Skip to main content

Unable to wait and protest condemnation, Freddy's plans to close on Dean Street after April 30 and move to a new location

Despite a media-friendly plan announced last December to install "chains of justice" so bar-goers could chain themselves to the bar to resist condemnation, Freddy's Bar & Backroom, the much-lauded Prospect Heights dive bar and no-cover eclectic art space, will close for relocation after a April 30 event and celebration, and prepare for relocation.

Patrons and supporters of Freddy's will laud the spirit of resistance--fighting a government and developer with far bigger resources--but must confront a fundamental hurdle.

"Unfortunately, in order to assure our capacity to keep Freddy's alive in another location, and keep people employed," manager Donald O'Finn said, "we have to move the contents of the bar in a particular timely fashion to 'lock down' the next space, and thus we will not be facing an eviction situation in which a protest by chaining ourselves could happen."

(I took the above photo Saturday. Note the word "home" painted on the adjacent residential building, as well as the scaffolding set up as part of the planned demolition of 475 Dean Street, a former industrial building turned into residential and live/work lofts, since purchased by Forest City Ratner. Freddy's occupies the southeast corner of the arena block, at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.)

A business decision

"The owner of Freddy's has had to consider those employed at Freddy's as well as his own situation, no one being billionaires here, needing employment and food on the table, he made a difficult decision to pull out in such a way as to keep the contents of the bar and move it into another location," O'Finn explained. "If we wait for condemnation we might sacrifice too much."

Presumably the settlement offer was deemed sufficient, or at least a good start. The Empire State Development Corporation has asked a judge to set a May 17 deadline for condemnees to leave, though some are expected to resist that at a hearing in Kings County Supreme Court on April 21.

Two to three months

O'Finn said it's too soon to announce a new location, but is aiming at Fourth Avenue and Union Street, which is the Gowanus/Park Slope border rather than Prospect Heights. He hopes to have a smooth transition and reopen within two or three months, with the same web address. (In early March, he told the Village Voice about efforts to find a successor space.)

"I am very sorry about this, more than you know," added O'Finn, a painter and video artist who saw the adjacent Backroom as a place to help an artistic community develop when he took over Freddy's as manager about a dozen years ago. "Freddy’s has been the culmination of everything I am and everything I ever wanted in a bar."

(For background on Freddy's and discussion about the difference between organic development and top-down development, go to the video series Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse, produced by video activists Steve deSève and Sabine Aronowsky, and scroll down to "Shows About the Freddy's Community." Freddy's, a one-time speakeasy and bowling alley, was once more of a standard neighborhood bar.)

Home to opposition

"We made a lot of progress in the fight against eminent domain and did a lot of harm to the Atlantic Yards project," O'Finn said, "and we are proud of that. We will not stop our fight against corrupt political processes and still intend to do all we can for our Brooklyn community."

"The Chains ('The Chains of Justice') have served their purpose...to raise awareness of corruption, and they will move with us, forever installed on that bar as a symbol of a united community and that community's power for affecting change," O'Finn said in a statement that offers the conclusory claim that the "Yonkers and Zimbabwe sanctions busting scandals are criminal acts." (The statement was toned down.)

Freddy's was one of the plaintiffs in the federal and state eminent domain cases and has been the locus for many public protests and events, including, for example, the press conference (above), featuring bobblehead versions of various Atlantic Yards proponents, that preceded the ceremonial groundbreaking on 3/11/10.

"DDDB is truly saddened that Freddy's has to move on, but the New York state and FCR left them no other option," Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn said in a statement. "The neighborhoods that surround Freddy's will sorely miss it. And we are proud to have fought Atlantic Yards with allies and comrades as dedicated as Freddy's management and regulars have been. In particular we want to thank Donald O'Finn and Frank Yost for their commitment to the fight and allowing Freddy's to be a hub of community activity and organizing. "

Freddy's has been the easiest place, for example, for visiting reporters, especially from television stations, to get a sense of the scale and spirit of the neighborhood.

Tough location

As the 4/18/08 photo (left) and set by Tracy Collins indicates, for many months in 2008, utility work and noise limited access to Freddy's and residential buildings on Dean Street.

As I wrote 7/29/08, the Empire State Development Corporation’s voluminous environmental review, required to disclose the potential impacts of the project, said nothing about the impact on those in the footprint, whether residents or those working at or visiting Freddy's.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which detailed the potential impact of the project, did disclose that construction activities might be “perceptible and annoying in buildings very close to a construction site.”

But it didn’t acknowledge that some “very close” buildings might be on the north side of Dean Street, destined to be demolished for the project.

A video about Freddy's

Here's a video by Peg Byron.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…