Williamsburg and Greenpoint Rank First in Report on Top Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Apartment buildings in Greenpoint. Photo by Josh Hutto


Many New Yorkers’ common fears and concerns regarding gentrification would appear to be confirmed by this year’s “State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods” report [PDF], from the NYU Furman Center, released May 9. The report, which focused on gentrification, found that rents rose “modestly” in the 1990s but increased significantly “everywhere” in the city in the 2000s, especially in the “low income neighborhoods surrounding central Manhattan.”

The areas in north and central Brooklyn experienced some of the most extreme gains in the city.

The report begins by defining gentrification simply as “rapid rent growth in low-income neighborhoods,” while noting that the term is commonly understood to mean rising incomes, shifting racial demographics and displacement. Using this definition, the report goes on to map rent increases and other demographic shifts with the stated purpose of helping make policymakers better informed on the patterns.

brooklyn gentrification

Berry Street in Williamsburg. Photo by Fleur Losfeld

Overall, the report shows that New York City as a whole has experienced rapid income growth beginning in the 2000s, especially when compared to the modest income growth of the 1990s. The report also reveals that a disproportionate quantity of new housing units added to the city’s stock in the 2000s was added in gentrifying neighborhoods, which also experienced the fastest increase in white residents and college graduates.

brooklyn gentrification

By the report’s index, there are three types of neighborhoods: those that are gentrifying, meaning they have experienced above the median rate of rent growth since 1990; non-gentrifying neighborhoods, or those that have seen comparatively modest rent growth; and higher-income neighborhoods, areas that already had high incomes in 1990.

Brooklyn Gentrification

An apartment building in Bed Stuy. Photo by Mary Hautman

By this metric, the report found Bensonhurst, Coney Island and East New York to be non-gentrifying while Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Sunset Park and Brownsville are gentrifying. Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Bay Ridge, Borough Park, Flatbush, Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Flatlands, Canarsie and East Flatbush qualify as higher-income neighborhoods.

The report found the following to be the top 10 gentrifying neighborhoods for all of New York City, according to the percent change in their average rent from 1990 to 2010-2014:

1. Williamsburg/Greenpoint — 78.7 percent
2. Central Harlem: 53.2 percent
3. Lower East Side/Chinatown — 50.3 percent
4. Bushwick — 44 percent
5. East Harlem — 40.3 percent
6. Morningside Heights/Hamilton Heights — 36.7 percent
7. Bed Stuy — 36.1 percent
8. North Crown Heights/Prospect Heights — 29.9 percent
9. Washington Heights/Inwood — 29.3 percent
10. Mott Haven/Hunts Point — 28 percent

Especially interesting about these categorizations is the sharp percentage changes in average rent for the gentrifying and higher-income nabes. Some of Brooklyn’s wealthy and increasingly wealthy areas have outpaced long-tony Manhattan neighborhoods in both average household income and percentage change in average rent.

The report did not examine the reasons for the rapid increases in rent, although it did describe additional related changes in neighborhoods, such as overcrowding and a lack of rental housing supply.

brooklyn gentrification

Indeed, according to the report Williamsburg and Greenpoint not only have a higher household income than Harlem but the nabes also have the highest percentage change in average rent from 1990 to 2014 of any other neighborhoods citywide.

The report serves as a milestone in Brooklyn’s continued gentrification. By providing data to back up the frequently referenced shifts and patterns which result from gentrification, the report elucidates the borough’s current rate of change, and provides a benchmark by which future gentrification can be measured against.

Related Stories
What Is Gentrification, Anyway?
Gentrification in Park Slope and Beyond: What Can Be Done?
How to Buy a Home — Readers Sound Off on Affordability and Gentrification

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