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City Planning Tuesday revealed more details of the mayor’s plan to rezone East New York and Ocean Hill in two environmental impact statement documents. By changing commercial-only zones to mixed-use and allowing slightly taller and denser buildings than what is there today, as well as making investments in the area such as streetscape improvements, the rezoning could bring new life and retail to the area and improve public safety.

We were pleasantly surprised to read the details of the plans, because they sound as if they will work. However, still missing is a crucial detail: We still don’t know the percentage of affordable units — and the plan could be put into action as soon as April!

As we and others have said, mixed-income buildings could have the unintended consequence of pushing up rents in the general area, both because the “market rate” units will be high for the area and because most of the “affordable” units will also be beyond the reach of most current residents. The more “affordable” a development is, the less likely it is to spur gentrification. Many new developments in the area for years have been 100 percent affordable (that is, subsidized), such as the Nehemiah houses, Spring Creek, and Gateway Elton II.

Some details of the plan: (more…)

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BRIC’s television channel, Brooklyn Independent Media, is hosting a town hall on gentrification tomorrow evening and inviting experts, politicians, activists and urban planners to weigh in on how rapid economic development is transforming Brooklyn. “Where do market forces and policy need to meet so that we can preserve the integrity of our diverse borough?” asks the event description.

Speakers include New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Brooklyn College Sociology Professor Sharon Zukin; City Council Member Robert Cornegy (36th District); Ron Shiffman, urban planner and founder of the Pratt Center for Community Development; Jherelle Ben, an organizer for the Flatbush Tenant Coalition; and Juan Ramos, chair of the Broadway Triangle Coalition.

The free event will take place tomorrow from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the BRIC House Ballroom at 647 Fulton Street, and you can register to attend through Eventbrite. It will also be broadcast live here

Saturday Night Live aired an amusing skit this past weekend that shows three guys hanging out on a corner in present day Bushwick, talking about how the neighborhood is “getting crazy.” Kevin Hart, Jay Pharaoh and Keenan Thompson start out acting suspicious of people going by, but then they launch into their newfound hobbies: spin class, brunch and trying out the new artisanal mayo spot.

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A socioeconomic shift has led to Brooklyn becoming “Manhattanized,” according to a Massey Knakal third quarter recap and two reports we received in our inbox last night. This is not the first time the real estate firm has used that word, but now it goes into much more detail about it and forecasts the trend will continue.

The firm doesn’t see any slack coming at the end of the year. “We expect dollar volume in 4Q14 to exceed 3Q14,” and rents and prices to continue to increase, said one of the reports.

The reports outlined three reasons for the continued “Manhattanization” of Brooklyn:

• Big time institutional investors jumping into the market
* New, higher quality, bigger building stock
* Price appreciation in Williamsburg and other areas has closed or exceeded the Manhattan gap (more…)

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Brooklyn College is hosting a panel this week called “Bed Stuy in Crisis,” about race in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. “Many believe Bed Stuy is in fact dying” as “black renters are being forced out and black homeowners are tempted to sell” while “optimists say many middle class blacks are also moving in and will help make Bed Stuy a special multiracial venue,” says the writeup for the event.

The panel will be moderated by Brooklyn College journalism professor Ron Howell, who penned the controversial essay “Goodbye, My Bed Stuy.” Speakers include Richard Flateau, a Bed Stuy native who owns Flateau Realty Corp. and chairs Community Board 3′s Economic Development Committee; Mark Winston Griffith, a community organizer and executive director of the Brooklyn Movement Center; Brooklyn College professor emeritus Jerome Krase, a sociologist and activist who wrote “Seeing Cities Change: Local Culture and Class“; Judge Betty Staton, a former family court judge who helps Bed Stuy renters being illegally forced out of their apartments as president of Legal Services NYC; and Lupe Todd, a longtime neighborhood resident and the communications director for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

The panel will take place on Thursday from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Glenwood Lounge, located on the second floor of the Brooklyn College Student Center at Campus Road and East 27th Street. Take a look at the flyer for a full description and more details on the speakers.

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Business Insider has published a story claiming that hipsters used to be pretty much confined only to the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, but have completely taken over the city in the past five years, based on maps published by Yelp. The maps show the increasing use of the word “hipster” in reviews of restaurants and other businesses on Yelp.

In 2013, “due to pricey rents in Williamsburg people began moving even further into areas around Brooklyn,” said the story. “Places such as Bushwick, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Park Slope began seeing a lot of heat.”

Being old enough to remember, we disagree. The hipster push into Crown Heights, certain parts of Bed Stuy and East New York is relatively recent (not that East New York shows up on the map). But “hipsters” have been all over the rest of brownstone Brooklyn for years — Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Ditmas Park, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, northern Bed Stuy, etc. You could argue they’ve been here for decades, going back to the first brownstoners, artists and others who rehabbed former SROs and other spaces in neighborhoods such as Boerum Hill and Fort Greene in the 1960s and ’70s. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe lived in Clinton Hill back then. What about Walt Whitman, Henry Miller, Truman Capote and Carson McCullers in Brooklyn Heights even earlier?

Or maybe this map just reflects the increasing mainstream use of the word “hipster,” which now seems to denote anyone age 25 to 35 who does not work in finance or medicine. Or, most likely, just that there are more hipster businesses opening in these areas than there used to be. What do you think?

These Maps Show How Much Hipsters Have Taken Over in the Last Five Years [Biz Insider]

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Did anyone catch this essay in The New York Daily News, called “Goodbye, My Bed Stuy”? The writer, a black man who grew up in Bed Stuy and is a journalism professor at Brooklyn College, laments the growing number of whites moving into Bed Stuy and the rising rents, which are pricing out longtime black renters in the neighborhood.

He mentions that Bed Stuy is mostly townhouses, which means most units aren’t rent regulated. He also says part of the problem is investors who are purchasing homes “as bundles.” We haven’t heard of that, but we think he is referring to investors buying townhouses in the area to rent out. (Incidentally, a building he mentions as an example of landlord harassment is in Crown Heights, not Bed Stuy.)

What do you think of the essay?

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Back in the day before gentrification had fully hit Crown Heights and sent rents up 17.5 percent and townhouse prices soaring 86 percent in one year — that is, way back in 2010 — Crown Heights residents were upset to learn a pawn shop would be opening on Franklin Avenue. The pawn shop would “degrade the atmosphere of the street” and was a “recipe for disaster,” according to a petition circulated by the Crow Hill Community Association at the time.

After numerous protests, the shop opened as a jewelry store, not a pawn shop — and the most amazing mural appeared on the side of the building. We diplomatically said, “We have no idea what to think of the mural that’s gone up to promote the place. That is one lucky baby.”

Less than three years later, the store was out of business and has since been replaced by literary bookshop Hullabaloo Books.

Literary Book Store Replaces Pawn Shop [Brownstoner]
Crown Heights Pawn Shop is Back [Brownstoner]
Protests Against a Pawn Shop on Franklin [Brownstoner]

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Beginning Monday, the Brooklyn Public Library debuts a series of panel discussions, oral history recording sessions, film screenings and workshops about gentrification in the borough. Brooklyn Transitions aims to start a dialogue about changes both good and bad as many once affordable neighborhoods become expensive, the resulting displacement of many longtime residents, and what people can do to remain where they live.

The first panel will look at the history of gentrification in Brooklyn. Sharon Zukin, professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and City University of New York; Sulieman Osman, assistant professor of American studies at Georgetown University and author of “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn”; and Isabel Hill, an architectural historian, urban planner and filmmaker will speak October 20 at 7 pm.

A panel on November 17 will address gentrification in Brooklyn today and one on December 15 will ponder the Brooklyn of the future.

For the Brooklyn Transitions Oral History Project, the library is looking for people to tell stories about the neighborhoods where they were born and raised and how they have changed. Recordings will be archived in the Brooklyn Collection.

Find out more on the Brooklyn Transitions website.

Photo by gigi_nyc

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As the hype about Bed Stuy grows, the backlash is growing too. That’s fine with us. But we take issue with the accuracy of the latest example in this genre, Brick Underground’s “Why I’m Leaving Bed Stuy for Good,” a list of nine reasons to leave the neighborhood. First, the anonymous author mentions the good things about Bed Stuy: Friendly neighbors and beautiful architecture. Agreed. Now for the list of reasons to move: (more…)

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In response to Eric Garner and Ferguson, BRIC and Brooklyn Independent Media are hosting a community town hall on how race and policing affect the civil rights of Brooklynites. Panelists include Councilmember Jumaane Williams; Esmerelda Simmons, Executive Director Center for Law & Social Justice at Medgar Evers College; Lumumba Bandele, Senior Community Organizer for Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Rinku Sen, Publisher of Colorlines and Executive Director of Race Forward; and Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of Arab American Association. 

Brian Vines of Brooklyn Independent Media will moderate, and the event takes place from 7 to 8:30 pm in the 240-seat BRIC House Ballroom at 647 Fulton Street on Tuesday, October 14. The free event will also be broadcast on Brooklyn Independent Media.

And next week, two demographers from the City Planning Department will come to Brooklyn Historical Society to explore our borough’s shifting racial and ethnic groups. Joseph Salvo, Director of the Population Division at City Planning, and his colleague Peter Lobo will talk about the major demographic changes in recent years, as well as the challenges Brooklyn will face in the coming decades. It’s happening next Thursday, October 2 at BHS at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 or $5 for members.

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The area around the massive Broadway Junction transit hub in East New York is desolate and dangerous. For the neighborhood to flourish, it needs more people on the street, according to yet another report on the area calling for its redevelopment.

Specific recommendations include:

*Create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
*Close some roads.
*Consolidate land ownership.
*Repurpose the empty Long Island Rail Road substation into manufacturing and office space for “creative” companies a la Industry City in Sunset Park.
*Spur mixed-use development.

Redevelopment of the area would help the de Blasio administration meet its affordable housing goals, according to the report. Crain’s was the first to write about the report and its recommendations.

The document was authored by Urban Land Institute New York, a chapter of a D.C. think tank, and sponsored by the New York City Department of City Planning. The report stemmed from ULINY panels held over the summer.

Do you think this will work? And if it does work, who will benefit?

Broadway Junction Report [ULINY]
Dismal Bronx, Brooklyn Areas Have Potential [Crain's]