A pharmacy that’s been on 7th Ave since the ’40s will close following building’s sale. [Park Slope Stoop]

A lunatic walked into Starbucks with a pole, smashed a stranger’s laptop to bits, and then walked out. [Bensonhurst Bean]

Fort Greene resident hits big screen as Coretta Scott King. [Fort Greene Focus]

Woman arrested after biting employee at Kensington’s Foodtown. [KensingtonBK]

From Brooklyn to Peshawar, a message of peace. [Ditmas Park Corner]

It may not be Dyker-level, but this Holiday Light Spectacular is also worth a trip! [South Slope News]

Some jerk’s been swiping packages from porches before Christmas. [BB]

How the revitalized Kings Theatre could change Flatbush. [DPC]

The 10 best restaurants for New Year’s Eve dinner in Park Slope. [PSS]

With a flurry of sweet potato falafel, Batata celebrates grand opening. [KBK]

Bike thief caught on camera. [FGF]

Not sure what to tip your super? The results of this survey may help. [SSN]

The price of affordable housing at the future Pacific Park/Atlantic yards ain’t too affordable. [NY Daily News]

Photo by Meg Haubner

Looking for a new place to call home (with your growing family or multiple roommates)? Sheepshead Bites has got you covered. Our rental roundup showcases some of the deals on the market now–and this week, we’re focusing on local three and four bedroom apartments. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Three Bedroom with Outdoor Space
Price: $1,950, plus broker fee
Location: 2650 East 28th Street (near Voorhies Avenue)
Description: At $650 per roommate split evenly, this place for three will be the kindest on your bank account of all our listings this week. It’s got an extra half bath so you won’t have to get your pee dance on point, plus there’s a “huge private terrace” and pets are allowed on approval.
Contact: Listed by Awaye Realty, 718-488-0800

Sleek No Fee Three Bed
Price: $2,500, no broker fee
Location: Brighton 12th Street and Ocean View Avenue
Description: This one will hit your pocket harder per month than the apartment above, and it lacks that extra half bath and outdoor space–but photos of a comparable unit show it’s significantly fancier and more modern, and more importantly, it’s broker fee-free. And damn, those kitchen counters. Damn.
Contact: Listed by Town Residential’s Evgeny Pyatibratov, 212-470-8463

No Fee Four/Two Place
Price: $2,700, no broker fee
Location: East 3rd Street between Avenues W and X
Description: Another no fee apartment! What is this, Texas? This one houses four, and has two full baths to keep all tenants comfortable and on time to work in the morning–or at least, if you’re late for some reason other than “Mike was singing ‘Let It Go’ in the shower again for 55 minutes and I couldn’t get to the sink,” then it’s your fault. Okay, it might be the MTA’s fault.
Contact: Listed by Douglas Elliman’s  Jack Chiu, 917-375-7181

Three Beds Plus in a House
Price: $3,100, plus broker fee
Location: 2366 East 5th Street (near Angela Drive)
Description: It’s a little hard to swallow three bedrooms with a fee for $400 more than the above, fee-free four bed, but if you could use a basement, garage, outdoor space, and killer kitchen, this place might be the answer to your prayers. Its current price already reflects a reduction–but as it’s been on the market for about three and a half months, it couldn’t hurt to ask for more.
Contact: Listed by Douglas Elliman’s Valentin Landau, 718-473-2363

Still from video shot by Instagram user boobjones.

Still from video shot by Instagram user boobjones.

A Q train struck and killed a man at Avenue M in Midwood Thursday evening.

The man was hit by a southbound Q train shortly before 7pm, the MTA told CBS News.

It was not immediately clear if he fell onto the tracks or if he jumped.

The outlet reports:

A witness, Joey Baghdadi, took an Instagram video at the scene.

He reported that he was on the train and it stopped suddenly when only two cars had reached the platform.

The victim’s identity had not been made public by yesterday evening.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We summarize the week’s statistics for the 61st Precinct reports every Friday. The 61st Precinct is the police command responsible for Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach, and Gerritsen Beach.

Photo submitted by Steve Kushner

Photo submitted by Steve Kushner

Officials are investigating a three-alarm fire that ripped through a commercial building near Luna Park in Coney Island last night.

The blaze started at a grocery store at 2900 Stillwell Avenue at 7:53pm, it quickly spread to Bykush, a Turkish cafe and pizzeria in the same building, and consumed at least one apartment, fire officials said.

All three floors were consumed by the flames by the time firefighters arrived on the scene, though fire officials believe the building was vacant.

“It was pretty much an exterior operation almost immediately, the building was fully involved when we got there,” a spokesperson for the FDNY told us.

There were reports that one hydrant was broken, prompting firefighters to set up a water relay from a further location. There were a total 140 firefighters on the scene. They got the blaze under control by 10:21pm.

Two minor injuries were reported. One was a civilian who refused medical attention, and the second was a firefighter who was treated at Lutheran Hospital.

The owner of Bykush, who also owns Sheepsead Bay’s Rocca Cafe, told News 12 that he had opened his restaurant only two weeks ago, and now it was destroyed.

Witnesses told NBC that they saw the neon lights from the store signs exploding.

“All of a sudden we saw the wires popping,” Jose Alicia told the news outlet.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Many dramatic photos of the blaze were posted on Twitter last night:

Reader Simon Wong sent us this footage of the fire:

Photo by Steven Katz // Instagram: @_katztagram | Click to enlarge

Photo by Steven Katz // Instagram: @_katztagram |Click to enlarge

Photo by Steven Katz // Instagram: @_katztagram

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send it to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Photo by Robert Fernandez

The former ball pit at Nostrand Avenue’s McDonald’s (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Breaking news! The McDonald’s at 3540 Nostrand Avenue no longer has balls.

The fast food restaurant cleared out the ball pit recently, according to super-tipster Robert Fernandez, who sent in the photo above.

It should come as no real surprise. McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants across the nation have been getting rid of ball pits for years, largely for sanitary reasons. A former McDonald’s employee responded to a Yahoo Answers request, explaining:

The ball pits in many fast food restaurants have been removed mainly because they are extremely unsanitary … things such as food, band aids and even soiled diapers to be disposed within the ball pit. It isn’t practical for the cleaning staff at fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s to clean the ball pit various times throughout the day so those items sit in the ball pit causing bacteria to spread throughout all of the balls.

The ball pit castrations came around the same time as a headline-grabbing study in 2011 that looked at just how filthy America’s 15,000 playroom facilities were.

Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan’s analysis revealed:

Not only did we find pathogens that could make children ill, we found bacteria that were potentially deadly.

… Among my bacterial findings: Staph aureus, Pseudomonas, E. coli, Bacillus cereus and Coliforms. These can cause everything from nausea and vomiting, to skin infections, meningitis and death.

There was also quite a bit of poop on those balls.

Sure makes you look differently at that floor in the photo above, doesn’t it?

Photo by Mary Bakija

Photo by Mary Bakija

Below you’ll find weekend subway service changes for the B, Q, and F lines in Brooklyn. Check back Monday to see what’s happening next week. Changes via MTA.info.

Through Friday:

Brighton Beach-bound B trains run local from Prospect Park to Kings Hwy
Days, 9:45am-3pm, Wednesday and Thursday, December 17-18; 9:45am-2pm on Friday, December 19

Please allow additional travel time.

Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park
Days, 9:45am-3pm, Wednesday and Thursday, December 17-18; 9:45am-2pm on Friday, December 19

Trains stop at Newkirk Plaza and Church Av.

For service to Avenue M, Avenue J, Avenue H, Cortelyou, Beverley Rds and Parkside Av, take the Q to Newkirk Plaza, Church Av or Prospect Park and transfer to a Brighton Beach-bound B or Coney Island-bound Q.

For service from these stations, take the B or Q to Church Av, Newkirk Plaza or Kings Hwy and transfer to a Manhattan-bound Q.

F trains run every 20 minutes between Avenue X and Stillwell Av; trains from Manhattan skip Avenue U
Days, 11am-3pm, Wednesday, December 17 to Friday, December 19

Service operates in two sections:
1. Between 179 St and Avenue X
2. Between Avenue X and Stillwell Av

Transfer at Avenue X to continue your trip.

For service to Avenue U, take the F to Avenue X where it will become a Jamaica-bound F. For service from this station, take the F to Kings Hwy and transfer to an Avenue X-bound F. More info here.

Through the weekend:

Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay
Weekends, 5:45am-6pm, Saturdays and Sundays through December 28

Trains stop at Church Av, Newkirk Plaza and Kings Hwy.

For service to Parkside Av, Beverley, Cortelyou Rds, Avenue H, Avenue J, Avenue M, Avenue U and Neck Rd, take the Q to Church Av, Newkirk Plaza, Kings Hwy or Sheepshead Bay and transfer to a 57 St/7 Av-bound Q.

For service from these stations, take the Q to Kings Hwy, Newkirk Plaza, Church Av or
Prospect Park and transfer to a Coney Island-bound Q.

Also, keep an eye out for changes in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. Schedules occasionally change, so check MTA.info for the latest updates.

The Vitagraph smokestack (Source: Lisanne Anderson)

The Vitagraph smokestack (Source: Lisanne Anderson)

Preservationists have been bracing themselves for news of the Vitagraph smokestack’s fate ever since scaffolding was placed around it in October. Now the developer who owns the 1263 East 14th Street property has filed plans to construct a new eight-story residential building with 302-units.

Sheepshead Bites was the first to report that Hampshire Properties purchased the 107-year-old smokestack and adjoining lot, currently occupied by the Shulamith School for Girls, for $20 million. No plans for construction were immediately filed.

That paperwork went in on Friday, as YIMBY reports:

Woods Bagot is listed as the architect…  Renderings for 1263 East 14th Street have not yet been released, but at first glance, its prospects would appear promising.

Hampshire Properties is listed as the developer, and the residential zoning area will measure 277,406 square feet. The property has an alternate address of 1277 Locust Avenue, and is currently occupied by an 85,000 square foot school that must first be demolished.

The building will be 80 feet fall, covering 64 percent of the lot, according to DOB filings. There will be enclosed attendant parking for 152 cars, the minimum required by zoning. There will also be parking for 153 bicycles.

Documents show that there will be a fitness room, meeting room, lounge with reading and children’s spaces, an outdoor recreation area, a tenant business center and a multi-purpose room.

There will be no commercial space in the new development. It’s not clear if the units will be condos, rentals or a mix of the two.

The plans are still pending review by the Department of Buildings, and no permits for demolition have been filed.

Hampshire Properties, is a Midwood-based manager and developer of residential and commercial properties, including several in Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach.

When scaffolding was erected around the smokestack earlier this year, preservationists were concerned it would be demolished. A petition started by neighbors currently has 534 signatures.

More than a century old, it’s one of the last symbols of Midwood’s film production history. Vitagraph was a leading silent film company based out of the building now set to be demolished. It was purchased by Warner Brothers in 1925, and later NBC, which also used the more modern facility across East 14th Street until the early years of the 21st Century.

The former Vitagraph facility was repurposed by Yeshiva University in 1967.

Attempts to landmark the smokestack, which sits at the northeast corner of the former studio and on which the Vitagraph emblem is still visible to subway straphangers, have previously failed to win approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.