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Crown Heights Apartment Rentals Getting More Expensive, Crazy Fast: 18% Jump in Last Quarter

So it’s not as crazy as Soho, where prices per square foot are nearly triple ($6.23 vs $2.01 in Crown Heights). But Crown Heights just had an 18% jump in square foot prices during the last quarter. That rent rocket is on par with what we’re seeing right now in the most sought-after Manhattan neighborhoods, as the RentJuice graphic shows (above).

This comes from a report by RentJuice that provides an exhaustive amount of info on NYC rentals, organized by neighborhood. Are you are paying more than average to live in CH? Check out page 12 of the report and find out:

Source: Curbed. Thanks to whynot31 for the tip.

How to Get Work Done in Prospect Heights: the Best Quiet Cafes, Spaces, and Places

If you’re looking for a decent cafe, space, or place to work in Prospect Heights away from your tiny kitchen table, you need to venture outside. But perhaps the biggest problem is avoiding loud music, baby/toddler, bustling lines of customers, and other distractions.

One of your first stops should be the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which is open late and has wifi. Some find the main branch library at Grand Army Plaza to be too noisy; if that’s you, check out these other Brooklyn Library locations. The smaller neighborhood branches tend to be 1-2 rooms, but are pretty quiet as long as you aren’t there during “story time.” Try the branch at Franklin Ave, just off Fulton Street, or the Crown Heights library (St Marks and Nostrand).

Prospect Heights bars such as Sepia tend to be open but relatively deserted during the day. At Soda Bar during the day, ask the bartender (nicely) to turn down the music, and they usually will.

Coffee shops are usually favored by laptop campers, but in Prospect Heights, you should probably avoid Joyce, Sit and Wonder, Milk, and all the other coffee places: they tend crowded and noisy, with no outlets, lots of babies, and reportedly, customers who won’t share a table. The Glass Shop in Crown Heights is hip, but baristas play music loud enough to eradicate productivity from the most disciplined brain.

Dean Street at Dean and Underhill opens as early as 8 am. Scones, muffins, coffee, nice atmosphere and pleasant staff. I don’t remember that there’s any music.

And if you don’t mind a bit of a trip, check out Study Hall at Proteus Gowanus, a “place for quiet contemplation, study, and work” open every weekday (Monday through Friday) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If quiet work space with WiFi was not enough, they also have fresh coffee, occasional snacks, and small cubbies you can use for supplies and notebooks. They want $50 for a month’s membership, but think of all the “guilt purchases” you’ll avoid by not working at a coffee shop or bar, where you could easily spend $20 per work session to keep the barista/bartender from shooting you surly looks.

Design Ideas to Brighten Up Your Brownstone

When you think of Brooklyn living, you think of brownstone apartments. The brownstone offers vintage charm with high ceilings, decorative molding and pocket doors. Unfortunately, brownstones can also be dark with awkward bathroom and walking spaces. To keep your brownstone from feeling like a dungeon, there are some simple tips to help you decorate your space and brighten things up.

Let there be light! Depending on the angle of your Brownstone (or if you have a corner lot) it can be a bit difficult to brighten up your living space with just natural light. This makes it very important to have adequate lighting in each room. You may consider installing overhead light fixtures and investing in floor lamps. The type of light bulb you use is also important. Full spectrum light bulbs emit natural looking light which can help augment the lack of sun light in your brownstone. Paint your walls a light color to help reflect sunlight into open spaces. A white shade is the best way to accomplish this goal.

Color your life. Adding bright colors with accent pieces really make a room pop. Consider red decorative pillows or a throw on your neutral colored furniture couch. You can also be creative with your lamp shades and chairs. Another great way to add a little spark to your space is to paint one of your walls a bright color. Try a bright yellow as an accent wall. This will make a room pop as well as help reflect light and brighten up the space.

Furniture types. This is always a touchy subject because it is all about personal preference and budget. Your best bet is to invest in furniture that is more modern than Victorian. Modern furniture is more adaptable and most of the time uses brighter colors and less space that their Victorian counterparts. While modern furniture can range from incredibly expensive to downright affordable, choosing the right pieces that will last should be your number one goal. Now that you have invested in your space, you should make sure your brownstone is secure in order to protect you new investment

Security with style. Since Brooklyn brownstones were built many years ago, most do not have sufficient security. Your first step is to install deadbolt locks on your doors and an alarm system. Second, you need to use them! If you live on the first floor make sure your window bars are secure. If you do not have window bars, you should consider installing them. They are not the most attractive design feature, some may argue they are ugly, but they do deter burglars. Brooklyn brownstone tenants should also consider NYC rental insurance. Protecting your possessions, especially your new decorations, is a great way to ensure you stay financially whole in the event of a theft or fire. You can insure all of your possession for around $20 a month with rental insurance.

Now that you are armed with how to brighten up your dreary brownstone, start hunting for inspiration. Find others who have transformed their brownstone from dark and dreary to bright and inviting. Be the do-it-yourselfer you always knew you could be!



Olde Brooklyn Bagel Shoppe Can’t Seem to Get Orders Right

Source: Business Insider

In a neighborhood dominated by Bergen Bagel, there were high hopes for Olde Brooklyn Bagel Shoppe, which was opened across the street from Zaytoons by Zaytoons partners Ahmad Samhan and Faried Assad.

While most agree that the bagels and gourmet deli items, organic salads, and pastries and sandwiches are tasty, the Shoppe seems to have a bit of a customer service problem, including complaints about long lines, inefficient staff, and, in a number of cases, it seems that they just can’t get the orders correct.

“I was so happy when Olde Brooklyn opened because I figured I would no longer have to walk to Bergen Bagels,” Jack Krohn wrote on Brooklynian. “After several months of giving Olde Brooklyn a try, I’ve returned to Bergen, despite the walk from my home.”

Why? Olde Brooklyn just can’t seem to do anything efficiently, according to Jack. Despite a simple order–bagel and cream cheese–it takes as long as 15 minutes to wait for the staff to complete the order. Compare and contrast that to the hyper-efficient Bergen Bagel, where staff dart about like parts in a well oiled machine. What’s more, Bergen rarely makes mistakes. In another post, user Smokin’ Joe says he’s a regular, but deals with an “annoying” wait and on a mildly complicated order (like, egg sandwich instead of just a bagel and cream cheese) “they’ve gotten it wrong a couple of times … i’m not sure where the flaw in their system is, but they should study terrace or bergen.”

Sure enough, multiple reviews on Yelp criticize the Bagel Shoppe for botched orders: “One-third of the time they will get your order wrong,” says one reviewer. “That is not really an exaggeration … However I am confident that these guys will pull it together and their food is good enough.”

Bottom line, by Champika F.: Walk a couple of blocks and go to Bergen Bagels instead: “I think this place is way overhyped … the service i’ve experienced is insanely bad. They’re nice but my orders have always been wrong. On one visit I asked for a whole wheat bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese. I even confirmed with him while he was preparing it – ‘scallion right?’ ..’Yes, scallion’. What I got – whole wheat, un toasted with vegetable spread.”

Starlite Lounge May Reopen; Gets its Own Documentary

Willie Rowe, Former Starlite Lounge employee (Source, NY Daily News)

The legendary Starlite Lounge, which opened in 1959 on Nostrand Ave. in Crown Heights, was the first black-owned gay bar in Brooklyn. It has been closed since July 2010. But now, it may be revived with the help of two documentary filmmakers.

The filmmakers, Sasha Wortzel and Kate Kunath, set out to make a short film about the fight between the bar’s owner and the building’s new owner, who threatened to kick out the bar. However, it quickly grew into months’ worth of footage and plans for a full-length feature film that should be done sometime in 2012.

Instead, they got so wrapped up that they ended up shooting months of footage they’re now working on turning into a feature-length film, expected to be completed some time next year.

“Because there are so few places for this community to go, when Starlite was open, they came from all over,” Kunath told the NY Daily News. “It went from being a neighborhood bar in the 50s and early 60s into being really an institution in the gay black community … There’s a whole culture and community that has been displaced.”

While it’s unclear if and when the Starlite may reopen, there was a very successful reunion party earlier in December that had a turnout in the hundreds. You can also support the owners by pledging money to support the reopening of Starlite via IndieGoGo. In the meantime, the former Starlite just houses another cell phone store, sadly.

Read more on NY Daily News.

Man Who (Allegedly) Torched Prospect Heights Woman in Custody

Jerome Isaac

This is Jerome Isaac, 47, the guy who allegedly set ablaze an elderly Prospect Heights woman in an elevator earlier this week, and later presented himself at the police station, reeking of gasoline. He is being charged with the first-degree murder of Delores Gillespie, 73. She hired him to do handyman work but let him go because he was stealing, according to her nephew.

Apparently, Isaac cornered Gillespie in the elevator at 203 Underhill Avenue yesterday, sprayed her with some flammable substance, and set her on fire with a bottle gas-bomb, which killed her, as reported in the New York Post, Daily News, and elsewhere. The police said he also left a note on the elderly woman’s door with a list of jobs he had done that he needed to be paid for.

This is a sad loss for Prospect Heights, as neighbors universally described her as kind, generous, and wonderful, looking out for neighbors and the community. She had just returned home from shopping

Read more in the New York Post.

Here’s a ghastly pic of the deadly sequence of events, courtesy of NYPD and posted on

Jerome Isaac allegedly murdering Delores Gillespie

“When I left Saturday afternoon, 203 Underhill Ave. was my home,” wrote Lauren Johnston in the NY Daily News. “Now it is a murder scene. My neighbor Delores was horrifically burned alive in an elevator just a few feet from my apartment door. My hallway was beige. Now it is a charred black shell covered in thick, soppy soot, and shattered glass.”

Buzzing and Entering – Help Find This Thief

Not all thieves are created equal. Neither are your neighbors. On the evening of 12/17 at 8:10pm, a man with no connection to anyone in the building, was buzzed in and proceeded to steal a bike. You may ask yourself, how did he get buzzed in if he didn’t know anyone in the building?  It seems one of the tenants in the building was having a party and irresponsibly buzzed in a stranger. Once inside, the thief entered the garage to steal the bike only to have the glass door automatically lock behind him. With multiple cameras watching his every move, the man broke the glass door and took off with the bike. With crime on the rise in Brooklyn the 77th precinct is following up on this case actively.

The Brooklyn community has posted pictures of the man who entered an apartment building on Pacific between Washington and Grand, stole a bike and broke a glass door to escape. Take a look at the pictures posted above and join the conversation on if you have any information that will help bring this man to justice.

Atlantic Yards Tower Designs Released

Designs of the new Atlantic Yards tower were released showing a 350-unit building that features rectangular shapes and glass. The building will be located directly behind the Barclays Center, the new Nets arena. Construction is set to begin in 2012. The tower has been designed to save time and money using modular building technology. In fact, the Atlantic Yards tower will be the tallest modular building in the world. It was reported by the Atlantic Yards Report that the modular construction is “largely untested at this height.”

New York Times reported that the Atlantic Yards project will bring “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and over 8,000 permanent jobs,” While the city could use the jobs, Prospect Heights residents are less than excited about the building’s appearance. Locals had this to say on Brooklyn forum about the building’s design, “behold the largest lego structure this side of the Hudson” and “OMG, it’s 1980! How did I miss that time-warp???”

Neighborhood Favorite Tom’s Restaurant Opening on the Boardwalk

Tom's Restaurant

Coney Island gets a new lease on life and stays “in the family.” Plans by Zamperla USA President Valerio Ferrari fell through that would have brought a Miami beach feel to the boardwalk. The neighborhood can be rest assured that their beloved boardwalk will remain in local hands. Brooklyn favorite Tom’s Restaurant is opening a location on the boardwalk alongside Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter. reported Zamperla President Ferrari as saying, “We are trying to keep Brooklyn in Coney Island.” Tom’s owner Jimmy Kokatas shared this sentiment when he said, “[There’s] the tradition and history of Coney Island, and we have a rich tradition and history of our own. Bringing them both together, I think it’s going to be great.”

One of the biggest complaints about Tom’s is the cramped space which can make it difficult to run in for a quick bite. On busy days, the line at Tom’s can extend around the corner. The boardwalk location will seat up to 100 patrons and have some seafood options to go along with the salt air ambiance. Neighborhood locals are ecstatic about the new location slated to open sometime in April 2012.

Brooklyn Rental Prices Increase in 2011

It’s no secret that the housing market is in the dumps and many Americans have been forced out of their homes and into rentals. Just like anything else in a free market, when demand increases so does price. Brooklyn New York has been no exception. Below is a series of graphs illustrating the price increase of studio, one and two bedroom rentals over the last 13 months.

With the price of living increasing for everyone renting an apartment, home or condo, it’s more important than ever to protect your valuables from a catastrophe. Rental insurance will reimburse you for the cost of your possessions up to your coverage limit. That means if you purchase a $20,000 policy your possessions will be covered up to that amount. The first step is to take an inventory of the contents of your home to determine how much coverage you will need.

Depending on your policy type and the area you live in, rental insurance will cover you in the event of fire, theft, water damage and natural disasters. Imagine your neighbor next door left their stove on overnight and the apartment building caught on fire. Would you be able to replace all of your possessions out of pocket? For most of us, the answer is no. Protecting yourself from the unknown can be incredibly inexpensive. The average cost of rental insurance is $15 a month. Sleep easy at night knowing everything you own can easily be replaced with a rental insurance policy. Get free rental insurance quotes from agents in your area.

*Image by MNS Impact Real Estate