The past few weeks residents of Clinton Hill have not only had to deal with inclement weather, but an increased number of car break-ins, causing concern.
“My wife was passing by and told me that the window is broken, and it’s the second time, actually,” said one resident.
The police say that during the past 10 days or more, they have received about seven reports of cars which were broken into, with broken windows, along Clinton Avenue. Residents themselves claim there have been many more, probably at least a dozen during that time span.
“It’s really curious. Every day, I’ve seen five or six car windows at least, just on this street alone, for the past two weeks,” said a second person.
“In the middle of the night, we hear car alarms going off all night, because I’m up with the baby. So I’m up, and I hear them all night long. Yeah, it’s been a consistent thing,” a third resident said.
One person has been taken into custody so far by the police; 48-year-old Kerry Blackwell. Blackwell has been charged in connection with four of the break-ins. Police are still conducting surveillance of the area and the probability of more arrests is high.
Iconic Clinton Hill building dubbed the Broken Angel was finally sold after one year on the market for $4.1 million. The story of this property and its recent sale begins when the owner, artist Arthur Wood, and his late wife, Cynthia, added homemade installations and stained glass windows to the building.
In 2006 the building was found to be not up to code. Wood tried to fund the necessary renovations with a condominium conversion, but the conversion failed. Madison Realty Capital took over the property, which is located at 4-8 Downing Street after Wood defaulted on a $4 million loan.
Last February the building was listed for sale at the asking price of $4.5 million. The new owners are Barrett Design & Development, a Brooklyn-based development company. Barrett is planning to move ahead with conversion to a condominium.
“We are thrilled to begin work on this important project. The property has a great deal of history, dating back to its construction as a walk-up apartment building in the 1880s,” Alex Barrett, founder of Barrett Design, said.
During just the past two months Clinton Hill has welcomed at least six new businesses into its apparently booming commercial district. Once known as “Murder Avenue” due to the rampant violence in the neighborhood, today Clinton Hill is brimming with new shops and the shoppers to go with them.
The recently opened retailers include a tobacconist, wine-seller and a barbecue house. They have all opened up along Myrtle Avenue within a half-mile of each other, between Carlton and Classon Avenues. Six more stores are also due to open soon.
“It’s amazing that I’m raising my family here and I’m happy to do so,” said Theo Peck, owner of the newly opened specialty food shop and deli, Peck’s. Peck first penetrated the neighborhood in 1995 when he rented an old theater basement for a few months. At the time he needed an inexpensive place as a workshop while he was building a bar on the Lower East Side. He still remembers his feeling of fear waiting for the G train at night on his way back home to Manhattan.
Now Peck has a real presence in this up and coming area, minus the scare factor.
“I walk home, and sometimes I feel like I’m in high school — I say ‘hello’ to so many people,” said the Fort Greene resident, who lives on nearby Clermont Avenue.
Improvements in the neighborhood have come at a slower pace than in some adjacent neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights and Park Slope. In those places the opening of the Barclays Center put unprecedented pressure on the area, forcing rents through the ceiling. That allowed Clinton Hill to remain relatively affordable at about $37 per square foot of retail space per month. Lower rents have allowed the neighborhood to keep its eclectic flavor with a mixture of hardware stores, nail salons, and restaurants.
Michael Blaise Backer, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership said,
“The effort is to make the corridor meet the shopping needs of everyday residents. We’re not trying to compete with the area around the Barclays.”
If you think that a kid’s dream has something to do with Disneyland, ice cream or endless summer vacations, think again. In this particular case “A Kid’s Dream” refers to an innovative place for children (and I’m thinking mostly children of the girl persuasion) to relax and beautify a la their moms at a spa or what the old folks call a ‘beauty parlor.’
The brainchild of 34-year-old Sharon Doldron, “A Kid’s Dream” will pamper children with haircuts, manicures, facials, and more for anywhere from $6 for a manicure to $25-$125 for a haircut. Doldron says she thought of starting a salon for children when she noticed the lack of such a service in the area.
But “A Kid’s Dream” is striving to be a lot more than just a place to get ‘beautified.’ According to Doldron the spa, located on the street level floor of The Emerson building at 549 Myrtle Avenue, “aims to give children a safe zone for self-expression and creativity using beauty and wellness as an effective modality for helping children in a new and innovative way.”
Girls, I mean kids, put on plush robes and comfy slippers and get to use iPads which are loaded up with educational games, only. Just in case you thought there was some kind of wrong message being sent about the value of looks over brains, the iPads are there because, as a spokesman for the company so aptly put it: “The theme is to combine hair services with the opportunity for kids to receive education.”
Not only is the spa promoting the importance of education, but it is also a place for a bit of parent-child (mother-daughter?) quality time. As Doldron, a Fort Greene resident and mother explained,
“I wanted to create a place where children and their parents can go together. Our services are generally for kids, but adults can get a cut or wash alongside their child, too.”
If it’s anything it’s unique. Parent-child manicures, haircuts and facials. A Kid’s Dream is definitely a new way to spend time together.
In a move that many hope will be the beginning of the revitalization of the Flushing neighborhood in Queens, the long-empty RKO Keith’s theater building was purchased for $30 million. The buyer, Jerry Karlik’s JK Equities plans to build a 17-story multipurpose tower at the 135-35 Northern Boulevard location.
The previous owner was investor Patrick Thompson. Thompson had purchased the theater in 2010 for $20 million from the Puerto Rico-based Doral Bank.
Kenneth Zakin, who represented both parties in the sale, said that “the building, vacant for over 20 years, is the development linchpin of northern Flushing, and its rebirth will eventually drive growth for the whole area.”
The development plan has already been OK’d by the city and community leaders. It calls for a 407,000 square-foot building with 357 apartments, 17,000 square-feet dedicated to shopping and a place for senior citizens.
The Clinton Hill post office has been located on Myrtle Avenue since 1950, but 64 years of residency does not guarantee its remaining in this location forever. Due to the expiration of their lease and the landlord’s plan to do something else with the space, the Clinton Hill post office is being forced to move.
The move is due to take place early this year, and this has residents of Clinton Hill worried in case the post office ends up being far away.
“As you can see, I can’t walk that good,” said 81-year-old Sheila McRee. She was walking with difficulty down the three steps to the entrance of the Clinton Hill post office. “So it would be a problem.”
Residents fear that the post office may be forced to move to the Cadman Plaza office building in Brooklyn Heights, making it quite inconvenient.
“I can’t get up all those steps,” Edna Grant, 74, of Clinton Hill said. “It’s terrible trying to get up in there.”
The post office branch in Boerum Hill is facing the same issue.
Neighbors on Fulton Street may be happy to see the Clinton Hill funeral home go the way of its clientele. The home is being demolished to make way for a six-story Karl Fischer-designed building. The funeral home, which is at 1045-1047 Fulton Street, near Downing Street, will be demolished to make way for a planned apartment complex that should hold 28 units. It will include 21,048 square feet of residential space and will have private terraces and bicycle storage.
No one knows yet if the building will be rentals or condos, but it should be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. for ideas of the type of designs Fischer does, look at the condo conversion at 163 Washington Avenue.