Freddy’s Last Night, Really

May 2, 2010

Freddy's Bar & Backroom


coverage from Atlantic Yards Report

coverage from No Land Grab

Freddy’s- Last Days

April 30, 2010

Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, a neighborhood watering hole for decades, and more recently, a center of Atlantic Yards opposition, will close its 485 Dean Street location for good tonight. Although the bar will relocate several blocks away into Park Slope, I don’t think it will ever be the same.

Freddy’s website
More about Freddy’s on Atlantic Yards Report
And more from Atlantic Yards Report

I shot this time lapse video on April 29, 2010 just before sunset. In the hour I stood watch over my camera, as it recorded buildings in their last days, some seized via eminent domain and all soon to be demolished for a basketball arena, I was treated to local history lessons from some who were born on the block and have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives. Stories from a time when the neighborhood would not have been considered “a great piece of real estate,” in the words of Forest City Ratner CEO Chuck Ratner.

  • Stories about the social club at 487 Dean Street, across 6th Avenue from Freddy’s, where kids waited in line to play Donkey Kong, the hot, new video game. That building has been demolished.
  • Stories from a man who rented the apartment directly above Freddy’s, as well as several other apartments in the footprint, some of which have already been demolished.
  • Stories about fresh-baked treats from Pechter’s Bakery, which used to operate in the now demolished Ward Bread Bakery.
  • Stories about the Chunky candy factory, about the Fort Greene Meat Market at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
  • Stories about playing stick ball behind the 78th Precinct building, probably using Spaldeens (those famous pink rubber balls), which used to be manufactured at the Spalding Building (the large brick building on the right in the video).
  • Stories about other local spots in the hood like The Hut and Winner’s Circle, now long gone.

So, this is your last chance to enjoy a pint or three at Freddy’s and take a glimpse back into a small corner of Brooklyn history before it’s gone.  See you tonight.

Atlantic Yards Groundbreaking Ceremonies – March 11th

March 9, 2010

UPDATE: See coverage of the official groundbreaking ceremony on Atlantic Yards Report.

(Un)fortunately, I won’t be there to witness the lies first hand, but all the Atlantic Yards perpetrators will be wielding their golden shovels this coming Thursday, March 11th, at 1:30pm for the ceremonial Barclays Center & Atlantic Yards groundbreaking.  I expect Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s Groundbreaking Ceremony (to bury the soul of Brooklyn) to be a much more interesting event, and I am sorry that I’ll miss that.  Read the dueling press releases below.

First up, Forest City Ratner & accomplices:



Ceremonial Groundbreaking to Celebrate the Next Phase of Construction

On Atlantic Yards and Sports and Entertainment Arena in Brooklyn

(BROOKLYN, NY) – March 8, 2010 – Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others, will be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 5th and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn (12:30 PM press set up, 1:30 PM ceremony).

While work has been ongoing at the site since last fall, and with the temporary rail yard completed last December, the March 11 groundbreaking ceremony will mark the next phase of construction on the 18,000-seat world-class sports and entertainment arena. The Barclays Center will host more than 200 events annually, including professional and collegiate sports, concerts, family shows, NETS Basketball, and much more. The first phase of Atlantic Yards will also include three residential buildings, with the first starting later this year.

WHAT: Ceremonial groundbreaking for Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.

WHO: Governor David Paterson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner, Barclays PLC President Robert E. Diamond, Jr., NETS investor and cultural icon Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment President and CEO Brett Yormark, among others.

WHEN: Thursday, March 11, 2010. Ceremony to start at 1:30 PM.


WHERE: Intersection of 5th and Atlantic Avenues, Brooklyn

Next, Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn:

March 11: Two Groundbreakings to Protest Ratner’s Boondoggle Ceremony
Many of us are angry, no…mad, and lots have already said, “I’ll be there.”

This is the moment to express your anger and outrage:

Take off work or take a long lunch to express all of your anger and outrage about the abusive, destructive, and corrupt Atlantic Yards project…

Thursday March 11 at 12:30pm
DDDB Joins Bloomberg, Markowitz, Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson, Schumer, Cuomo, Prokhorov and Ratner’s Groundbreaking to Bury the Soul of Brooklyn
Featuring Markowitz’s Proclamation Marking the Events of the Day

Exact location (in the project footprint, probably in front of Freddy’s Bar on Dean and 6th) yet to be determined…stay tuned.

Thursday, March 11. Reportedly 1:30pm
Join us to Protest the Barclays/Ratner Boondoggle Ceremonial Groundbreaking
Exact location (in the project footprint) yet to be determined…stay tuned.

“Eminent Domain as Central Planning”

February 25, 2010

This photo of 493 and 495 Dean Street was used in the article, Eminent Domain as Central Planning, by Nicole Gelinas. The article was published in the Winter 2010 issue of City Journal.  An excerpt:

Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, industrial and forlorn for much of the late twentieth century, was looking better by 2003. Government was doing its proper job: crime was down, and the public-transit commute to midtown Manhattan, where many Brooklynites worked, was just 25 minutes. That meant that the private sector could do its job, too, rejuvenating the neighborhood after urban decay. Developers had bought 1920s-era factories and warehouses and converted them into condos for buyers like Daniel Goldstein, who paid $590,000 for a place in a former dry-goods warehouse in 2003. These new residents weren’t put off by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s railyards nearby, and they liked the hardwood floors and airy views typical of such refurbished buildings. They also settled in alongside longtime residents in little houses on quiet streets. Wealthier newcomers joined regulars at Freddy’s, a bar that predated Prohibition. Small businesses continued to employ skilled laborers in low-rise industrial buildings.

But Prospect Heights interested another investor: [Atlantic Yardsdeveloper Bruce Ratner

These homes were determined to be “blighted” and would be demolished for Atlantic Yards.  A high rise building would replace them (and 3 other homes, 2 of which have already been demolished).

Dean Playground time lapse

February 20, 2010

Dean Street near 6th Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn, New York

February 18, 2010
11:45 pm – 12:35 pm

This stretch of Dean Street would be within the notch in the southern border of Atlantic Yards, the 22-acre development (16 high rise towers and a basketball arena) proposed by Forest City Ratner.

The Williamsburgh Bank Building, the clock tower on the left (aka One Hanson Place), would not be visible if the high rise tower is built as planned at the corner of Dean Street and 6th Avenue, replacing 5 homes. Two houses have already been demolished (487, 489 Dean); three others would be demolished (491, 493, 495 Dean).

The Barclays Center Arena, an 18,000-seat basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets, would be on the far left, its southeast corner at the intersection of Dean Street and 6th Avenue.

word of the day: shame

December 23, 2009


shame:  the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.
Today, Forest City Ratner, the developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, completed its “master closing” with New York state, city and various and assorted other agencies.  CEO Bruce Ratner reportedly signed 640 separate documents at the meeting this morning.  Wasting no time, Forest City Ratner erected signage at the site of the proposed Barclays Center arena trumpeting this milestone:

Atlantic Yards Wall of Shame

Unfortunately, I doubt that any of the fat cats involved in this “public-private partnership” are experiencing any “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper.” I wonder if this is because they actually believe that what they’re doing is honorable and proper, or if the lack of shame is because they aren’t conscious of their actions? Clearly, Bruce Ratner shows no shame.  From the Forest City Ratner press release:
“Today, what has long been a vision for the future of Brooklyn (who’s vision?) becomes a reality,” Mr. Ratner said. “Six years after we announced our plan for Atlantic Yards we are very pleased to be closing on the project with our public partners. Today’s closing represents a vital step forward for New York City, one that is all the more important because of the economic challenges our City faces. The jobs we are creating today, as we set forth on the arena and one of the boldest affordable housing initiatives in our City’s history, will create a new dynamic center in this wonderful borough.”
At a time of enormous economic challenges, a housing crisis, transportation and education cut-backs and a healthcare crisis, it’s shameful that a billionaire developer, along with a billionaire Russian oligarch, can compel the state of New York to use eminent domain for the construction of what would be the most expensive ($1 BILLION) arena in U.S. history, along with acres of surface parking lots. Worse still is that Forest City Ratner is using our money (direct and indirect subsidies and tax breaks from the city and state) for what New York’s Independent Budget Office calculates will be a money-losing arena.  Add to this the fact that the “bold affordable housing initiative” definitely won’t happen until after the arena is built, if ever, and that the jobs it creates most likely won’t pay enough for the workers to actually afford to live in Atlantic Yards.  Then there’s the no-bid, lowball price Forest City Ratner is paying to develop over the MTA rail yard (while the MTA cries that it’s broke and must cut services and raise fares), along with a generous financing agreement for the next 22 years.  Not to mention some signs of not-so-above-the-board dealings of state agencies tasked with protecting the interests of the citizens they are (supposedly) duty-bound to represent.

Forest City Ratner is a for-profit development corporation, so I’m not surprised by its actions in all of this.  Those who should really be having a “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper” are those who are supposed to be watching out for those they supposedly represent:  former Governors Pataki and Spitzer, Governor Paterson, Senator Schumer, Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Marty Markowitz, and all the other Atlantic-Yards-cheerleading elected officials.

Atlantic Yards is __Plan_B___?

November 23, 2009

A neighbor emailed me a tip that these posters had recently been put up on the edge of the Vanderbilt rail yard.  By the time I snapped this photo, a couple of possibilities for the future of Atlantic Yards had been offered. I suspect that the empty blanks won’t last long. (Anyone know who put them up? I think it’s a clever concept.)

The New York State Court of Appeals should soon announce their ruling in Goldstein v. ESDC, the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case. They could announce their ruling as soon as tomorrow, November 24, and certainly by mid December.

Although widely believed that the court would rule against the plaintiffs (Goldstein), there is more than an outside chance (however unlikely) that the judges would rule against the ESDC and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR). New York is currently one of only 7 states that have not amended their eminent domain law following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Kelo v. City of New London ruling in 2005.

If the court rules against the developer,  Atlantic Yards would be dead.  FCR has never detailed a Plan B.


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