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WITH DAFFODIL FOLIAGE PUSHING UP in the front yards of brownstone Brooklyn, the winter of my content is coming to an end. I’ve enjoyed this uninterrupted two-month spell of  life in my ever-amazing home borough, where you see things like the movie shoot, above, on Prospect Park West, when you go out for your Sunday morning walk.


We’ve had our bit of snow (that’s the cherry orchard at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, with the Brooklyn Museum in the distance, above, as it looked a week ago Friday, and the view from my front window, below).  I’ve caught up with old friends and gobbled down some culture (the Matisse show at the Met, the Museum of Arts and Design, French lessons on Saturday afternoons, even an afternoon at the ballet), though not enough of either.


And at long last, I’m in sight of a closing date on the property I’m buying in East Hampton. On Friday, the house passed its inspection for an updated Certificate of Occupancy, meaning, the Town deems it safe to live in (and that the backfilling of a derelict swimming pool, which I oversaw last month, was done to their satisfaction). And this afternoon I got an email from the seller telling me he is “putting together a crew” to move his two boats and the accumulated furnishings and stuff of 30 years out… this week.

Ye gads. It’s really happening! This means that after weeks of lying on the sofa, leafing languidly through books on Japanese landscaping and ripping pages out of decorating magazines, I’ll soon be putting in actual hard labor. All too soon, perhaps. Am I ready to plunge full-tilt into cleaning, painting, gardening, renovation? It makes me want to settle back on the couch with “The Art of the Japanese Garden” and a cup of tea. I’m already reflecting nostalgically on this temporary period of being a one-home person. I haven’t missed the Long Island Expressway one bit.


Soon enough, I’ll be in the woods, at the beach, breathing country air and enjoying country silence. Meanwhile, I’m appreciating the beauties at hand, like the freestanding mansions of Victorian Flatbush, above and below, where I went earlier this week for the annual ritual meeting with my accountant.


Mostly, though, what I appreciate is my Prospect Heights pied-a-terre, below, where I’ve been cozily cocooned. Its cheery yellow walls never fail to boost my spirits, and its two south-facing windows have served my houseplant collection well.


As the days lengthen, then, onward to what’s next.

HOW LONG has it been since houses in brownstone Brooklyn went for under a million?

There are two on the market now on State Street in Boerum Hill. Granted they are in miserable shape. (Here I go again, excited by the words “handyman’s special,” “needs TLC.”) But the possibilities are definitely there.

5554844a-2 422 State Street, above, first went on the market last fall with an asking price of $1.2million. That was clearly over-reaching. Then the price dropped to 999K; now they’re asking 850K. See more pics below.

It’s on State between Bond and Nevins, a convenient and reasonably attractive block.

I happen to think that’s a deal with great potential. It’s a one family, so no rental income, but could be very charming. And small (17×35), but the smaller the house, the cheaper the fix-up!

A block east, on State between Nevins and Third (a good family block; my son has friends from grade school and Brooklyn Tech H.S. whose families live there) is l776339_3718113_front_viewanother fixer-upper. 466 State, right, is a legal two-family and larger (19×45).

Go here for more details. They’re asking 999K, and it needs total everything. The price probably has a long way to fall. Someone could drive a hard bargain.

That end of the block (closer to Nevins) used to be very run down; this house was hard by a pentecostal storefront church, which is now gone, and the block has improved.

Yes, they’d each require a large cash infusion, but that’s variable, depending on so many factors, and could be done in stages.

If I were in the market right now for a Brooklyn project, I would consider these. Way better, IMO, than a condo or co-op at half the price, with monthly maintenance fees and less soul.

p1020229Brooklyn, land of funny neighborhood acronyms — the best is DUMBO (“Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”) — has yet another one.

You heard it here first: it’s BECOSMI, and it stands for “Between Court and Smith.”

What’s not so amusing is the fact that a dozen or more blocks between Court Street and Smith Street, south of State — encompassing parts of Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens, but not included in the official Historic District designation of either neighborhood — are vulnerable to demolition, development, or historically inappropriate renovation.p1020224


Between State and Bergen, there are scattered buildings of historic value. Those blocks are a “gerrymandered creature,” says Sophia Truslow, a real estate attorney who is active in efforts to gain some form of landmark status for these areas, but with a fair number of “sweet buildings that deserve protection.” Between Bergen and Butler, however, it’s “wall to wall historic,” Truslow says.

She and other local activists are working on several fronts to get Federal designation for these and other unprotected areas in Brownstone Brooklyn: through the non-profit Historic Districts Council, the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, and the city’s over-worked Landmarks Preservation Commission.p1020231

The pictures in this post represent the merest glimpse of what they’re trying to save.  Worth the trouble, don’t you think?

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