Renovation of Lundy’s Stirs Dispute in Brooklyn
For decades, there have been efforts to preserve parts of Sheepshead Bay as a quaint fishing village in Brooklyn, with plans to make Emmons Avenue the kind of waterfront promenade that would draw visitors to seafood restaurants and a boardwalk on the bay.
Every year, though, the street looks less like Manhattan’s South Street Seaport and more like other commercial thoroughfares in Brooklyn. There are restaurants, but also a Loehmann’s clothing store and a large nursing home. Randazzo’s Clam Bar still draws plenty of seafood lovers, but Lundy’s, the sprawling seafood restaurant and the neighborhood’s most famous site, struggled under different owners for years before closing in 2007.
Now a dispute has started about the future of the building that housed Lundy’s — a Spanish-style colonial with sand-colored stucco and Mission tiles that was made a landmark in 1989. A gourmet food market and cafe is set to open in the space within months, but the chairwoman of the local community board and State Senator Carl Kruger say the store owners are altering the building’s famous facade, and in doing so are ruining the neighborhood’s character.
At a news conference outside Lundy’s on Monday afternoon, Senator Kruger had harsh words for the proposed food store, which he referred to as a “fruit stand.” Calling the landmarked Lundy’s building “the crown jewel” in an effort to preserve the neighborhood, the senator said that the store owners were “desecrating” the old building by placing a tile sidewalk out front and removing the old Lundy’s signs, planters and other artifacts.
He said that the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission had issued a stop-work order on construction at the site. John Weiss, the commission’s deputy counsel, said the order was issued last week because no permits had been given for work on the facade or on the sidewalk.
Both Senator Kruger and Theresa Scavo, the chairwoman of Community Board 15, said that Lundy’s should have been rented to another restaurateur. But during their news conference, they were interrupted by residents who said they were happy that someone had finally moved into the old building.
Tim Cobb, for one, said he was looking forward to a new gourmet deli. “Why attack people when they try to bring a business?” he said.
The original Lundy’s closed in the late 1970s after the death of its founder, Irving Lundy, and in the decade that followed, the area around Emmons Avenue declined. In the late 1990s, the neighborhood, which had become less Italian and more Russian, started to thrive again, according to Paul Randazzo, who runs his family’s seafood restaurant.
On a walk down Emmons Avenue, Mr. Randazzo pointed out the sites of long-departed landmarks — a pub, a restaurant, a comedy club, houses. The low-slung restaurants had been replaced by bland, modern buildings, but he took it in stride. “We can’t steal time,” he said. He seemed annoyed that the dispute between Senator Kruger and the gourmet market had not been settled in the neighborhood.
For his part, the owner of the new gourmet market, David Isaev, said he was stunned by all the attention. Furious better described his mood when he arrived at Lundy’s after Senator Kruger’s news conference. He led a high-speed tour in and around the dilapidated building to show the effort he was making to restore it. Craftsmen had taken down the iron letters of Lundy’s sign, and were cleaning them with an iron brush, and there were new floors. Alexander Rabinovich, an architect working with Mr. Isaev, tried to explain the resistance to the food store. “They don’t want change,” he said.
By KAREEM FAHIM