Archive for the tag 'construction'

Map of the primary and alternate detour routes. Stars indicate presence of traffic agents. Click to enlarge. (Source: DOT)

Map of the primary and alternate detour routes. Stars indicate presence of traffic agents. Click to enlarge. (Source: DOT)

Extensive repairs to the Belt Parkway will cause the Department of Transportation to shutter a section of the highway during nights for approximately three weeks, beginning tonight.

Contractors will be tearing up the asphalt and repaving the eastbound Belt Parkway between Flatbush Avenue and Rockaway Parkway every evening from 11pm to 5am. Work will take place during those hours every day except Sundays.

During the construction, drivers will be guided through a detour route that exits at Flatbush Avenue, continues to Utica and Flatlands avenues, then to East 76th Street/Paerdegat Avenue, to Seaview Avenue before finally returning to the highway at Rockaway Parkway.

Flatlands Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue and Knapp Street will provide alternative detours. See the map above for more information.

There will be signs along the detour route for additional guidance.

Work will not take place the nights of Wednesday, September 24, and Thursday, September 25, in observance of Rosh Hashanah, but will continue again Friday night.

dunkin-donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts will soon open at 273 Avenue X, replacing an independent coffee house with a franchise.

The storefront, at the corner of Stryker Street and a block shy of McDonald Avenue, is the former home of Amori Baci,, a nice Italian cafe that served gelato and crepes in addition to standard coffee house fare. Amori Baci opened in 2011, but we’re not sure when it shuttered.

Dunkin’ Donuts appears to be making moves in the area. Another location is popping up on Neptune Avenue in Brighton Beach, as well as on Cropsey Avenue in Bath Beach. Those are the ones we know about, and their website lists dozens of existing locations in the area. With the latest additions, it’s nearly at the point where you’ll be able to find a D-n-D within five blocks of any spot in the neighborhood.

We’re not so sure that’s a good thing. What do you think?

development-1

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) is urging the Board of Standards and Appeals to reject a special permit application by a Sheepshead Bay ambulatory health care facility that would severely impact residential parking.

The applicant, Eric Palatnik, P.C., for 2464 Coney Island Avenue, wants BSA to reduce the facility’s required number of parking spaces in the building’s indoor garage. Thirty-four spaces are currently reserved but BSA can reduce that number to 17. BSA is conducting a hearing on the matter tomorrow at 10 a.m. [Ed. -- The meeting has now passed.]

Community Board 15 has already voted against the proposal.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz says eliminating indoor parking spaces will cause parking woes for people on East 9th Street, located around the corner from the facility, in addition to other nearby streets. “East 9th Street consists of attached homes with no garages. Residents here must rely solely on street parking, which is already in short supply,” he said in a letter to BSA.

Curb cuts have been installed on East 9th Street for the health care center’s underground parking garage, limiting parking for residents even further, he said.

Exacerbating the situation is a car rental business on the first floor of the same building, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. The car rental business will use the underground garage spaces when necessary, meaning that patients at the health care facility will need to look for available street parking when the indoor spots are occupied.

“In order to minimize the impact on residents’ quality of life, it is essential that BSA vote against the application to reduce the required number of parking spaces for the ambulatory health facility,” he said.

dunkin-donuts

Brighton Beach will be home to a new Dunkin’ Donuts in the near future, with construction set to wrap up soon at 361 Neptune Avenue, on the corner of Brighton 3rd Street.

The lot has been home to the shell of an old gas station and garage for quite a number of years, and it looks like plans for the franchise coffee and sweets shop have been in the works since late 2012, judging from Department of Buildings records. The plans were finally approved in January and work began thereafter.

It doesn’t look like they’ll have a drive-through operation, but there will be parking for as many as 13 cars in the lot – which has yet to be paved. It looks like they’re still working on the interior, too, and the cracked, weed-covered sidewalk around the perimeter will probably be redone as well.

What do you think – good place for a Dunkin’ Donuts?

The same lot in 2012. Source: Google Maps

The same lot in 2012. Source: Google Maps

The site of the proposed development. (Source: CPEX Retail Leasing)

Rendering of the proposed development. (Source: CPEX Retail Leasing)

An enormous commercial development slated for Coney Island Avenue in Midwood is facing opposition for its proposal to cut out 74 required parking spaces, but its backers say it’s moving forward regardless.

The construction site at 1504 Coney Island Avenue, at Avenue L, is to be the largest retail development in the neighborhood, according to boasts from its leasing team. Councilman David Greenfield is calling it a “mega development,” saying it will feature more than 160,000 square feet of space. Zoning requirements call for a minimum of 346 parking spaces, but the owner has requested permission from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to scale that back to 272 spaces.

The site of the proposed development. (Source: CPEX Retail Leasing)

The site of the proposed development. (Source: CPEX Retail Leasing)

That’s unacceptable, according to the pol. The intersection is already home to one of the neighborhood’s most popular markets, Pomegranate, and adding more development without sufficient parking would bring that stretch of Coney Island Avenue to a standstill.

“I frequently drive by Avenue L and Coney Island Avenue and am stuck among double and triple-parked cars. It’s really ridiculous that anyone would suggest that the lack of parking is not a problem in this neighborhood. That is why I am fighting to make sure the community gets the required amount of parking for this new mega development,” Greenfield said in a press release.

The project’s developer expects the site to be a shopping destination, with a 50,000-square-foot department store as its anchor, with 25,000 square feet of additional retail and 3,400 square feet of office space. A 56,000-square-foot section of the building will be set aside for ambulatory medical care, and another 28,000 square feet will serve as community space and home for a non-profit, the developer’s representative, attorney Howard Goldman, explained during a meeting last week of the BSA. (The BSA is empowered to grant waivers to zoning regulations if the situation meets certain conditions.)

The parking would be underground, served by an entrance on Coney Island Avenue, and the building will use a robotic system to store and retrieve vehicles. According to Goldman, the system won’t requiring any on-street queuing which would otherwise lead to congestion.

Greenfield, who is also chair of the City Council’s powerful Land Use Committee, and Community Board 12 District Manager Barry Spitzer, who is also Greenfield’s deputy chief of staff, testified against the developer’s application, saying that the parking just isn’t sufficient in the neighborhood. Greenfield spokesperson Jane Carey, who testified on behalf of the councilman, and Spitzer both focused on double parking and truck traffic caused by Pomegranate, which only has 40 parking spaces. Though that may be Pomegranate’s fault, the BSA should enforce the parking minimum at the new, unrelated development to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Their plea appears to be in vain. Goldman said they’re going forward with the stated amount of parking whether or not the Board approves it – they’ll just reduce the medical office’s square footage, which requires more parking than other uses.

“If the request is not granted by the Board, it doesn’t mean the project won’t be built. What it means is that instead of the medical office, we will have the non-profit office space,” he said before the BSA. “So, matter of fact, it’ll be the same amount of spaces but a different mix of uses.”

Goldman added that, for all the bellyaching about parking, the new project will help ease the burden created by Pomegranate.

“This is a congested intersection. And the reason it’s congested is because there’s a very popular supermarket across the street called Pomegranate,” Goldman said, noting that their analysis showed congestion was worst on Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons. Pomegrenate’s parking “is really insufficient. Our garage’s excess capacity can handle some of that excess overflow from Pomegranate and the net result will be a benefit to the neighborhood, not a detriment to the neighborhood.”

The developer submitted a letter of support for the project from Pomegranate’s owners. The BSA has another hearing on the development scheduled for September 9.

Source: Alexander Rabb/Flickr

The owner of the landmarked Shore Theater has been declining all proposals to rehabilitate and reactivate the building, including one by a Manhattan restaurateur to turn it into a sprawling restaurant and culinary school.

The 1301 Surf Avenue building was inherited by Jasmine Bullard following the 2013 death of her father, Horace, a Coney Island visionary who long fought to revitalize the neighborhood during its darkest days. Although the building was on the market at the time of his death, Bullard has declined to hear out would-be buyers, Brooklyn Eagle reports.

“I have clients who are ready, willing and able to write a check for the Shore today,” broker Joe Vitacco told Eye on Real Estate.

He has tried to submit purchase offers to her, but in vain: “She won’t even look at them.”

Vitacco said he has four “solid” suitors for the Shore Theater:

* A “very well known restaurateur” from Manhattan who wants to build a cooking school downstairs and a restaurant on the top two floors.

“The view from the seventh floor is magnificent,” he said, and there’s a Juliet balcony where diners would be able to watch the Brooklyn Cyclones playing baseball at MCU Park.

* A “nationally known athlete” who would turn the Shore back into a movie theater — and no, it’s not Magic Johnson (who isn’t actively involved in Magic Johnson Theatres’ operations these days, anyway).

* A billionaire with a home in Brooklyn who “thinks it’s a beautiful building and should be restored,” Vitacco said.

This interested party made an offer when Horace Bullard was alive, but it wasn’t high enough. Now, “he’s willing to come to the table with more money,” the broker said.

* A real estate developer who is involved in Coney Island.

Vitacco marketed Horace Bullard’s properties for about a decade. When the Shore was Vitacco’s listing, the asking price was $12 million.

It is estimated that it will take approximately $35 million to renovate the 115,000-square-foot, seven-story structure.

Menorah Home in Manhattan Beach (Source: Landow & Landow)

A new, 16-suite building opened in Manhattan Beach on June 30, providing hospice care for terminally ill children.

The site, called Sixteen Lights and operated by MJHS, is located on the Menorah campus at 1516 Oriental Boulevard, wedged between Kingsborough Community College and Manhattan Beach Park.

Wall Street Journal reports:

The 16-suite building will cater to younger patients, offering a playroom, a playground and a homelike atmosphere with kitchens where parents who live there with their children can cook.

“The sad part is that today in our community, other than using a hospital-bed setting there really is no extended-stay place that a family can go to be with a child,” said Eli Feldman, MJHS’s chief executive. “It’s just not natural that a child dies before their parents.”

… MJHS was started by four Brooklyn women in 1907 to take care of the elderly. Its budget has grown to $1.1 billion from $45 million in the past four decades.

Dying adults also will be able to stay there. Their foundation paid the $7 million cost of the new hospice and so far they have raised $2 million to offset it.

Families can use the hospice as a respite, staying for up to five days, to relieve some of the pressure of constantly caring for a terminally ill child.

An artist’s rendition of the interior of a hospice unit, used in the planning stages. (Source: MJHS)

It appears to have been a long road to the site’s creation. After years of fundraising – which still continues – they broke ground in September 2012.

Here’s how the foundation describes the facility and its purpose:

When asked, people overwhelmingly choose to spend their last days at home, surrounded by family. Unfortunately, in the New York City area, too many people with advanced illness, especially children, must spend their final days in the sterile, impersonal environment of a hospital.

This 16-suite hospice inpatient residence will be a private home-like setting and it will be the first in New York City, and one of the few in the region, to serve children as well as adults. It will redefine hospice care by offering patients and their families a home away from home without sacrificing the best in medical care.

There are volunteer opportunities offered at the hospice. Learn more by clicking here.

loehmanns

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Loehmann’s expansion postponed: An expected vote on an application to expand Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) was tabled by Community Board 15 at their meeting this Tuesday to allow hearings and public input throughout the summer.

The Board was scheduled to vote on the proposal, which seeks to add an additional floor of office space totaling 10,000 square feet to the building. As the first item on the agenda, the Board’s Zoning Committee chairperson, Ronnie Tawil, made a motion to table the item until the group’s next meeting in September.

“Since this property is at the centerpiece of Sheepshead Bay and is of such high significance for the entire area, I’m of the mind that we should table this matter so that we can have more public hearings and more opportunities to discuss the ramifications of this particular application,” he said before the Board.

Normally, postponing such a hearing before the summer could open the door for an end-run around the Board. The group’s recommendation is advisory, and is requested to come within 60 days before the landlord’s appearance before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which has final say. If the Community Board tables a motion, it could forfeit its right to provide input.

However, the group’s chairperson Theresa Scavo said that won’t happen in this case. She met with the landlord’s attorney, Eric Palatnik, who frequently comes before the group on zoning matter and requested that he postpone the appearance before the BSA so that public hearings can be organized. He agreed, and has frozen the application, Scavo said.

“I’m asking him not to go ahead without us, he said he would not, and everything is put on hold. He’s giving it until September,” said Scavo.

Public hearings are expected to be scheduled in July or August by Councilman Deutsch’s office in conjunction with local groups like the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association. The item will be back for a vote before the Board in September.

As Sheepshead Bites first reported in March, the landlord is planning to add a new floor of commercial offices. Because it falls outside of the special zoning district‘s permitted uses, and the building is already subject to a variance, the BSA must review and approve the project.

Its initial construction was a lightning rod for community activists in the 1990s, when many locals mobilized to stop it from being built. It succeeded in going forward, and many credit the development as being the death of the special zoning district.

“It’s the same thing all over again. The use exceeds the zoning by 800 percent. It was granted specifically for Loehmann’s and Loehmann’s went out [of business]. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” said Steve Barrison when he learned the news in March. “We’re talking about a special district. We’re talking about the waterfront. We’re not talking about any where else in the community. It’s disgusting.”

Zoning items:

  • 1112 Gilmore Court - The board voted 28-to-5 to approve an application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling. The landlord is seeking to upgrade a one-story bungalow into a two-family house, saying he needs more space for his family and needs the second unit to cover the costs of construction. The construction will not result in decreased side yards, as they plan to build back into the rear yard and to increase the front yard space.

Elected officials:

  • Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein briefed the Board on the end of the legislative session, specifically touting her record of domestic violence initiatives. She added that her bill on special education placements did not pass, but that was in fact good news since a deal had been negotiated with Mayor Bill de Blasio to initiate the changes at the Department of Education anyway.

Other notable information:

  • A motion by newly appointed boardmember Ed Jaworski, also the president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association, was rejected. The motion was to approve a resolution of “no confidence” in the Board of Standards and Appeals, which he said has been effectively upzoning neighborhoods on a lot-by-lot basis by rubber stamping special applications for variances that come before it. In the coming days, the BSA will lose its current chairperson to term limits, and Jaworski hoped to send a message that would result in an appointee he would consider more inclined to listen to local communities. The Board ultimately rejected the motion after choosing not to table it, with members saying that it would “disenfranchise the relationship we’ve built over time,” and that there were other ways to weigh in on the selection of a new BSA chairperson.
  • The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, through their partnership with the Family Justice Center, informed the area that they are establishing walk-in centers in every borough for domestic violence victims. The centers have free attorneys, social workers, children’s counselors and more on-site, and it’s open to all regardless of gender or immigration status. Community Board 15 is ranked 39th citywide in domestic violence calls, roughly in the middle of all communities.
  • The Department of City Planning announced the launch of the Southern Brooklyn Resilient Neighborhood Study, a two-year plan to examine the Sheepshead Bay area (specifically Plumb Beach and Gerritsen Beach) to identify strategies to strengthen the area from future storms. Some attendees complained that the new study doesn’t help with ongoing issues with Build it Back, FEMA or other agencies, and is yet another in a long line of studies and initiatives that they feel are not moving forward.
  • The Board welcomed the appointment of five new members, at least two of which were not in attendance, and at least one of which has never been seen at Board meetings previously. Board appointments are made by the borough president, often at the recommendation of local Council members.
  • Doreen Garson, representing the local CERT team, noted that the Office of Emergency Management has issued new evacuation maps and a related website.
  • A representative for Councilman Mark Treyger announced that his office would hold an unclaimed funds event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their 2014 Stillwell Avenue office on July 10. You will be able to search state databases for funds owed that you may have forgotten about or lost track of.
  • The Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach branches of the Brooklyn Public Library will participate in the Department of Education’s summer meals programming, offering kids free lunch during the day, beginning on June 27.
  • The July 4 holiday is a Friday. There will be no recycling picked up that day, but garbage may be put to the curb. Alternate side parking will be suspended.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs asked the Board for input on the installation of bumper cars at Land o’ Fun at 2955 Coney Island Avenue. The Board voted to recommend its approval.
contaminent

The sediment-filled waste coming out of a covered sewer overflow pipe. (Source: Pete Castro)

The city’s long-awaited solution to street flooding along the Coney Island peninsula has some locals wondering if the remedy isn’t worse than the disease.

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps) Click to enlarge.

The Department of Environmental Protection is in the midst of a massive clearing operation in western Coney Island, pumping years of sand, debris and residue out of long-jammed sewer lines, which neighbors say caused the streets to flood in even the slightest rain. But now the city is fielding a new set of complaints from residents who say the toxin-filled water is flowing into Coney Island Creek through a combined sewer overflow pipe at West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue, adjacent to Kaiser Park beach.

“Yes, you’ve got to clean out the drain. But my logic, my god-given common sense, is that you don’t foul it up, you don’t create another foul condition when you solve that problem,” said Pete Castro, a resident of West 35th Street.

Castro has been on the beach almost daily for the past week and a half, filming and taking photos of the Department of Environmental Protection’s private contractor, National Water Main Cleaning Co., as they pump water into the sewer and it flows out of a nearby outfall pipe, onto the beach. The 30-year resident said the water is thick and black with sludge, oil and other contaminants, mucking up a habitat in the midst of a revival.

“I’ve been seeing wildlife come back to the beach, egrets, the occasional swan, ducks go over there. And they’re dumping that oil there and apparently DEP is okay with it,” he said.

The DEP confirmed that they’re clearing out the sewer lines, and that some debris was simply destined to enter the environment.

“We are working to clear out the sand-impacted storm sewers. This is in response to flooding complaints in the area. We have been cleaning out the sewers for weeks and we understand there have been complaints about pumping stuff into the sewer, but in reality this is what we have to do to clean the sewers,” a spokesperson told this outlet.

Despite years of flooding complaints on the Coney Island peninsula, the latest round of work began after a site visit by Superstorm Sandy recovery honchos Bill Goldstein and Amy Peterson. Led by Councilman Mark Treyger, the team visited P.S. 188, where the students and faculty shared the following video showing the extent of flooding outside of the school in even modest rain.

“This is not Sandy, it’s just an average rainstorm,” Treyger told this outlet about the video. “It is a eye-opening video that shows severe flooding that is so bad that a car floated from the street and crashed into the front of the school, that’s how bad the flooding is. We showed the video to Amy Peterson and Bill Goldstein and they were very alarmed by it.”

“It is a damning video that just absolutely validates and confirms portions of Southern Brooklyn had been neglected by the [Bloomberg] administration.”
- Treyger

The Sandy team put pressure on the Department of Environmental Protection to address the flooding immediately. After inspection, the DEP determined that the sewers were clogged near the outfall pipes that go into Coney Island Creek, and dispatched contractors to clear it out.

Treyger admitted that solving one problem for residents caused concern for others. Castro and neighbors made complaints to his office, and he forwarded the video and photos to the DEP for a response.

As a result, Treyger said, the DEP conducted a review, meeting with the contractor and also bringing in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over area waterways.

“My sense was that they’re going to review and basically provide greater oversight of the work being done,” said Treyger. “For many years the infrastructure has been an issue here and as we move forward to fix it, we’re not looking to create more environmental disasters. This type of work has to be done in accordance with all environmental regulations and we’re going to make sure that that happens.”

truck1

The vactor truck at work on West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue. (Source: Pete Castro)

But Castro fears the agencies are being less than thorough in their review. Shortly after Treyger met with the DEP, officials from both the DEP and the DEC spoke directly to Castro about his concerns, assuring him they would investigate the spillage and make sure it was in compliance. But instead of investigation, Castro said he received a call from the DEC rep several hours later saying that they had reviewed the operation and concluded it was safe.

“According to his dubious investigation, some guy [from the DEC] just miraculously put his finger in the air and said it’s okay to put that foul oil onto the beach,” said Castro, adding that there was about six hours between the phone calls – four of which was during hours when the trucks were not pumping. “You can get chemical results like that, with a snap of the finger?”

The DEP spokesperson said she did not know of any specific involvement of the DEC in this matter, but said, “I’m sure we’ve been in touch with DEC at some point.” Asked over the course of multiple phone calls if there was knowledge of the contaminants flowing from the pipe, she said, “I have to double check, but don’t forget it’s the sewer system and it has to get out of the sewers. It can be anything.”

She did not have an answer about contamination when we followed up, instead pointing out that the city uses vactor trucks – essentially giant vacuum cleaners that suck out debris, suggesting that there should be no spillage into the waterway. When we noted that there was spillage, as evidenced by video, she reiterated, “We’re doing work out there.” She did not respond to further questions.

Treyger said he requested the DEP hold a meeting in the community in the upcoming weeks to discuss their operations and respond to potential concerns. He said it will be announced soon.

Until then, Castro said he’ll continue to document the filth and hopes to find someone’s help analyzing water samples. In addition to the wildlife and habitat, he’s also concerned about the numerous indigent locals who turn to Coney Island creek to fish for their meals.

“I can’t see it getting much worse. I’m just waiting for the dead fish to pile up,” he said.

bridge

The Belt Parkway is about to get a little more congested, as the highway is slated to lose one lane at Bay Ridge Avenue beginning tomorrow night.

The lane closures will begin at 11:00 p.m., on Friday, May 30. The eastbound and westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge (Exit 1) will be shifted. The eastbound roadway, currently three lanes, will be reduced to two travel lanes. Meanwhile, the two travel lanes of the westbound roadway will be narrowed and shifted to the left-center of the bridge.

These changes are being done to allow for the establishment of a work zone at the existing right and center of the Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge in order to begin the first stage of the bridge rehabilitation.

The bridge’s overhaul is part of the city’s Seven Bridges project, a large-scale renovation of seven spans on the Belt Parkway that began in 2009. Several of the bridges are already near completion, and the beginning of the Bay Ridge Avenue work marks the final phase of the project.

The existing bridge at Bay Ridge Avenue will be reconstructed using pre-cast concrete deck sections. The clearance will be increased to 14-feet 6-inches, which removes the need for clearance signs currently posted for a substandard condition. Also the new deck will eliminate the need for under deck wood shielding, according to a DOT fact sheet on the project.

According to the fact sheet, work on this bridge was slated to begin in June 2013 and wrap up in February of 2015, but a DOT representative told this outlet that it will now be closer to the beginning of 2016. All construction related to the seven bridges project is expected to be completed by mid-2017, with landscaping wrapping up in 2019.

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

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