Bed-Stuy, a Harbor in the Tempest?

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Just as it did a month ago, The New York Times took a stab at classifying Bedford-Stuyvesant, this time as an exception to the ubiquitous economic tumult. Even though real estate prices are dropping faster in Bed-Stuy than in Park Slope, the article argues, the area is ripe for entrepreneurship: commercial rents are lower, attracting new shops such as Therapy Wine Bar or Creative Blossoms. Some of these new businesses are struggling themselves, but the Times points to some optimistic statistics: a 2008 study showing that locals spend $30 million at bars and restaurants outside of the neighborhood (i.e., there is a demand for local venues) and an NYU professor who claims that since residents of Bed-Stuy aren’t as dependent on unstable Wall Street salaries and bonuses as, say, residents of Brooklyn Heights, their spending habits are also more stable. The article does plenty of comparison: Bed-Stuy to Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy to the Upper East Side, Bed-Stuy to Brooklyn Heights. What did you think of it?
Amid a Citywide Slump, a Local Expansion [NY Times]
History, with Hipper Retailing in Bed-Stuy [NY Times]
Photo by Clay Williams

0 Comment

  • daveinbedstuy

    Nice story. Seems spot on.

    “since residents of Bed-Stuy aren’t as dependent on unstable Wall Street salaries and bonuses”

    LOL, the seller of my home certanly was.

  • I thought the piece was thoroughly clueless. What the elites don’t know about Brooklyn in general and Bed Stuy in specific could fill books. A pretty ridiculous and patronizing look at folks who “don’t rely on Wall Street bonuses” – my goodness! can you even imagine such a neighborhood!

  • daveinbedstuy

    I can imagine it. I live there and although my tenant works for a big IB, I haven’t met anyone else there who does.

    I also believe that when they talk about Wall Street, they are referring to the big bonus guys and they do not live in Bed Stuy. A lot more architects seem to though.

  • What a dumbass this professor is! There is no area within 60 miles of Manhattan that is not dependent on wall street. Somebody get this guy a book

  • daveinbedstuy

    Anyway, Wall Street has started to rehire. The M&A activity is up markedly. Lots of talk throughout Bed Stuy about the M&A arbitrage market. It’s the main conversation at Therapy & Saraghina. LOL

  • I did think it was a nice article too– That said, Bed Stuy is a large neighbrhood and is made up of more than just Stuy Heights (and I don’t know if I would classify Stuy Heights as the “heart” of bed stuy-althugh it is truly a jewel). I live in Bed Stuy and Fort Greene is closer and more accessible to me for recreation than Stuy Heights.

  • daveinbedstuy

    HomeSweetStuy…I hear you. And that “flight to other nabes” like Ft greene to spend money is just what they were talking about. I do it myself, Ft Greene & BoCoCa.

    The story is not about Wall Street. it is about retail offerings in a neighborhood that largely has had none, especially nice sit down places.

    I would also mention Olivino, a great wine shop on MArcus garvey & Macon.

  • ugh wine shops. tell me again why bed stuy needs that crap?

    *rob*

  • daveinbedstuy

    One does not live by beer alone, rob.

  • true, i get that.. but they sell wine at liquor stores too. stand alone wine shops are just totally snooty and high pollutant and totally destroy neighborhoods. i dont know what is worse, wine shops or organic fauxdegas.

    *rob*

  • wasder

    Yeah Rob, why would Bed Stuy folks not want wine?

    I thought that this article, while well intentioned, definitely contradicted itself in that it positioned Bed Stuy as an exception to the downturn rule while at the same time presenting factual information that actually showed the downturn being harder on Bed Stuy than other areas. but perhaps they are right that ultimately the combination of need/lack of amenities and low rents will cause a retail boom in the neighborhood.

  • the word “amenities” irks me. it’s totally code for something, and that sorta bothers me.

    *rob*

  • daveinbedstuy

    rob, I suspect you’ve never been in a Bed Stuy liquor store.

  • more4less

    DIBS, all this positive press is not helping my hunt to buy a premo house near you for dirt cheap.

  • Kensingtonian

    Also, with the rise in NYC real estate taxes, BedStuy will be more favorable for buyers since the real estate taxes are not as high as other “prime” areas considered by the city.

  • I love all the new businesses opening up- love the restaurants and other shops. Wish more of it were happening here in Crown Heights.

  • more4less

    Kens, not if this positive press keeps coming off the presses. kidding aside, BedStuy real estates is not that much less (from $$$ perspective vs. % wise) than many hoods in the brownstone belt – BK Heights being the exception. Houses, in general, enjoy relatively low taxes

  • more4less

    bxgrl, let me know of some good comm’l spots or bldgs if you see any in our lovely CH North hood. As I’ve said in the past, would love to open a bakery, eatery, etc. in the hood

  • my friends in BedStuy talk about the lack of lots of stuff from stores to restaurants, etc… think the pent up demand is big. even tho DIBS wont come to Wburg, one family I know spends 100% of free time there – parks, playgrounds, shopping, restaurants, etc.. and another sends 2 kids to schools in Wburg. in both cases, they simply wanted lower housing costs but really live their lives completely in the area. my other good friend goes out more in Fort Greene or Manhattan. if she could afford it, would move family to Fort Greene, but she’s priced out.

  • I think it’s encouraging that people are opening new businesses. Those of us in the neighborhood should patronize them, no one survives on an island. I wish everyone great success.

    I’m glad the Times article called BS working class. That’s a big step up from the usual descriptions of the recent past – ghetto, slum, crime ridden, depressed, and my fave, beleaguered.

  • This is typical Times- write a story about Bed Stuy and focus on white people. The comparison to the upper east side and brooklyn heights says it all. And as I believe someone above pointed out, just because investment bankers may not live in Bed Stuy does not mean that the neighborhood is not affected by wall street. That is simply absurd- car service companies, restaturants/cafes/etc., messengers, staff, etc. may just live in Bed Stuy. Ah, but the Times isn’t concerned about them; its focus is the influx of former investment bankers and other affluent residents.

  • You do have a point, orestes. “Wall Street” is more than brokers. The people in the vast support industries were hit harder, and have less to tide themselves over with until things approach normal again.

    As to the Times slant – I don’t think they really are capable of doing any different. All of their city writing is skewed towards a Manhattan-centric, liberal, white, college educated, 35-60, white collar readership. I’m rarely surprised at their take on my communities. But, even with that, I’d rather be covered than ignored.

  • Havemeyer

    It depresses me that most of the people I know who live in Bed Stuy I’ve met in Fort Greene playgrounds… honestly, if I lived there, I’d be at the playground nearest to my house. Fort Greene/Clinton Hill has 4 (at least) wine shoppes, all within a half mile of each other. The ratio in Williamsburg was even more insane. While I love Olivino, (the closest one to me), I do think this is excessive.

    Very good point, orestes.

  • Even if it’s not exactly a glowing article at least it’s not bad press about “scary” Bed-Stuy. Nice, in a way, that they’re giving all this recent coverage to the neighborhood because there IS plenty of opportunity and demand here. Businesses are needed in all forms (and uh apparently those catering to the stay-at-home-mom crowd who seem to feel the need to travel to other ‘hoods for kid-friendly amenities…), though I’d dispute that we’re “starving” for them. If something opens near me that I want to patronize then great, but if it’s doesn’t I’ll live. I didn’t move to Bed-Stuy because I wanted amenities or even necessarily wanted it to change.

    That said, most people would prefer to walk out their door than having to jump in the car or subway to get a decent breakfast. I think it’s just a matter of time before people start figuring out just how much opportunity there is in Bed-Stuy. It took about quite a long time for DeKalb to come into its own, from the days of Cino’s (RIP). And the Williamsburg section of Bedford Ave was still a bit of a wasteland a mere 15 years ago.

    Anyway, I’m going to make an effort to patronize the new wine bar on Lewis even though it’s a bit out the way because I respect and really admire that someone took such a big risk to realize a dream and make a contribution to the ‘nabe. That’s the kind of business that I hope will define the future of Bed-Stuy, meaning local entrepreneurs/people who are already somehow invested in the neighborhood.

  • More4Less- I emailed you

  • bryanx

    Stuyvesant Heights went from zero to 2 good restaurants in about a year. (Saraghina… Peaches)

    In other (desirable) neighborhoods, if they dropped down to this level everyone there would think The Apocalypse was raining down upon them.

    Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but when you’re already at bottom there is nowhere to go but up.

    No wait… Food 4 Thought has been there for a while. I like that place.

  • I personally liked the NY Times article. I recently moved to Stuyvesant Heights with my partner and we fell in love with the area. The restaurants are great and the neighbors are very friendly. I don’t mind the fact that the area is highly residential. This is what adds to its appeal. Most importantly, it intrigues us that our diverse neighbors (KEYWORDS: Diverse–meaning racial make-up) are working artists, professors, architects, designers, writers, and small business entrepreneurs and NOT the stiff-neck, white collar workers (aka the wall street junkies).

    Additionally, I revel in the calm of the neighborhood. I step off the train and I feel like I’m home in a different world where the dissonant sounds of Manhattan are at bay. I love that there are hardly any commercial areas around besides Fulton Street; because if that were the case, the neighborhood would lose its appeal. This is not Park Slope. And besides, Saraghina, Peaches and Breadstuy are great places to dine and hangout….if I want anything else, I love my beautiful brownstone apartment enough to stay at home and cook a nice meal with my partner.

    Nicole

  • bryanx

    dearth of Wall Street D-bags.

    That is definitely a plus.

    Seriously though. Just ONE store that sells some cheese other than Velveeta would be nice.

    One decent market. One. That’s all I want.

    Not one or more average per block. Just one single semi-upscale food market smack dab in the center of this neighborhood of 400,000 residents.

    Okay no. 2 things: an apartment with a bathtub AND one decent market.