Blue Sky Bakery

Brooklyn Cafe: Blue Sky Bakery


During the last blizzard – that turned out to not be a blizzard — schools shut down, people “worked from home”, and generally holed up in their habitats. I was planning on doing the same when my midtown appointment suggested that “since we both live on this side of the bridge … ” why not just meet here?” YES, I agreed. And then she suggested a place she describe as having “the most delicious muffins EVER”. Tall order indeed. I’ve had my share of muffins, coffees, the whole bakery thing, and my standards were pretty finicky. Plus I’ve never been partial to muffins, since I never eat the bottom half, and sometimes just annoyingly nibble around the “top” eating only the crust but never the “cakey” part. But She hadn’t steered me wrong thus far, so I was optimistic.

Blue Sky Bakery is a sliver of a bakery, long and lean, it manages to pack quite the quaint, retro, quirky punch, complete with a shoebox diorama! And true to my friend’s word they served up just about the most delicious muffins I’ve tasted. Not only was baked to perfection, but the bottom part is also crusty! For the first time, I didn’t just nimble around the top. I actually finished the entire muffin and wanted more. It was a crustly, fluffy, velvety delight. And I can’t wait to go back.

 

96 S Oxford

Brooklyn Real Estate: 96 South Portland Avenue

I didn’t want to like this place. Really. I’m a fan of new developments in a big way. But I liked this place the minute my eyes clapped on its rustic entrance. With its ambling path leading to a bricked entry, surrounded by aimless vines, it’s like something straight out of my child hood coloring book. Somehow, the signs of its age didn’t bother me, instead I found them charming. The chandelier and the paneled doorway of the entrance punctuated its charm. Not even the garbage / recyclables tucked around the corner detracted me, nor did the stairs leading to the unit — usually a red flag in my “strongly prefer new developments” book, but not today.

Upon entering, it pretty much is what you’d expect from a prewar co-op. The floors sag here and sigh there, I briefly wondered what happened to the floors but decided to be happy  that they seem like they’re in decent shape after (what looks like) 100+ years of wear. There are odd “mini-steps” separating each room, which perhaps was my biggest pet peeve with this place since it meant I was constantly looking down anticipating a surprise step.  The unit gets plenty of light, which the owner has expertly highlighted with their choice of flowy white curtains in the living room. The agent mentioned that the new owner could probably open up the already lengthy living room and put a direct archway to the kitchen. This would create the feeling of additional space, maybe even enough to section out a small second bedroom (from the living room), and make this place into a “charming” two bedroom. It might work.

The master bedroom was not so well decorated, it looked dark, dreary and grim. The agent later mentioned the owners (a couple) were getting a divorce. Not surprising. But it had good space, light (when the curtains aren’t dark grey and drawn), and nice bones. The one bathroom was a bit odd, it looked like the owners had started a renovation, but then changed their minds. So the shower area has modern looking glass panels, but the rest of it looks old. The kitchen, optimizes the space nicely, but it’s probably worth revisiting the look.

The location is excellent. Practically in the heart of all the places you want to visit in Fort Greene, and near enough subways to make it accessible. The unit’s view in fact looks out into some prime Fort Greene real estate. All that said, I’m not a fan of the price. $399k seems to be a tad too high for a unit that clearly has age. But the $649 in monthly maintenance is what really sets it apart, given there are no amenities or common areas to speak of, it’s tough to justify the high monthly charge.

Interestingly enough, other units in the condo are up for grabs too, units #8 and #5 both are selling for a higher price tag, and probably have more stairs to traverse, but (based on their photos) seem to be more updated. That would have to be weighed against what are probably very motivated sellers for unit #1. Yet, I can’t help but want to check those out as well … maybe next week.

Disclaimer: These reviews were written before I was a real estate agent, and reflects my previous opinions solely as a buyer.

163 Wash

Brooklyn Real Estate: 163 Washington

Those of us in the neighborhood have been watching 163 Washington go up for some time. It’s been slowly dominating an otherwise remarkably flat skyline.  The press has been unclear about this building, what with the website — alarmingly comic-inspired (Lichtenstein) and sparse on the building details (i.e. no amenities listed) I half expected a repeat of 96 Rockwell. But I was wrong. There are agents there, and they were very friendly, even better, they were knowledgable — what kind of wood was used (ash), the finishes, the neighborhood and how much wiggle room there is in the prices.

The first 2 BD/2BA unit (8C) was ~966 sqft with a nice 40 sqft balcony off the living room. The view from the balcony is a non-descript Brooklyn view, but having been balcony free now for ~ 3 years I sorely miss it, and this one was nice. The lay out of the unit isn’t great, the bedrooms are railroaded together, a detail you might almost miss thanks to the snazzy  interior design of the model unit, and the finishes are pretty strong. I noticed the custom cabinets, Liebherr fridge, Faber range hood, and spa-like bathroom. Too bad the unsightly air unit is also strong. There’s one in the living room, and each of the bedrooms, not great.  8C wasn’t actually on the listing — but the unit just below it (7C) was at $545k, with $310 common charges. Not a bad price.

The second unit 9A was head and shoulders better. Approximately 1,154 sq feet the added 188 sqft allowed it that much more room to have a very compelling layout, and it’s got two balconies giving it 80 sqft of outdoor space. Plus, this unit had small touches like a pillar here and there, detailed tile work in the bathrooms, HIS and HERS shower heads, and a window in the master bathroom — all yum! Best of all, it’s got a Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn view! It’s a stunning unit, and at $650k and $386 in CCs yes … I’m a little jealous.

The building’s common areas are not not finished but seems to have promise:  a 5,000 SF “yard”, a 530 SF zen garden, gym, and a lounge / common area with a fire place. What it won’t have, is a door man. Which you might not miss since this neighborhood (despite what you may have read on the various threads) is a heartbeat away from Pratt, hardly dangerous grounds. It is however, hopelessly far from any subway station, even the dreaded G.  Still, with FHA loans approved, and a 15 year tax abatement in the works, maybe a bus-to-subway lifestyle isn’t half bad.

Disclaimer: These reviews were written before I was a real estate agent, and reflects my previous opinions solely as a buyer.

Grocery

Catching up with the Riviera on NYE

NYE Flatbush Riviera

Some new developments and on-going events for denizens of the Flatbush Riviera. First and most exciting, Toren appears to have found a new retail client for its lobby floor — a grocery. Rumor has it that it’s the same grocery that was originally scheduled to open and after much negotiation have reached a new agreement with the sponsor. At last the long road to Trader Joes / Pathmark  may be coming to an end. A grocery along with the upcoming CVS would certainly spice up the neighborhood, putting DoBro well on track to becoming a residential neighborhood.

On the ever busy Fulton Mall, we not only had the usual NYE odd characters but massive sales. Newcomer Aeropostale posted sales of up to 70% off, and there was a verifiable line waiting for Macy’s to open its doors. A stampede of ornery shoppers seemed impending when we passed this morning.

Aeropostale Macy's