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  • 01/05/19--16:47: Tax Payers Start Paying Off
  • You've heard of tax payer properties, yes? Typically squat low-cost structures that allow land owners to charge enough rent to stay just ahead of the taxman. Our neighborhood is still full of them, but they're disappearing at a faster clip as local rents hit the sweet spot that turns buy-and-hold investors into sell-and-profit investors, and developers swoop in to do what they can within current zoning rules. You need only step out along the Flabenue to see the enormous potential for builders, and we're now seeing the first projects come to fruition. The new six-story market rate rentals are opening, and trust me these places are NOT going to be affordable to longtime residents accustomed to rent stabilized leases. The Q isn't talking about the poorest now; but even working professionals, like City workers and workaday salary folk - particular those with families - will simply not be able to keep up.

    What exactly do I mean?

    Those of us who call The Q at Parkside our hometrain know the Flabenue as our Main Street, and a lively thoroughfare it is. The hustle and bustle may blind you to the reality though - a large number of the buildings are merely awaiting their next chapter. Look up and you'll see many boarded up windows on the upper floors, meaning that tons of potential residences lie fallow. In my many years there has always been a great deal of churn; but lately signs point to major changes.

    Surely these buildings will be razed rather than rebuilt -
    currently they're zoned for roughly six-seven stories,
     depending on lot size.

    Cinder block buildings like this are the easiest to remove. This whole stretch is vulnerable.

    It boggles the mind; perhaps these upper floors are being used for storage? Mummies?

    As mentioned previously on the Q, the Caton Market is soon to rise
    12 stories of all-affordable apartments.
    The recently erected plywood walls suggest demo starts soon.

    123 Linden dwarfs surrounding buildings; Here on Caton looking east,
    it's really quite shocking, and coming down Flatbush from GAP at night, wow.

    Much as I'd hate to see the wonderful Save-a-Thon go, I can't imagine owners holding out much longer.
    Buying up multiple properties could mean taller buildings.
    The recently complete 7-story structures stand in contrast to the more typical
     three story buildings from Flatbush's heyday.

    I would imagine this is the new normal for height along all of the Flabenue,
    except on large lots like 626 Flatbush, where considerably taller buildings
    will allow developers to take advantage of incredible
    views of the Park all the way to the harbor on clear days.

    Ocean is not immune, though there are fewer straight-up tax payers.

    Despite the fact I'm down on Church fairly often,
    this residential at the corner of Ocean caught me by surprise.
    Recently finished and ready to rent, it's anchor retail is a Bank of America.
    Lots of ink gets spilled on the changes coming to South Crown Heights and the further upscaling of the Lefferts area. But down here in Flatbush proper, you can't help but see the signs of severe makeover. Community Boards 14 and 17 have been witnessing a massive uptick in permit applications. Hopefully local stakeholders will take a more balanced approach than we have, since what the neighborhood really needs is lots more of permanent rent-stabilized below-market housing, and perhaps protections for the many beautiful treelined blocks between avenues.

    We will see, maybe sooner than expected.

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    So often when you see articles about rents in Brooklyn, they focus on hot neighborhoods and scare you with numbers so crazy you'd think surely they're writing to someone else, not you, since you are a seasoned New Yorker who understands how to find a bargain, and you already know which neighborhoods are outside your range and therefore snobby and yuppy. Well...are there bargains anymore? And are there even neighborhoods that are "undiscovered," as they used to say before such words were deemed colonialistic? (Remember when they'd speak of "pioneers?" Wow, man. That's heavy, and not long ago.)

    Finally, there's a simple way to plug in your income, credit and expenses to figure out where you could, in fact, live without a trust fund. Remember, these are averages, but they're pretty darn close. Markets have a way of flattening the outliers, and the fact is, few landlords are really going much lower than average anyway.

    So what does it take to live around here? If you've been looking, you already know. But it's gonna shock a lot of you just the same.


    Studio: $79,000
    1 Bedroom: $90,000
    2 Bedrooms: $103,000
    3 Bedrooms: $131,000
    4 Bedrooms+: $137,000

    Don't believe me? Try the calculator from Property Nest. If your household income is below $70K, you'll be looking at neighborhoods like Canarsie, East Flatbush, East NY, Mill Basin, Bensonhurst, as truly "affordable" and just barely. 

    Here's the full article on the cheapest (ha!) and most un-cheapest in the borough. 

    Next time when you're talking about "affordable housing" and someone scoffs, saying "affordable to who?" Remind them that the teacher-preferred word is "whom," and that basically anyone making normal starting wages of non-tech, non-finance jobs is going to be under water before they even dip their toes in. Or rather, dip in their toes. Gotta hate those dangling prepositions. They're something up with which I will not put.


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  • 01/10/19--05:40: When Scaffolding Is Welcome
  • If you've ever wandered past the imposing Erasmus Hall campus and peeked through the gates, you've probably been shocked and awed by the old original Erasmus Academy building, a relic of another age that seems to plead "please, come and fix me, fix me before I'm lost to history." Well, that's what the Q heard it say by gum.

    Word comes via the reliable BKLYNER that work has begun to restore it to its former glory. After many false starts through the years, we may actually see this Alexander Hamilton linked building used for teaching and learning. Thanks to Geoff Cobb for the amusing anecdote about ancient rifles being found recently, a couple hundred years after their "usefulness" expired - an early example of the NRA's answer to school shootings?

    2018 pic by Geoff Cobb

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  • 01/17/19--12:10: A Great Way To Spend MLK Day

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