A Moment In Time: Alfresco

Court Street at lunch time on this balmy last day of February.

Sure Signs Of Spring In Carroll Gardens

Punxsutawney Phil was right all along. It won't be long now, neighbors. The first signs of spring are already evident all over Carroll Gardens. All you have to do is look for them. Soon, we will be able to put aside coats, hats and mittens.
And if nature hasn't convinced you yet that spring is around the corner, perhaps the Easter marzipan lambs in Court Street Pastry Shop's window will do the trick.

Best Comment Of The Day: Sad!

Anonymous has left the following comment on the post "Gowanus Whole Foods Taking Shape":
"Yes sad! And we have Landmarks and CB6 to hold accountable.CB6 and the Landmarks commissions, who spend endless hours fussing over drawings of barely viable rear-yard constructions by private homeowners, allow this. They didn't even ask Whole Foods for one single drawing of what the big-box store would look like engulfing this Landmarked building. They made their landmark decision with blinders on and and it certainly says a lot about what their decisions are worth."

Red Hook's Fairway Looking Ready For The Big Re-Opening Tomorrow

 photo credit: Nasreen B.

Fairway seems ready for its big re-opening tomorrow, judging by the stocked outside produce section is already restocked and the yellow lines in the parking lot.
The Red Hook supermarket has been closed since the end of October, when Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on this waterfront community.
Like many others, the Civil War era-building that houses Fairway suffered major water damage. After months of reparation and renovation, Fairway is ready for business again.
Are you looking forward to the grand re-opening?
What have you missed most?  The cheese counter, the produce, the fresh seafood or the meat section?

My friend and PMFA reader Nasreen was down in Red Hook this morning and took the photos above.
Thanks, Nasreen.

Picture Of The Day: Gowanus Graffiti

On Second Street and the Gowanus

"Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride" Screening Tonight At Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture

Zipper, a documentary about "greed, politics, land use and public policy' and the battle over Coney Island and the future of the 'people's playground" will be screening at the Brooklyn Society For Ethical Culture  tonight, Wednesday, February 27, 2013, at 7:00 pm at 53 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn,
For more screening information, click here.

If you miss the event tonight, another screening of the film will take place this Friday afternoon, March 1 from 3 to 5 PM at the Loews Village VII 66 3rd Avenue, New York, NY. Buy tickets here.

Directed and produced by Amy Nicholson,  Zipper is a must see for all Brooklynites and for all those who miss the old Coney.
To read more about Zipper, click here.

Gowanus Whole Foods Taking Shape

Construction of the future Gowanus Whole Foods Market at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street has progressed at a steady clip in the last few weeks. Crews have been busy driving long piles into the ground and the steel frame of the 56,000 s.f. organic market appears to be mostly completed.

Prior to construction, the approximately 2.15 acre site was remediated under the Brownfield Clean-Up Program under the supervision of the New York State Department Of Environmental Conservation. The work included excavation and disposal of soils impacted with contaminants, the removal of underground tanks, ground water monitoring, the installation of a soil cover consisting of several feet of new fill and a layer of gravel to cap the site.

 One can only hope that the remediation will not be affected by the construction work. After all, the long piles are being driven deep into the ground through the protective soil cap, which is meant to protect from residual contamination.
And there seems to be plenty of digging through the clean fill as evidenced by the photo below taken by Martin Bisi last week.

Whole Foods Gowanus -mounds of dirt
The Whole Foods site along 3rd Street. Photo taken by Martin Bisi

Now that the steel structure is almost completed, it has become evident how completely the new Whole Foods market will wrap around the historic Coignet building.
The landmarked structure, which shares the site with Whole Foods, was not part of the original land purchase.  However, under the sales agreement with owner, Richard Kowalski, of Beach Haven, N.J., Whole Foods agreed to restore and repair the old building. That work has yet to start.

In January 2012, despite objection of preservationists, Whole Foods was granted a special dispensation from the New York City Landmarks Law to reduce the size of the Coignet building lot from 125 feet to 55 feet on the 3rd Avenue side, and from 55 feet to 40 feet on the 3rd Street side.

Just recently, owner Kowalski has put the Coignet building up for sale or lease.

Upcoming Meeting Of EPA Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group

The EPA Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG) will be meeting on Tuesday
Feb. 26 at 6:30 PM at Mary Star of the Sea Senior Housing, 41 1St Street.
The meeting will focus on the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP), which was released in late 2012.

Just a reminder: the EPA will be accepting public comments on the PRAP till the end of April 2013.
Written comments on the proposed plan should be addressed to:

Christos Tsiamis
Project Manager
Central New York Remediation Section
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
e-mail: GowanusCanalComments.Region2@epa.gov
OR, contact Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator, at 212-637-3639,

Also, for those interested, the CAG Archaeology Committee will meet on February 27th, 6:30 pm at Proteus Gowanus, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn
On the agenda: Review of PRAP and EPA archaeology documents.
All CAG meetings are open to the community.

Halstead Property Closes Office At 206 Court Street In Cobble Hill. High End Houseware Store Moving In?

Though it seems that there is a new realty office opening in the neighborhood every other week, here is news that one is closing.
Almost exactly a year ago, Halstead Property bought Cobble Heights Realty at 206 Court Street in Cobble Hill as well as Heights Berkeley Realty at 76 7th Avenue in Park Slope.

Though Halstead already has an office on Court Street, just blocks away at 162 Court Street, it kept both locations open for a year.  However, it has just closed the office at 206 Court Street and is directing everyone to its existing location at the corner of Amity Street.

A real estate source informed me that "the deal was originally made just so Douglas Elliman could get the corner location in Park Slope formerly occupied by Heights Berkeley Realty."

What's more interesting for Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens residents is that the tipster also informed PMFA that a high end houseware store is coming to the Court Street location.
That's great news. We sure could use one.

Love, Gowanus Style: Mallard Couple Seems Happy On Canal


Can we look forward to ducklings in the Gowanus Canal in a few weeks?
On a walk across the Union Street Bridge yesterday, I spotted a pair of Mallards on the shores of the Gowanus Canal.  One cannot imagine a worse place for wildlife than the Gowanus Canal, which has been polluted for over a century, but the duck couple seemed to be rather comfortable in this environment. The female even followed the drake into the foul water for a swim, before jumping onto a log and cleaning herself.

According to Wikipedia:
"Mallards usually form pairs (in October and November) only until the female lays eggs at the start of nesting season which is around the beginning of spring, at which time she is left by the male who joins up with other males to await the moulting period which begins in June."

Perhaps the Gowanus Canal is far from the ideal place to rear one's young, but the waterway does seem to at least partly fit the requirements for an ideal duckling nursery.

"When seeking out a suitable nesting site, the female's preferences are areas that are well concealed, inaccessible to ground predators, or have few predators nearby. This can include nesting sites in urban areas such as roof gardens, enclosed courtyards, and flower boxes on window ledges and balconies more than one story up, which the ducklings cannot leave safely without human intervention."

As cute as it would be to see ducklings swimming on our canal, the idea is just a bit unsettling.  I would feel so much better if the Gowanus were already cleaned up.

Bareburger Taking Shape On Court Street

It looks as though it won't be too long until Bareburger in Cobble Hill will be open for business.  The new eatery at 145 Court Street is diagonally across from Trader Joe's and the new Chipotle.

Like the original Bareburger, which got its start in Astoria, Queens, back in 2009, this outpost of the micro-chain of burger restaurants will be "serving food made of organic ingredients free of hormones, pesticides and other unsavory elements."

Customers will be able to create their own burger by choosing either beef, lamb, wild boar, elk, bison or ostrich and pairing it either with brioche, multi-grain roll or tapioca rice bun, to name just a few of the choices.   For vegetarians, Bareburger offers fresh salads.
Click here  to check out the entire menu.

Sounds great, though of course, there already are quite a few burger joints on Court Street.

This location was previously occupied by Immigrant Travel, a middle eastern store which sold suitcases, clothing, perfume and newspapers.

Picture Of The Day: Sunset On Columbia

 On Columbia Street
Cranes in the distance at sunset.

Estate Planning Seminar For The Sandwich Generation At Carroll Gardens Library

No doubt the topic of estate planning for the sandwich generation will be of interest to many here in the neighborhood. If you haven't already delved into the subject, this seminar, held at the Carroll Gardens Library might be just what you need to get started.

Sandwiched between responsibilities: caring for your children, as well as worrying about an elderly family member? Statistics show that nearly 10 million Americans are considered to be a part of the “Sandwich Generation”, with over 25% of American families being involved in both child and elder care at the same time. And while it may not seem possible to add one more item to an overstuffed to-do list, estate planning is all about “being prepared”. Financial planner Kerri Kimball is joined by attorney Alison Arden Besunder on March 6, 6:30 p.m. at the Carroll Gardens Library for a comprehensive discussion of the ins and outs of essential documents which are frequently procrastinated on.
Nearly every family has taboos about talking about money. But now is the time to tackle these issues so that our loved ones aren’t left in the dark. Some simple steps taken now can provide peace of mind that our families’ finances are secure,” says financial planner Kerri Kimball.
Topics discussed will first and foremost include how to discuss estate planning issues with elderly relatives. As many participants have children of their own, choosing a guardian to take care of your children and your children’s assets will be addressed as well. And everyone needs to protect the ability to make health care decisions. The special needs of non-citizens or dual citizens will be included.

Registration is required at http://estateplanbrooklyn.eventbrite.com/ to guarantee seating. Light refreshments will be served. The seminar will be held in the auditorium (basement) of the Carroll Gardens Library, 396 Clinton Street at Union Street. Closest subway: F train to Carroll Street. 

This free event is hosted by Corcoran Group Real Estate agents Justine Torchio and Chris DiChiaro. Justine, is a native and current resident of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn who volunteers with the Friends of the Carroll Gardens Library. Chris has been a resident of Carroll Gardens for the past seven years and has a family-owned retail boutique on Court Street. Also hosting is the Friends of the Carroll Gardens Library.

About Alison Arden Besunder: Alison Arden Besunder is the founder and principal attorney of Arden Besunder P.C., an estate planning and litigation practice in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Alison has spent fifteen years practicing law in the New York City. She focuses her practice in the areas of Trusts and Estate Planning, Elder Law, Estate Litigation, Commercial Litigation and Intellectual Property. Alison is a member of the Trusts and Estates and Elder Law Sections of the New York State Bar Association and the NYSBA Animals and the Law Committee. She is an accomplished writer on a variety of legal topics, with articles published in the New York Law Journal, Managing Intellectual Property, and the Suffolk Lawyer, and is also an active volunteer with the Jewish Association of Services for the Aged (JASA).

Acout Kerri Kimball: The Vice President of the Element Financial Group, Kerri Kimball knows that keeping ones family secure is a universal need. Kerri is a certified financial planner, Investment Advisor Representative, and Life and Health Insurance Agent. She serves as co-chair of the Leadership Advisory Board of the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York and is also a member of Financial Planning Association, 85 Broads, National Ethics Association, and Executive Moms. Kerri speaks French and Spanish, and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Bring Your Broken Thing To The Fixers Collective This Thursday


The folks of the Gowanus Fixers Collective, "the social experiment in improvisational fixing and mending," are ready to help you fix your broken gadget. The Fixers will be meeting at Proteus Gowanus, 543 Union Street #1C this Thursday at 7 PM.
Here is more info:
"Bring your broken thing and get some help with the fixing — or help others. Sewing, computers, electric lamps, old shoes – you name it, the Fixers Collective will try to fix it! If you have questions before you come in, email info@fixerscollective.org."

Fixers Collective Meets This Week
Thursday, February 21, 7pm
 543 Union Street #1C
$5 admission

Water And Sewer Service Line Protection Program: Worth It Or Not To Brownstone Brooklyn Owners?

Row of Brooklyn townhouses
A few days ago, I received an offer from American Water Resources (AWR),  an exclusive provider of a water and sewer service line protection program for NYC Department Of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The offer from AWR came with a letter from DEP stating that: "Many New York City homeowners are not aware that repairs to the lines that run from their home's exterior to the mains in the street are their responsibility.  Recognizing that many residents are unprepared for the potentially high cost of repairs and that most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover these costs, DEP is pleased to introduce new programs to protect homeowners like you from such unexpected expenses."
"Aging pipes, invasive tree roots, and even seasonal changes can cause a break to your water line or a blockage to your server line.  Typical water line repairs cost New York homeowners between $3,000 and $5,000 while an average sewer line replacement costs between $10,000 and $15,000."

The insurance offered by AWR is $ 11.98 a month for both water and sewer line protection.  Individual water service line and sewer service line protection plans are also available.  The monthly fee is added to the DEP water bill.

This certainly sounds like an interesting offer for Brooklyn brownstone owners, but it would be interesting to get some feedback from those who have already signed up.
 Is it a good deal?  Are the repair estimates mentioned by DEP correct? Do you have any experience with AWR?  Have you ever put in a claim?

St. Paul's Hosting Food Drive To Help Stock Local Food Pantry

For lent, St. Paul's Episcopal Church at Clinton and Carroll Street is hosting a food drive to help out First Presbyterian Church on Henry Street, which operates a food pantry.

Please consider contributing as even small donations make a big impact.Here are the details:
St. Paul's Lenten Food Drive
 The First Presbyterian Church on Henry Street runs a food pantry on Thursday mornings. They distribute food to over 100 families. St. Paul’s is sponsoring a food drive to aid them in their important work. 

Our last food drive was an over-whelming success, help us repeat this performance.
Food Bank for New York estimates that 1.4 million New Yorkers — the majority of whom are women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities — rely on soup kitchens and food pantries. Growing numbers of college educated and middle class citizens are feeling the pinch too. 
For more information about hunger in the city go to the Website:http://www.foodbanknyc.org.

Join us in helping to alleviate this problem by contributing a different food item each week. We will be accepting your donations on Sunday after 11:00 a.m. Mass, Tuesday between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.and Saturdays 2 p.m. to 4 p.m
Donation boxes will be located just inside the church. St. Paul’s is located at 199 Carroll St, the church’s entrance is on Clinton St. 
February 17th - the First Sunday of Lent –Canned Vegetables
February 24th - the Second Sunday of Lent –Pasta and Spaghetti Sauce
March 3rd - the Third Sunday of Lent –Tuna, Chili, Canned Salmon (Protein)March 10th - the Fourth Sunday of Lent –Canned Soup
March 17th - the Fifth Sunday of Lent –1lb bags of Rice
March 24th - Palm Sunday –CerealPalm Sunday April 1st Protein –Tuna Fish, Mackerel, Chili, Chicken

Picture Of The Day: Brooklyn Valentine

Wishing you all a very Happy Valentines Day!
Love, Katia

Checking Out Hunter's On Smith Street

If you haven't yet checked out Hunter's on Smith Street in Boerum Hill,  you should definitely stop by the next time you are looking for a casual place to dine.
The seasonal American restaurant and bar opened late last year, but in just a few short months, Hunter's has become a favorite spot in the neighborhood and has found its place amidst Smith Street's culinary scene.
Co-owners Fernando Camberos and Angelo Schifilliti, two childhood friends, and their partner Michael Nee have transformed the space that was previously occupied by a Greek restaurant into a cosy 'lodge', complete with framed wildlife prints. The theme extends to the bar, which offers cocktails named "The Smoking Gun" and "Wile E. Coyote" and "Handsome Hound". (The restaurant's muse is Schifilliti's beagle, Hunter.)

The menu is created by Schifilliti, the former Executive Chef at Landmarc Tribeca and Nee. Many of the ingredients are sourced locally. The cheese, for example, comes from Stinky's next door.
Some of the must-haves are the Grilled Kale, served with roasted squash, puffed chickpeas and egg.  Also try the fresh house-made pastas.  The Papardelle is served with boar ragu and wild mushroom. And according to Peter Shelsky of Shelsky's,  the Bourbon mustard served with some of the appetizers is simply amazing.
Pair your meal with wines from the Finger Lakes or with one of the many local craft beers on the drink menu.

Hunter's is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday through Sunday. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays.

And if you need a coffee fix, Hunter's now serves Blue Bottle 'pour over' coffee that you can order to go.  (One word: amazing!)

Hunter's is really a welcomed addition to the neighborhood. Stop by and try it soon.

213 Smith Street
(between Douglass and Butler Streets)
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 246-2221
connect to Hunter's on Facebook