piano.

Saint Agnes Church (1913) in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn is embarking on a crowdfunding campaign to rebuild its antique concert grand piano.
When this gorgeous instrument is restored, the church will launch a community concert series in its majestic German inspired neo-Gothic style church designed by Brooklyn ecclesiastical architect, Thomas Francis Houghton (1842-1913).
Located at the corner of Sackett and Hoyt Streets, the church is planning a multi-ethnic musical series utilizing the magnificent nave of its historic church. The church’s soaring granite edifice, ornate stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, and other fine ecclesiastical details will provide visitors with one of the most spiritually uplifting and aesthetically pleasing venues. This inspirational setting with its heavenly acoustics, will deliver a unique aural experience while showcasing Brooklyn’s rich and diverse musical talents.
The centerpiece of the St. Agnes’ forthcoming musical series is its 1891 Wissner concert grand piano. In disrepair and silent for decades, this unique instrument was manufactured by the Wissner Piano Company which began on Atlantic Avenue in 1878. The piano is slated for restoration by Brooklyn master restorer, Brian Whiton.
Donors to its Kickstarter fundraising campaign are needed to raise the requisite $ 13,091.00 restoration cost to make this piano, grand, once more, assuring it strikes its highest and most melodious notes for all of Brooklyn to enjoy.
Everyone who contributes to the Kickstarter campaign will receive a special gift, ranging from personal access to a “piano-cam” to view the ongoing restoration to a private concert using the church’s Wissner concert grand piano.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Though The Façade At 350 DeGraw Street Is Finally Connected To A Building, Problems Persist At Construction Site

The original building at 350 DeGraw Street. (image credit:
Photo of new construction at 350 DeGraw Street in April 2014
Façade without a building: 350 DeGraw Street in April 2014
In January 2015
You may remember the long construction saga of 350 DeGraw Street between Court and Smith Street.
Since the spring of 2014, only the brick façade of a new building had been erected.  The rest of the walls were missing entirely.  Though in the past few months, the building has been nearing completion, problems with the NYC Department of Buildings have persisted.

It all started in May 2013, when D.o.B. issued permits for alterations to the existing three story brick building to a four story building. 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 the 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.

That Stop Work Order was 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.

However, trouble continued at the site. Throughout 2014, more stop work orders and violations were issued for "work without permit" as well as "missing sections of construction fence, no protection of adjacent rear yards, as well as insufficient bracing and shoring."

As of today, the site has accumulated an impressive amount of monetary fines, totaling about $13,600, none of which have been paid so far. In addition, the construction site has been slapped with a "violation for failure to certify correction of Class A violation exist[ing] on this property. DOB Civil Penalties due."

Care to take a guess if this building will be completed this year?