A native of Tehran, the artist Ali Banisadr immigrated to New York as a child, a refugee of the war between Iran and Iraq. It was his experience as a victim that in large part informs his work, which evokes “displacement, memory, nostalgia and violence,” in the estimation of one gallerist. Mr. Banisadr’s experience was no doubt life-altering, but we would say that more or less any serious artist—working in more or less any medium—tends to check those thematic boxes at one time or another. Take the Notorious B.I.G., for example, who can cross off all four in a single song! (To wit: “Things Done Changed,” the opening track off Biggie’s 1994 debut album Ready To Die.)
And now, Mr. Banisadr shares the legendary rapper’s old neighborhood—in addition to his artistic concerns. He’s just purchased a penthouse apartment at 105 Lexington Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant for $1.25 million, according to city records.
Having opened up in Cobble Hill last year, aptsandlofts.com is expanding once again, this time into Bedford-Stuyvesant, where the brokerage has taken a 2,000-square-foot bi-level storefront space—with fully landscaped backyard no less—at 308 Malcolm X Boulevard.
The space is designed to be able to support 45 agents and support staff, though it’s expected to be occupied by 25 when it opens early next year. David Maundrell, the company’s founder and president, spoke to The Commercial Observer last week about expanding into Bed-Stuy and the unique features of the space.
“A lot more transactions are happening in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights,” he said. “This will be a jumping off point for us in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Clinton Hill, Bushwick and even Ridgewood, Queens.”
If there remain any lingering doubts about Bedford-Stuyvesant’s ability to attract bold-faced and beautiful to its once-menacing blocks, the migration of Scandinavian models to the neighborhood ought to lay them to rest. City records show that Swedish supermodel Sara Blomqvist shelled out $1.2 million for a Bed-Stuy townhouse.
Ms. Blomqvist, who made her first magazine cover appearance at age 18 for the fall 2007 issue of Plastique—and who has subsequently been the face of Dolce and Gabbana and Missoni—is due to wed the British model Jeremy Young, and given the nature of the couple’s new digs, we suspect they may be planning to expand their family soon.
In the Rezone
A small band of supporters by his side, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio took his mayoral campaign to the heart Bed-Stuy yesterday, hoping to woo minority voters.
“Tax the rich more!” shouted a volunteer outside the Utica Avenue subway stop, making his pitch to the commuters tumbling in and out of the gritty station. “Save the hospitals! Bill de Blasio for mayor!”
Six other de Blasio volunteers joined the city’s public advocate for his meet-and-greet on what might be considered by some to be mayoral rival Bill Thompson’s home turf. Mr. Thompson is not only the sole black candidate in the race, but was raised in the neighborhood, where he has deep political roots. Mr. de Blasio nevertheless insisted that he’d be scooping up plenty of support in the area.
Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
It was a busy day at the City Planning Commission Wednesday. Not only did the commissioners debate the upzoning of the Chelsea Market, which they unanimously approved, but they also approved the downzoning of two historic neighborhoods, West Harlem and Bed-Stuy. The contextual rezonings seek to limit development on side streets, which tend to be chock-full of 100-year-old brownstones, while directing new development—with affordable housing!—to the broad avenues running through the neighborhoods.
Late last week, a new 48-unit affordable housing development opened at 926 Madison Street in Bed-Stuy, Brownstoner reports—which is good news for residents in a once-rough neighborhood where the locals’ biggest fear is now likely rising rents.
Rents in the Brooklyn neighborhood went up 6.5 percent between April and May of this year; the neighborhood has seen steadily rising rents since the beginning of the year.
Affordable Housing or Lack Thereof
When Nechama Levy began her search for retail space last July, she took advantage of years of experience as a bicycle shop employee to inform her real estate decisions, and then Colliers International brokers Charles Goldberg and Hank Widmaier sealed the deal at 1078 Fulton Street.
Beside ample basement space, Ms. Levy also considered floor plates large enough to install what she described as ergonomically correct racks and other bicycle-specific design flourishes. After the jump, Geoffrey Prisco of Brutus Park Architecture and Ms. Levy review the floor plans with The Commercial Observer and discuss what, exactly, convinced the first-time business owner to open her 5,800-square-foot shop, Bicycle Roots, in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
It was less than a year-ago that Lloyd Blankfein’s set his loafered foot in Bed-Stuy, for the groundbreaking of the Bradford, a middle- and low-income development being constructed on Fulton Street. It was an unusual place to find the banker, but Goldman, capable of making money anywhere, had made a $45 million investment in the project. Brownstoner recently passed by the project, and, as you can see, it’s come a long way in a short amount of time.The whole shebang is due to open next summer.
To look at the buildings neighboring it, 567 Vanderbilt Avenue is a typical four-story, mixed-use apartment building in Brooklyn. From the bricks it was built with to the upwardly mobile professionals and strollers it presumably houses, the structure is nearly identical to the other assets in that corner of Prospect Heights.
With a recent shift on the ground—characterized by relatively new restaurants like James, Cornelius and, inevitably, the Vanderbilt—sales prices in the neighborhood are rising.
But over on Vanderbilt Avenue in particular, where trendy bars and cafés pop up each week, prices are absolutely surging, in part because of Nostradamus-like predictions of basketball fans flooding the zone once the Nets start playing inside the proposed Atlantic Yards arena and, ultimately, exiting en masse from doors leading directly to the street.
Even though he was an honoree, Governor David Paterson couldn’t make it to the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s 40th anniversary gala on Thursday night. He was campaigning for Barack Obama.
Things have changed, indeed, for the central Brooklyn neighborhood and its boosters in the 40 years since Senators Robert Kennedy and Jacob Javits Read More