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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]

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We were astounded to pass by and see the falling-down house at 1260 Bushwick Avenue has been fixed up. If anyone’s wandered these parts, they’ve surely noticed the row house next to an empty lot with its front facade peeling off, porch roof crumbling and, most remarkable and eye-catching of all, huge side wall sheathed in pieces of thin plywood — and some of those coming loose as well. It’s been like this at least since 2007, based on PropertyShark photos and our own visits to the area. Sometimes it looked as though people were living in it, too, although we were never sure. Or perhaps they were squatters.

There had been signs, over the months, that some kind of construction might be imminent, but we didn’t really believe it. In any case, now here it is, with a completely new stucco facade, looking as if it were never abandoned or a likely candidate for a tear-down.

After years of stagnation, there is a frenzy of construction in Bushwick. It’s impossible to walk down the street in Bushwick without seeing new buildings rising and old ones being renovated — generally by investors, not owner occupants. We’ll be showing you more projects over the next week or two.

In the meantime, click through to see more photos of 1260 Bushwick as well as other houses being spruced up — or horribly altered, depending on your point of view. The stucco-over-wood-frame treatment is very popular these days. We saw two more up the avenue. (more…)

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You couldn’t give away a new-construction condo in Bushwick in 2009, but now new ones are starting to appear – along with Miley Cyrus twerking at parties there, apparently, as a story in The New York Times makes official. Brookland Capital has just launched sales at 13 Melrose Place, which is well located on the north side of Bushwick close to Flushing.

They weren’t aiming to attract families, because all the eight units in the building there are one-bedrooms. The condos are aimed at the first time buyer and intended to equal the cost of renting, Brookland Capital’s Boaz Gilad told the Times. “If they’re renting an apartment now for, let’s say, $2,400 a month, we price our units between $2,400 to $2,700 a month for mortgage, taxes and maintenance — but now they own the unit.” Asking prices for the units range from $389,000 to $733,000 (the latter for a one-bedroom duplex with windowless storage space).

Other developments are pushing into still marginal areas by the last Bushwick stops on the J train and L train. A condo development at 1300 Decatur Street, for example, is two blocks from the cemetery and a Superfund site in Ridgewood, Queens.

Much more common are new rental developments in the area. Construction is nowhere near started on the huge Rheingold Brewery development. Above, construction is well along at the block-long development of a church and school at 616 Bushwick Avenue, a rental development not mentioned in the Times article.

The rest of the article describes well-traveled territory such as how trendy Bushwick has become, displacement and rising rents. Interestingly, a new anti-gentrification group, Northwest Bushwick Community Group, which is helping residents stay in their homes, is asking the city to start tracking displacement of residents. What do you think of that idea?

Bushwick Takes the Spotlight [NY Times]

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Welcome to the Hot Seat, where we interview people involved in real estate, architecture, development and design. Introducing Christopher Allen, Founder and Artistic Director of UnionDocs, a nonprofit center for documentary film based in Williamsburg. We talked with Allen about UnionDocs’ ongoing collaborative project Living Los Sures, which chronicles the culture, history and stories of Williamsburg’s Southside. You can check out a video installation with some of the project’s short films at the Ildiko Butler Gallery at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. They’ll also screen some of their short films on September 19 at 7 pm, during the Southside Connex street festival in Havermeyer Park.

Brownstoner: What neighborhood do you live in, and how did you end up there?

Christopher Allen: We live in Clinton Hill. We moved there last year after living in Williamsburg since 2002. We found a place that we liked, and rent was going up in our building and it didn’t feel like it was a good deal anymore.

BS: Can you talk about the beginnings of “Living Los Sures”?

CA: We’ve been involved in a restoration project with the New York Public Library to restore and rerelease a film from 1984 called Los Sures by Diego Echeverria. That film we’ve been working with for four years — it’s inspired about 30 documentary projects made by people in our studio. Over 50 people have been involved in creating short documentaries about the neighborhood today over the last four years. We’re also doing a participatory platform where we’ve split the film from 1984 into different shots and we’re splicing in longtime residents of the neighborhood talking about places in the film.

So the project is three parts: the participatory website, called Los Sures Shot by Shot. There are 30 short documentaries, produced by our collaborative fellows. One of the characters from the original documentary, we’re updating her story as she sells her apartment and leaves the neighborhood. It’s an interactive documentary called 89 steps. She’s considering leaving the city and moving out — and the film follows her as she goes through that process, and we learn a little bit of history about the building she’s lived in for 40 years.

That’ll be launched at the New York Film Festival September 27.

After the jump, Christopher talks about gentrification on the Southside, Sternberg Park and how rezoning has shaped the neighborhood.

(more…)

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Developer Bawabeh Brothers is planning to remake a six-shop stretch of Fulton Street into a destination spot for upscale retail, including boutiques, restaurants and bars aimed at “Bed Stuy’s growing creative community,” according to an elaborate online marketing brochure forwarded to us by a tipster over the weekend. “Somewhere between the tough streets immortalized in the hip-hop genre and the chatter of gentrification and hipster invasion, Bed Stuy offers an interesting mix of transition and history in one of Brooklyn’s most fascinating neighborhoods,” continues the brochure, which is aimed at prospective retail tenants. (more…)