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Now this is what a living room should look like.

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Note: Based on conversations with real estate agents and having written this column for a few months now, rent prices begin to increase after this month until they peak during the spring and summer. So if you’re looking to get a place, now is the time when prices are the lowest.

One Spacious Bedroom in Gravesend
Price: $1,450
Location: 82nd Street and Bay Parkway
Description: Even if this realtor is playing a camera trick, this apartment is still pretty big. The living room is big and the wood floors have all been renovated. And all of the doorways seem to have this arabesque shape to them, giving the apartment an interesting vibe.
Contact: Chauncey Palmer, Oxford Property Group, (347)409-7970

Three Bedrooms in Bensonhurst
Price: $2,050
Location: 80th Street and 21st Avenue
Description: In the words of the realtor: “This is it!” Behold, an apartment that is bigger than two bedrooms. This selling point of the realtor leaves much to be desired. Do any of the bedrooms get any light? Will I be given a lollipop before or after the apartment viewing?
Contact: Zuz Realty, (718) 513-3763

One Bedroom in Dyker Heights
Price: $1,200
Location: 13th Avenue
Description: Located above a store, this apartment has a new kitchen with lots of counter space. A washer and dryer are included, and the tiles in the bathroom are new. Oh, and it’s also FIOS ready, which I’m jealous of because I’ve been calling FIOS for over a year and they still haven’t made it out to my corner of Southern Brooklyn. Whatever.
Contact: Verrazano Brokerage, (718) 232-9100

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

A home in Seagate after Sandy (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Fifteen months since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in Brooklyn’s coastal neighborhoods, the city’s response has been a far cry from awe-inspiring. Sure, the numbers are staggering: $60 billion in Congressional aid to the region; $5.2 billion distributed; dozens of agencies, and a stack of recovery-related legislation with a word count yet to be assessed.

There’s another jaw-dropping number: zero. That’s the amount of money that has reached property owners through New York City’s $644 million Build it Back program.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Gravesend, Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Sea Gate, is hoping to use the newly formed committee he chairs, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, to reboot the process and get residents and business owners the help they need.

Near the top of his agenda is an effort to reopen the application process for Build it Back, and expedite payouts to encourage confidence in the program.

“It’s absolutely crucial that they reopen the process and do a better job at outreach,” Treyger told this publication. “The low number of applicants and the fact that zero people have been helped so far, that’s just unacceptable.”

Treyger said he sat down with Build it Back representatives last week for a status update on their work. They reported to him that the 11224 area code that covers Coney Island and Sea Gate only saw between 800 and 900 applicants – a far cry from what he said is thousands of homes impacted by the flooding.

The recently inaugurated councilman said he believes the city failed in its outreach efforts.

“I was amazed by that number because I know in that zip code there were thousands of people impacted by Superstorm Sandy. And that spoke volumes because it shows that the city did not do adequate outreach into diverse communities in our city. And that’s just one zip code,” he said.

The polyglot district he represents has high numbers of Russian, Chinese and Spanish speakers that the city didn’t do well in reaching, he claims.

“They must reopen but this time we really have to get this right. We have to partner with community organizations, local media, they have to reach out to different language media. We really need to do a much better job of reaching the diverse communities of our city,” he said.

Treyger is currently drafting a letter to the de Blasio administration officially requesting the process be reopened.

But the local pol also acknowledged that “recovery fatigue” among homeowners may cause them to be reluctant to apply, coupled with the latest headlines that money is not yet flowing.

“I think once money starts flowing and people see progress with their applications, that will instill confidence in applying. Some folks have no faith and were discouraged, and once they see progress I think that will motivate people to apply,” he said.

The administration is currently in the midst of the comment period for its fifth amendment to the proposed action plan for community development block grants for disaster recovery, the federal program funding Build it Back. While the plan includes an increase in funding for Build it Back, representatives present at a public hearing last night at Sheepshead Bay High School could not say if more would be needed to reopen the process as Treyger proposes. The mayor’s office has not yet returned a response to our inquiry.

Build it Back aside, Treyger is hoping to use his role as chair of the Council’s Recovery and Resiliency Committee to make Sandy recovery a top priority for the de Blasio administration.

The committee will hold its first-ever hearing in Coney Island on Thursday, February 27, at 10 a.m. at the Carey Gardens Community Center (2315 Surf Avenue). He said he hopes holding it in a Sandy-impacted zone will boost resident participation.

But the agenda at the first meeting is more pressing than reopening Build it Back. It will focus on a plan to replace temporary boilers at dozens of NYCHA buildings affected by the storm.

According to the councilman, NYCHA residents have been hooked up to temporary systems for 15 months, suffering from mechanical breakdowns that left them without heat on some of the most bitter cold days of 2014.

Treyger said he has been told the city pays in the ballpark of $50,000 per boiler per month, but they are faulty. Some of the boilers, he said, were not built to withstand low temperatures, causing the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents.

To cope with the cold, some residents heated their homes with their home ovens, putting families at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

Build it Back will be on the agenda for their March meeting, Treyger said. He also hopes to persuade the administration to appoint a “Sandy Czar” to coordinate between city, state and federal recovery initiatives, as well as to spur reform in the handling of New York City’s co-operative housing schemes for disaster recovery. Co-ops are viewed by the federal government as businesses, not primary residences of homeowners, and so were not eligible for FEMA funds in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Overall, the local pol is hoping that his committee will help reboot the process, and open the funding spigots for residents.

“This is an oversight committee. But oversight to me means we’re listening to people on the ground, listening to the residents living the day-to-day trauma resulting from Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “I will judge this recovery by those people, families, homeowners, business owners. We want to see progress. Quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing more Powerpoint presentations than progress on the ground.”

Pinto (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, a rabbi with ties to the FBI investigation into Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising, is going to be indicted in Israel for attempting to bribe officials, looting a charity and other charges, according to Haaretz.

The rabbi is also named in a separate New York State Supreme Court civil complaint alleging that he and others with ties to the congressman’s campaign attempted to intimidate a business rival, including “ordering” a New York City police officer to arrest the rival.

The newspaper lists the Israeli charges in more detail:

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto is suspected of systematically collecting information about senior police officers, demanding that some of them be replaced, threatening an officer, offering bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and intimidating witnesses, according to a document prosecutors sent to Pinto and his wife, Rivka, a few weeks ago.

In New York, businessman Tomar Shohat is seeking unspecified damages from Pinto and a top Pinto aide, Benzion Suky. Shohat and Suky were partners in a real estate venture, Metro Apartments. But Shohat claims Suky mismanaged the business, possibly funneling money to his own benefit and operating the building as an illegal hotel.

From the Forward:

Shohat allegedly brought his findings to Pinto, who asked Shohat not to report them to the police. Later, according to the complaint, Pinto and Suky threatened to have Shohat injured or to have him arrested by Patino if he continued to investigate irregularities at the building.

When Shohat continued his investigation and reported his findings to the Metro board, he was allegedly threatened again, this time by Pinto’s brother, Menachem Pinto, who is also a defendant in the suit. Suky then accused Shohat of theft and, according to complaint, Pinto and Suky “arranged for…Patino to arrest [Shohat] and charge him with crimes he had not committed.”

Shohat was arrested February 21, 2013. According to the complaint, Patino first told Shohat he would be let go if they could eat lunch together and talk. Later, after Shohat’s attorney had come and gone, Patino allegedly told Shohat that he would let him go if he gave Patino his computer, which contained data about the Metro Apartments investigation.

Following the arrest, Patino filed a felony complaint against Shohat accusing him of stealing $15,000 from a locked petty cash container at 440 West 41st Street. The D.A.’s office filed a motion to dismiss the charges in April.

Patino works both as an NYPD detective and a real estate agent with a commercial real estate brokerage called the Azad Propety Group, according to his LinkedIn profile. Azad Property Group does not have a listed phone number.

Pinto and Suky both have ties to Congressman Grimm. Another top Pinto aide, Ofer Biton, allegedly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pinto’s flock to the congressman’s 2010 campaign. Investigators believe that may include funds from foreign donors and donations that exceeded legal limits, according to reports.

Biton was reportedly seeking help obtaining a green card. He pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year.

Suky, meanwhile, has contributed to Grimm’s campaign – one of several pornographers on Grimm’s donor roster. As we shared back in 2012:

One of the rabbi’s closest aides, Benzion Suky, owned a company that distributed porn videos and has settled lawsuits by adult film studios who accused him of selling bootlegged DVDs, according to court records. Suky and his wife gave a combined $9,600 to Grimm’s 2010 campaign and a real estate partnership that lists Suky as its managing member gave $4,800, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Source: marsmet521/Flickr

With tax season serving as a good guise for scammers, it would be a good idea to take a cue from Betty Ann Canizio and be skeptical about random callers threatening you with prison time for a supposed debt.

Democratic District Leader of the 49th Assembly District in Bensonhurst, Canizio received a call from someone claiming to be an agent or the IRS who said her husband was in debt.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports:

Her husband has never been in any kind of trouble, she said.

Canizio suspected that the “IRS agents” were going to tell her to send money to them in order to clear up her husband’s non-existent problem.

She was too wise for them.

“It was obviously a scam. I was too smart to fall for it. But I worry that these people are out there doing this. I know how the government works, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t and they could fall for it,” Canizio said.

Canizio, who contacted the 62nd Precinct, to told the Eagle that she wanted to warn the public about the scam.

And she isn’t the only one telling people to be wary of such calls. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned in a statement on February 19, “Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name. These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”

On a more positive note, be sure to take advantage of all tax breaks.

Source: heathbrandon/Flickr


From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, 205 St-bound D trains skip 182-183 Sts.

From 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, D trains run local between Dekalb Av and 36 St in both directions.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Manhattan-bound N trains run express from 59 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, there are no R trains between 59 St and 36 St, Brooklyn – Take the N. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St, Brooklyn.


From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, F trains are rerouted via the A in both directions between W 4 St and Jay St-MetroTech. There are no F trains at B’way-Lafayette St, 2 Av, Delancey St, East Broadway, and York St. Free shuttle buses and D trains provide alternate service.


By any measure, Coney Island has made major strides in real estate, business and safety since the seemingly lawless days of the 1970s and 80s, and has reclaimed its place in the pantheon of must-see New York City attractions.

But outside of the amusement area, there remains a popular mythology about the area’s safety – especially among those who hail from elsewhere in Brooklyn and remember its seedier days.

That’s illustrated in part by one user on Yahoo! Answers, who shares his story visiting the YMCA on Surf Avenue in the West End. Angelo went to the recreational facility for the first time with his mother, and on the way over he had a a few unfavorable interactions with people around the area.

He starts out with a seemingly paranoid tale of a guy who “started walking behind us,” he wrote. But Angelo, being the wily crime-fighter he is, decided to trick the stalker by stopping “to tie my shoes and he just went straight but why walk behind me?”

He then leaves the best part for last.

“Also a guy and his friends were walking and when we passed by they were like bang bang (hand motion) you lucky I ain’t strapped,” he wrote.

He ends the post by asking people if he should continue to use the YMCA, especially since he’ll often be there at night. But is that justified? How dangerous is that area really?

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

According to the latest CompStat report from the 60th Precinct, which covers Coney Island, Sea Gate and Brighton Beach, crime has decreased sharply over the past two decades. It’s a 70 percent drop since 1993.

Reductions since then have paled by comparison: the area now sees 1.2 percent less crime now than it did in 2001; not much of an accomplishment considering it has seen a 54 percent drop over the same time in Bensonhurst’s 62nd Precinct, and 37 percent citywide.

There have been significant personnel cuts since that year, but most commands in the city continue to see drops. Coney Island, though, has seen crime increase 13 percent in the past two years.

Still, it’s safer than it once was. But “safer” isn’t the same as “safe,” and clearly the legend of Coney Island’s roughness lives on today. But is it fact or fiction? You tell us.

After a 23-day suspension, alternate side parking is now back in effect.

Alternate side parking regulations are now reinstated citywide as of Monday, February 24. Payment at parking meters will also be in effect throughout the city.

The regulations had been suspended since January 31 because of snow and ice, and to keep people from having to move their cars for street cleaning. It was an appreciated break by motorists, who would’ve been hard pressed to find new parking spaces with mountains of snow taking up spots.

The 23-day suspension is going near the top of the list for longest suspensions in the city’s history. The top slot stays with the Koch Administration, when alternate side parking was suspended for 62 consecutive days in 1978. And after the September 11th attacks, Manhattan did without alternate side parking for 30 days, while the rest of the city saw a 22-day suspension, the Daily News notes.

The paper also calculates that there have been 41 days out of a total of 54 days in 2014 that have seen the rules suspended.

Source: robnguyen01/Flickr


No scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 6:45 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Manhattan-bound N trains are rerouted via the D (express) from Stillwell Av to 36 St.


All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

From 6 a.m. to 12 midnight, Saturday and Sunday, Manhattan-bound R trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza. At the same time, 71 Av-bound R trains run express from Roosevelt Av to 71 Av.


From 11:15 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts.

From 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains skip 4 Av-9 St, 15 St-Prospect Park, and Fort Hamilton Pkwy.

From 12:15 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains skip 75 Av, Van Wyck Blvd, and Sutphin Blvd.

From 12:30 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile invites residents who have questions about their property taxes and how to appeal them to a presentation and Q&A on “How To Appeal Your Property Taxes,” this Tuesday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. inside the auditorium of William McKinley Intermediate School, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway (enter on the 74th Street side of the school).

Have your questions about your property taxes answered by the Hon. Kirk P. Tzanides, a commissioner of the New York City Tax Commission.

To learn more, call Gentile’s office (718) 748-5200.