Friday, January 30, 2015

Picture Of The Day: First Place

First Place at Clinton Street on a clear winter day

After Closing And Re-Opening, Savoia On Smith Seems Closed Again

Back in April 2014, Savoia, the popular Italian eatery and wine bar at 277-279 Smith Street here in Carroll Gardens, closed its doors. Many in the neighborhood said that they would miss the restaurant's casual atmosphere, brick oven pizza, focaccia and great wine list.
So, when Savoia re-opened two months later, local residents seemed thrilled. However,  after the re-opening, the restaurant downsized into the storefront at number 277 Smith Street and vacated # 279. The owner explained to a PMFA reader that the rent was too high to continue leasing both spaces.
The restaurant also seemed to have undergone a name change to 'Re Savoia'. At least that was the name taped on the windows.

Sadly, it appears as though Savoia may have closed again. There is been no sign of activity either for lunch or for dinner these past few days.
Does anyone have information? Is this finally it for this once popular eatery?

Checking In On The Long Stalled Construction Site At 337 DeGraw Street

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The 337 DeGraw Street site in 2010
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The construction site in 2011
The construction site as it looks today.
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No residential block in Carroll Gardens seems to be undergoing as much change as DeGraw Street between between Court Street and Smith Street.  Recently, PMFA checked the progress of some of the projects currently underway or just completed.  First, there is the brick townhouse going up at #350, which has been plagued by violations and stop work orders. Then there is the completed modern dark brick townhouse at # 325. Just last week, we wrote about #331, a rather contextual alteration from a two-family to a three-family home.

The most unusual construction project on this block by far is the 'styrofoam house' at #337.  Once the site of a one-story garage, permits for a new 4 story, 4 unit building were first approved by the NYC Department of Buildings in 2009.  It was only in 2011 that construction fences were erected  and construction began.
Progress on the new building has stopped for quite a while now. A full stop work order was issued by DoB in February 2014 and the Borough Commissioner revoked the application "due to contractor withdrawal."  At the time, it was noted that only 35% of the work had been completed.  
Since then,  a partial permit was re-issued in October 2014.
The original architectural firm, Darrin Krumpus of Boro Architects, is still listed on the permit.

The 'styrofoam' blocks that were used to build the structure are actually Insulating Concrete Forms, which, according to Wikipedia is "a system of formwork for reinforced concrete usually made with a rigid thermal insulation that stays in place as a permanent interior and exterior substrate for walls, floors, and roofs."
This construction system is not widely seen here in Carroll Gardens.

It may yet be a while before this new building is completed.

Interestingly, the original house at #337 DeGraw was once the home of John Dwyer "a rough, well known to police" who murdered someone with a billiard cue in a bar on Atlantic Avenue in 1880. Read more about it in this 1880's article from the New York Times Archive.

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Read entire article here

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Picture Of The Day: Second Place

Second Place between Smith and Court Streets
It's a beautiful day outside.

A Moment In Time: Red Cardinal

A visitor to my neighbor's back yard this morning. 
He sat there for a while, obviously enjoying the sunshine after yesterday's snow.

Good-Bye, Maybelle's. We Will Miss You

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A PMFA reader alerted us to the fact that Maybelle's Café at 502 Henry Street at the corner of Sackett Street  is closing this weekend. I had to check it out for myself and stopped by this popular neighborhood spot. The first thing I noticed was the quote by Charlie Chaplin written on the blackboard standing in front of the café. The young lady behind the counter confirmed that this Saturday will be its last day. When I asked about the reason, she told me that "the owner is moving on to other things."
Too bad. Maybelle's had some of the best coffee in the neighborhood and was always a great place to work and to meet friends. Their sandwiches were pretty taste as well.

Let us hope that another café will take its place.

Of course, Maybelle's occupied the space which was once the beloved Cammareri Bakery. In the late 1987, several scenes of the movie Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage were filmed in the bakery.

(stills from the movie Moonstruck

Below is a  scene of Loretta Castorini and Ronny Cammareri's  first encounter filmed in Camareri's basement.

395 Clinton Street: New Meets Old With Regrettable Results

East side of Clinton Street between Union and President Streets. (looking towards President Street)IMG_4222
Beginning of construction at 395 Clinton Street back in September 2013 IMG_2696
395 Clinton Street today
Back in October 2014, PMFA checked on the construction of a new 2 family, 3 story with penthouse townhouse residence being constructed at 395 Clinton Street between Union Street and President Street, amidst some of the most beautifully preserved and elegant brownstones in Carroll Gardens.

All the homes on the east side of the block where the new building is going up still have their cornice, decorative window lintels and corbels, as well as their stoop and iron railing.

The new building at 395 Clinton Street is being constructed on a parking lot that belonged to the stand-alone house at 393 Clinton Street at the corner of Union Street.  The owner of #393 filed paperwork to separate the two lots a few years back in order to be able to build on the site.

Construction on the new building began in the fall of 2013, but has progressed very slowly. A Department of Buildings Partial Stop Work Order currently exists on this project.  The architect on record is TMP Architectural, LP in Manhattan.

A few days ago, I stopped by to check on the progress at 395 Clinton Street and was dismayed to see that no attempt had been made to make the new building fit in contextually. With its recessed entrance and first floor, 395 Clinton Street is certainly one of the most unusual new buildings in the neighborhood. Sadly, it destroys the historic streetscape and distracts significantly from its brownstone neighbors.

Since this block, as well as most of Carroll Gardens, is regrettably not protected by NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission*, I had hoped that the owner and architect of the new townhouse were nevertheless going to be respectful of the integrity of the neighboring buildings. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

What is your opinion?

* The Carroll Gardens Historic District,  the smallest landmarked district in the city, only includes the buildings on President and Carroll Streets between Smith and Hoyt Streets and the western ends of the two blocks between President and First Streets. The district was created in 1973.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blizzard Of 2015: A Very Gentle "Monster Storm"

No, we did not get the predicted two feet of snow. Here in Carroll Gardens, no more than eight inches fell. But it is rather pretty outside, so I grabbed my camera and took a little walk first thing this morning. The best part of this 'monster' storm? No cars. The streets were deserted at 8 AM. We don't see that every day.

I hope everyone is fairing well during this snow. Please remember your elderly neighbors and help shovel their sidewalk or look in on them to make sure they are doing fine.