Archive for the tag 'sheepshead bay rd'

Preliminary rendering of the new building to replace El Greco at 1801 Emmons Avenue. The view is from Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road. (Source: Sergey Rybak)

Preliminary rendering of the new building to replace El Greco at 1809 Emmons Avenue. The view is from Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road. (Source: Sergey Rybak)

EXCLUSIVE: A seven-story condominium building with ground-level retail, abundant parking and a 9,000-square-foot landscaped public plaza will soon be constructed at Sheepshead Bay Road and Emmons Avenue, replacing El Greco Diner, the new owners told Sheepshead Bites in an exclusive interview.

Buyer Sergey Rybak detailed his preliminary plans following the $13 million sale of the 1809 Emmons Avenue property on Friday, which he purchased with partner Jason Reznik under the name 1809 Emmons Avenue LLC. Rybak’s company, Rybak Development, is overseeing construction.

Rybak Development already has a track record in the area. The company is part owner of the MatchPoint NYC sports complex on Shell Road, and is developing several luxury condominium projects in the area, including 3041 Ocean Avenue and 104 West End Avenue, as well as commercial projects like 1810 Voorhies Avenue. Their roster of developments is almost exclusively in Southern Brooklyn.

At the moment, all plans shared with Sheepshead Bites, including the plaza and the layout of the building, are subject to change. The final project, he hopes, will be as-of-right, meaning no approval from the Community Board or Board of Standards and Appeals will be required – but that can change, too.

See more renderings, and learn details of the plan for 1801 Emmons Avenue.

elgreco

UPDATE: See the exclusive renderings for the building the new owners have planned for this space.

El Greco Diner is bustling with nostalgic patrons since news of its impending closure after 40 years of business became public.

“It’s been crazy since you ran the story,” owner George Venetoklis told Sheepshead Bites. “Lines to get in. Too bad we are closing. Packed as we speak.”

Venetoklis said the deal for the 1821 Emmons Avenue location officially closed Friday morning. He declined to name the buyer or the sale price, but Sheepshead Bites learned that Rybak Development purchased the property for $13 million with plans to build a mixed-use property and public plaza. An auction to sell off the restaurant’s equipment is scheduled for late December.

Venetoklis said a sale has been in the works for some time, as he, his brother Peter and mother Anastasia put blood, sweat and tears into keeping it going in a changing community and economy.

“We had a really good run. A lot of businesses, at some point the model just changes. Our model was large portions at good prices. Our food prices were beginning to skyrocket and we couldn’t keep up,” he said. Other economic factors were also at play. “Real estate taxes, labor costs, everything took its toll. As a family, we realized we put in our time. Forty years, it was time to move on.”

A final breakfast of two eggs over easy with sausage and English muffin for this reporter.

A final breakfast of two eggs over easy with sausage and English muffin for this reporter.

El Greco’s owners did mount a search prior to the deal to sell the business and keep it in operation, but they said businesses like theirs have a shrinking place in communities.

“We were looking for a more modern version of the El Greco family to come in and take over,” he said. “I think that [Sheepshead Bay] has been doing well, but it’s just that the larger corporate-run businesses are the ones that have greater longevity and more backing and more ability to do things in a different way. That’s just what the nature of the beast is.”

It wasn’t an easy decision to close the diner. Founded by George’s father Minos in 1974, El Greco’s remained a true family business, where the two brothers were raised and eventually worked to keep the elder Venetoklis’ memory alive 20 years after his passing.

I was three-and-a-half when it opened, and my mother is fighting off tears.” he said. “I have four children … and they were heartbroken. I can understand it because I was basically their age when I was growing up in this restaurant. My 8-year-old turned to me and said, ‘Dad, what are you going to do?’ I said ‘I’ll spend more time with you.’”

Venetoklis said it’s the relationships he makes with customers, employees and business suppliers that he’ll miss the most.

“The highlights have been the customers and the friendships we made. This place has never closed, the business has a life of its own. It doesn’t sleep. And I’ve worked every shift in this place; I’ve seen the neighborhood change. I’ve seen the menu change – we had items that we’ve had to remove because the customers weren’t around to eat them,” he said.

The restaurant, recently named one of the borough’s best diners, was teeming with longtime regulars on Saturday afternoon. Chatter about the pending closure could be overheard at almost every table.

Among the regulars were Marc and Zoya Baroda, a Mill Basin husband and wife who met at the restaurant nearly 20 years ago and who now visit regularly with their three children, ages 6 to 15.

“I worked here as a hostess, and he was the pickle man,” said Zoya. It was 1995, and she got the job because she was a frequent patron. “I grew up here. I came here before I met him, before I worked here, and this was the place to go after a club or a night out and this is where to meet up.”

Marc and Zoya Baroda with their three kids. They say they'll be back again before the restaurant closes for good.

Marc and Zoya Baroda with their three kids. They say they’ll be back again before the restaurant closes for good.

Her future husband made the regular deliveries for Mr. Pickle – which he’ll continue to do until the closing this week.

“He’d flirt, of course. He delivered, and would come to the cashier and I’d have to pay him and he’d flirt,” she said.

It took a vacation out of town to work up the nerve to ask her out, said Marc.

“I was talking, talking and one time when I went on vacation to Mexico, one of the guys who works for me, I told him to tell Zoya when I come back I’m going to be looking for her,” boasted Marc.

He did, and they married two years later. They took their wedding photos inside the restaurant.

“There’s an old joke I used to do with Peter and George after we got married. Every time she got pregnant, I’d tell them the price of the pickles went up,” he laughed.

When they found out it was closing, “I was shocked. I was completely distraught. And my phone has been going off non-stop. My friends who moved out of Brooklyn saying that they have to come to New York to have that last breakfast or lunch or whatever,” said Zoya. “I’m very sad to see the place go, but all good things must come to end.”

“I’m not just losing a diner, I’m also losing a client. But I’m not losing a friend,” he said of Peter and George.

Venetoklis said such sentiments have been endlessly echoed by regulars, and that’s what they’ll remember the most when they lock the diner’s doors for a final time.

“It’s bittersweet. It hurts, but at the same time it feels good,” he said.

Photo By Erica Sherman

Photo By Erica Sherman

UPDATE: See the exclusive renderings for the building the new owners have planned for this space, and hear what the current owners and some patrons will miss the most when El Greco closes.

Sheepshead Bay’s iconic El Greco Diner is set to shutter next week after the property has gone into contract for a sale, making way for a new residential tower with ground-level commercial space, sources tell Sheepshead Bites.

El Greco Diner, a waterfront staple at 1821 Emmons Avenue, will soon serve its last burger and breakfast, an employee confirmed by phone today.

“Yes, we’re closing. By the end of next week. We’re not sure yet [what day],” the employee said.

The worker added that she and colleagues were told just yesterday. She hung up the phone when asked for additional details.

The sale of the property and its closure are not yet public. Owner George Venetoklis did not return calls for comment, but sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed social media chatter, and said that the land has sold to a local developer with plans to construct a new building.

The building was put up for sale in March 2013 with an asking price of $17.5 million. An associate for Massey Knakel Realty Services, the listing agent, told Sheepshead Bites that the company no longer represented the property, but that El Greco’s owners had gone in-contract with a private buyer.

A source with knowledge of the pending sale said the deal hasn’t closed yet, but is in contract for between $13 and $15 million. The source requested anonymity to preserve business relationships with the owner.

“They should be closing shortly,” the source said.

No plans have been filed with the Department of Buildings, and since the deal has not closed there has been no paperwork filed notifying the city in a change of ownership.

El Greco has served Sheepshead Bay patrons since the 1970s, and has been named one of Brooklyn’s best diners. Employees were hit hard by the news of its impending closure, according to diners who visited this morning.

“My wife was there this morning and the employees were all devastated,” said Michael Goldstein, the director of marketing at Kingsborough Community College. “They also told her in secret.”

UPDATE (December 12, 2014 at 2pm): The deal officially closed this morning, confirmed owner George Venetoklis. He did not disclose the sale price or the buyer, but did add that El Greco’s last day of operation is slated for Friday, December 19.

Sure is cold out there today. (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Sure is cold out there. (Photo by Robert Fernandez)

Bills can be a pain for any family. But for those in the most dire need, it can mean choosing between staying warm this winter or putting food on the table.

For those who struggle, help is on the way. The Heartshare Neighborhood Heating Fund is now accepting applications for their program to provide up to $200 a month to put towards keeping warm this winter.

The program was founded by National Grid in 1983 to help low-income families and individuals, and in 1993 was taken over by HeartShare Human Services. It assists more than 1,200 recipients each season, from December through March. To qualify, you must fall within HEAP income guidelines.

Locally, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’ office at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road is once again an official NHF application receiving site. Applications are available at the office now and his staff will assist constituents in his district in completing them.

The NHF program runs until funds are depleted, so residents are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

“The winter is a particularly difficult time for low-income residents who must struggle to cover their basic needs,” said Cymbrowitz in a press release. “I am pleased that the Neighborhood Heating Fund is available to lend a much-needed helping hand.”

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ office is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, and until 5 p.m. on Fridays. You can call and make an appointment at (718) 743-4078 or just walk in.

Update (3:32pm): Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s office is also a designated application center for the NHF. His district office is at 2401 Avenue U. Call (718) 368-9176 to make an appointment.

1524-sheepshead-bay-rd

Contractors were seen installing scaffolding around the demolition site this morning.

Work to install scaffolding and fencing around 1524 Sheepshead Bay Road began this morning, as full demolition of the building is set to make way for a gated entryway to the 30-story luxury condominium tower at 1501 Voorhies Avenue.

Sheepshead Bites was the first to report on the planned demolition two months ago. An application for a demolition permit was filed in August, and the site passed its pre-demolition inspection just yesterday, according to Department of Buildings documents.

The storefront is part of a larger building, all owned by Muss Development, the company behind the Voorhies Avenue tower project, that spans four storefronts including Citibank. Only the one storefront is being demolished.

The building, once known as the Soeller Building, is nearly a century old, and we wrote about its interesting history previously.

The demolition makes way for a gated pedestrian entrance to the tentatively named Voorhies Tower, the 333-foot-tall development that will feature a mix of owned condos and rental units, with the former beginning at $700,000 for a one-bedroom. (See: video of the view from 333-feet above the development site.)

view-tower

The view from 333 feet above the development site.

Behind the gates will be a roundabout driveway leading in from Voorhies Avenue, a 52-space outdoor parking lot, and a 124-car garage that’s part of the building complex, according to local stakeholders that were invited to a closed-door briefing on the project who spoke to Sheepshead Bites in September on the condition of anonymity.

The stakeholders, after being briefed, maintained that they believe the 176 parking spots for 250 residential units plus office space will amplify parking problems in the area. There remain traffic concerns about the complex’s Voorhies Avenue driveway – which is just across the street from the Belt Parkway exit ramp, and which some believe will cause additional backups along the already congested route.

Muss commissioned an independent traffic analysis, which the Department of Transportation is currently reviewing to make potential adjustments to the plan.

The tower plans filed with the Department of Buildings for the tower are still pending review by the agency.

The approximately footprint of the combined properties now owned by Muss Development. (Source: Google Maps)

The approximately footprint of the combined properties now owned by Muss Development. (Source: Google Maps)

 

sprint-1

Thank goodness. Sheepshead Bay Road has what it’s been missing for a whole six months: a Sprint store.

Sure, you could say, “What’s wrong with any of the six other cell phone stores (not to mention the two barber shops that also sell cell phones) on Sheepshead Bay Road?” The answer is, “I don’t know.” But we didn’t have a dedicated Sprint. At least not for the last six months.

Now we do. A Sprint location opened its doors in late November at 1610 Sheepshead Bay Road. It comes after the June closing of a locally-owned Sprint down the block at 1743 Sheepshead Bay Road.

It is good to see the renovated storefront leased. It’s one of the properties owned by Waldorf Realty, which also owns broad swaths of Sheepshead Bay Road that they’re currently renovating (unfortunately leaving several portions looking rundown and vacant). So now that the work is done and it’s filled, it’s one spot on the strip looking a little sunnier.

Welcome (back) to the neighborhood, Sprint.

 

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

Update (4:47pm): I thought these people cared about my health, but apparently they want to give me a heart attack. Moments after this piece was published Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office informed me that the event has been postponed.

Original post:

Worried about your blood pressure? After this week’s elections, we can’t blame you.

Fortunately, you can get it checked out, as well as a have your body mass index, height and weight analyzed at an event tomorrow at Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office.

From 11am to 2pm, medical professionals from SUNY Downstate Medical Center will be at the pol’s 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road district office.

Get your health checked and seek advice from those in the know for no charge at all.

All visits are confidential, but appointments are required. Just call (718) 743-4078 to schedule a visit.

wholesalemarket-1

Sheepshead Bay Road’s Global Wholesale Market may reopen two years after it sold its last apple, as the building is currently undergoing major renovations.

The building at 1414 Sheepshead Bay Road sat silently since the business’ closure in September 2012, nearly a decade after it first opened. But, as any straphanger using the Sheepshead Bay Road subway station has noticed, workers have been on the roof installing new steel support beams.

Photo by Eugene Zhukovsky

Photo by Eugene Zhukovsky

According to paperwork filed with the Department of Buildings, it’s a renovation of an “existing supermarket” with plans to replace the storefronts, reinforce the roof (via the steel columns), and excavate beneath the building to create a cellar.

In terms of usable space created by the new cellar, the building is expanding from 18,350 square feet to 21,600, the maximum allowed by zoning.

wholesalemarket-2

That’s not all. The oddly-shaped lot currently has storefront space on East 14th Street, adjacent to CVS’ parking lot. This will be torn down, according to the plans, and replaced with an 18-car parking lot.

The plot diagram submitted to the Department of Buildings. It will remain a one-story supermarket, but they're adding parking and digging out a basement.

The plot diagram submitted to the Department of Buildings. It will remain a one-story supermarket, but they’re adding parking and digging out a basement.

There’s no word on when the work will be done. The owners – the same as under Global Wholesale Market, according to the paperwork – were not available to comment when we called.

Apparently they’ve gotten into a bit of trouble, though:

wholesalemarket-3

A Department of Buildings spokesperson confirmed that the Stop Work Order is still active, and was issued on September 29 because some demolition and the installation of the structural steel was being done without permits. The only work they’re currently allowed to do is back-fill behind the building, and by hand only. The spokesperson noted that any other work witnessed at the site should be reported immediately to 311.

While we’re sure that will slow down the work, we’re still happy to see this space being put back to use. We’ll keep you posted if we hear back about an opening date.

coffee-spot

Local businesses in Sheepshead Bay don’t often go all out with holiday decorations, unfortunately. The exception is Coffee Spot Cafe at 1617 Jerome Avenue, which usually has something up for every major holiday. And this year you could say they’re Putin up a hell of a show. Eh? Ehhh?

The business put up a a rather creepy window decal of Russian President Vladimir Putin, complete with vampiric fangs and pointed ears. “Happy Halloween To The World,” the vampire-in-chief declares, presumably before annexing it and sucking it dry, or something.

The store went all out on the inside, as well, with decorations dangling all about. Tall people beware, you might have to bow your head not to get whacked by a fuzzy spider.

Threats to the vertically endowed aside, we’re glad to see this local business getting into the holiday spirits. Happy Halloween, Coffee Spot and President Putin!

Thanks to Lenny M. for the heads up.

 

e16thst

THE COMMUTESheepshead Bay has been the victim of over-development.

Development itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it is good for the economy. However, when development occurs, the infrastructure must also be improved.

Block after block, the neighborhood has seen one-family homes replaced by six-family condos. Several new mid-rise developments have also appeared on or near Sheepshead Bay Road and more are planned. This has placed a strain on traffic, especially along the narrow 18th Century Sheepshead Bay Road, formerly known as Shore Road.

In the 19th Century, our city forefathers planned a numbered street grid system that revolutionized our roads. Sheepshead Bay Road, however, predated that grid. The surface Manhattan Beach Railway, which operated passenger service until 1922, ran along East 17th Street south of Avenue X, (which is why that portion of the street is wider than the rest) and along the western fork near Jerome Avenue cutting through the super block soon to be developed with a luxury high-rise. The railway extended along the Brighton line and between what is now West End Avenue and Corbin Place to Manhattan Beach, serving the area’s two luxury (Manhattan Beach and Oriental) hotels.

That is the reason East 16th Street dead-ends at Sheepshead Bay Road and does not continue until the other side of Voorhies Avenue.

Normally, when superblocks are created, the adjacent streets are widened to accommodate the displaced traffic from eliminated streets. In this case, no street was eliminated, only some railroad tracks. In 1922, automobile traffic was still sparse and the word “superblock” did not even exist until large housing projects made them commonplace decades later. Sheepshead Bay Road, a street lined mostly with small hotels, was never widened, as traffic increased and those hotels were demolished or as residences were converted to storefronts.

Currently, there are a half dozen vacant storefronts on the northeast corner of Sheepshead Bay Road and Voorhies Avenue, suggesting more development in the near future, increasing traffic even more. Traffic on Voorhies Avenue is already a nightmare every Monday through Friday after 3pm, with a dozen cars lined up on East 18th Street waiting to make a right turn onto Voorhies Avenue. (A left turn is all but impossible.)

Changes are needed.

More History

When I proposed the rerouting of the B49 in 1978 from Ocean Avenue to replace the B1 along Sheepshead Bay Road, I suggested it operate on the circuitous northbound route it currently uses, including Shore Parkway and East 14th Street, because it was three or four minutes quicker than Sheepshead Bay Road. It was tabled for 30 years, and by that point the time saved had been diminished. The roundabout route is just as dreadful as along Sheepshead Bay Road. Instead it was implemented recently due to cars constantly standing in the no standing zone on Sheepshead Bay Road, and, with the lack of traffic enforcement, it became more difficult for two buses to pass simultaneously.

My proposed routing no longer saves three or four minutes. The rerouting from Ocean Avenue, instead of merely adding five minutes to the B49 as it did in 1978, now can add as much as 15 minutes for through riders when compared to the pre-1978 route. Therefore, I now believe we need some special buses during school hours or an additional bus route bypassing the subway station as it did prior to 1978. However, that is a subject for another article.

The point is that with each new development, traffic gets worse. What if the city decides to sell both municipal parking lots and add still more commercial development as they have done on Kings Highway and are doing in Flushing? What if the El Greco site is developed with another high-rise as has been long rumored (with no substantiation)? We will find out about it when it is too late. What will happen to traffic after five new high-rises are constructed near Sheepshead Bay Road? We could have gridlock.

Let’s Not Lose an Opportunity

Right now, with the proposed luxury condos at 1501 Voorhies Avenue, near Sheepshead Bay Road, we have the opportunity to extend East 16th Street to Voorhies Avenue and the north Shore Parkway service road. (A traffic reversal on the service road between East 16th Street and Sheepshead Bay Road would also be required. A redesign of the highway exit would also help.)

We do not need a private pedestrian walkway as currently proposed. A new street could be accomplished even with a gated entrance (though it would be a little more difficult) and should be a requirement before any development takes place there. Our local elected officials must insist on it. (Are you listening, Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and State Senator Marty Golden?)

A continuation of southbound East 16th Street would enable a conversion of Sheepshead Bay Road to northbound only between the Shore Parkway North service road and Jerome Avenue. It would also permit a simplified B49 bus routing with northbound service returning to Sheepshead Bay Road and southbound service able to use the new East 16th Street. The northbound B4 would be able to use Sheepshead Bay Road as well, with the southbound route also using East 16th Street.

The possibility also exists to widen Sheepshead Bay Road between the Shore Parkway north service road and Emmons Avenue since the Belt Parkway Bridge is slated for reconstruction. All that is required is a slight modification of existing design plans and a few more dollars. No demolition would be required. Note that Nostrand Avenue will be widened when that bridge is reconstructed. Why not widen Sheepshead Bay Road under the Belt Parkway? Extending East 16th Street would have occurred when the Manhattan Beach Railway tracks were ripped up if the city had any foresight. Let us not condemn future generations to saying we had no foresight back in 2014.

In Other News

Last month saw the passing of transit and community activist (and my friend) Dr. John Rozankowski at age 61. If that name is at all familiar, it is because John substituted for me on The Commute on three occasions when I was on vacation. He also wrote for the blog Welcome to the Bronx for the past eight months and for Suite 101 prior to that. He received his PHD in history and was also very active in the successful campaign of Letitia James for Public Advocate, who attended the wake, spoke and stayed until it was over. Obituaries for John appeared in Welcome to the Bronx and the NY Daily News.

His wake was a tribute to race and age relations, an old white Polish gentleman with so many young black and Latino friends. At least 25 people spoke about the man, many with tears in their eyes. At least 50 attended. It was a very moving experience. He was a selfless Republican Conservative who did not let politics get in the way of what he believed in. His only interest was in making the world a better place. That is something we could all learn from.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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