Former BBG Herbarium property for sale

Want to build next to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens? This might be your one and only chance.
Development Site Adjacent to Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Hits Market, Terrance Cullen, Commercial Observer, 2015-09-10

More like building on the grave of BBG’s science and research mission. This is not just “walking distance from the Botanic Gardens;” it’s the former site of Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Herbarium, known as BKL.

The 22,000-square-foot plot at 111 Montgomery Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn is hitting the market for a potential developer looking to likely build condominiums.

According to the NYC Department of Buildings, the property is 109-111 Montgomery Street. BBG quietly announced almost a year ago that they would be “disposing” of:

… BBG’s building at 109 Montgomery Street, which has foundation problems and is not cost effective to repair.

The disposition is expected to generate significant revenue …
BBG Announces Disposition of Montgomery Street Building, 2014-10-24

Indeed. The Observer article gives “an asking price in the mid-$40 million.”

BBG’s October announcement made no mention of the herbarium. In their “Freedom is Slavery” double-speak, they claim the sale as “the first step in reintroducing a science research program at the Garden.” “Reintroducing” because BBG removed science from their mission in September 2013, with no announcement, just a month after firing their remaining science staff,

BBG planned to transfer the herbarium – again, without announcement – out of state, either to the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) or the Smithsonian. This would have been a disaster for the natural history and cultural heritage of New York state. It was only through last-minute, behind-the-scenes advocacy and intervention in March of this year that the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) instead accepted the contents on loan. That move was completed in April.

In June of this year, BBG sold the property to the holding company, 109 Montgomery LLC, for $24.5 million.

According to the president of the brokerage handling the sale of the herbarium property, “There’s a real need for families moving into Brooklyn to buy apartments within the $1 to $2 million range.” But no room for science, at any price.

Related Content

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Slash and Burn “Campaign for the 21st Century”, 2013-08-23
Brooklyn Botanic Garden removes science from its mission, 2014-01-20


The Times discovers Kensington

“Pink Shell”, Coney Island Avenue, Kensington, Brooklyn
Pink Shell
The “Living In” feature of tomorrow’s NY Times Real Estate section focuses on Kensington:

… a quiet, verdant area, just below Windsor Terrace, straddling McDonald Avenue and Ocean Parkway. The neighborhood, which is almost one square mile in size, has several long-established immigrant groups among its roughly 70,000 people.
Name From London, People From Everywhere, New York Times, May 25, 2008

Even though it’s right across Coney Island Avenue from me, I have been neglectful of Kensington and haven’t spent much time there in the three years I’ve lived in Flatbush. Kensington and Flatbush both enjoy a rich diversity. With 7 lanes and no median, Coney Island Avenue serves as an (un)natural barrier between our neighborhoods. I have visions of more pedestrian-friendly streetscapes fostering streetlife along C.I.A. Maybe I’ll live to see that.

Once part of Flatbush, Kensington was developed after the completion of Ocean Parkway in 1875, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It was later named for the borough in West London; much of its housing was built in the 1920s. The wave of immigration that brought the neighborhood much of its ethnic diversity began in the 1980s.

Besides Church Avenue, smaller shopping districts can be found along Ditmas Avenue and Cortelyou Road, though the latter is not as developed in Kensington as it is in Ditmas Park, the neighborhood of Victorian houses to the east, where it is a major commercial street. A Food Town supermarket on McDonald Avenue recently expanded, to accolades from many residents.

Most of Kensington is a short walk from the southern tip of Prospect Park, including the park’s Parade Grounds, with its tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields. Prospect Park Lake is also close by. Kensington Stables, just outside the park, offers riding lessons.

Individual Plots, East 4th Street Community Garden, Kensington
Individual Plots, East 4th Street Community Garden

Related content

Other posts about Kensington
My photos of Kensington

Some Kensington Blogs and Bloggers

Bad Girl Blog
New York City Garden
Porochista Khakpour


Name From London, People From Everywhere, New York Times, May 25, 2008

amNY profiles Flatbush

Tomorrow’s amNY includes an extensive profile of Flatbush in their City Living (real estate) section:

Good luck trying to get a straight answer on where Flatbush is. Encompassing 11 neighborhood associations, all of which can claim some stake in this emerging community, the boundaries are amorphous–something in which local civic leaders seem to take pride, given the great diversity that exists here.
New York real estate: Flatbush, amNY, May 8, 2008

In a refreshing change, the article expands the focus beyond “Ditmas Park.” A photo of a halal meat store on Coney Island Avenue illustrates the article.

While most of the recent attention has focused on the historic neighborhoods around Ditmas Park, other areas of Flatbush are thriving and on the radar for capital improvements.

One of several humming commercial strips that reflect the rich diversity of the neighborhood, Flatbush Avenue is lined with businesses catering to Dominican, Spanish, West Indian, Jamaican and Haitian populations (as well as blocks-long stretches of Pentecostal storefront churches). Indian, Pakistani and Afghan restaurants and markets occupy blocks of Coney Island Avenue. Target will be the anchor tenant in a new mall at Brooklyn Junction. And the long-closed historic Loews’ King Theater, a 1929 Art Deco movie palace ( Barbra Streisand worked the doors here as a teenager) may get a renovation.

All eyes are on the Newkirk Plaza area, one of America’s oldest pedestrian shopping malls, spruced up with decorative pavement and fencing, lighting and planters. The French bistro, Pomme de Terre, recently planted a stake near here, signaling to the rest of Flatbush that Newkirk is ready for its photo opp.

amNY takes a look at Prospect Park South

170 Stratford Road, Prospect Park South
170 Stratford Road, Prospect Park South
Tomorrow’s edition of amNY has an article on Prospect Park South, my neighborhood neighbor to the north, in their real estate (what else) section:

Deep in the belly of Flatbush lies an enclave of colossal freestanding houses, characterized by turrets, oriel windows, grand entrances flanked by columns and expansive wraparound porches.
City Living: Prospect Park South, amNY, January 3, 2008

I don’t know about “deep in the belly”; PPS lies rather to the northern end of Flatbush.

171 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South
171 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South

Unusually for a real estate piece, the article hints at some of the disparities and tensions with which Flatbush is challenged:

Though the neighborhood never fell into disrepair, relations between Prospect Park South and the less-wealthy surrounding areas have seen some rough times in the past.

In the 1970s, muggings and various thefts occurred along Church Avenue and Cortelyou Avenue, the main drags of the area. It had gotten bad enough that Prospect Park South’s residents began paying for private neighborhood security. According to residents, things have improved since then.

Still, some have their doubts about the relationship between Victorian Flatbush — a blanket term for Prospect Park South and the cluster of ritzy neighborhoods to the south [I don’t feel that “ritzy, but okay] — and other parts of Flatbush.

“To be honest, it’s separate,” said one resident, who did not want to be named. “There’s just not much interaction between the two; a silent hostility, perhaps.”

The article includes a brief interview with local realtor and long-time resident Mary Kay Gallagher.

145 (left) and 155 (right) Argyle Road, Prospect Park South
145&155 Argyle Road

Related Content

My Posts tagged Prospect Park South
My Flickr Collection of photos of Prospect Park South
My Flickr photos tagged Prospect Park South

Factoid: Street Trees and Property Values

The street tree in front of our house
Sycamore Maple? Street Tree, Stratford Road

Two weeks ago, I wrote that stormwater runoff reduction was the “second biggest” contributor to the annual benefits New York City receives from its street trees. So what’s the largest contributor? The annual increase in property values that accrues as trees grow:

Well-maintained trees increase the “curb appeal” of properties. Research comparing sales prices of residential properties with different numbers and sizes of trees suggests that people are willing to pay 3–7% more for properties with ample trees versus few or no trees. One of the most comprehensive studies on the influence of trees on residential property values was based on actual sales prices and found that each large front-yard tree was associated with about a 1% increase in sales price (Anderson and Cordell 1988). Depending on average home sale prices, the value of this benefit can contribute significantly to property tax revenues.
NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Appendix D: Methodology, Property Value and Other Benefits [emphasis added]

The annual increase in property values attributable to NYC’s street trees alone is estimated at $52,500,000 per year. The standing value of those trees is far greater, 50-100 times the annual figure, in the billions of dollars. And this study only examined street trees. These figures do not take into account the standing and ever-increasing value of trees, plants, and other landscaping on the properties themselves.

Take that, Barbara Corcoran.

Many benefits attributed to urban trees are difficult to translate into economic terms. Wildlife habitat, beautification, improved human health, privacy, shade that increases human comfort, sense of place, and well-being are difficult to price. However, the value of some of these benefits may be captured in the property values of the land on which trees stand. To estimate the value of these “other” intangible benefits, research that compares differences in sales prices of houses was used to estimate the contribution associated with trees. The difference in sales price reflects the willingness of buyers to pay for the benefits and costs associated with trees.
NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Chapter 4: Benefits of New York’s Municipal Trees

The calculation of annual aesthetic and other benefits is tied to a tree’s annual increase in leaf area. When a tree is actively growing, leaf area increases rapidly. At maturity, there may be no net increase in leaf area from year to year, thus there is little or no incremental annual aesthetic benefit for that year, although the cumulative benefit over the course of the entire life of the tree may be large. Since this report represents a 1-year snapshot of the street tree population, benefits reflect the increase in leaf area for each tree over the course of one year. As a result, a very young population of 100 callery pears
will have a greater annual aesthetic benefit than an equal number of mature planetrees. However, the cumulative aesthetic value of the planetrees would be much greater than that of the pear.

Related Posts

Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, November 18
Factoids: NYC’s Street Trees and Stormwater Reduction, November 15
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12
Preserving Livable Streets: DCP’s Yards Text Amendment, November 7
How Much Is a Street Tree Really Worth?, April 9


Million Trees NYC

Where is Flatbush, Anyway?

Update 2007.11.04: For others’ reactions to the Times piece, see the Links at the end of this post, or check out the list on Brooklyn Junction. Also added a link to a 1998 letter to the editor about their invention of “Greater Ditmas Park.”

Map of Flatbush in 1873
Map of Flatbush, 1873

Today, the “Living In” feature of the Real Estate section of the New York Times looks at Flatbush:

More than a neighborhood, Flatbush often refers to a sprawling community in central Brooklyn comprising multiple smaller ones.
… But many smaller neighborhoods traditionally under the Flatbush umbrella, including Ditmas Park and Prospect Park South, have asserted distinct identities. So, the character of what might be called Flatbush proper — a rectangle anchored at the south by Brooklyn College — has come into sharper focus.
Note to City Dwellers: Steals Available Here

The article claims “the borders of Flatbush are ambiguous”:

Neighborhoods once considered part of it have reclaimed their more specific names. Today, its western border is generally considered Ocean Avenue, beyond which are the various parts of Victorian Flatbush. Its eastern border is New York Avenue, beyond which is East Flatbush. The northern boundary is Parkside Avenue; on the south it is the Long Island Rail Road tracks, just above Avenue I.

This is not the first time the Times has gotten confused about the boundaries of the area. In 1998, they invented the term “Greater Ditmas Park” to cover several other neighborhoods, and a West Midwood resident took them to task for it:

Ditmas Park, along with Prospect Park South, Beverley Square West, West Midwood, South Midwood, Fiske Terrace, and the other neighborhoods in the area discussed are not part of ”Greater Ditmas Park” but of Flatbush.

Maybe that’s where Corcoran picked up their bad habits.

Part of the ambiguity is that the name “Flatbush” is used at two different scales, at least. There was the old Village, then town, of Flatbush, located along what was a trading trail and became the Flatbush Avenue of today. There was also the Township of Flatbush prior to consolidation, with Brooklyn in 1894, then with New York City in 1898. The township included the farmlands to the west of the town of Flatbush. These were developed at the turn of the last century into the “many smaller neighborhoods” the Times mentions.

The Township of Flatbush also extended north of the Times designation, bordering the Township of Brooklyn. In the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a few hundred feet in from its southwestern entrance near the Carousel in Prospect Park, is a brass line and plaque marking this boundary:

Brooklyn-Flatbush Boundary Marker

Brooklyn-Flatbush Boundary Marker

Brooklyn-Flatbush Boundary Marker

The only substantial community garden in the area also gets a mention:

In 2002, the couple bought a one-bedroom co-op on Glenwood Road with an eat-in kitchen and spacious foyer … They started meeting neighbors through a residents’ association and the Campus Road garden, a community garden at Brooklyn College. In addition to the pleasure of tending their 10-by-13-foot plot, they enjoy summer social gatherings in the garden.

Related Posts

Forgotten Flatbush: The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge


Across the Park
Brooklyn Junction
Ditmas Park Blog
Fading Ad Blog
Hawthorne Street

Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth

Welcome, Apartment Therapy readers! If this story interests you, be sure to learn more by checking out the related posts linked at the end of this article.

Barbara Corcoran thinks the owner of this “townhouse” [sic] should chop down this maple tree, pave over the front yard, and park cars there instead to increase their property values.
1422 Beverly Road

Queens Crap has the goods on this (Daily News columnist advocates paving). I learned about it through Brooklyn Junction (Barbara Corcoran Weighs In On Proposed Yard Change), who was alerted to it by commenter “dbs” on his post about the Yards Text Amendment. I’ve read some excellent follow-up by my neighbor, Crazy Stable (Get a cement truck over there fast) and Forgotten New York (Cuckoo Corcoran).

Trees increase the selling prices of residential properties. Paving over the front yard will decrease the resale value of a home. It will also incur other annual costs to the homeowner, such as energy costs.

As a realtor (not just any realtor, “New York’s top realtor” the byline for her column asserts), Corcoran should know better. She should at least know better than to advise her readers out of ignorance. But then, it’s her Manhattan-myopic company that, even after years of doing business in Brooklyn and the other “outer” boroughs, has no category for “house” in their listings. And ascribes the name “Ditmas Park” to most of Victorian Flatbush. Not to mention she should know something about the Department of City Planning.

Barbara Corcoran thinks this is a townhouse.
1423 Albemarle Road
Oh, and as soon as possible they should chop down that pesky Cherry tree and pave over the front yard so they can park cars on it. She’s sure it will increase the property value.

Q. My wife and I have lived in Queens for the past 10 years and we plan on staying in the area for about another five. We are noticing lately that all of our neighbors are paving their yards and then use the space to park their cars on.

My wife has spent many hours cultivating her plants and would like to keep the garden, but I think having a driveway will help us increase the price of the house when it comes time to sell. What do you think?

A. Hey, a flower garden might look pretty and keep your wife happy, but the space in front of your house is worth a hell of a lot more as a driveway. [emphasis added]

You should know that the city council of Queens [sic, it’s the DCP proposal, the Yards Text Amendment] has just proposed a zoning change that would prohibit residents from paving their yards in some areas.

So get your wife on your side and get a cement truck over there fast.

Ask Barbara, New York Daily News, November 8, 2007

What do you think? Leave a comment below. Even better, write Barbara herself.


Related Posts

Factoid: Street Trees and Property Values, December 2
The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12
Preserving Livable Streets: DCP’s Yards Text Amendment, November 6
Victorian Flatbush at risk from inappropriate zoning, October 23
Another reason to loathe real estate brokers, April 6
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC’s Heat Island, Block by Block, August 1, 2006


Daily News columnist advocates paving, Queens Crap
Barbara Corcoran Weighs In On Proposed Yard Change, Brooklyn Junction
Yards Text Amendment, Brooklyn Junction
Get a cement truck over there fast, Crazy Stable
Cuckoo Corcoran, Forgotten New York


If you email Barbara Corcoran, you’ll get this robo-response:

Thanks for sending a question to “Ask Barbara”. Look for Barbara’s answer to your question in her “Ask Barbara” column appearing every Friday in Your Home only in the Daily News. Look for more real estate questions and Barbara’s helpful answers at

Would you like to speak to Barbara directly? Simply reply to this message with your full name, town and daytime phone number. You may be invited to ask your question on Barbara’s new show!

The title of this post comes from the Dilbert comic of June 19. Dogbert has been hired as a green-washing consultant for the company. He advises the pointy-haired boss, “Stop eating, breathing, driving, defecating, and procreating. Sit in the dark and decompose on some garden seeds. Or do you admit you hate the Earth?” The boss responds, “A little.” The cartoon was taken up by anti-environmental bloggers such as Moonbattery: “Thank you Dilbert, for attempting to rescue us from militant kooks who think the global warming hoax is real.”

This is not Barbara Corcoran
Jane Lynch as Christy Cummings in the movie 'Best in Show'

Another reason to loathe real estate brokers …

Trying to locate their recent report on sales figures, I idly browsed the Corcoran (“Live Who You Are”! Be All That You Can Be!) Web site for my neighborhood. I don’t expect to find Beverley Square West. I would hope to find Victorian Flatbush. They’d don’t even list Flatbush. I found what I expected:

Ditmas Park: Runs from Parkside Avenue to the north, Ditmas Avenue to the south, Ocean Avenue to the east and Coney Island Avenue to the west.
Corcoran Neighborhood Guide to Ditmas Park

Lest one quibble “Oh, it’s just a real estate name,” they continue in the second paragraph:

… This landmarked district …

WRONG! The landmarked Ditmas Park Historic District lies only within the boundaries of Dorchester and Newkirk Avenues, and Ocean Avenue and the B/Q line. The only other landmarked area within the boundaries they describe is Prospect Park South. The rest of their “Ditmas Park” is not landmarked.

It’s worse than that. They have no idea where they are.

Their descriptions conflate several neighborhoods – some landmarked, most not – and get basic information wrong. They provide the wrong school number for P.S. 139. There’s this:

These homes were originally built for the likes of the Guggenheims and films stars like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

Again, not in Ditmas Park. The Guggenheim Honeymoon Cottage is in Beverley Square West, my neighborhood. The Pickford/Fairbanks House is in Ditmas Park West.

And there’s this:

Many have porches and garages and sit on wide tree-lined streets with English sounding names like Argyle and Rugby.

Only the streets between Coney Island Avenue and the B/Q lines – half the area they claim to describe – carry these names, borrowed from the status of Prospect Park South. Four different neighborhoods span those streets from Parkside to Ditmas, and none of them are Ditmas Park.

The boundaries they give describe only part of greater Victorian Flatbush; they omit half the neighborhoods. Extending the southern boundary from Ditmas Avenue to Avenue H, between Coney Island Avenue Ocean Avenue lie West Midwood, Midwood Park, and Fiske Terrace. The latter two are proposed Historic Districts and are on track to become landmarked. Extending the eastern boundary to Flatbush Avenue, the Albemarle-Kenmore Terraces Historic District lies east of Prospect Park South, between Ocean and Flatbush Avenues, and South Midwood lies between Ocean and Bedford Avenues, and Foster Avenue south to Brooklyn College.

I’ve never had any dealings with Corcoran. We tried working with them when we were shopping for our home three years ago. They had yet to “discover” this area, and so had nothing to show us. Their reach had only extended to Windsor Terrace at that point, and we went to one open house there.

And, don’t bother trying to find a house a house on their Web site. You won’t find any. They only have “townhouses” …