Rent prices continue to rise in Brooklyn, reports say

 

By Jean Brannum | jbrannum@queensledger.com

Real estate reports show that rent in the city continues to increase with little end in sight, and the number of apartments available is decreasing ahead of the busy summer moving season. 

In Brooklyn, the median rental price for April rose about four percent in the last month, according to a Douglas Elliman report. This increase was slightly less than Manhattan, which rose 4.2 percent in April. 

Molly Franklin, a real estate agent for The Corcoran Group, said that while the Brooklyn market has always been hot, the number of affordable units, especially in Greenpoint, is dwindling. 

“Brooklyn isn’t an affordable borough anymore,” Franklin said. 

The Corcoran Group released a report with similar findings. According to its report, rent in Brooklyn increased ten percent since April 2023. One and two-bedroom apartments increased by over ten percent in the last year. 

Real estate agents are noticing more competition for places. While April is typically busy, this year’s market shows uniquely high competition. 

“I like to call it the Hunger Games,” Elina Golovko said, referring to the fierce competition for places in the summer months. Between new people moving to the city for jobs or school, and people looking to upgrade or downgrade within the city, there are so many people looking and fewer units available. Golovko is a real estate agent for Elliman. 

And she does not see it improving in time for summer, or even in the slower fall and winter months. 

Golovko said that the decrease in inventory has led to tense bidding wars between buyers and sellers. She has seen apartments rent for twenty to thirty percent over the asking price because the area is in high demand. She also noticed that more people are renting to move in up to 90 days in advance, the average earlier was up to 45. 

Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel who created the Elliman report, said that since mortgage rates in April were the highest they have ever been, would-be home buyers are “camping” in the rental market. This increases competition for everyone looking for a place to rent. Those wanting to buy a home also have to afford a down payment and interest, which drives more people to rent, according to Golovko. 

“High mortgage rates are not the friend of would-be homebuyers, but they’re also not the friend of renters,” Miller said. “Higher rates push more people from the sales market to the rental market and the economy.”

Surprisingly, average rent in Northern Queens, which includes Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside decreased slightly. Miller suspects that it is due to the expectation that prices will be lower. The number of units has remained steady in the area. 

But even though rent prices are declining in the area, many units rented for about 20 percent over the asking price, indicating another area for tight bidding wars, according to Miller. 

Miller clarified that he can only make educated guesses for the future, but he does not see rent prices declining or more home buying in the next season. As long as mortgage rates are high, more people are likely to stay in the rental market. 

“It’s become clear that we’re not expecting mortgage or interest rate cuts, imminently, as was the thinking just a month ago,” Miller said. 

For those looking to rent or buy, the realtors shared some helpful tips. 

Start early, Golovko said. Due to the competition, starting earlier and creating a game plan will allow you the best chances of finding a place by the time you need to move. The summer rush is starting now. She also advises looking specifically for apartments available on your start date. 

Before you start searching, get documents ready and find a realtor. Co-op units usually have a longer approval process, while rental properties have the fastest. 

Franklin advises her clients to keep an open mind when looking for a place. Don’t be afraid to look into areas you never thought about, or consider moving to commuter cities if you work from home or don’t commute to the city daily. 

Franklin had two clients, a couple, who were dead set on living in Astoria. She found a place for them in Jackson Heights, and they were happy with their choice to live in a spacious apartment in the neighborhood. 

If you want to stay in an area with higher rent prices, be ready to downgrade or live with a roommate. 

Overall, Franklin emphasized that a “strong stomach and an open mind” will make the process survivable. 



ODTA and NYCHA Sued for Discrimination and Deprioritizing Residents For Pandemic Rent Assistance

By Jean Brannumjbrannum@queensledger.com

The Fordham Law Clinic filed a lawsuit on April 30 against the New York City Housing Authority and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance due to its deprioritization of Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds for people in subsidized housing.

The complaint alleges that even though federal guidelines made many NYCHA residents eligible for Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) funds, tenants were left with pending requests for two years or told they were not eligible due to being in subsidized housing. In addition, NYCHA did not reevaluate the income of families who lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“You could either apply and be put at the back of the line, or you were discouraged from applying at all at the point where the money was dwindling,” said housing advocate and Fordham Professor Norrinda Brown. 

According to the complaint, the ODTA was in charge of distributing ERAP funds to people who were having difficulties paying rent after pandemic-related job loss. The ODTA was supposed to help people regardless of whether they were in subsidized housing or not. 

Danielle Johnson, who lived at Astoria Houses in Queens and is one of the plaintiffs, met the federal eligibility criteria for ERAP.  She was laid off from her role as a medical biller during the pandemic. The widow was the only source of income for the unit she shared with her son.  She was allegedly discouraged from applying and never told she was eligible, according to the complaint.

ERAP applications opened in June 2021 and most of the funds were committed by October 2021. Brown said that while the amount of money was significant, there was not enough left for those receiving housing assistance. 

“It was no surprise that the money would run out, and the money did run out before subsidized tenants could receive any aid,” Brown said

Out of the 39,000 applicants for ERAP from NYCHA housing, only 15,000 were approved as of April 2024, the complaint says. 

The lawsuit also alleges that the ODTA’s and NYCHA’s prejudice was a violation of the state’s lawful source of income protection. The lawful source of income protection means that people in New York cannot be discriminated against due to receiving government assistance, including housing assistance. 

People can also not be discriminated against due to race, which is another part of the suit. 

As of February 2023, rental data says 44 percent of NYCHA tenants are black and 45 percent Hispanic. Brown said that since most residents affected by the deprioritization of ERAP were of this demographic, this is grounds for racial discrimination. 

“If what happened was that NYCHA and the state had said, all black people will have to wait until whites and others are paid, and if there’s any money left, your hardship can be considered,” Brown said. ” We all have a gut reaction to that and realize that that was illegal and against the law.”

Tenants Were Expected to Pay Rent Based on Income They No Longer Had

In addition to being denied assistance available to everyone else, the complaint alleges that NYCHA did not adjust the rent for many residents who lost their jobs due to pandemic layoffs. 

According to the NYCHA FAQ page, rent for residents is adjusted based on income to no more than 30 percent of gross income. If someone is unemployed, then the rent should be adjusted to zero. The rent adjustment is supposed to be adjusted by the first of the month after the income change if the resident reports the change within 30 days, the NYCHA website says. 

Plaintiff Wanda Baez was a teacher but her school ceased operations during the pandemic. She applied for ERAP but was deemed ineligible to apply due to her living in a NYCHA residence. During this time she experienced illness and her sister died from COVID-19. She applied in August of 2021 not knowing that her application would remain pending until this day. 

On top of that, NYCHA left her responsible for her rent based on a $55,000 annual income, which was no longer the case after she lost her job. She emailed NYCHA twice about her application for rental assistance. The lack of communication and income readjustment left Baez “alarmed, confused, and helpless.”

She eventually heard back from NYCHA but in the form of a consumer debt lawsuit for not paying the rent adjusted to her not-ceased income source. Her case is pending and proceeding to mediation according to court filings in February. She owes over $46,000 to NYCHA for her residence in the Bronx from March 2020 to November 2022. 

Johnson also has a consumer debt case against her for the $28,000 she amassed in rent during the pandemic. Like Baez, her case is pending. 

James Rodriguez from the Residents to Preserve Public Housing, an advocacy group and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said that he sees NYCHA “pointing the finger” at residents for many issues they could not help, including unpaid rent and long-needed maintenance. 

Brown also said that NYCHA leaders have blamed residents for unpaid rent when they were ineligible for federal assistance and lost their income source. One of her reasons for filing the class action lawsuit was due to the NYCHA media stories about unpaid rent and debt. 

The State Admitted to This Mistake

A New York State Comptroller’s report from July 2023 said that people in public housing were not prioritized in the rental assistance program. The report acknowledged that many in public housing have not received any funds and that New York was one of the last states to finish distributing funds. 

As a result, the state reportedly provided $356 million in additional funds for ERAP applications existing at the time of its release but said that it may not have been enough to address the high rent burdens affecting residents. 

In June of 2021, the ODTA page for ERAP said that those in public housing would only be considered for assistance after all other applications. This was not consistent with the federal guidelines from the treasury department, which said that public housing residents should be considered along with other applicants. 

The Fight for Justice

The class action lawsuit has only just begun and Brown said that there was a long process ahead, but Rodriguez said that the fight for help has been ongoing to the point that it took time away from other priorities with his organization. 

Brown has filed an injunction to keep ODTA and NYCHA from pursuing evictions and consumer debt cases until after the court reviews the complaint. Meanwhile, Brown said that NYCHA can still recertify income changes and provide retribution for those who fell behind on rent during the pandemic. 

“This whole scheme is sending families further into deep poverty when it could have been handled so so much differently,” Brown said.

NYCHA and the ODTA denied a request for comment citing a policy against commenting on pending litigation. 

Greek Kitchen Opens in Greenpoint

By John Sanchez & Yasin Akdag 

New Fast-Casual Mediterranean Restaurant, Greek Kitchen, delivers a healthy alternative on a block lined with fast-food chains

The Brooklyn Star News team visited Greek Kitchen, a new Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant at 912 Manhattan Ave.in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Led by partners Lukas Georgiadis and George Konstantaras, Greek Kitchen is a sit-down restaurant that offers fresh Mediterranean cuisine with a modern Greek-themed interior.

Greek Kitchen is passionate about representing Greek culture, and it truly shows in the effort that was put into its interior design. As soon as you step foot inside, the bright blue and white colors and the photos of Greece make you feel as if you have been transported to Greece.

Cooking is a tradition in their families, and many Greek Kitchen recipes were handed down by the yia-yias (grandmas) in the family.

With over 25 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry, Georgiadis and Konstantaras have built strong relationships with the best food vendors in the country; including Optimo and Mega.

“Sourcing ingredients such as virgin feta cheese, organic honey from Crete, olives, and oregano straight from Greece helps us attain the high quality that our customers deserve“, said Georgiadis.

“There aren’t a ton of fresh and organic food options on this block, so we’re excited to bring a fresh Mediterranean experience to Greenpoint – right next to the G train,” said Konstantaras.

The stars of Greek Kitchen‘s menu are The Gyro and The Souvlaki; loaded with fresh and generous cuts of lamb and chicken, respectively, creamy tzatziki, onion, and crispy french fries.

I loved the tantalizing blend of flavors and textures of The Classic Lamb Gyro, and John indulged in the juicy marinated meats of a Chicken Souvlaki. Each bite was a “symphony of Mediterranean goodness,” John exclaimed.

Definitely don’t sleep on Greek Kitchen’s Whipped Spicy Feta—a creamy blend of tangy feta cheese and fiery spices that packs a punch. We spread it on warm pita bread and it was a uniquely delicious kick to the mouth.

Greenpoint is populated with many European immigrants, especially Polish residents, but as the community continues to grow, Greek Americans and other nationalities have found their way to Brooklyn.

Beyond the food, Greek Kitchen embodies the spirit of community and culture. “It’s not just a place to eat; it’s an immersive cultural experience that invites guests to savor the flavors of Greece while celebrating the diversity of Greenpoint,” said Georgiadis.

Georgiadis and Konstantaras brought on long-time friends, Manny Lazanakis and Jimmy Stathakis, to become partners in Greek Kitchen; and all of the partners add value in unique ways.

With its dedication to quality, flavor, and community, Greek Kitchen is poised to become a beloved neighborhood institution. 

Be sure to visit Greek Kitchen located at 912 Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint for more tasty Greek food!

The Evolvement Of Digital Technology In Dentistry

Digital Dentistry

Digital dentistry is a broad term encompassing any dental technology that involves the use of computer-based components such as hardware devices and software solutions. The purpose is to enable dental professionals to deliver treatment with the help of computer-aided tools. New possibilities such as digital scanning in dentistry enable dentists for example to take impressions, perform diagnostics or plan treatment without the use of mechanical tools. Digital dental solutions for labs such as impression scanners and design software significantly speed up the process of creating dental products and reduce the amount of manual work.

The history of digital dentistry does not stand alone — it saw daylight for the first time when French dentist Dr. Francois Duret applied principles of CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacture) for dental impression taking. This was in 1984 — almost 40 years ago! Since that day, dental professionals from many countries around the world have invented and patented a lot of digital dental solutions to optimize the dental treatment process. However, as it turned out, adoption of this digital technology by dentists is taking its time — our market research shows that nowadays around 85% of dental clinics globally still take impressions the conventional way: with an impression tray

Digital scanners in dentistry can be classified into different types depending on where and how they are used: in dental clinics, facing the patient, or in dental laboratories, not facing the patient. Dental scanning equipment for clinics can be categorized into CBCT or intraoral scanners. Dental Cone beam CT (CBCT) scanners are used for taking X-rays of the mouth area, and intraoral scanners or dental 3D scanners replace the conventional impression method, where patients are asked to sit with gooey impression material in their mouth in order to get an accurate impression. The two scan types can be combined for example when full denture treatment is needed.

Intraoral scans are built up by polygons and can be combined with an image taken by an intraoral camera3. The result is a realistic 3D image of the patient’s dentition on a computer screen or tablet, and allows the dentist to see even the smallest problems and defects of teeth, and other parts of the cavity, that cannot be noticed with the naked eye. Some scanners can even detect caries in the very early stages (which also helps to prevent its further development).

Dental anxiety is a common barrier that prevents many individuals from seeking necessary dental care. Digital dentistry offers innovative solutions to alleviate dental anxiety and create a more comfortable experience. Intraoral scanners eliminate the need for traditional impression materials, reducing discomfort and minimizing anxiety-inducing triggers. Virtual reality (VR) technology is also being integrated into dental practices, providing patients with immersive and engaging experiences that distract from dental procedures, easing anxiety and enhancing overall well-being.


Contributed By Ultimate Dental, Denture, Crown & Implants Lab – Serving The Greenpoint Area and all of NYC https://ultimatedentallab.com/

Animal Care Centers of NYC Faces Overcrowding Crisis Amid Adoption Decline

A canine companion rests within the confines of a shelter kennel at the Animal Care Centers of NYC, patiently awaiting the arrival of a loving family to offer him a forever home. Potential adopters can explore the Animal Care Centers of NYC app, to browse through profiles of shelter pets and consider their next furry family member with just a few taps on their smartphone.

By MOHAMED FARGHALY

mfarghaly@queensledger.com

The Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC of NYC) is currently facing a critical challenge as their shelters grapple with severe overcrowding, exacerbated by a significant decrease in adoptions. With locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, ACC of NYC has long been a vital resource for animals in need across the city.

Established in 1995, ACC of NYC has been dedicated to providing compassionate care and finding forever homes for animals in need. However, recent trends show a distressing increase in the length of stay for animals, stretching from the typical five to seven days to as much as 20 days.

Katy Hansen, Director of Marketing and Communication at ACC of NYC, attributes this surge in shelter population primarily to economic hardships faced by pet owners, forcing them to surrender their beloved animals due to financial constraints rather than a lack of care.

“The number one reason that people are giving us when they surrender their pet is that they can no longer afford it,” Hansen said. “The economy has taken a toll on a lot of people.”

Consequently, the shelters have resorted to doubling up on existing cage spaces and even utilizing hallways to accommodate the overflow of animals. This overcrowding can lead to increased stress and discomfort for the animals, potentially compromising their well-being and quality of life.

“The animals we’re getting in now are animals that have lived with families for several years, they are pets that the family just can no longer afford to keep,” Hansen said.

Over the past few years, ACC of NYC has implemented various strategies to boost adoption rates in their shelters. These efforts include promotional events such as free adoptions, along with comprehensive adoption packages that cover essential services like microchipping, vaccinations, and spaying/neutering. Despite these proactive measures, the organization acknowledges the significant impact of economic challenges on pet owners, which remains beyond their control.

Despite these challenges, ACC of NYC continues to provide a wide range of services to the public beyond adoption. As the only open-admission shelter in New York City, they accept all species of animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even exotics like snakes and goats. In addition to adoption services, ACC of NYC offers foster programs, volunteer opportunities, and various community initiatives such as pet food pantry and vaccine clinics.

Their foster program is particularly noteworthy, as it not only provides temporary relief to overcrowded shelters but also offers animals a chance to decompress in a home environment.

“Fostering is really life-saving,” Hansen said. “It opens up kennel space and provides animals with time to decompress away from the noisy shelter environment.”

Many families who initially intended to foster have found themselves falling in love with their temporary companions, leading to permanent adoptions and heartwarming success stories. What begins as a compassionate act of fostering often blossoms into lifelong bonds for both the lives of the animals and their new human companions

ACC of NYC also conducts vaccine clinics and hosts pet food pantries to support pet owners in need, ensuring that animals in the community receive essential care and nutrition. With an impressive 90% adoption rate, ACC of NYC strives to find loving homes for as many animals as possible, relying on the support and generosity of the community to continue their life-saving work.

As the overcrowding issue persists, ACC of NYC urges the public to consider various ways they can help. Beyond adoption and fostering, individuals can volunteer their time at the shelters, assist with fundraising efforts, or even donate supplies such as pet food, blankets, and toys.

Additionally, ACC of NYC emphasizes the importance of community involvement in addressing the root causes of pet surrenders. By advocating for affordable pet care resources and promoting responsible pet ownership, individuals can contribute to reducing the number of animals entering shelters due to economic hardships.

Readers interested in adopting a pet from Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC of NYC) can utilize the organization’s mobile app for a convenient and streamlined experience. The ACC of NYC app, available on both Android and Apple devices, offers a comprehensive platform for users to browse through the hundreds of animals available for adoption. With detailed bios, photos, and even videos of each animal, potential adopters can get to know their future furry companions before making a decision. Additionally, the app provides essential information about the adoption process, including requirements and procedures, making it easier for individuals to navigate their journey towards welcoming a new pet into their home.

Potential adopters can explore the Animal Care Centers of NYC app, to browse through profiles of shelter pets and consider their next furry family member with just a few taps on their smartphone.

“There is sometimes a misperception about shelter pets, that there’s something wrong with them,” Hansen said. “But these are pets that have lived with families, have been loved by families, walked by families, they didn’t just appear on Earth at age seven. They were taken care of, and through no fault of their own, they found themselves in a shelter. And our shelter is the only shelter that takes animals from anyone. So, we’re the first stop on the rescue journey to finding them a new home.”

Readers can also visit the organization’s website at nyacc.org for adoption inquiries and to explore opportunities for volunteering and supporting Animal Care Centers of NYC’s mission.

Through collaboration and support from the community, ACC of NYC remains hopeful that they can overcome the current challenges and continue their mission of saving lives and providing a safe haven for animals in need across New York City.

ST. JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY RECEIVES $1M GIFT FOR STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS

Alumnus Stephen Somers ’82 makes remarkable gift for Brooklyn and Long Island programs

BROOKLYN and PATCHOGUE, N.Y. – March 25, 2024 – St. Joseph’s University, New York (SJNY) is pleased to announce that it has received a $1 million gift from alumnus Stephen Somers ’82 to establish endowed student scholarships for the Brooklyn Campus ACES program, as well as the nursing programs on both the Brooklyn and Long Island campuses of St. Joseph’s University, New York.

Through his incredible generosity, the Somers ACES Endowed Scholarship provides $500,000 for student scholarships that will benefit students enrolled in the Brooklyn campus’ ACES program, an intensive reading and writing learning community for high-achieving immigrant students for whom English is a new language.

Similarly, the Somers Endowed Nursing Scholarship provides $500,000 for undergraduate student scholarships for high-need, high-achieving upper level nursing students during their junior and senior years.

“I hope the students who receive these scholarships realize the gift they have been given and reach back to support the University with whatever help they can give,” said Somers. “That may be their time, talent, mentorship or financial gifts. If you have the good fortune to live your dreams like I have, then in turn, you need to pay it forward so others can do the same.”

With a long history of philanthropic giving to St. Joseph’s, these are the fourth and fifth scholarships that Somers’ donations have established for the University, and because these new scholarships are endowed, they will be awarded for generations, benefitting countless students.

“This wonderful gift from Steve will have a profound impact on our students, many of whom depend on additional financial support to attend St. Joseph’s,” said Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., SJNY president. “His continued generosity to his alma mater, and his love for our students, is remarkable. We are very grateful to him for all that he does for St. Joseph’s University, New York.”

Stephen Somers graduated from SJNY’s Brooklyn campus in 1982 with a B.S. in Chemistry and began his career in the flavor and fragrance industry. He went on to earn a master’s degree in analytical chemistry from St. John’s University and purchased Vigon International, Inc., in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Under Somers’ leadership, the company became one of the industry’s fastest growing companies and the leading manufacturer of high-quality flavor and fragrance ingredients. He sold the company in 2021 but remains involved, serving as head of technology. In living out a lifelong dream and his love of baseball, he recently became an ownership partner with the Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox.

“This gift is a testament to Steve’s belief and commitment to a St. Joseph’s education,” said Rory Shaffer-Walsh, vice president for institutional advancement. “Thanks to his generosity, the University will be able to provide impactful opportunities to students, and we are forever grateful.”

Somers resides in Hackettstown, New Jersey with his wife, Sharon, who also attended SJNY and graduated in 1982.

For more information about SJNY, visit sjny.edu.

St. Joseph's University-New York - Brooklyn, NY | Appily

ABOUT ST. JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK

St. Joseph’s University, New York has been dedicated to providing a diverse population of students in the New York metropolitan area with an affordable education rooted in the liberal arts tradition since 1916. Independent and coeducational, the University provides a strong academic and value-oriented education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, aiming to prepare each student for a life characterized by integrity, intellectual and spiritual values, social responsibility and service. Through its Brooklyn, Long Island and online campuses, the University offers degrees in more than 100 majors, special course offerings and certificates, affiliated and pre-professional programs.

Blaze Strikes Brooklyn Church During Easter Service

Courtesy New York City Fire Department

Firefighters battled a five-alarm fire at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii Church in Williamsburg on Easter Sunday, March 31, as heavy smoke billows from the building

By MOHAMED FARGHALY

mfarghaly@queensledger.com

Firefighters battle a five-alarm fire at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii Church in Williamsburg on Easter Sunday, March 31, as heavy smoke billows from the building

A five-alarm fire broke out at a Catholic church in Williamsburg on Easter Sunday on March 31, causing injuries to multiple individuals within the vicinity.

The blaze ignited at approximately 1:45 p.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii, situated at 225 Siegel St. in Williamsburg, engulfing the church’s second floor.

According to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the inferno led to minor injuries for three civilians and three firefighters. Heavy smoke billowed across the vicinity for several blocks, with flames fiercely consuming the church’s rooftop.

Efforts to quell the flames persisted into the late afternoon, with firefighters finally gaining control of the situation at around 5:18 p.m. However, the cause of the fire remains undetermined, prompting an investigation by the fire marshal.

The incident disrupted Easter services, triggering a substantial FDNY response. Emergency crews swiftly descended upon the scene, cordoning off Seigel Street to facilitate firefighting operations.

Eyewitnesses recounted the harrowing scene, noting the presence of individuals within the church celebrating the Easter holiday as the fire erupted. Reportedly, approximately 100 worshippers had gathered for the afternoon mass.

Despite the ferocity of the blaze, FDNY officials commendably managed to salvage the church structure. However, a section of the second floor collapsed during the ordeal, resulting in a minor injury for one firefighter.

Tragically, the church’s rectory suffered extensive damage, with investigations underway to ascertain the cause of the conflagration.

 

Courtesy Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii Church Facebook page

Amid Easter celebrations, firefighters battled a fierce blaze at Our Lady of the Rosary Pompeii Church in Williamsburg.

 

‘Believe the Hype’ Column by Christine Stoddard: Standout Asian Cuisine & Migration of Two Kinds

By Christine Stoddard | cstoddard@queensledger.com

The best meal I had on the go this week–and, yes, I am so often on the go–was the Braised Chicken Congee Bowl at Maya Congee Café. Though I have passed the Fulton St. location in Clinton Hill on many occasions, this was my first visit. Decked out in red and gold, the quaint spot, which houses a small market, cheerfully reminded me that it was Lunar New Year. We are in the Year of the Dragon, which happens to be my Chinese Zodiac sign. How fortuitous.

View of Maya Congee Café front door. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Chino Grande

Now, my best sit-down meal of the week goes to Chino Grande, owned by Josh Ku of Win Son fame. Nestled on Grand St. in South Williamsburg, the Asian/Latin fusion restaurant even boasts regular karaoke. While I did not stay to sing my heart out, I have no regrets. The chic Mid-century design immediately pulled me in, setting a tone of relaxed sophistication. The green booths felt serene and the friendly staff contributed to the comfy atmosphere. My date and I delighted in the Chips (plantain, taro, and sweet potato) with the Sauce Caddy (Green Sauce, Ketchupmayo, Spicy Duck Sauce). We also shared the Crab Rangoon Toast and Pilón Smashed Cucumbers, and each ordered a Chorizo Egg Roll. For large dishes, I was very pleased with the presentation of the Twice Cooked Chicharrón de Cerdo (leeks, shishitos, fermented chili paste) and the lightness of the Salchicha Arroz Chaufa (longaniza, lap cheong, chorizo, red peppers, peas), which was the most guilt-free fried rice I can remember tasting. For a cocktail, I opted for the popular Chiquita Chinita (Mezcal, Red Bull Pepper, Toasted Rice), while my partner ordered the Ni Haody! (Rye, Jujube, Black Walnut, Sweet Vermouth). We finished with the tantalizing Ice Cream Sandwich (Maria cookies, guava, and cheese), which just so happened to combine some of my childhood favorites.

Chips and sauce caddy at Chino Grande. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Hardware & Discount Store

My biggest shock in the local business community this week was seeing that Fulton Home Center and Hardware Corporation is moving. You, like me, may better know this neighborhood shop simply as “Hardware & Discount Store,” as that is what’s printed on its awning. It is, or shall I say was, located near the Nostrand Ave. stop on the A/C. Now it is moving to 1507 Fulton St., by Kingston and Fulton. According to hand-written signs taped to the windows, the shop lost its lease after 40 years. I popped my head inside as movers cleared decades of inventory, and briefly spoke to the understandably frazzled owner, who took my business card and then had to get back to work. Any tips are appreciated.

Sign taped to the window of Hardware & Discount Store on Fulton St. in Bed-Stuy. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Floyd Bennett Field Migrant Shelter Bus Service

Family tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Ever since I heard about the migrant family shelter opening at Floyd Bennett Field, I have had concerns. The park is a known flood plain; on virtually any visit after a rainstorm, I have noticed soggy ground and huge puddles. In January, a rainstorm sent the city scrambling to relocate 2,000 parents and children from the tent shelter to James Madison High School in Midwood. Some Madison parents protested and there were complaints about how much sense the last-minute, poorly planned move made for a one-night respite.

Ever since I heard about the migrant family shelter opening at Floyd Bennett Field, I have had concerns. The park is a known flood plain; on virtually any visit after a rainstorm, I have noticed soggy ground and huge puddles. In January, a rainstorm sent the city scrambling to relocate 2,000 parents and children from the tent shelter to James Madison High School in Midwood. Some Madison parents protested and there were complaints about how much sense the last-minute, poorly planned move made for a one-night respite.

Q35 bus stop outside of Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Apart from the flood plain issue, I have wondered about public transportation there. I have only ever driven to Floyd Bennett Field, located on the tailend of Flatbush Ave., going toward the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. There is a no-man’s-land quality to the park, which is littered with abandoned buildings and empty lots. The Q35 bus stop, which you will find just outside of the park, is a solid 5-7-minute walk from where the shelter tents are stationed. Make it 10 for the parents walking with younger children and strollers. In the nearly two hours I observed there on a windy Friday afternoon (after-school hours), the bus came three times. Many migrants waiting for the bus did not have proper winter coats. Their situation is dire.

Large empty lots stand in the way between the family shelter and the Q35 stop at Floyd Bennett Field. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

Tribute to Kellogg’s Diner

By Madeline Edalow | news@queensledger.com

A view of Kellogg’s Diner from December 2023. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

New York City is ever-changing and long time residents grow accustomed to iconic establishments disappearing.

I am a life-long New Yorker. Within my lifetime, the gentrification of Northern Brooklyn has progressed at lightening speed. The luxury establishments that continue to open often feel inaccessible to me. I often feel like a tourist in the city I grew up in, not recognizing neighborhoods where I used to spend a lot of time.

As the area surrounding the Lorimer L train in Williamsburg Brooklyn felt the impact of trendy hipsterdom, one spot felt accessible to a wide range of people. I am speaking of Kellogg’s Diner.

Kellogg’s Diner has been open for nearly a century and will be opening with new ownership this year after renovations are complete. The original owners of the restaurant gave up after a long period of financial hardship. Irene Siderakis, the most recent owner, struggled to keep the doors open after the tragic passing  of her husband, who previously ran the restaurant. The new management plans to make changes to the establishment, so that it is more appealing to neighborhood patrons. It is still uncertain whether the new restaurant will hold up to what Kellogg’s represented.

Kellogg’s, in its way, was a universal meeting space. I don’t think I’ve eaten there once without seeing someone else I knew. The 24-hour schedule caused every person who partied nearby until the early hours of the morning to commune at the diner. The schedule also motivated some people to travel from distant neighborhoods to eat and drink.

I remember performing at an open mic on the Lower East Side and heading to Kellogg’s with a comedian friend after the end of the mic. I ordered the most enormous mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had. I was extremely intoxicated, but I remember that night well because I ran into an old friend I’d known through high school friends. I had entered with a friend I knew through mostly transplant-filled art scenes when I ran into this friend from the past. As a lifelong Brooklynite, it is always comforting to run into people associated with my upbringing, especially as it gets rarer and rarer.  Like I said, Kellogg’s served as a universal meeting space, where old New York meets new New York.

The plans to redevelop the diner include reinstating the 24-hour schedule and a new Tex-Mex menu. The new owner and management have a history of running other successful trendy establishments. The restaurant will also have a new cocktail bar.

I imagine the new direction for the famed diner location will be a success as the new influx of Brooklyn residents can’t seem to get enough of establishments that sell fancy cocktails.

I wish the new ownership well and hope they are able to keep their doors open for another century, even with the changes. The building staying a somewhat similar business is comforting to me and likely others who struggle to recognize their home city. I am hopeful that the menu will be affordable to the average New Yorker and not just the progressively wealthier residents of Williamsburg.

In this ever-changing city, it is harder and harder for classic spots, like neighborhood diners, to keep their doors open as they don’t provide for the modern tastes that have become popular in Brooklyn. I hope that even with the differences, there will still be places where new New York can meet with old New York. We will have to wait and see if the new management of Kellogg’s can provide for a wide community. I certainly hope so.

Madeline Edalow is an artist of many mediums and writer raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of City As School, the oldest alternative public high school in New York City. For work, she face paints at events of all kinds and is also a teaching artist at schools all over the city. She is a current student studying Public Administration at Medgar Evers College. She is deeply inspired by her upbringing in this wonderful city full of people from all over the world.

Side By Side: How The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Compares To Other Compact Sedans

Side By Side: How The 2024 Hyundai Elantra Compares To Other Compact Sedans

In the bustling segment of compact sedans, the Hyundai Elantra shines with its exceptional execution of small car responsibilities. With a range of fuel-efficient powertrains, it seamlessly blends performance and economy while boasting a plethora of driver assistance features, modern convenience technologies, and solid value. For those seeking an extra thrill, the Elantra offers the option of donning the prestigious N badge, delivering a turbocharged punch and sporty enhancements to elevate its performance prowess. To learn more, you can check out this 2024 Hyundai Elantra review. Let’s see how the compact Hyundai stacks up against its key rivals.

Design

The design of the 2024 Hyundai Elantra captures attention with its sharp and visually appealing aesthetics. Its exterior boasts sleek lines and curves, imparting a distinctly contemporary appearance. At the forefront, the bold and striking front grille enhances the car’s overall appeal, accentuating its sharper front end. Compared to other sedans in its segment, the Elantra has the most distinctive styling, making it an excellent choice for shoppers who want to stand out.

Build Quality

It’s normal to see low quality materials in segments with low-priced vehicles. However, the Elantra does well to provide impressive materials. The Hyundai Elantra may not be the most equipped model, as hard plastics are visible in some parts, but its attractive layout masks these flaws.

Performance

The 2024 Elantra’s standard engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that coughs out 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. This engine is coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Compared to other compact sedans in this segment, the Elantra’s base engine is the least powerful. But don’t fret, as Hyundai makes up for this with a gutsier 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder providing a robust 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque for the N Line model. That’s more power than you’d get in the Honda Civic Si, Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Sentra. Also, only the Hyundai Elantra along with the Toyota Prius and Corolla offers hybrid powertrains. The hybrid Elantra merges a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a combined output of 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The turbo-powered N Line model sprints from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 7.0 seconds, which is slightly quicker than other sedans with similar power output.

Fuel Economy

Elantra models with the base engine achieves an EPA-estimated 33 mpg city and 42 mpg highway. The Elantra is slightly more frugal than it’s classmates. Only the entry-level Honda Civic matches these numbers.

The refreshed Elantra is one of the sportiest compact sedans in the market. From its out-of-the-box styling to its hybrid and performance-oriented offerings, the sedan caters to the needs of various category of shoppers. To lease a brand-new 2024 Hyundai, such as the facelifted 2024 Elantra, VIP Auto Lease is your top choice. We assure you of the industry’s lowest prices and lightning-fast delivery to your driveway.


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