They Found a Dead Body in the Gowanus Canal

Gowanus Canal dead body

Welp, it finally happened: a dead body was spotted floating in the Gowanus Canal yesterday.

It seems as if the body was, errrr, freshly deposited as opposed to one that’d been dredged up from the murky depths after years lying in wait… but few details are available. The body was first spotted floating under the Union Street Bridge around 3pm yesterday and cops quickly roped off the scene. Gothamist has the story, and offers the following update: “An NYPD spokesman says the body is that of a black male. No ID was found on the body, and the investigation is ongoing.”

RIP, duder. Surely you didn’t deserve such a fate.

Two Sets of Iconic Silos in Gowanus Have Been Demolished

Photo taken by GYFO, September 2013

Photo taken by GYFO, September 2013

The Gowanus skyline lost two iconic sets of silos within the past week.

First, last week, demolition crews began dismantling the structure at 363 Bond St. between First and Carroll Streets to make way for part of the gigantic 700-unit Lightstone Group residential development taking the silos, pictured above from the Carroll Street Bridge, with them. The silos looked over the empty yard that at various points hosted the Gowanus Grove and Brooklyn Yard events during recent summers. Across the street at 365 Bond where the rest of the Lightstone Development will be going up, demolition was completed last year and earth work is ongoing.

A bit farther south, adjacent to the 5th Street Basin of the Gowanus Canal, the even-more-iconic Burns Brothers coal pockets — in operation from 1915 to 1938 and standing ever since — were torn down this week. Pardon Me For Asking has some fascinating historical information about the silos as well as some very old photos of the coal industry in action and some excellent aerial shots taken recently. The structure next to the silos was taken down earlier this year, and an office building will be erected on the whole lot.

Seemingly everywhere you look in Gowanus there’s demolition or construction. Crazy times for our neighborhood.

Photo by GYFO, taken from the Whole Foods parking lot in December 2013.

Photo by GYFO, taken from the Whole Foods parking lot in December 2013.

Photo by Eymund Diegel for Pardon Me For Asking

Photo by Eymund Diegel for Pardon Me For Asking, April 2014

The Participatory Budgeting Results Are In!

imageDid you Participatory Budget Your Face Off last weekend as instructed? Well, the results are already in! Councilman Brad Lander sent an email newsletter yesterday informing his constituents which proposals gained approval, chosen by over 2,200 voters who directly decided how to spend their tax dollars.

But wait, that’s not all: we’re not clear on exactly how this happened, but once the votes came in Lander decided to earmark $1.5 million towards PB projects instead of the usual $1 million, meaning more could be chosen. How about that?

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Eater Beware The Brooklyn “Beefsteak”

This article represents the opinion of its author, and not necessarily that of Gowanus Your Face Off as a whole.

As The Bell House gets set to host their annual Brooklyn Beefsteak event this coming weekend I can’t help but feel a sense of rage bubbling inside of me. Rarely have I ever been so disappointed by an event, let alone one featuring STEAK, that most delicious of meat cuts.

If you’ve ever read “All You Can Hold For Five Bucks,” a story by legendary New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell first published in 1939, then surely the word “Beefsteak” conjures up images of rotund, bespectacled men in suits gathering for momentous, overly indulgent, extravagant chow downs where the beer flows freely, slabs of tender steak are slapped upon the table one after the next, no utensils are allowed, and everyone eats until they’re good and ready to puke.

Unfortunately the Brooklyn Beefsteak was pretty underwhelming.

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participatory budget your face off!

It’s total time to vote for your favorite idea from the Participatory Budgeting projects!!!

The following list with videos shows details of projects for District 39, which technically only is for part of Gowanus. (District 38 details are here. And the rest of the Districts with projects are listed here.)

Where and when to vote:
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What to vote on (broken down by category):

Culture & Community Facilities

Media Van for Community Film and Filmmakers

District 39 Media Van from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

A media van so Rooftop Films can strengthen community and school partnerships and show over 50 public screenings per year – $45,000

Environment

Industrial Shredder for Community Compost Project

District 39 Shredder for Community Compost from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Serious shredder and shed to enhance Gowanus composting center; will process food scraps, leaves, trees, lunch trays – $105,000

Raising the (Green) Roof @ Windsor Terrace Library

District 39 Raising the (Green) Roof @Windsor Terrace Library from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

The green roof will reduce energy use, limit stormwater run-off, improve air quality, add wildlife habitat & beautify – $250,000

Solar Panels on Firehouse Heat Water, Save Energy

District 39 Solar Firehouse from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Captures clean solar energy to meet hot water needs of firefighters and make firehouse more resilient to extreme weather – $140,000

Parks

Repair & Repave Ennis Playground Basketball Court

District 39 Repair & Repave Ennis Playground Basketball Court from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Repair and repave the cracked and unusable basketball court at Ennis Playground as a first step toward a renovated park – $250,000

Repair and Improve Three Pathways in Prospect Park

District 39 Repair and Improve Three Pathways in Prospect Park from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Repair and resurface pathways that flood and are covered in mud: Endale Arch, East side of Lake, and Villa parking lot – $215,000

 

Streets

39th Council District Security and Safety Project

District 39 Security and Safety Project from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Install security cameras in each of the District’s four police precincts, especially near Prospect Park – $200,000

Pedestrian Safety on McDonald Ave at Ft Hamilton

District 39 Pedestrian Safety on McDonald Ave from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Expanded sidewalks will shorten crossing distances, reduce speeding, and improve safety for pedestrians – $300,000

Street Safety Improvements on 4th Ave, 8-18th Sts

District 39 Street Safety on 4th Ave from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Improve safety, reduce speeds, and green 4th Ave between 8-18th Streets with raised medians, plantings, benches and more – $300,000

 

Transit

12 Electronic “Bus Location” Signs at B67/69 Stops

District 39 Electronic “Bus Location” Signs at B67/69 Stops from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Install electronic signs at busy stops that tell riders the location and arrival time of their bus – $240,000

 

Education

Outdoor Plaza at John Jay Educational Campus

District 39 Outdoor Plaza at John Jay Educational Campus from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Beautify 5-school building’s exterior with benches and plantings, making sidewalk more welcoming for the whole community – $150,000

Secure the Future: Laptops at PS 130, 230 & 321

District 39 Laptops at PS 130, 230 & 321 from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

Enable tech access across diverse communities: laptop carts for 3rd-5th graders at PS 130, 321 & PS 230′s ELL adult program – $195,000

Tech Buzzing: Smartboards for PS 29 and 131

District 39 Tech Buzzing: Smartboards for PS 29 & 131 from Arts & Democracy Project on Vimeo.

24 smartboards across these two schools will improve tech access and move classrooms into the 21st century – $140,000

 

Restaurant Review: Checkers Burgers

Checkers Gowanus

Checkers Gowanus Checkers Gowanus
I’ve been fascinated by the Gowanus outpost of national burger chain Checkers that opened on the corner of Third Avenue and 15th Street late last summer. A fast food burger joint is not exactly the kind of restaurant you’d expect to open in a quickly gentrifying, up-and-coming, hip Brooklyn neighborhood, even though it shares a lot with a Subway and a Dunkin Donuts. To think, they don’t even have any artisanal kale salads! And nothing on the menu is even organic!! Gasp.

We didn’t have Checkers in NYC when I was growing up, so curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it out for lunch on a recent breezy spring day. A small patio with four picnic-style tables sites adjacent to the parking lot (a Brooklyn oddity), all of it awkwardly overlooking a quaint row of townhouses across the street. With an auto repair shop next door. The juxtaposition was startling, but a good representation of Gowanus at the moment.

Checkers Gowanus

Rather than going with one of the myriad quadruple-stuffed bacon/cheese/chicken-injected monstrosities on the menu, I opted for a simple double-cheeseburger. Gotta establish a baseline, right? The burger was decent as far as fast food chuck goes. A step above McDonald’s, not as tasty and fresh as In N’ Out. Let’s call it on par with Burger King. The burger came with lettuce, tomato, onion and a tangy mayo-based sauce. I’d say it was rather tasty, and it only left me feeling like half a piece of crap afterwards as opposed to knocking me out of commission for the rest of the afternoon.

Checkers Gowanus

The fries were delicious, the meal’s standout item. Crispy, golden brown, and covered with some kind of pepper-based spice. The “medium” soda I ordered was bigger than my head; definitely could’ve gone with the small.

Checkers Gowanus

I’d like to try some of the other items on the menu; those chicken wings looked pretty good, as did the mozzarella sticks (which you can sub-in for fries in any combo meal!). Perhaps another day. For now, I hear that the Whole Foods down the street has established a free-range/organic/cage-free/gluten-free/artisanal/local/kale-fed hatchery on their roof, so I think I’ll mosey on over there… this is Brooklyn in 2014, after all.

 

The Green Building is Up For Sale

Green  Building Lot 082

The Green Building has become an iconic Gowanus institution since opening as an events space only a little over five years ago, attracting weddings and other kinds of special events (but especially weddings) from all over the five boroughs and beyond. But now it seems as if the building’s future is in jeopardy: Pardon Me For Asking is reporting that the building has been posted for sale.

The current tenants of the building at the southeast corner of Bond and Union Streets, who gave it both its green name and color, have a lease through 2027. But there’s a “demolition clause” that voids the lease if a residential development will be built on the lot.

And therein lies the key: the lot’s current zoning is industrial (M2-1), but a recent rezoning proposal, current trends in the neighborhood and the pro-Gowanus-development tandem of Mayor De Blasio and Councilman Brad Lander (the latter of whom mysteriously stopped opposing the Lightstone Group as soon as it became clear his long-time alley De Blasio would be NYC’s next mayor… hmmmmm!) would suggest that an eventual re-zoning is all but inevitable. You never know, though: a previous residential rezoning was denied in 2002.

More information about the property and its history is available at Pardon Me For Asking. Let’s hope the Green Building sticks around, as it’s one of many quirky attributes we so love about Gowanus.

Table 87 Coal Oven Pizza Gowanus Outpost Coming Soon

Table 87

IMG_5810

Table 87 has been slinging coal oven pizza on far west Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights since 2012, and apparently things are going pretty well for them: a Gowanus outpost on the corner of Third Avenue and 10th Street (next to Lucey’s Lounge) is set to open any day now.

Peering inside on a recent sunny day, the construction seemed to be just about finished. Very little information about the Gowanus extension is available online save for this article on GrubStreet which claims that it’ll open “in April.” That’s soon!

Table 87′s claim to fame amongst NYC pizza aficionados is that they’re the only pizza joint with a coal fired oven that will serve up slices as opposed to just full pies like John’s, Totonno’s, and other NYC institutions. Have you been to the original Table 87 location? How is it?

Artbridge Gowanus: A Call For Public Art!

ArtBridge Gowanus

 

The never-ending churning of work vehicle engines and the incessant beeping of trucks in reverse around the Lightstone Group construction site at 365 Bond Street grind on. While noise pollution seems to be an inevitability, one group is at least trying to make things a bit more pleasing to the eye: an organization called Artbridge is sourcing artwork from the public to place along the construction barrier in the coming months. The above vinyl banner announcing a call for submission from the public appeared on the construction barrier yesterday.

According to the Artbridge website, the organization is looking for original contemporary art from “artists living OR working in Brooklyn to explore the vibrancy of their urban interactions for our upcoming Gowanus exhibition.” Sounds pretty neat! You’ve got until April 20th to submit your artwork, after which “a team of top art world professionals” will choose their favorites for the exhibition.

Learn a bit more about the exhibition, its organizers, the process and how to submit your art at the Artbridge website.

Self Cleaning Home Aquarium

If you’ve ever had to clean an Aquarium you know it’s not so fun. There’s like green crap floating in the water and you have to terrorize your fish when you clean the glass, so you can actually see them. And to top it all off you have to use some type of chemical for cleaning that is most likely killing your fish.
Well some Texas peeps named Jack and Shannon have looked to nature to solve this dirty problem. They’ve added a garden atop a home aquarium to create a self-cleaning ecosystem.