Southern Brooklyn

Locals Outraged At Surprise Lundy's Landmark Hearing

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market at Lundys in Sheepshead Bay
Photo by Ray Johnson

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Committee announced late last week that they’re going forward with a public hearing tomorrow, August 2, regarding violations at the landmarked Lundy’s building by Cherry Hill Gourmet Market, outraging local activists who say they’re being left out of the process.

The hearing will review Cherry Hill Gourmet Market’s (1901 Emmons Avenue) move to legalize alterations to the building currently in violation of the property’s landmark status. The alterations include several changes made during the property’s renovation two years ago to convert it from a restaurant space to a market, including signs in the windows, a large external air conditioning unit adjacent to the back wall, changes to the sidewalk and parts of the building removed for the installation of awnings. If the move fails to garner approval from the LPC, the business owner – David Isaev – could be required to pay to undo the changes and restore it to compliance.

But after waiting nearly two years to challenge the legalization attempt, at least one local group is saying the LPC’s short notice cuts out the community.

“This is an outrage. This is the first we hear of a hearing,” said Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison, whose civic group helped fight for Lundy’s landmark status in 1989 and has helped take care of the property during its neglected years. “Our members have called 311 to complain [about the violations] for over a year. I have called to LPC and never received a call back. I have emailed LPC and never received a response.”

Barrison received notification from LPC officials on Thursday that the hearing was going forward the following Tuesday, and that a time was yet to be announced. That gave the lawyer and activist just two work days to prepare – but he had already scheduled a vacation. He’s requesting the LPC reschedule the hearing to September, giving time for the community to prepare. Without feedback from the community, Barrison fears LPC officials may side with the business owners and set a precedent that weakens preservation efforts citywide.

“This hearing should have had reasonable notice to the community, including us as the largest community coalition in the Sheepshead Bay area and we also worked for many years on landmarking that property,” he said. “Construction done in violation of the landmark designation must not be swept under the rug and must never be allowed. Otherwise, what is the point of landmark status to protect the facade we worked for so many years to protect? They should be fined and ordered to do a full restoration to it’s prior condition.”

Community Board 15 Chairperson agrees about the timing, but added that the board and others have filed numerous complaints with the agency, and that’ll weigh into the commission’s ruling.

“This is the city agency’s way of keeping everyone out of the situation. Landmarks figures they’re in charge, they’re the one to make the decision,” Scavo said. “As far as it goes, I do not think they’re going to look lightly on the situation. They’re going to review it and hopefully come up with the right decision.”

LPC’s press officer did not answer the phone when we called for comment.

Scavo added that Cherry Hill’s attorney has said his client will remedy several of the problems, including the signage and awning. The sticking point at tomorrow’s meeting will be to determine the future of the air-conditioning unit and the sidewalk. She said they will bring samples of the tiles used in the new sidewalk for the LPC to review. If the LPC says so, Cherry Hill will have to tear up the sidewalk and replace it with plain concrete. The air conditioning unit will also need to be moved and possibly covered by a facade in order to help it blend in with the building. David Isaev, the market’s owner, was not available for comment as this story went to publication.

Regardless of promises from Cherry Hill’s owners to comply with LPC rulings, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz wrote the commission to request they withhold judgement until Cherry Hill settle other matters with the city. He said Cherry Hill Gourmet Market’s operators have shown a flagrant disregard for city building laws and the community’s wishes.

“While this business has been operating for only a few years it has accumulated an inaudient and inexcusable number of building and zoning violations,” Cymbrowitz said. “Despite New York City’s attempts to bring this building into compliance, most of the violations remain uncorrected.”

Cherry Hill Gourmet Market has been a lightning rod for controversy since it began renovating the space in 2008. Local leaders pleaded with the city to keep a closer eye on the property when contractors removed the historic Lundy’s signs on the building’s exterior, which were ultimately restored and reinstalled.

Scavo joined Councilman Michael Nelson and State Senator Carl Kruger to fight the gourmet market’s operator, claiming they misled the community into thinking the space would primarily be a restaurant with a market as an accessory use. But as renovation played out, it became clear that the majority of the floor space was given over to the market, a use in violation of the Sheepshead Bay Special Zoning District that dictates the types of businesses that may operate along the waterfront. The trio took up arms, conducting a press conference in April 2009 that brought criticism for coinciding with Good Friday, but also came in tandem with a Department of Buildings partial Stop Work Order for the violation.

The market’s operators plowed forward, though, opening its doors to the public in May 2009. The DOB responded swiftly, issuing a full Stop Work Order on the property and levying a $5,000 fine. That SWO stands to this day, hindering the business owners’ plans to complete construction on the second floor and open a full-fledged restaurant in the space.

Just this past May, the business was also cited for operating a sidewalk cafe without permits, having more than 30 tables on a city sidewalk. A request for permit was reviewed and denied, Scavo said.

Going forward, the local leaders are urging the city to do what it can to protect the building’s historical importance and its role as Sheepshead Bay’s crown jewel.

“The Lundy’s building is an icon for Sheepshead Bay and its historic look must be preserved and protected. Any changes to this property erase a history of this community that is not only meaningful to many of our older residents, but an important link to what this community was in a prior century,” Cymbrowitz wrote the LPC. “I am requesting that the LPC do what is necessary to assure compliance and withhold its final determination until it has verified that the property has completed all LPC required restorations.”

That’s the kind of response BIG’s Barrison is looking for, too.

“There is no other way to treat this kind of total disregard for our landmark laws,” he said. “Any other outcome is establishing a precedent that hurts the entire commission and city landmarks everywhere!”

The LPC public hearing on legalizing alterations to the landmarked Lundy’s building will take place tomorrow, August 2, at approximately 4:00 p.m. in the Public Meeting Room of the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North, Manhattan). Click here for additional details.

Comment policy


  1. they always trying to keep the russian man down. let him open up the restaurant on the second floor

  2. Get the hell over it, Cherry Hill’s awesome!  Noone gives a shit about the old decrepit building that was rotting until Cherry Hill turned into awesomeness.

  3. Very well said.  I don’t know what kind if landmark this was, but before Cherry Hill moved in the walls were literately crumbling and the building was a eyesore for anyone walking down Emmons Ave.  Not only did Cherry Hill fix the building it, is the best food market in Sheepshead Bay and perfect example of how a business should be run in both service and product.

  4. I usually am a fierce advocate for preservation but I’m not sure if it’s worth the fight in this case. The building doesn’t seem to mean much without the restaurant and unfortunately the neighborhood has changed so much that I doubt there are many people who care anymore. 

  5. my only ill will with the place is, i walked in there 2 times in my life, i dislike being spoke to in russian. when i walk in and ordered something from behind the counter, they says somethign to me russian, i answered in english, and got a nasty look, the second time i walked in, the same thing happened… i will not go back…

    as for the breaking the rules of a protected place, they broke the rules. and should have to pay for that.

  6. You are not kidding.  The building is so nice now, inside and out. The tiles on the sidewalk add class. It is no longer a rat infested, crumbling tenament.  Leave the building alone – and to LPC, BIG, PBSB Civic association, stop making trouble for all the  new businesses that come into the neighborhood.  The market got the go ahead 2 years ago. Get a life.

  7. I have had dealing with the LPC while trying to sell a building downtown and they are made up of a bunch of artsy folk that know nothing about real estate. As for all the problems the they are having it was all brought to them by Kruger because they didnt want to pay him off. If they would have paid him none of this would have happened. Well hes going to jail and they are running a successful business. That building has been rotting for years someone comes along puts in a shit load of money into it and people complain. An Outback steakhouse would have been so much nicer.   

  8. I agree. Last check I lived in America and while I could care less what language you speak at home, when you have opened a business in America, you need to get your head out of your own uptight ass and understand and speak English. If you don’t want people who were born in America and understand and speak only english in your establishment, don’t open a business in America. Sheepshead Bay is part of Brooklyn which is part of New York which is part of the United States of America which is on the North American Continent.

  9. I vote for a Korean restaurant at the other end of the Cherry Hill building.  There is actually construction there now so keeping fingers crossed that it’s not another 99 cent store.

  10. In principle I agree, although since this is the USA no one really “needs” to do anything.  With that being said I have seen many none Russians shop at Cherry Hill and the service people spoke English just fine.

  11. They always greet you in Russian.  I used to say something, but I don’t bother any more – it does no good.  If you go in early in the morning, the staff members are all clustered together BS’ing and ignore customers.  I don’t go there as often as I used to.  They are just a little too rude for my liking.

  12. I have no idea of why it was landmarked.  It had always been an ugly building with no historic significance.  Other than the fact that it was a famous restaurant back in the day, I have no clue as to why people make such a big deal of it.

  13. So which looks nicer the tile they put in or plain concrete? If they are made to rip it up, that would just be insane. Why should plain concrete even be landmarked in the first place? If it is, then every sidewalk in the City should be landmarked. It would make more sense to landmark the Boardwalk

  14. I went in there 2 times and will never  go again. Its not a friendly place they are rude, nasty and far from pleasant. My money is just as good elsewhere they forget that we are the consumers on the other side of the counter. I just hate that place and its a waste also prices are very high. Who needs cafe’s in there also. They ruined the outside altogether.

  15. Customer service is an issue, I agree.
    But for God’s sake, having a market there is so much better than to have an empty, disgusting, rat-infested ugliness of a building, which was a case for this location, for quite a while.
    Majority of locals would agree that an upscale market is a better idea.
    Cymbrowitz, however, seems less and less in sync with the voters in his district.

  16. Customer service is an issue, I agree.
    But for God’s sake, having a market there is so much better than to have an empty, disgusting, rat-infested ugliness of a building, which was a case for this location, for quite a while.
    Majority of locals would agree that an upscale market is a better idea.
    Cymbrowitz, however, seems less and less in sync with the voters in his district.

  17. Who are these clowns always fighting Cherry Hill?
    It’s the best market anywhere in Brooklyn (outside of the close-to-Manhattan hoods).
    The owner did a beautiful renovation, and replaced a horrible Applebees-style slophouse restaurant with a gourmet market and cafe.

  18. They take an abandoned building that no one else wants to develop, beautify it, make it an asset to the community, refuse to pay off local corrupt politicians delaying their opening and costing them much money, and this is the thanks they get. Nothing but hassles from community leaders who don’t appreciate what they’ve done for the community and want them to spend more money on something useless like ripping out a beautiful tile floor and replace it with ugly concrete prone to gum stains that are very difficult to remove.

    I remember how the owner was criticized on day one for removing the FWIL sign which no one asked why it was removed. I was removed so he could restore it. Then he was criticized for removing torn awnings which he was replacing with new ones. Maybe there was some confusion and he wasn’t following all the rules, but use some common sense for the community’s sake.

    You know I wouldn’t care or be surprised if he decides to teach all of you a lesson and just pack it up and close up shop and leaves you with an abandoned building for another ten years. That would serve you all right. You just know that he has too much invested to do that.

  19. I definitely agree with you 100%.  Before the market was  built, I saw a cat run from across the street and down the block where Momoyama is.  Turned out, it was not a cat but a big fat rat.  It really was disgusting back then.

  20. Yep, that’s NY for you. They’d rather have an abandoned Lundy’s building sitting there for years than a thriving business.

       I don’t shop at Cherry Hill hardly (once a year or so I wander in), and the restaurant part I found atrocious. But it’s better than what was there before (nothing). But I wish New York would STOP DRIVING BUSINESSES OUT FOR CHRISSAKES! I mean, what the freak is so damned important about the Lundy’s building anyway. It was a RESTAURANT for crying out loud.

    I remember when there was a flea market in an abandoned parking lot up Emmons Avenue. At least it kept the lot clean. the neighborhood forced the flea market out and sure enough, I started seeing all sorts of creatures wandering around there. Later on, Loehman’s had to fight to take over that parking lot. They preferred the abandoned parking lot with the creatures (2 legged and up), holy cow!

       I agree with you. It would serve the obstructionists right if Cherry Hill just packs up and leaves the building as the dump it was.

  21. people ask me for directions in Russian all the time in the neighborhood. I just say “English”, and 100% of the time they have switched to English which is better than my own. Get over it. There’s so many Russians in the neighborhood, i can’t really blame them for starting off in Russian.

        Actually, they might look at US as the bad guy. We know only one language. All these foreigners know 2 languages and up. Maybe it’s WE who are the ugly Americans!

  22. All this complaint about speaking Russian, I have yet to go into any shop on Brighton or the Bay and not been treated courteously by Russian merchants, even if they start out speaking Russian, I just say “English”, and they say sorry, and switch to English.

      Oh, let me correct myself. At Forces of Nature up S. Bay Road, I was treated very rudely by the young help there, but I thought it was an age thing, not a cultural thing.

  23. I get the same thing. People come up to me all the time and speak to me in Russian.  I tell them that I do not speak Russian, and I get the same response as you – they go right to English.  Most of them speak very well – I was told that they learn to speak “British” in their schools in Russia and Ukraine.  It’s true that we have become a predominently Russian neighborhood, so I guess we’ll just have to cope, and try not to be rude.

  24. I have nothing against the upgrade to the building, which is now The Cherry Hill Market. However, there is something to be said in preserving the integrity to a building that holds many fond memories to many of us fifty years and older. Lundy’s was a seminal restaurant, because of the people that went there and served there, including the unique atmosphere it provided to many generations. Some sort of landmark status is deserving, for with those with memory (and it is essentially memory that separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom, and why we have roses in winter!) the restaurant gave an extra element of class to southern Brooklyn. Having written that, I have been in Cherry Hill, a number of times, and find their prices, somewhat over the top! I prefer Net Cost, whose location is certainly not as nautical, but their prices are unbelieveable, and if and when I ever retire, I won’t have to visit Kiev, Minsk, or Moscow, cause being in that place makes me feel, I’m already there! Love those Slavs!

  25. I’m not complaining about people speaking Russian – the merchants are always very polite – some of their workers, not so much.  I’m still not used to people approaching me and speaking Russian (I don’t know why, the neighborhood has been predom Russian for years now).  I do the same thing as you do – just tell them that you speak only English and they will do the same.

  26. Maybe you should look a little bit less russian then…. i mean damn, i could mistaken you for a Russian dude any day.   i wouldn’t know your italian, you look nothing italian…  you look like you dived off the boat.

    your reason for not liking a place or the people is sooo retarded it’s almost sickening.  Look less Russian and maybe people won’t mistaken you!

    That’s my hint to you.

    on a Random note, Cherry hill has some GREAT cakes! and flowers! the girls who put the flowers together are nice and friendly! and the cakes are GREAT! 😀

  27. Maybe you should look a little bit less russian then…. i mean damn, i could mistaken you for a Russian dude any day.   i wouldn’t know your italian, you look nothing italian…  you look like you dived off the boat.

    your reason for not liking a place or the people is sooo retarded it’s almost sickening.  Look less Russian and maybe people won’t mistaken you!

    That’s my hint to you.

    on a Random note, Cherry hill has some GREAT cakes! and flowers! the girls who put the flowers together are nice and friendly! and the cakes are GREAT! 😀

  28. I know what you are talking about. It wasn’t clear. I agree that that part should be replaced but I thought they were asking him to removed the entire tiling. That I don’t agree with.

  29. According to LPC rules the entire tiling would only have to be replaced if it was impossible remdedy the problem in any other way. In this instance it might be an aesthetic problem for Cherry Hill , who may feel the mosaics clased with the tiling it would be parallel to.

  30. I used to live in Bensonhurst years back, when it was still a predominantly Italian neighborhood.
    The elderly Italian men many times tried to speak to me in Italian when I walked there, switching to a heavily-accented English once I replied .
    No big deal. I guess I look like an Italian.

  31. Randy, I used to dislike to go to some Italian restaurants and stores on 18th Avenue a few years back when it was predominantly Italian.
    I used to get nasty looks when shopping. No idea why.

    My Italian barber on 23rd Avenue and 86th Street treated me nicely (was getting a nice tip from a regular customer), but was ranting about every imaginable group of people here in Brooklyn – and he was an immigrant himself and spoke English with a very heavy accent.

    Get over it, buddy ! Brooklyn is a one rough place !
    Once upon a time, at the beginning of 20th century, Italians and Eastern European Jews weren’t treated nicely by the “old timers”.
    This is just a reality of life in a place that gets ethnic immigrants in waves.

  32. I’ve been approached by Italians too in the past, and they tell me that I look italian (I don’t know where I look italian, I have white skin, green eyes and blonde hair).  Whatever, it was fine.


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