Help get CityBenches on Washington/Grand Triangle!
  • Wanna do something great for the Washington Ave retail strip - that will only take about two minutes?

    Click here to go to the DOT's CityBench online request form:

    Request CityBenches for the new DOT sidewalk extension at Washington, Grand and Park. The total lack of public seating along the Washington retail strip is frustrating and off-putting. The new pedestrian peninsula is a natural spot to sit and sip a coffee, read the paper and meet your neighbors. More local eyes on the street mean less street crime and will make the street more welcoming to visitors too.

    Our friends at Grand and Fulton have SIX of these benches in and around the new pedestrian mall (see image below). The senior center across the street on Fulton was likely a motivator.

    On the DOT form, check "in front of a municipal facility" (the NYPD task force) and "in a commercial zone or shopping district" and give the address as "Washington Ave at Grand Ave and Park Place" and the owner as NYC DOT.

    That triangle intersection should be to Washington Ave what Madison Square or Union Square are to Broadway - and some day it will be (when we replace the garage with a Shake Shack and their lot full of junked cars with a landscaped seating area)!

    Attached files image image
  • Why are you advocating for shutting down a business simply because you don't like the way it looks? That garage and its cars have been there for years, and whether or not you think it deserves a space on Washington, it was there back when that intersection was the provence of only the cops and the crackheads. Washington Square and Madison Square are PARKS! Seating at parks is perfectly appropriate. Trying to put seating on a newly constructed street corner so as an excuse to then run out the current business by claiming they are no longer suited to the neighborhood is unconscionable.

  • Homeowner and notsayin-

    Other people have had their eyes on the property presently occupied by the auto repair shop for sometime.

    In 2009 and 2010, plans were filed for a 22 unit building on the site being discussed: 656 Grand Avenue ...aka 699-703 Washington Ave.

    As we know, the credit market has become much more difficult since this time, and that may be why it is still an auto repair place.

    While it would suck for a long time mechanic to loose his lease so his landlord (Ernst Cange) could get rich, it would be awesome if the owner of the property (Ernst Cange) was actually the mechanic: With the help of an excellent architect and lawyer, he might get to wash his hands of grease and retire.


  • P.S. Unless more on street parking is provided for them, the cops might park in front of any benches; that would kind of ruin the intent.

  • One can wish, can't they?

    Obviously there's no legal precedent (Bruce Ratner and friends notwithstanding) to "shut down" a business because one doesn't "like the way it looks". That said, regardless of how long it's been there - that garage and it's rusty corral full of junked cars is a huge eyesore in a spot that could be a centerpiece for the neighborhood.

    Many triangle lots in urban areas that are caused by an avenue that breaks the rectilinear grid on a steep angle are pocket parks - often with a monument or other landscaping and street décor. Walk over to Grant Square where Bedford and Rogers meet for a good example. Or see the Grand/Fulton triangle pictured above.

    Instead of a beautiful public space, we have a rusty dagger that bisects the business district and creates a 150 foot dead zone on a retail strip. And no, you can't just "shut it down" - but a community CAN and SHOULD demand that businesses, homeowners and developers meet a minimum level of tidiness. When the market rationalizes a developer's investment in that parcel, the owner will sell or lease it to an enterprise that will likely create many more jobs and commerce (or build a condo on it - which I believe was on the table a year or two ago).

    BTW, Master Motors isn't the only offender on Washington Avenue - there's examples up and down and around the strip. The dangling banners atop Laundry King, the dirty tarp falling off the 'Pizza and Bagel' place sign, and the innumerable rotted construction fences and destroyed sidewalks in front of stalled construction sites all serve to lower property values, encourage street crime and vandalism, and create a negative atmosphere for residents and visitors. And there ARE building codes that address some of this.

    Nothing against auto repair places, either - they should all look to Nok on St. Marks as an example of how to take pride in your business and coexist in a mixed-use neighborhood.

    And I still think the street benches are a step in the right direction. In the Sping they'll be a nice compliment to the two new trees planted there a few weeks ago!

    Attached files image
  • Talk to Mr. Ernst Cange

    A little more digging has determined that he seems to be the owner of the business AND the property. He can be reached at 718-622-6795.

    Hopefully he broke even on the architect drawing up plans and doing all of the filings.


  • Actually, there is a legal precedent, it's Kelo vs. City of New London, 545 US 469 (2005). The Supreme Court held that the government can condemn and take property pursuant to a redevelopment plan. Not the most popular precedent in US jurisprudence, but there you have it.

  • Discussion regarding pressures on local property owners who hoped to develop their properties during the real estate boom can be found here.

  • Update: SUCCESS!!!!

    The DOT placed two 3-seat CityBenches on the Washington Point triangle (Washington/Grand/Park) this morning!! THANK YOU to everyone who filed online requests back in January. It proves that the city is responsive to community input - even if it takes a while.

    Between the shiny new street furniture, and the smattering of new bench-style tree-guards, the Washington Avenue retail strip now boasts as much or more public seating as any other Brooklyn neighborhood I can think of.

    And despite the occasional complaint about a local drunk sprawled out, or loud conversations here and there (both will occur somewhere - with or without benches), Washington is beginning to present itself as a neighbor and visitor-friendly destination for strolling, resting, chatting, and interacting with fellow humans. Still a bit rattier around the edges than some of our more 'gentrified' peers downtown, but the overall trend is undeniable.

    Now, anyone want to buy a piece of an auto repair shop? :wink:

    Attached files image image
  • Love the benches. I saw hope for the miss-managed garage junkyard when they were installed. I like the big boulders too, to ward off the curb jumping cars.
  • You could talk with Mr. Cange and determine which of the cars outside the fence are his.

    At some point, Mr. Cange will likely close his business and follow through on his plans to develop the property.

    In the meantime, I suspect he is making more money from the appreciation of his land, than he does from repairing cars.

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