Restaurant coming to McCarren Park

Community Board 1 recently reviewed plans to redesign the old park house in McCarren Park.
The board is in the process of approving a new restaurant to open in the iconic but decaying McCarren Park House at 855 Lorimer Street.
The renovation and restaurant will be managed by Aaron Broudo and Belvy Klein, a duo of businessmen who have previously worked on the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Greenpoint and the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.
The renovation project will cost approximately $1.2 million, and will result in the arrival of a new restaurant in the middle of McCarren Park. The restaurant, which is yet to be named, will serve coffee and snacks in the morning and then alcohol and dinner in the evening.
Broudo and Klein are currently applying for a liquor license for the space. The renovated park house is also expected to be completely electric.
Elaine Brodsky of the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is confident that Broudo and Klein’s track record is reason enough to support the project.
“These are local guys and have proven they know how to run a business,” she said.
This new project in McCarren Park adds to the trend of development happening directly around the greenspace. A developer is currently applying to rezone 840 Lorimer Street in order to build a ten-story, mixed-use building across the street from McCarren Park.
If approved, the new construction would include 74 apartments, 30 parking spaces, office space, and retail space. Nineteen of the apartments would be affordable in line with the mayor’s Inclusionary Housing program.
The 840 Lorimer project is located next to the Grand McCarren Park, a new six-story rental building that opened in 2019 in a refurbished industrial facility.

Freedom Market fosters dialogue and community

After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, concerned Greenpointers responded by organizing the McCarren Gathering. The Gathering, which was organized in part by the group North Brooklyn Mutual Aid, meets daily in McCarren Park to address racial injustice, economic injustice, and other issues afflicting BIPOC communities.
In addition to the daily meetings, McCarren Gathering has organized other events and initiatives since its inception over a year ago. One such initiative is the Freedom Market, which promotes and sells products from local BIPOC-owned small businesses.
“Freedom Market was created because of struggle,” said organizer Trevor Bayack. “It came out of this struggle I saw, the way that racism is rooted in economic issues. So we started coming together to talk strategy so we could channel resources from the haves to the have nots.”
The Freedom Market hopes to achieve this goal by offering exposures to local small businesses owned by people of color. The products on sale at the market range from baked goods to home essentials like soap, and customers are encouraged to bring their own bags and shop sustainably.
In addition to its economic mission, the Freedom Market — like the McCarren Gathering as a whole — aims to foster conversations about the realities of racism and the economic, social, and emotional impacts it has.
Originally from East Flatbush, Bayack moved to Greenpoint a couple years ago. He sees the Freedom Market and McCarren Gatherings as an opportunity to educate other Greenpointers and make the neighborhood more thoughtful and inclusive.
“Me personally, I had never fully felt welcome at McCarren Park,” said Bayack. “That’s why the McCarren Gathering is so empowering, because it’s occurring in a space that was not made for the Black and Brown community.”
“The people at the Gatherings are not people I would normally see,” he added. “After the murder of George Floyd, many people realized that they had to take action. So it isn’t preaching to the choir, but sharing our message with the community that needs to hear it.”

While the Freedom Market and McCarren Gathering is meant in part to educate people about injustice, the event is still primarily focused on elevating the voices and work of BIPOC communities.
“What we try to do at McCarren Gathering and the Freedom Market is let the people most affected be in leadership positions and have their voices heard,” said Bayack. “Our white allies are invaluable, but still they attend with the knowledge to defer to the affected communities.”
The Freedom Market is held every Friday at 7 p.m. near the baseball fields in McCarren Park, weather permitting. Additionally, McCarren Gathering organizes other programming at their daily meetings, including book clubs, open mics, self-defense classes, yoga instruction, and special pop-up events in other locations.

For additional information, follow Freedom Market on Instagram @freedommarketnbk.

Developer seeks rezoning for McCarren Park apartments

It is possible that the view from McCarren Park will radically change once again.
A developer is applying to rezone 840 Lorimer Street in order to build a ten-story, mixed-use building across the street from the North Brooklyn park. Applicant Shabsi Parnes is requesting a C4-5D zoning for the property, which would allow for retail and office space beyond the building’s ground floor.
The property has been zoned MX-8 since the large Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning in 2005.
If approved, the new construction would build a ten-story building with 74 apartments, 30 parking spaces, and office space and retail space. Nineteen of the apartments would be affordable housing with income restrictions and rent regulations in line with the mayor’s Inclusionary Housing program.
However, developers’ affordable housing commitments have recently been facing heavy skepticism regarding the starting price for units in affordable housing lotteries (the affordable units at 1 Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn recently sold at a starting price of $2,000 per month).
The proposed building would wrap around the current building on the corner, home to the bar-restaurant Bernie’s. The location was previously home to the iconic Park Luncheonette Diner for over 30 years, which was known for the feathers customers would sometimes find in their food that were blown in from a nearby factory.
If approved, the rezoning would radically change the corner of Lorimer and Driggs Street and would add to a trend of development along the perimeter of McCarren Park.
Bernie’s is located next to the Grand McCarren park, a new six-story rental building that opened in 2019 in a refurbished industrial building. Rentals at the Grand McCarren average $3,972 per month.
The project at 840 Lorimer Street is the latest of many Greenpoint properties eyed by developers. The Meserole Theater on Manhattan Avenue is currently set to be replaced by a five-story apartment building.
A passionate Facebook group called The Meserole Theater Project is fighting to halt the developer.
Additionally, developer Schlomo Karpen is seeking a rezoning at 1 Wythe Avenue to build an eight-story, mixed-used structure on the triangular lot.
Hudson Companies, Inc. is also preparing for the land-use review process for the massive Greenpoint Hospital redevelopment at 288 Jackson Street across the street from Cooper Park.
Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the Gowanus Rezoning is currently entering the land use review process after a prolonged legal battle.
The project would rezone 80 square blocks of the neighborhood to make way for new developments, including a controversial plan to build housing on the highly polluted “Public Place” site along the Gowanus Canal. The project is currently facing significant community push back.

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