VITAL brings rock climbing (and more!) to Greenpoint

There’s now an entirely new way to work out in North Brooklyn. Earlier this month, bouldering and fitness gym VITAL opened at 221 North 14th Street, offering classes, rental space, and other programs to active Brooklynites.
“This area is a great spot for us,” said VITAL co-founder David Sacher. “The neighborhood is just so alive with people out looking to enjoy their lives and their city. We create a place for people to come where they can meet their neighbors and spend time while learning something new.
“Climbing is an incredible way to get to know people because it allows you to take on and overcome challenges together,” he added.
With other locations in California and Washington, VITAL aims to make both experienced and novice climbers feel welcome. The Brooklyn site is currently operating at 50 percent capacity (375 people) due to the pandemic, but is open to members 24/7.
Non-members can sign up for classes and day passes.
“It really becomes a second home to people,” Sacher explained, “especially since we have work space, showers, a fire pit, and a restaurant. People never want to leave.”
Memberships at VITAL is $125 a month and include unlimited climbing, yoga, cycling, aerial fitness, and access to classes. Sacher is confident that the gym will attract Brooklynites who have never tried rock climbing before.
“We are bouldering only, which means you don’t need a climbing partner or a harness or knowledge about how to tie knots,” he said. “You can just show up in your street clothes, throw on some rental shoes, and immediately start climbing.
“It’s such a fun vibe that I’ve heard from quite a few folks already who have gotten a membership just because they like hanging out there so much,” he added.
Sacher is also hopeful that the convenient location near the G and L trains and stunning views of Manhattan will attract even more visitors.
“We have a huge rooftop climbing garden with great views of the city,” he explained. “We’re still putting the finishing touches on this space, and I think it would be fun to throw a mid-summer party there next month once all the details are dialed in.”

The team at VITAL offers free tours of their new location. More information about the gym can also be found at VITALClimbingGym.com. Follow @vitalbrooklyn on Instagram for more pictures of the new site.

Greenpoint ferry stop suddenly closes

The India Street ferry stop in Greenpoint suddenly closed on May 23 and will remain closed until further notice. The announcement was made via a message on Twitter that attributed the service change to a “mechanical issue.”
Since the closure, the MTA has set up a free shuttle bus between Greenpoint and Hunters Point South. The bus runs every 40 minutes in both directions.
The NYC Ferry service is operated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) rather than the MTA, and has been in operation since 2017.
The expansive transportation system spans 60 nautical miles and stops at 21 landing sites. However, three of those stops – South Williamsburg, DUMBO, and now Greenpoint – are currently closed.
“On Sunday evening, service was suspended to the Greenpoint landing after a captain noticed an issue with one of the pier piles,” read a statement from NYCEDC. Yesterday, the landing and piles were removed from the site to be inspected. At this time, the Greenpoint landing remains out of service in both directions.
“Lendlease [the real estate company that owns the landing] is currently performing an examination of the pier’s infrastructure and we anticipate they will share a timeline for repairs next week,” the statement continued. “As always, safety remains NYC Ferry’s top priority.”
“We expect to have a clearer picture of the extent of the needed repairs, and a timeline for restoring ferry service next week,” stated a spokesperson from Lendlease. “We are dedicated to restoring the ferry as quickly and safely as possible.”
The NYC Ferry recently made headlines when a ship crashed into a docking barge at Brooklyn Bridge Park on May 13. The incident shattered multiple windows on the vessel, but luckily none of the 27 passengers onboard were injured.
Service alerts, schedules, and other updates for every line of the NYC Ferry system can be found on ferry.nyc or the NYC Ferry app.

VITAL brings rock climbing (and more!) to Greenpoint

There’s now an entirely new way to work out in North Brooklyn. Earlier this month, bouldering and fitness gym VITAL opened at 221 North 14th Street, offering classes, rental space, and other programs to active Brooklynites.
“This area is a great spot for us,” said VITAL co-founder David Sacher. “The neighborhood is just so alive with people out looking to enjoy their lives and their city. We create a place for people to come where they can meet their neighbors and spend time while learning something new.
“Climbing is an incredible way to get to know people because it allows you to take on and overcome challenges together,” he added.
With other locations in California and Washington, VITAL aims to make both experienced and novice climbers feel welcome. The Brooklyn site is currently operating at 50 percent capacity ( 375 people) due to the pandemic, but is open to members 24/7.
Non-members can sign up for classes and day passes.
“It really becomes a second home to people,” Sacher explained, “especially since we have work space, showers, a fire pit, and a restaurant. People never want to leave.”
Memberships at VITAL is $125 a month and include unlimited climbing, yoga, cycling, aerial fitness, and access to classes. Sacher is confident that the gym will attract Brooklynites who have never tried rock climbing before.
“We are bouldering only, which means you don’t need a climbing partner or a harness or knowledge about how to tie knots,” he said. “You can just show up in your street clothes, throw on some rental shoes, and immediately start climbing.
“It’s such a fun vibe that I’ve heard from quite a few folks already who have gotten a membership just because they like hanging out there so much,” he added.
Sacher is also hopeful that the convenient location near the G and L trains and stunning views of Manhattan will attract even more visitors.
“We have a huge rooftop climbing garden with great views of the city,” he explained. “We’re still putting the finishing touches on this space, and I think it would be fun to throw a mid-summer party there next month once all the details are dialed in.”

The team at VITAL offers free tours of their new location. More information about the gym can also be found at VITALClimbingGym.com. Follow @vitalbrooklyn on Instagram for more pictures of the new site.

Debate over Open Street program intensifies in Greenpoint

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused cultural conflicts both nationally and locally. Maskers vs. Anti-maskers, vaccines and anti-vaxxers, open streets and…closed streets?
Throughout the past year, a strange and intense animosity has been growing in Greenpoint regarding whether or not certain city streets should be shut down to allow for more COVID-conscious outdoor pedestrian space.
The tension began last May when Mayor bill de Blasio announced the NYC Open Streets initiative, which placed barricades to stop car traffic on hundreds of miles of streets in the city, including several Greenpoint thoroughfares.
Initially, the NYPD was in charge of the initiative, placing the barricades every morning at 8 a.m. and removing them at 8 p.m. each night. After various complaints that the officers were neglectful of their duties, community organizations volunteered to take charge of the open streets program.
Most notably, the North Brooklyn Open Streets Community Coalition stepped in to manage the situation. With the support of councilmen Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin, the volunteer group successfully maintained and facilitated open streets on portions of Berry, Nassau, Russell, and Driggs streets since last year.
However, the open streets program has faced significant pushback since its inception. Last November, a petition titled “Stop Open Streets from becoming a permanent fixture in Greenpoint” gained 962 signatures on Change.org.
“Many members of the community feel they were misled on the original plan, and were unaware that they were signing to completely remove the streets of Greenpoint and turn them into pedestrian-only walkways,” the petition read. “This petition is on behalf of my neighbors and car owners of Greenpoint, our voices are being silenced and we are getting increasingly worried and upset that we are not being represented in the plans for Open Streets.”
Last month, the situation reached an unprecedented fever pitch. A man in a “counterfeit” Amazon delivery truck stole 16 of Greenpoint’s open street barricades overnight, then proceeded to throw the barricades into Newtown Creek.
Members of the community organization North Brooklyn Mutual Aid searched for the missing barricades. Five were found washed up on the shoreline at the end of Apollo Street. Two were fished out of the creek by volunteers in a rowboat. The other nine were lost completely.
While less dramatic, the open street drama continues up to this week. Greenpoint local Logan Reeves recently published an op-ed calling for changes to make the open streets program more focused in its intent.
“Residents have asked multiple times to see the data that was collected in order to figure out what streets to close, and the North Brooklyn Open Streets Coalition declines to share the information,” he wrote. “Do better NYC.”
Despite the pushback, the mayor has expressed his intention to maintain the program. Many of the major Democratic candidates for mayor, including Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire, Diane Morales, Scott Stringer, Maya Wiley, and Andrew Yang, have also pledged to upkeep the open streets initiative.

Lightbridge Academy opening location in Greenpoint

The child care and education company Lightbridge Academy last week announced a new franchise at 23 India Street in Greenpoint.
Lightbridge Academy currently operates 58 locations throughout the U.S., including multiple sites in Manhattan. The Greenpoint location will be the company’s third in Brooklyn, with a Prospect Heights location currently set to open in April and a Downtown Brooklyn location slated for June.
“We are happy to be breaking into the Brooklyn market,” explained David Falzarano, senior vice president of Franchise Development for Lightbridge and son of the company’s founders. “We will hopefully oversee the best child care in town, and we love the fact that families are working on this project together.”
The New Jersey-based company offers state-of-the-art child care centers for ages six weeks to kindergarten, and operates through a franchise model that tasks sponsor families with overseeing the development of each location.
The Greenpoint location is sponsored by Alok Rai, a former finance executive at Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Rai is also the father of two young children, and has been actively looking for childcare franchise opportunities since 2014.
“It was a perfect match,” Rai explained. “Everyone has been saying ‘thank you, this is what we’ve been missing in Greenpoint.’”
Rai elaborated on his decision to transition from finance to education.
“I come from finance, which is a very aggressive world,” he said. “I oversaw a team of 300, and can bring my leadership skills to education. I run a tight ship and keep the quality high.”
Rai, his wife, and their two kids currently live in New Jersey, but the family plans on moving to Brooklyn to oversee the franchise. He said Lightbridge Academy is a good match for Greenpoint.
“The reason was twofold,” he said. “We choose Lightbridge because the team is community based. Also, the transformation of this area with new residential buildings created a need for child care and education.”
The Greenpoint Lightbridge Academy is currently scheduled to open in the fall. The franchise is located on the ground level of a recently constructed mixed-use facility along the Greenpoint waterfront.
During Monday’s event, a mother who lives in one of the apartments above the new location expressed her excitement about new childcare opportunities in the area.
“I wish it would open next month,” she said. “I could just bring my kids downstairs. That would be great.”

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