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Artists and photographers who were part of the 2010 exhibition “The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks,” will gather at the Brooklyn Historical Society tomorrow to discuss what it means to be a working artist — and maybe a gentrifier — living in the borough today. Dexter Wimberley, who curated the show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, will lead the discussion.

Panelists will explore “how they’ve survived (or thrived) in the years since the exhibition, and share how their art has been influenced by the rapid changes in the borough,” according to BHS. Artists Oasa Sun DuVerney, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright will speak, as well as MoCADA director James Bartlett. The free panel will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm tomorrow evening at BHS, and tickets are available here. Above, a painting by Tim Okumura from the exhibition.

Photo by Tim Okumura for Fort Greene Focus

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Crown Heights has shed its past association with riots and now stands for the real estate boom, according to a story in am New York. The story described soaring prices for homes and other trends familiar to readers of this blog, such as new apartment buildings being built from the ground up and landlords buying and selling existing apartment buildings in remarkable numbers:

Meanwhile development has surged. Crown Heights had more apartment-building transactions between October 2013 and March 2014 than any other neighborhood in the city, according to Ariel Property Advisors. The average condo price rose to $748 per square foot from $521 between 2012 and 2014, and land prices soared to $178 per buildable square foot from $94.

But development has brought displacement, the story said. Do you agree with MTOPP President Alicia Boyd’s estimate that 30 percent of longtime residents have left in the last two years?

Crown Heights Real Estate Continues to Boom [amNY]

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We read with great interest in the Daily News that prices are so high now in Bed Stuy, investors are fleeing the area, which means it’s going to be easier for regular people — that is, owner-occupants — to buy there. The story didn’t quote any actual investors, though, so we spoke to a few.

Their take? We are entering the next stage of gentrification and prices are still increasing. Investors are not pulling back, and properties are not sitting on the market. (One source we spoke to had just sold one $2,100,000 property a few weeks ago and has a closing date for another $1,850,000 property next week. A commercial broker was prepping for a Bed Stuy closing later this morning.) But buyers are getting smarter, said one.

Here are a few representative quotes:

“The real story is that owners/brokers are pricing things 30 to 40 percent higher year over year so they aren’t selling! But anything that’s about 10 to 15 percent higher then 12 months ago sells like fire. Prices are still up 20 percent year over year on any asset type!”

“There are bidding wars on every house! Investors didn’t pull back! It’s the opposite! End users became savvy and are bidding on houses that are in the need of work!

“Bed Stuy has a bigger pool of buyers for all asset classes than ever before.”

And here is what Alan Dixon, head of one of the biggest Bed Stuy investors, had to say. (Dixon is Managing Director and CEO of Dixon Advisory USA. Part of a publicly traded Australian company, Dixon buys, renovates, and holds to lease out, not flip.) (more…)

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The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is getting pushback from employees and pols over growth plans they say are cutting out longtime local, black supporters — in particular, its plan to open an outpost in One John Street, one of the very swanky new condo buildings going up in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Higher admission fees (they have nearly doubled, from $5 to $9) are also unpopular, reported The New York Times, and the racial diversity of the staff has declined dramatically, among other things. Here’s a sample snippet:

“How are you going to service there when you can barely staff your own building?” said Anne Smith, a former public relations manager at the museum. “Why has there never been a satellite office for black communities, Hispanic communities?” Ms. Smith complained that an administrator had lamented that events at the museum had too much of a “local feel,” and asserted that managers wanted to market to predominantly white, upscale Brooklyn neighborhoods like Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

The Crown Heights museum, over 100 years old, was hard hit by the downturn in 2008 and is trying to fix its balance sheet. Meanwhile, the demographics in the area are changing, according to census data: From 2000 to 2010, the last year it’s available, whites increased 89 percent while blacks decreased 15 percent, the story said. What do you think the museum should do?

With Expansion, Brooklyn Children’s Museum Is Accused of Forsaking Its Community [NY Times]

(more…)

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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]