It’s hard to miss the freestanding Stuyvesant Heights Mansion, at 375 Stuyvesant Avenue, given its stately presence and large lot. (Read about the building’s incredible history here.) Now, renderings have surfaced for a proposal to erect a five-story apartment building at the back of the property. The property once held a stable house used by Bread Love as a cafe, but it was destroyed in 2014 due to a fire. DXA Studio first applied for permits to build the separate 7,386 square-foot structure, to be divided among seven units, last summer.
Now the actual design proposal will be presented to Community Board Three’s Landmarks Committee. Their meeting will be held at CB3’s board office, on the second floor of 1360 Fulton Street, this upcoming Monday February 12th at 6:30pm. The meeting is open to the public, and board members will have the opportunity to voice either concern or support of the proposal. After that, DXA Studio will need approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before moving ahead with construction. Below, an image of the site as it currently looks.
Images via DXA Studio
Earlier this week Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. joined the Brooklyn Public Library to celebrate the re-opening of Marcy Library, located right off Dekalb. The branch had been closed for 18 months. During that time, there was a $1.5 million renovation to install a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. On top of that, the BPL refreshed and modernized the library with paint, new tables, chairs and shelving, additional computers, enhanced lighting and signage. There’s also a modernized children’s area with new furniture and an interactive activity wall.
According to the BPL, over the next 10 years one third of BPL’s system (including Marcy Library) will have been rebuilt or renovated.
Councilman Cornegy, who kicked off the re-opening celebration by reading a story to kindergarten and first grade classes from PS 54, called the Marcy Library “a great resource to the people of Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights for over 100 years,” adding, “It was important to me to ensure the funding necessary to make these upgrades was provided. I am extremely pleased to see it reopened today with improved facilities and even more tools to facilitate learning.”
Photos by Fritzi Bodenheimer for BPL
The landlord review site Whose Your Landlord, which just happens to be a start-up based in Bed-Stuy, is hosting an event this Thursday for folks hopeful to find roommates and meet other renters in the neighborhood.
The company’s Speed Roomating event is designed to “Meet other young renters in Brooklyn; Make new friends and meet your next roommate; Get your rental questions answered; Sip on wine and craft drinks; Enjoy the amazing foods by Chef Day.” It’s happening this Thursday, from 6:30pm to 9pm, and the location (which will be local) will be revealed upon RSVPing. Tickets just cost $7.
Interested? You can RSVP and buy your tickets here!
A start-up Brooklyn spice purveyor, Breukelen Rub, is coming to the neighborhood this Saturday to host a free pop-up event. At 382 Tompkins Street, between 10:30am and 3pm, the company is hosting an “eat and greet” with three industry professionals. You’ll be able to buy Breukelen Rub’s locally-made spices, watch cooking demonstrations and eat free food, and participate in door prizes and a raffle. Besides spices, there will also be apparel, body care, jewelry and home goods for sale.
You can pre-register for the event over at Eventbrite.
Moe Gabr, his wife and two children moved to the neighborhood in 2010. And though his background is in interior design (his firm is Gabr Design) he started eyeing spots around the neighborhood to open a cafe. The perfect space to do it was at 571 Greene Avenue, a white box located right off Von King Park. Moe completely redesigned the space into a chic but comfortable coffee shop, which opened as Little Roy Coffee Co. in February of last year.
“We wanted to extend the experience of the park,” he said of the location–and all seats from the cafe look out toward the green space. Because the park is mostly surrounded with residential blocks, he felt it was the ideal spot to add a commercial element. And given Moe’s design background, much of the interior detail is custom, including the lighting and wainscoting. “It’s a contemporary feel that compliments the traditional architecture of the neighborhood,” he said.
The menu includes Third Wave Coffee, pastries from Saraghina, plus all the typical cafe fare. There’s food, too, and it’s influenced by Moe’s Egyptian roots. Menu items include hummus, tabbouleh, shakshuka and sandwiches. One of the drinks on the menu, the Helba Latte, was inspired by Egyptian flavors and includes fenugreek, ginger and turmeric.
Since opening about a year ago, “we’ve had a lot of support and now have a lot of regulars,” Moe said. But given the location off the park and away from the major commercial strips, he wants to get the word out to more locals. “We’re rooted in the community,” he said, “The challenge now is just to get more people to know us.” So go check the spot out! And for all you work-from-home types, Little Roy has a relaxed atmosphere and free wi-fi that makes it a nice spot to drink, eat and work away on your computer.
Waleed Cope was born and raised in Bed-Stuy, with his father operating the laundromat at 105 Saratoga Avenue since 1962. But after Waleed’s father retired in recent years, he decided to come “back to my roots” to run the family business with his wife.
The laundromat is a crucial–and often beloved–business in any New York neighborhood. Waleed didn’t plan to change too much at the establishment his father built. But he decided to innovate off the existing business to make it easier for the Bed-Stuy residents who sought to get out of doing their laundry. The result was The Soap Box, a walk-in and mobile app that offers fast, easy laundry and dry cleaning service. “My dad laid this huge foundation for us,” he says, “And the idea was to build on top of that.”
The Soap Box opened just across the street from the laundromat, at 110 Saratoga. It’s a simple space for dropping off and picking up, but the idea is that Soap Box users don’t have to set foot in the door. Walking in, the space operates for regular drop-off service. But the app allows you to arrange pick-ups and drop-offs right to your door, so you never have to step inside a laundromat. Waleed compared it to an Uber ridesharing app, where you can punch in your address and get notifications when the driver is on the way, either to pick up dirty clothes or drop them off clean.
Waleed’s business attitude is to “be as personable as possible.” They’re in constant contact with their clients about scheduling, pick-ups, or the random baby bottle that they find in a laundry pile. But ultimately, “the goal for each customer is consistency, so they have the same experience with us every time,” Waleed says.
The Soap Box currently serves the neighborhood and locations around Brooklyn. Waleed hired a local workforce and remains involved in the community and local business scene. For him, the “sense of community and belonging” is still strong in the neighborhood, as it was when he dad ran the laundromat. So if you’ve got better things to do than laundry, be sure to look into the super convenient, local services of The Soap Box!
The cost to use the app for pickup and drop off is $1.10 per pound. If you’re interested, you can arrange everything right here at the website.
If you don’t know about Reconnect Cafe, it’s time to start supporting them. Located at 139 Tompkins Avenue, the cafe was founded in 2014 by locals who wanted to provide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young men here in Bed-Stuy. The cafe has since expanded to a bakery and graphic design company. You can hear the full story of Reconnect through the YouTube video below.
But the landlord of the cafe, Silvershore Properties, was recently named on the public advocate’s “Worst Landlord in NYC” list. According to Reconnect, they have refused to do building repairs which ultimately forced the establishment to shut down. “Silvershore is selling the property and so takes little interest in the invaluable mission of Reconnect,” the non-profit said in an email.
They are asking that supporters call Silvershore and lodge a complaint. The number for Silvershore Properties is 212-239-7164; building management is 718-854-5205. They’re also asking for social media postings under #savereconnect.
Finally, you could make a donation to Reconnect right here. Let’s support this invaluable local business!