Two ways of looking at a South Bronx gentrification party

Hoo boy. via Twitter user Jim Shi
Hoo boy. via Twitter user Jim Shi

South Bronx, South South Bronx…is the new Brooklyn, in the sense that rapacious waterfront development is set to make some people really rich, more people really angry and potentially change the face of an entire borough. And if you thought this would happen quietly, with mutual respect from all parties involved, the news from this weekend is going to crush you: Developers trying to hype up their new apartment complex and rebranded neighborhood in the South Bronx threw a rich person art rave that was either a disgusting display of wealth like something out of The Hunger Games or a charming evening with Gigi Hadid, Carmelo Anthony and real estate bigwigs.

On the one hand, you’ve got the Daily News‘ report on the evening, which is heavy on the attempts to make rich people feel shame:

Real estate developers Somerset Partners and The Chetrit Group are facing backlash from longtime residents over the tone deaf dance party – and for trying to re-brand the South Bronx as the “Piano District.”

The Thursday night bacchanalia in the Boogie Down, hosted by developers hoping to turn Port Morris into the next Williamsburg, featured questionable aesthetics including two burnt out cars riddled with bullet holes and trash bin fires outside the venue.

On the other hand, Vogue was there and they sure seemed to be having fun:

[S]eemingly the entire New York art and fashion galaxy bumped up north to an unfamiliar neighborhood. (Note: The South Bronx has some sharp water views—buy now!)

“The new Brooklyn,” one guest was quick to declare.

So it was good! Or actually, Ed Garcia Conde of Welcome 2 The Bronx says:

Oh and not to mention drug fueled frenzy going on as one anonymous tipster (the individual wishes to remain anonymous for fear of losing employment) who was working the event told us that cocaine and drug use was pretty rampant and at one point it was just being done quite openly at the VIP bar.

Meanwhile, just across from the party lives a homeless man in a cardboard encampment and just a couple of blocks north you’ll find Mitchel Houses, one of the largest public housing projects in the city where folks live in abject poverty and know all too well the realities of death, drug addiction, and many other issues which plagues our communities.

Or actually maybe it was good, as one attendee had no problem telling residents what was what:

“The minute the shovel goes in the ground here, their property values go up 15 percent,” quipped Michael Brady, director of special projects and governmental relations at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

So many different perspectives, readers. It’s like Rashomon! If you ask us though, given the choice between siding with people who’ve lived in the South Bronx their whole lives and won’t be able to afford any of the apartments in the “Piano District” and a crowd that thinks Baz Luhrman warming his hands over a trash can fire is a good look, we choose the former.

We’re holding out some hope this was some kind of stunt secretly organized by Jacobin so as to forment a faster class war, because the alternative (NYC’s real estate and monied interests feel so bulletproof that they’re comfortable throwing a poverty-face party in a neighborhood where 40% of the population is on federal assistance) is just depressing.

One Response to

  1. Muffinhead

    This is 100% real do not hold out any hope that it was not. I was invited to this through a promotional thing. It was marketed as a gallery opening. I almost went as I’m artistically inclined and thought hey gallery opening why not. I’m dying of embarrassment and am beyond glad I was not there. How dare these developers throw some moneyed up, coked out bacchanalia in the face of the residents of the South Bronx. WTF?!

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