Cortelyou Road in the Media
Our little corner of the world appears in a piece about our neighboring neighborhood, Kensington. Pretty good writing, from a trade publication called The Real Deal.
Also, we're mentioned in a piece in the
New York Sun
But the BIG Media hit was this week, in Crain's New York Business. This one rejuvenated the interest from commercial banking. The bankers have returned, or at least they have come a-knockin'
New retailers remake Brooklyn strip
By: Jean Ende
Published: October 29, 2006 - 6:59 am
Gary Jonas wants his new restaurant to be a place where the whole neighborhood feels welcome and well fed. On a recent day, he offered a vegetable casserole for the area's vegans and vegetarians, a special fish dish popular with both Jewish and Muslim families, and organic hot dogs for the children of the young hipsters popping up in growing numbers in the area.
"We're always mindful of the neighborhood's diversity," says Mr. Jonas, owner of The Farm on Adderly, which opened in July.
Welcome to Cortelyou Road in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the seven-block-long commercial heart of an area that proudly bills itself as one of the most ethnically diverse in the city. There, new entrepreneurial arrivals like Mr. Jonas — with help from a revitalized merchants association — are transforming the retail landscape.
In recent years, the area has seen an influx of younger, more affluent people drawn by the mix of reasonably priced Victorian homes and new co-ops. Frustrated that they couldn't find the services they needed, some of them have opened shops such as Hairloom, a chemical-free salon that specializes in African-American hairstyles, and the Picket Fence, a Continental eatery.
Other additions include Belle & Maxie, a children's toy and clothing store for the growing number of families with young children; Latin Fever, which offers yoga, exercise and South American dance classes; and Vox Pop, a bookstore/cafe where the sign over the door reads, "Books, Coffee, Democracy."
Responding to change
Some older establishments have responded to all the changes by sprucing up their storefronts, expanding inventory or adding services. The Flatbush Food Co-op, a Cortelyou Road institution for 21 years, has expanded its hours and started a delivery service.
New merchants are also making their mark by starting their own community groups and joining existing ones, such as the Cortelyou Road Merchants Association. Long stagnant until two years ago, CoRMA has become the area's leading advocate in the last year under the direction of Sander Hicks, owner of Vox Pop.
"I started going to meetings, and every time I suggested something, someone said, `That's a good idea, why don't you do it,' " says Mr. Hicks. "Pretty soon, I was in charge."
CoRMA has vigorously waved the flag for the area. Last year, the group launched a Web site with photos and information about available commercial space. CoRMA also publishes a newspaper that promotes local merchants, supports politicians who promise to improve services in the area, and sponsors community events. One of Mr. Hicks' current priorities is to try to lure a bank to the area, which has none.
"The more people who come to this street, the better it should be for everyone," says Chelsi Meyerson, co-owner of The Picket Fence.
Demand, but little supply
Similarly, Friends of Cortelyou Road has been reaching out to store owners in other areas. Jan Rosenberg, head of Friends and co-owner of the year-old Brooklyn Hearth Realty, wants to let owners know that "we've got lots of demand but little supply." The organization has also helped raise seed money for local businesses and has surveyed residents to find out what they would like to see. Answer: high-end stores, gyms, bookstores, adult clothing stores and ethnic groceries — especially ones that feature Middle Eastern products.
All told, in the past two years more than a dozen sleek new shops have replaced some of the drab storage facilities, decaying 99¢ stores and bodegas that had long dominated the area.
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