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She can’t go home again

The Brooklyn Paper
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My old Fort Greene digs — the $750 three-bedroom apartment that I called home a mere four years ago — was one of Brownstoner.com’s “condos of the day” last week.

The listing said the now–luxury condos were going for $900,000 to $1.4 million apiece (what? You don’t get the whole building for that?).

My former roommates couldn’t believe it either.

“That’s a bananas price-out,” one e-mailed me.

The other said that, like me, she was dying to go to the open house — you know, to see how our little Cinderella of a home looked like after some work by the Brooklyn real-estate fairy godmother.

Our somewhat bitter curiosity was to be expected. We’d made that apartment our home from 2003 to 2005, when the building was bought for the purposes of turning it into luxury condos overlooking Fort Greene Park in a historic district within one of the hippest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

But still. Did we have to be removed in such an unceremonious fashion? And, more important, does it really take up to a year to return security deposits?

Anyway, when I turned onto Washington Park from DeKalb Avenue at about 2 pm on Sunday afternoon, it helped put me in the right frame of mind to pass the spot where a man put me in a headlock and mugged me, and the pole from which my bike was stolen.

The landscape had changed, subtly. Children from a nearby school had painted the trash cans along the side of Fort Greene Park in nature scenes of blue and yellow and white. A bike lane lined the street. When I reached the four-story building, I saw that its façade was being redone, its grey, naked face peaking out from a row of more genteel brownstones.

A sign was pasted onto the door, which still had chipping paint and ominous-looking wood splinters. Presumably, it will be replaced, as will the discolored tiles in the entrance foyer that look like they belong in a school bathroom.

The broker welcomed me warmly into the first-floor apartment. After only one week on the market, he told me that the other three units had already been sold. That meant I couldn’t visit the top-floor apartment, where I had lived. But I probably wouldn’t recognize it anyway, what with the new hardwood floors, the working fireplace, the granite counters and sleek appliances, the oak cabinets and Kohler fixtures and Toto dual-flush toilets. (Quite a step up from the cracked linoleum and the bug-ridden pantries circa 2003.)

The first-floor apartment had been turned into a duplex, with a stairway leading down into the basement where we used to do our laundry (and where we’d find the occasional cockroach). The apartment opened onto a gorgeous, restored backyard.

I left the apartment impressed, a tad wistful, and thirsty. On my way back to the train, I stopped by Smooch, the hipper-than-thou café on Carlton Avenue near DeKalb, where I asked for a lemonade. The barista, in turn, asked me for $3.25 for what couldn’t have been more than four ounces of lemonade that was suspiciously like Country Time.

The sickly sweet taste reminded me you can’t go home again.

Dana Rubinstein is a reporter at The Brooklyn Paper

The Kitchen Sink

A memorial service was held on Friday for the late Councilman James Davis (D–Fort Greene), who was murdered in City Hall on July 23, 2003. “It’s been four years since the assassination of my beloved brother,” said Geoffrey Davis, who now heads the James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation. “The pain has not subsided.” …

Nearly 150 Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents have signed a petition asking Borough President Markowitz to pressure the city to stop the development of three soaring towers — the 18-story building planned for 163 Washington Ave., and the 11-story buildings intended for 120 Adelphi St. and 99 Grand Ave. The petitioners claim the developers are fast-tracking the construction so they can get “grandfathe­red in” before this week’s approved Fort Greene/Clinton Hill downzoning kicks in.

Updated 4:31 pm, July 9, 2018
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