04/14/17 4:52pm

The gentrification will be televised.

According to pop culture lore, Brooklyn was founded by Miranda Hobbes of the Manhattan Hobbes, when she bravely planted a Manolo Blahnik across the bridge and settled the land in 2004. The borough became home to pantsless hipsters and multiple broke girls until 2012 when Hannah Horvath appeared and single-handedly drove up rent prices, put a cupcake ATM on every corner and made everyone start loving that Icona Pop song.

OK, so maybe that last one is true, but the rest is clearly bullshit. Blaming Girls for the rapid gentrification of certain Brooklyn neighborhoods is like blaming Austria’s loss at the Battle of Marengo on Napoloeon Crossing the Alps. But that hasn’t stopped folks from falsely attributing rising rents, the proliferation of Pinterest-ready dessert trends and the influx of hipster derivatives to the HBO series. (more…)

Sunset Park Garment Industry

The Garment District in 1955. Via Wikipedia

“Sunset Park, Brooklyn: Not Quite Trendy,” the New York Times wrote last January of the sprawling neighborhood that fills the wide expanse between Green-Wood Cemetery and Bay Ridge, with homes, industry and so many delicious Mexican and Chinese food eateries. While the Times still refrains from referring to the nabe with the t-word, both the Grey Lady and Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his State of the City speech last night, have noted this month that they see the area as a prime surrogate for the rebirthing of Manhattan’s gutted Garment District.

This means area locals should brace for a number of changes, some good; some not so much. (more…)

09/23/16 10:15am
The dapmap lets you see how bad things really are in each neighborhood.

The dapmap lets you see how bad things really are in each neighborhood.

Gentrification is New York’s white whale, and no amount of low-stakes ukulele songs about the issue are going to rein it in. Trying to determine who’s actually “part of the problem” is so 2015. Anti-gentrification sentiments are better put towards neighborhood engagement and community organizing to fight the thing, both of which are newly made easier with this ^^^ handy interactive gentrification map.

The Displacement Project Alert Map, a project of the Association for Neighborhoods and Housing Development (ANHD), lets you see where gentrification is doing its worst in the city. It’s web-based, so it updates frequently. You can search the map by council districts, community boards or zip codes. Buildings are colored along a gradual spectrum ranging from pale yellow to dark red, the darker colored buildings indicating a higher risk of its tenants facing displacement.

05/24/16 3:37pm
Don't let us tell you, let this quiz tell you. Chris Ford / Flickr

Don’t let us tell you, let this quiz tell you. Chris Ford/Flickr

Whether you’re new to town or you’ve been around for a bit, you know the one local issue that keeps popping up, and won’t be going away any time soon, is gentrification. Neighborhoods and demographics in those neighborhoods change, and while real estate agents love to employ the terms “transitioning” (aaaaaaaahhhhh), the reality is that long-time residents are being pushed out.

(It’s worth checking out WNYC’s new podcast on gentrification to hear just how that pushing out is happening; pretty scary stuff.)

What’s more, gentrification tends to be an uncomfortable us vs. them conversation that a lot of folks have trouble participating in, because they don’t always know which side they land on, or would rather not hear. So, for your benefit, we’ve come up with a quick and dirty quiz so YOU can see whether you are, in fact, part of the problem. (more…)

05/05/16 11:08am
Charley Layton and Jenny Harder, seen here not working for a real estate company.

Charley Layton and Jenny Harder, seen here not working for a real estate company.

Jennifer Harder is a performer, actor and musician who’s been in a rotating stream of projects that would fall under the “alt,” “anarchist” or “steampunk” categories ever since moving to the city about 18 years ago. So she was surprised to find her picture on Brokelyn the other day under the headline “Here are some signs you’re about to gentrify a building” (Note: the headline has since changed for internal reasons). The post, written by me, called out an event a real estate company working for a landlord with a shady past used to help sell some Crown Heights units that had recently been flipped from apartments into pricey condos. The company lured buyers by throwing a steampunk/vaudeville party on April 20, with magicians, music and a bourbon tasting. Harder, 35, was upset at being pictured as the literal face of gentrification: “All of the entertainers are pros who were doing our jobs,” she tweeted at us. “The real estate agents should have been pictured instead.”

Harder and her fellow performer in the picture, Charley Layton, both consider themselves starving artist types: they’ve been in the city since the 90s and and have balanced intense creative pursuits — Harder plays in the legendary Hungry March Band and has toured with Gogol Bordello — with day jobs, side gigs and the occasional corporate event. The real estate job fell right on the the fault line many New York artists and musicians tiptoe every day: When should you take a gig just for the paycheck and when does a higher value demand you say no? There’s no easy answer, so I sat down with the two at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side the other day to talk about how they ended up taking the job and how they balance a career in the arts with the need to survive in an increasingly expensive city.  (more…)

04/27/16 5:27pm
Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

There is nothing inherently wrong with steampunk on its face, other than how ridiculously loud a crowd of steampunks can get outside the Way Station every single goddamn night of the week. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with magicians or whiskey tastings either, nor even anything inherently wrong with condos, to be honest (they’re just little houses stacked on top of each other, an efficient way to live, and efficient living is one of the reasons New York is great). But throw all these things together in a cauldron of real estate and they start to emit an odor that smells a lot like gentrification.

This is what happened in Crown Heights last week, at a party celebrating “condo conversion:” aka turning a pre-war apartment rental building into much less affordable condos starting at half a million dollars. The party “kicked off with a splash at a Steampunk/Vaudeville-themed launch party,” according to a press release. If a real estate agent is trying to get you to buy their property by throwing you a steampunk party, there’s a good chance you might be a gentrifier. [UPDATE: We talked to the pair in the photo above about why they took the gig; read that interview here]. (more…)

04/19/16 9:02am
Finally, somewhere to find an ATM in Manhattan. Via screenshot

Finally, somewhere to find an ATM in Manhattan. Via screenshot

Among many bits of DNA that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt shares with 30 Rock, its spiritual predecessor, is a to-the-roots feeling of New Yorkiness. 30 Rock felt like an old-school version of showbusiness Midtown manhattan, riffing on the entertainment industry and apartment renovations; Kimmy Schmidt is pure uptown grit. You can look at them as two ends of the spectrum of New York that meet in the middle (or the subway train, the great equalizer). The villain of 30 Rock is often the city itself, its unwashed masses or aggressive homeless people. Kimmy Schmidt’s however, often chooses gentrification as its main foil, as seen in the above so-on-the-nose-it’s-perfect sight gag from episode 2 of the new season. The show is giving us good reason to laugh so we don’t cry.  (more…)

03/16/16 4:13pm
Residents protest the eviction of an elderly Bed-Stuy homeowner in 2011. Via Flickr user Michael Premo.

Residents protest the eviction of an elderly Bed-Stuy homeowner in 2011. Via Flickr user Michael Premo.

WNYC’s new podcast about Brooklyn gentrification is only two episodes in but here’s a trend you can expect to continue for all eight installments. In the first episode, reporter Jim O’Grady talks about how the show reached out to several developers to get their prospective on the changes gentrification is bringing on the borough. They’re reshaping neighborhoods so dramatically and are frequently maligned in the press and over dining room tables across the city as the main force that’s driving out long-time residents and churning housing into a slurry of real estate money for the rich. This podcast, a sober and thoughtful look at the situation, would be a prime venue for developers to come forth and explain or defend themselves. Right? Nope. The show could only find one developer who would talk to them in that episode, and even he would only talk using a pseudonym. “Isaac” lets O’Grady into his South Williamsburg office, a cauldron of gentrification in progress, where he talks with shady brokers to locate properties where he can jack up the rent and evict tenants.

It seems here that developers think they have something to hide. They sound a lot like Trump supporters. (more…)

03/10/16 10:41am
This could be your neighboring condo, unless you take action now. via Flickr user i_follow

This could be your neighboring condo, unless you take action now. via Flickr user i_follow

New York City is a fickle beast — one day you’re living in your cheap apartment in a residential, under-the-radar neighborhood and the next, you’re surrounded by high rises and luxury boutiques. Such is bitter pill of New York real estate, that the tide of gentrification moves farther and farther out until Far Rockaway looks like the Williamsburg waterfront (sorry, Mac). And while we should all participate in the betterment of our respective neighborhoods on a community level, what can you individually do to keep those developers, international speculators and ex-patriate Manhattanites at bay?

Well, you can start by listening to the new WNYC podcast about how gentrification operates. But you can also take our advice*. We’ve got seven foolproof ways to send those luxury tycoons and yuppie country mice running from your neighborhoods and preserve its as-yet ungentrified beauty. From subway shutdown rumors to HBO invasions to just telling people outright lies, these tactics will definitely keep the Martin Shkrelis of the world away from your washer-dryer. (more…)

03/08/16 10:04am
A scene from the Brooklyn anti-gentrification protest at the Brooklyn Real Estate Summit in November. Photo by Maria Travis.

A scene from the Brooklyn anti-gentrification protest at the Brooklyn Real Estate Summit in November. The new podcast will consider whether the borough’s gentrification is at a tipping point. Photo by Maria Travis.

Nobody likes to admit they’re a gentrifier, but definitely Kai Wright was definitely ahead of the recent wave of Bed-Stuy gentrification. The Indiana native moved to the neighborhood from Fort Greene in 2004, long before places like Dough, Black Swan or Do or Dine turned the majority black neighborhood into a welcoming spot for white families pushing strollers. He jokes he could see the “red line moving” over the years as wealthier people began to buy up property in the increasingly chic neighborhood, many of whom were priced out of other neighborhoods by even wealthier gentrifiers.

‘Watching that happen, watching the displacement I saw, watching rent go up all around me, watching the new neighbors that were coming in, watching the houses that would flip on my block … there’s an anxiety it creates,” the 42-year-old said. “You can’t explain it, you can’t trust it, it certainly feels larger than you.”

But explaining it is something he wanted to do, especially now when many think the borough is on the tipping point of gentrification that many worry could turn Brooklyn’s patchwork multi-culturalism into a playground for the rich living in glass-walled luxury condos. So Wright, the features editor at The Nation, worked with WNYC to create a new podcast There Goes the Neighborhood that debuts tomorrow, to probe the deep forces that are remaking Brooklyn. It’s going to paint gentrification as much more than a black and white issue.

“It’s not just the coffee shop at the end of the block,” Wright said. “It’s [a] violent economic process.” (more…)