New year, same great local coverage by Brooklyn Paper. On the heels of a year full of buses, businesses, bagels and more, we’ve compiled a list of 10 big stories you can look for in the pages of our papers in 2024.
- Redistricting: New York’s highest court last month gave Democrats a chance to redraw the state’s congressional districts, a major victory as the party tries to win control of the U.S. House this year. Now the question is how far the state’s Democratic-dominated legislature will try to push the boundaries in crucial battleground districts to give their party an advantage, and how far the courts will let them. We’ll be keeping tabs on how things shake out for Brooklyn — and on electeds’ work in newly redrawn districts, like Council Member Justin Brannan’s Council District 47 (now serving Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Coney Island) and Susan Zhuang’s historic start in Council District 43, New York City’s first Asian-majority district.
- Park Church Co-Op: In December, Attorney General Letitia James halted the sale of Park Church Co-Op, a beloved Greenpoint church that closed last year. The church’s governing body, the Metropolitan New York Synod, planned to sell the building to a developer – but locals want to turn it into a Community Center called CommonPlace.NYC. Brooklyn Paper has been covering the story of the Park Church Co-Op for over a year, and we’ll stay on it as residents await the final fate of the former house of worship.
- Relief efforts and rallies for Israel and Gaza: 2023 saw countless relief efforts, protests and statements related to the Oct. 7 attack in Israel by terrorist group Hamas, and to the attacks that followed. Thousands have marched the streets of Brooklyn to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, while others continue to fight for the release of Israeli families still being held hostage by Hamas. We’ll keep covering all of the efforts in our borough, and what the ongoing conflict means for local organizations, businesses and everyday Brooklynites.
- Newtown Creek funding: Newtown Creek is known among local residents and environmentalists as being one of the most polluted ecological sites in the continental U.S. The creek, a national Superfund site, runs for roughly 3.5 miles between Greenpoint and Long Island City, Queens, is one of the heaviest-used commercial bodies of water in the country. While a settlement with Exxon-Mobile provided the community some money for cleanup, the federal Superfund scrub has been repeatedly delayed, and residents are fe up. With help continuously fought for — and promised — what’s next for the infamous creek, perhaps best known for its “black mayonnaise”?
- Migrant shelters: Tens of thousands of asylum-seekers arrived in New York City in 2023, pushing the already-strained shelter system to its limits and forcing authorities to consider alternative housing options — like school gyms, empty warehouses and even old breweries. We’ll keep tabs on forthcoming shelters, federal funding (or lack thereof) and continue to look at the impacts of the ongoing migrant crisis in the Big Apple.
- Lithium-ion battery legislation: Lithium-ion batteries, known for powering electric vehicles like bikes and scooters, contributed to at least 239 fires and 17 deaths citywide in 2023, according to the latest available Fire Department data. To combat the deadly blazes often associated with the dangerous, and often unregulated, power source, pols across the city and state have fought for legislation to regulate lithium-ion batteries. Most recently in Brooklyn, state Sen. Iwen Chu (with the support of several state Assembly Members and the Uniformed Firefighters Association) introduced a package of four bills for manufacturers and users of motorized bikes. Brooklyn Paper will continue to cover local blazes sparked by the hot-button batteries, and keep a close eye on relevant legislation as it is introduced and implemented.
- Coney Island casino proposal: Bidders looking to bring a casino to Coney Island released their vision for the gambling hub in early 2023, featuring a towering glass building overlooking the amusement park in the heart of the waterfront community. Dubbed “The Coney,” the structure would feature the first legal gambling facility in the Five Boroughs, along with a new hotel just steps from the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk. A short walk from the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, the building would immediately transform the Coney Island skyline with its imposing structure, multi-colored rooftop, and heavily-illuminated surroundings on the ground. The bidders for various Downstate casino locations are currently seeking approval from the Community Advisory Committee, which is evaluating the proposals. We’ll be keeping tabs on community reaction (the good, bad and ugly) as the bidding process continues to unfold.
- Legal weed: Brooklyn saw the opening of its very first legal weed dispensary in December — nearly three years after recreational marijuana was first legalized in New York State. Grow Together in Gravesend is owned by Christopher Ledlum and Steven Sapoznik, who the state’s Office of Cannabis Management described as “an experienced local entrepreneur and justice-involved individual.” The shop is New York state’s 36th legal adult-use marijuana dispensary – but the first in Brooklyn, as back-t0-back lawsuits dragged out license approvals in the borough. With Brooklyn finally on the legal weed map, Brooklyn Paper will keep tabs on the budding business as it continues to blossom in the borough.
- BQE facelift: The Adams administration is working to finalize its proposal to redesign the decrepit Triple Cantilever portion of the BQE in Brooklyn Heights, and plans to request funding for the project from Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal through the U.S. DOT. But federal funding comes with rules — and rules come with delays. In the meantime, the DOT is making some short-term repairs to ensure the triple cantilever is safe for the next several years — and is pitching ideas to redesign the rest of the BQE, which is owned by the state. We’ll continue to cover every inch the sprawling roadway and its long-time-coming redesign — as well as everyday roadwork and its impacts on local business.
- What’s next for Century 21?: The site of the former Century 21 flagship store in Bay Ridge will be transformed into an urban retail hub with the help of the family behind the beloved department store chain, developers announced in July. ASG Equities — the real estate firm of the Gindi family, who founded the flagship Century 21 location on 86th Street in 1961 — will revamp 150,000 square feet of commercial space across 15 buildings on 86th and 87th streets and repurpose more than 700 feet of retail storefronts. The company aims to introduce a mix of quality supermarkets and shops selling clothing, cosmetics, medical necessities, food and more. The project promises to transform a now-sleepy shopping corridor into an “urban retail landscape” in due time. We’ll be there from groundbreaking to ribbon-cutting.
You can also count on Brooklyn Paper for continued coverage on topics like street safety, budget cuts, crime and business, and of course, Brooklyn’s biggest (and sometimes weirdest events), from the beloved Mermaid Parade, the Brooklyn Folk Festival and every single canine-related Halloween costume contest.