Dumbo has a magical light during sunrise and sunset. This photo is by Sam Morrison (submitted to the DumboNYC Flickr Pool) captures a beautiful woman during a perfect sunset moment looking towards Brooklyn Bridge down Plymouth Street.
[DumboNYC.com is on summer break this week. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @DumboNYC or submit a story or event about Dumbo. We’ll be back next week.]
If you haven’t had a chance to visit Mark Jupiter’s showroom because you work late, they will be open until 9pm through Sunday, July 28, 2013 and Wednesday, July 31 to Sunday, August 4, 2013. We profiled Mark and his furniture business earlier this year. Stop by after hours where you can take a look at his new designs (such as benches made from reclaimed wood beams from the 185 Plymouth Street construction). “Feel free to come on in after dinner, while walking your dog, or just to say hi. We have some great new pieces.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) have constructed full scale granite cobble mock-ups to demonstrate roadway reconstruction techniques for the Dumbo/Vinegar Hill street reconstruction for Water Street, Pearl Street, Plymouth Street, Main Street, and Adams Street. According to the Dumbo BID, work will take place on streets as indicated in the map below (Yellow = DOT scope / full street and plaza reconstruction; Blue = DEP scope / water and sewer reconstruction):
The granite cobble mock-ups will demonstrate how a mix of new and original cobblestone could be used to rebuild the streets, which, along with the centuries-old sewer and water lines below, are slated for reconstruction beginning next year. The test streets will be on view to the public, and DOT will be on hand to take feedback on the design and stones. The public is encouraged to comment on the design and materials – as several options for reuse of old and introduction of new materials will be presented. Comments will be taken on site and can also be emailed to email@example.com. The Dumbo BID writes, “These comments will be incorporated into a design package that will then be presented to Community Board 2 on July 22 for project approval. The design will also need approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission this fall.”
The viewing schedule for the rest of the week is as follows at Pier 6 of Brooklyn Bridge Park (along Furman Street near Atlantic Avenue):
So we asked the DOT for some further background on the proposed stones. The DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan wrote to us to clear up some confusion about bike lanes: “This community requested project will restore the street’s historical elegance while removing stumbling blocks for the thousands of people walking and biking in the neighborhood daily.” They continue to receive feedback from the community as the design demonstration period continues, but the presence of a bike lane has not been identified as an issue.
We asked about feedback about installing a bike lane on Water Street. She said that “some blogs have written, inaccurately, that cobblestones on Water Street will be removed to install a bike path. This is false. This is a total street reconstruction project and the cobblestones are being restored as part of the capital upgrade, regardless of the street’s designation as a Greenway. The section of Water Street in the project area hasn’t been significantly upgraded in more than a century and utilities for the growing number of residences and businesses in the area are overdue for reconstruction. Half of the cobblestones in the project are currently covered by asphalt just to make the street navigable.”
“As with many other roadway reconstructions across the city, this project also brings an opportunity to improve roadway design to make streets even safer and easier to navigate for all street users and meet ADA requirements—such as installing smooth, walkable crosswalks. A similar, complete street reconstruction on Washington Street and another section of Water Street started more than three years ago [ref: 10May2010 and 03Dec2009], replacing sewers and water mains while upgrading underground utilities and sidewalks, and the materials demonstration was developed specifically to address community feedback on these redesigns. DOT continues to work with the community board on the project (we held two workshops in just the last year) and we look forward to continuing our efforts with the board.”
Take a look at the mockup at Pier 6 and send your comments. What do you think?
The residents of 135 Plymouth Street are currently entangled in a Loft Law lawsuit with the building’s owner (Benedetto family) and are holding a fundraiser to support their legal and safety costs for rental units. The building is the last live/work loft buildings that houses the creative community that moved into Dumbo before the Walentas family purchased several other loft buildings in the neighborhood. The Loft Law is designed to protect tenants with rent protections and safety improvements to the building. They are claiming the rights that the law grants, but need funding to support the lawyers, architects, and fire safety experts.
According to a NY Times article about the building, the 100 or so residents “have poured sweat equity, tens of thousands of dollars and considerable creative capital into their apartments, most of which have been built out from the bare walls.”
Since the early 1980s, the place has been home to a rotating cast of artists and artisans, though in recent years that narrow professional scope has widened to include engineers, social workers and city employees. And for decades, its owners, the Benedetto family, who run a paper-recycling facility on the ground floor, have been mostly benevolent landlords operating under a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, like so many landlords of similar properties. (It’s illegal, of course, to live in a commercial building, which is why the rents are low.)
The engine for the dispute is the amended Loft Law, which in 2010 expanded its original mandate to provide protection for the artists who had homesteaded in the city’s commercial buildings between 1980 and 1981 to include those who were living in industrial spaces at the end of the last decade.
Whether you consider it a blight or simply home, the Plymouth Street building has a particularly storied history. Built in the last part of the 19th century by E. W. Bliss, a major player in Brooklyn’s booming manufacturing businesses, it was the largest factory in the world by 1884, according to one historian (and at that time, the building was just 27,000 square feet). By the beginning of the 20th century, it had stretched to its current vast dimensions and employed more than 1,600 people.
Joseph Burden, the landlord’s lawyer, said the landlord had offered the tenants 10-year leases with increases equal to those of rent-stabilized tenants, as well as a promise to upgrade the building with a new lobby, elevators, stairwells and a roof deck. “The landlord intended for all the tenants to remain and to legalize the building for residential use,” he said. But the group turned down the offer, noting that it would give them no protection against eviction by the landlords or the city, because the building still has no certificate of occupancy for residential use, and they would have no protection after a decade.
Even before the tenants were pursuing applications through the Loft Board, Mr. Burden said, the owners of 135 Plymouth were applying to the Department of Buildings to convert the structure into a residential property. As Michael P. Kozek, the tenants’ lawyer, said, “The landlord wants to legalize the building for residential use, just not under the terms of the Loft Law.”
There is a strong community of residents in the building and would be a loss of creative professionals if the building were converted to expensive condos.
[UPDATE May 23, 2013: 195 Plymouth is going to be office space, similar to 68 Jay street. The residential plan is off.]
According to a 2010 proposal (BIS record), 195 Plymouth Street (aka 193 Plymouth Street) was proposed as a conversion into 22 residential units. Landmarks approval for updated windows, rooftop mechanical installation, and was issued on 4/18/2011 (NYC DOB record) and the proposal approved on 5/5/2011.
Construction is ongoing. We don’t have any updates on when the conversion will be completed. Anyone know more?