Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Eye Candy: Progress

Progress 1

Anyone who's followed this blog for the past couple summers will recognize the wall behind this brand-spanking-new Shepard Fairey pasteup that appeared some time Monday morning.

The facade of 60 North 6th Street in Williamsburg has previously hosted two Banksy works: the semi-epic Electric Kids in 2006; And more recently (until Monday), Climbover Girl. You might also recall our near run-in with the Splasher there last winter, and a couple of stencils by Faile.

Fairey (aka "Giant", "OBEY", and sometimes even "Obey Giant") specializes in large screenprints and is an unapologetic Obama supporter. His previous work in the Obama series was similar, but emblazoned with the word HOPE.

In any case, we hope the new pasteup is a good omen for today's Pennsylvania Primary.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Con Ed Admits Brooklyn Power Plant
IS Being Demolished

BMT Power Plant interior gantry crane by Gerald Weinstein, courtesy of www.archiveofindustry.com

Just a month after categorically denying the landmark 1905 Brooklyn Rapid Transit Power Plant was being prepped for demolition, the same Con Edison spokesman has admitted the structure is being torn down. In a March 12th post, we broke the story, speculating as much - but quoting Con Ed's explicit denial.

Friday morning's AM New York print edition ran an article headlined "Plant powers down", in which Chris Olert from the utility's Press Office "confirmed that the building was being demolished". In March, the same Chris Olert told imnotsayin "we're just doing some spring cleaning," and insisting we "don't go spinning this into exotica...we're just cleaning up."

We can't say we're surprised that the plant is being razed, but utility's brazen denial to this blog, followed so soon by a 180-degree change in their story - with no followup to us - is frustrating.

The AM New York piece goes on to quote our friend Mary Habstritt of the Society for Industrial Architecture Archaeology, who says "We are losing a lot of power plants, but this is probably the most stunning. It tells the whole story of our subway system."

The article also mentions the fact that the city's Landmarks Preservation Committee passed over the building for consideration (the article erroneously implies Landmarks considered and "rejected" it - in fact as reported earlier here, they actually declined to consider the property). According to the piece, Landmarks spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon "said it could be reconsidered at a later date."

Unfortunately, "a later date" will almost certainly be too late to save the historic structure.

Community Shocked as Plug Pulled on Historic Power Plant [amny.com]

Kent Avenue Power Plant: Are Renovations Prelude to Demolition?

Con Ed: Give Power Plant to Navy Yard [imnotsayin]

Friday, April 04, 2008

Northside Piers Turns on the Red Lights

northside piers faa warning lights

Like an older sister trying to ruin her little sister's first sleepover by hovering over the party, reminding sis that she's more grown up than you, Northside Piers lorded over the Edge's sales office opening party Thursday night, showing off the brand-new FAA warning lights she sprouted earlier today.

Just a block from the sales office premiere, the Toll Brothers' tower also beamed with a dozen or so apartments left conspicuously lighted. This is the first visible sign of life from within the formerly dark tower, whose Temporary Certificate of Occupancy was issued last week.

Seeing the new aircraft warning lights on the Williamsburg tower for the first time last night was a particular wake up and smell the coffee moment for us. For Brooklynites (outside of downtown), the glowing red beacons are a Manhattan thing - like hovering news choppers, and those convoys of silently-blinking cop cars.

Our little Williamsburg is growing up, and sometimes we hardly even recognize her.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Con Ed: Give Power Plant to Navy Yard

navy yard annex

As exclusively reported here a couple of weeks ago, Con Edison is in the midst of some very heavy-duty "spring cleaning" at the historic BMT Powerhouse at 500 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. Though the utility officially denies prepping the building for demolition, our sources tell us otherwise.

Meanwhile, a November 5th Brownstoner post, confirmed by the New York Post a few weeks later, revealed that the Brooklyn Navy Yard (now a 300-acre, city-owned industrial park) has hatched a plan to fill a long-unused basin at the north end of the Yard, annexing up to 16 additional acres along Kent Avenue including the city vehicle auction lot, a road-salt depot, and a former gas plant site.

Which brings us back to the power plant. The hulking Renaissance Revival structure borders the anticipated Navy Yard annex on two sides, and fits perfectly within the wide range of existing industrial buildings on the former Naval base. The huge, high-ceilinged turbine room could host a set-building business or serve as an additional soundstage for Steiner Studios. The plant is also filled with smaller-scaled industial floors perfect for warehousing or light manufacturing. And the street side fronts directly on the sidewalk, meaning it works with the Navy Yard's proposal to include some retail frontage along the desolate stretch of Kent Avenue.

Handing the powerhouse over to the Navy Yard would avoid the inevitably drawn-out preservation fight: the one where prospective developers insist the structure is too polluted to convert to housing and therefore must be demolished and replaced with a glassy high-rise. Con Ed gets a liability off their books, and the grand old plant gets a second life helping new businesses grow and providing some badly-needed commercial diversity by adding new industrial jobs at a time when blue-collar jobs are rapidly being squeezed out of the city.

Are Renovations Prelude to Demolition? [imnotsayin]

Navy Yard Watch: Multi-Use Complex for Kent Avenue [Brownstoner]

Dredge Report: Brooklyn Gaining Navy Yardage [NY Post]

Pier Review: Northside Pier Nearing Completion


Checking in on progress at the namesake for Toll Brothers' Northside Piers development at Kent Avenue and North 5th Street - the East River jetty now sports a sharp-looking stainless steel railing and an assortment of benches and small tables. No obvious sign of a water-taxi launch from our vantage point.

A couple additional details on the development trickled out in a March 12th article in The Real Deal, an NYC real estate trade publication:
Toll Brothers has no plans of offering free rent for its retail space, as Two Trees Management did back when Dumbo lacked neighborhood amenities...a waterfront restaurant is planned for the second tower, which will have 274 units. That tower will overlook a giant sculpture by local artist Mark Gibian that could be 30 feet tall and weigh eight tons, according to one estimate.

Under city zoning laws, Toll Brothers is required to create a waterfront esplanade on its property along with a pier that contains some shade element, which is how the sculpture came to be.
As sales of units in the nearly-complete tower have slowed (by Toll Brother's own admission), the developer has programmed several arts installations on the property to maintain traffic through its waterfront sales office. The events have included a mid-March fashion show, a performance by the Opera Company of Brooklyn, and curating a show for Slate Gallery in its lobby.

Here's hoping that Toll Brothers allows immediate public access to the new pier as an additional lure to prospective buyers.

Toll Brothers hopes to get Northside Piers back in fashion [The Real Deal]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Smart Car Prototype In Drive-By Shooting;
Crashes Into Concord Street House

triangle car

Happy April Fool's Day! Its actually a Didik Long Ranger - an upgraded version of the Vanguard CitiCar, a street-legal electric car produced in Seabring, Florida in the mid-1970's at the height of the oil crisis. The car is parked in the "yard" of 167 Concord Street in Downtown Brooklyn (aka Albee Square or maybe even RAMBO), the home of inventor Frank Didik. The house, btw, dates from 1762 and according to the owner, was used as part of the Underground Railway.

CitiCar History and Brochure [didik.com]

Albee Square Neighborhood History [forgotten-ny.com]