05/05/16 11:08am
Charley Layton and Jenny Harder, seen here not working for a real estate company.

Charley Layton and Jenny Harder, seen here not working for a real estate company.

Jennifer Harder is a performer, actor and musician who’s been in a rotating stream of projects that would fall under the “alt,” “anarchist” or “steampunk” categories ever since moving to the city about 18 years ago. So she was surprised to find her picture on Brokelyn the other day under the headline “Here are some signs you’re about to gentrify a building” (Note: the headline has since changed for internal reasons). The post, written by me, called out an event a real estate company working for a landlord with a shady past used to help sell some Crown Heights units that had recently been flipped from apartments into pricey condos. The company lured buyers by throwing a steampunk/vaudeville party on April 20, with magicians, music and a bourbon tasting. Harder, 35, was upset at being pictured as the literal face of gentrification: “All of the entertainers are pros who were doing our jobs,” she tweeted at us. “The real estate agents should have been pictured instead.”

Harder and her fellow performer in the picture, Charley Layton, both consider themselves starving artist types: they’ve been in the city since the 90s and and have balanced intense creative pursuits — Harder plays in the legendary Hungry March Band and has toured with Gogol Bordello — with day jobs, side gigs and the occasional corporate event. The real estate job fell right on the the fault line many New York artists and musicians tiptoe every day: When should you take a gig just for the paycheck and when does a higher value demand you say no? There’s no easy answer, so I sat down with the two at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side the other day to talk about how they ended up taking the job and how they balance a career in the arts with the need to survive in an increasingly expensive city.  (more…)

04/25/16 10:21am
The sign that once hung outside Supercollider. Photos by Scott Steinhardt.

The sign that once hung outside Supercollider. Photos by Scott Steinhardt.

If you’ve ever stepped off the train in South Slope/Greenwood Heights/whatever, you passed Supercollider and probably didn’t even realize it. Their signs in front of its location on Fourth Avenue between 17th and 18th streets were always barely lit and hard to read. The adjacent buildings were all but vacant and plastered with poison warnings. Even when compared to the mostly-desolate stretch of Fourth Avenue north of the bar, it still seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere.

But hidden behind its humble entrance was a large, friendly place that served as an offbeat hangout for people looking to get more than a few drinks in them, creative types looking to hone their craft and everyone in between. They were all strangely drawn to the allure of a lonely little bar in a part of town where places with more notoriety were only a block away on Fifth Avenue. It was rarely, if ever, packed to the gills, affording passersby and regulars alike a place to chill, listen to a blissed out, dreamy soundtrack and hide away for a bit in its dimly lit atmosphere.

But Supercollider abruptly shut its doors last week to make way for another condo project, further proof that small bars with a large artistic following will eventually cease to exist in favor of upscale living spaces, costly storefronts, and stylings that strip character from a neighborhood and turn it into more of the same. (more…)

01/25/16 3:27pm
Roger That Community Garden is fighting for its life. Via FB.

Roger That Community Garden is fighting for its life. Via FB.

Residents of Crown Heights have been fighting for years to save a community garden between Rogers Avenue and Park Place from turning into another real estate monstrosity. They now have some political backers in the form of Rep. Diana Richardson and New York State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who have introduced legislation that would grant the Roger That Garden eminent domain to make it a park, and save it from development. It’s good to have political muscle, but it’s the voices of the people that politicians also needs to hear. You could email them, but it’s easy for anyone to ignore emails. What people can’t ignore, however, is a huge pile of letters arriving at their desks. Even if they all don’t get read, the group is hoping that the sheer size of the pile will likely grab the attention of state lawmakers.

So tomorrow night (Jan. 26) head down to the Two Saints bar to meet your fellow garden-lovers and have a letter-writing party. From 7-10pm grab some paper, a pen and a drink, and write an old-fashioned letter to state legislators, letting them know how much you’d rather have this garden than more condos in Crown Heights. (more…)

08/06/15 9:35am
If you squint, you can make out the tiny wealthy residents, too. via Property Shark

Come on, you could do better than this. via Property Shark

Let’s say you’re a city planner responsible for the development of a city whose principal gripes are income disparity, gentrification and small business support, and someone points you toward an empty patch of land in your city. What would you do with the space?

If your answer was “build a luxury condo,” you can honestly just show yourself out. These interactive sliders popped up on Property Shark this morning, and playing with them shows you just how depressing a condominium looks against the skyline. But it did set us thinking about what might be a better thing to put in its place.
(more…)

08/01/13 11:19am
Coming soon: more of this. But also more rich person housing. via Flickr user afagen

Coming soon: more of this. But also more rich person housing. via Flickr user afagen

Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday a major plan to expand Brooklyn Bridge Park along the waterfront at 1 John Street in DUMBO by an extra 1.5 acres by 2015. The space will include a .3 acre lawn, a tidal salt marsh with bridge, tree-lined pathways, and…condos. Included in the plan is a deal with Alloy Development and Monadnock Development who will build a 47-unit residential building on the site with “cultural and retail” space on the ground floor. (more…)

12/08/11 8:49am

Wait ... not that Williamsburg...

If you’ve been telling your friends that the one thing stopping you from occupying Wall Street was a fear of the L train stranding you in Manhattan, come Tuesday, you’ll need a new excuse. OWS has taken its show on the road since the dramatic raid by the 101st Bloomberg Airborne NYPD: after a stopover in East New York, the movement comes to the neighborhood that was into direct democracy before it went all mainstrean: Williamsburg. And, naturally, the neighborhood marches to its own drum (circle): the target isn’t banks; it’s condos. (more…)