Monday, January 13, 2014

Finally, Something To Be Proud Of

After years of having all manner of charmless, graceless structures foisted on our neighborhood, finally, Williamsburg has something to be proud of.

Back in April, 2011, the owners of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at the corner of Driggs  Avenue and Broadway began renovating the building.

It's taken close to three years and the outside renovations are finished at last (or all but, there is still a little cosmetic work being done in spots). And it was definitely worth waiting for.

I don't know what it's going to be used for. At one point I heard that the outdoor market over on the river was going to move here, then I heard it was going to be a sort of conference center. I don't really keep my ear to the ground any more so the plans could be widely known but I don't know them.

I was stopped by a woman out on Broadway last year and asked if I would sign some sheet that said I had no objection to a facility there having a liquor license. I think she said that part of the building would be used as a kind of banqueting facility. Maybe it's all part of the same plan. I signed the sheet. Considering how our MIA Community Board has let Bedford Ave., Grand St., and surrounding streets turn into Barlandia, I really couldn't complain about a banqueting hall out on Broadway.

I haven't wanted to do much with this blog because the way the neighborhood has changed is so depressing that on many days I want to pack up and leave. And I still think that there isn't much wrong that a few planeloads of Napalm couldn't cure. But more of that later (maybe). Why mar the photos of an attractive building with depressing thoughts like those.

I checked, they even set the clock to the correct time. Sadly this is the one part of the building that cannot be seen as it originally was because of the Williamsburg Bridge approach/exit roads and, more importantly, the elevated J/Z tracks directly behind the building. As it is now, the clock can only be seen, obliquely, from the sidewalk going past. The dumpsters for Peter Luger's are under there behind a locked gate; someone was dumping a load of refuse when I went by and I took the opportunity to dart in and shoot a photo of the clock. As usual, click on a photo to see it in its full size.

4th of July

 I went back to my blog posts this morning intending to put together a new post and found this, dated July 4, 2012. I have no idea why I didn't post it at the time. Maybe I was dissatisfied with it, maybe I hoped to add to it . . . text or photos. I can't remember now. I don't even know if the links are any good anymore. So, what the hell, I might as well post it. It was from when McCarren Pool reopened after years of renovation. Then I can get back to what I was really going to post this morning.

It has been so long since I published a post that I forgot my user name and password. Well, unemployment can have that effect on a person. Between trolling for job possibilities in publishing and taking care of the dog, there ain't an awful lot of time for blogs.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that the McCarren Pool was set to open this summer. I wandered down that way with the dog occasionally to see how things were going and it looked like such a mess right up to a week before opening that I thought they wouldn't make it. But they did. Some before and after shots . . .

The Lorimer Street sidewalk in front of the pool entrance.

The pedestrian path directly in front of the pool.

The entrance to the pool.

I haven't actually been inside the pool since it opened but I assume it doesn't look like this any longer since it's said to be filled to capacity with swimmers each day.

But the re-opening after almost thirty years doesn't have the fairy-tale ending that Mike Bloomberg surely was hoping for.

Lifeguards attacked at McCarren Pool

A day after violence, crowds jam McCarren Pool

Officer punched at McCarren Pool

Neighborhood tensions flare at reopened pool

Sometimes I wonder if the writers for the New York Times ever visit the places they report on:  "A place where the children of hipster artists . . .", "For example, in Williamsburg, which has attracted waves of artists in recent years, . . ." (from that last story).

Williamsburg these days is mainly about bars and the bar-hoppers who come to the neighborhood to block the sidewalks while smoking and chatting and texting on their androids. This afternoon while walking the dog I was almost pushed off the sidewalk on Driggs by some young yuppies walking three abreast across the sidewalk and totally oblivious to anyone else in the vicinity.

I know of a couple who were among the pioneer gallery owners back in the 1990s and who are struggling to hang on because the developers have turned Williamsburg into just one more upscale neighborhood. People are buying 100-year-old tenements for far more than they can afford and then attempting to buy out or evict the tenants so that they can double the rent for idiots who are willing to pay top dollar for a railroad flat out of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn just because Williamsburg is the hot neighborhood of the moment. "Bah, humbug," as someone used to say.

And speaking of unnecessary development . . .

This used to the the corner of Driggs Ave.and Grand St. It's a Google Earth picture because all my old photos are stashed away on DVDs and hard to get to at the moment.

This is the same corner today.

It's so lovely. And no, I'm not so naive as to think that it would remain an empty lot forever, but given the time I might have thought of a few hundred other things that I'd rather see there, like a gas station or a supermarket with reasonable prices. I'm not the only one worried about what that corner will be like when the heptaplex opens. I am still keeping my fingers crossed for a minor earthquake or a meteor.