Downtown Brooklyn’s culture boom brought the ‘hood $300 million in spending

Thanks for the economic upswing, BAM. (Courtesy of Flickr user Jeffrey Bary)
Thanks for the economic upswing, BAM. (Courtesy of Flickr user Jeffrey Bary)

Yesterday we were kvetching over the demise of a local dance studio for a luxury residence tower, and today we’re…celebrating Downtown Brooklyn’s massive cultural and economic growth? Such is life in Brooklyn, where everything is a walking contradiction. Wall Street Journal reports that Downtown Brooklyn is experiencing a cultural renaissance which attracted over 4.5 million visitors in 2013, and raked in $300 million dollars in positive economic growth, based on a report released today from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

The Brooklyn Cultural District spans from Dekalb Avenue to Hanson Place from north to south, and Fort Greene Avenue to Flatbush Avenue from east to west. This area has been a hotbed for new arts spaces, including the Theatre for a New Audience and BAM Fischer, the 250 seat theatre and rehearsal space offspring of reigning downtown Brooklyn cultural titan Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Investment into making downtown Brooklyn rich in cultural relevancy dates back to the Giuliani administration, and since has allocated $100 million to arts facilities, public spaces, and affordable housing within the district, so maybe that guy wasn’t as much of a schmuck as we thought. OR he’s been plotting Brooklyn’s gentrification all along. The economic impact of Downtown’s arts scene has trickled down to $1.3 million dollars for the food and beverage industry and sold 8,000 hotel stays in 2013 alone. The growth in the area means growth in oblivious foreign tourists (200,000 oblivious foreign tourists – to be exact), hitting up Atlantic Center, so retail has raked in $3.3 million bucks in the past year as well.

All of this is good news, maybe. Thriving arts scene = thriving economy = more affordable housing and free public programming? Or thriving arts scene = thriving economy =  more luxury residence towers and expensive private arts programs? We’re pessimists, so probably the latter. But until Jean-Georges opens a restaurant, maybe Downtown Brooklyn has a fighting chance.

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