gentrification

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How a Bunch of Brave New Futurists Zapped the Old Pearl River Mart Back to Life

A booth dedicated to the old Pearl River Mart (Photo: Nicole Disser)

A booth dedicated to the old Pearl River Mart (Photo: Nicole Disser)

“Preservationist” has become something of a slur, used to denigrate the old-timers and neo-hippies who’d rather save ratty old tenant buildings and dusty mom-and-pop stores than make way for clean big-box stores with cheap stuff for everyone, and skyscraping mixed-use luxury complexes with their affordable housing pittance. It’s sorta like: C’mon, New York City is, by its nature, dynamic and changing. But the ever-faster pace of development and the lightyear rate of change have made for an urban landscape where transformation takes place exponentially and squeezes out the very people who have made this city vibrant and interesting in the first place.

Over the weekend, a slew of more than 40 local and visiting artists, as well as organizations like the Chinatown Art Brigade (a grassroots effort tackling the divisive issue of gallery-led gentrification in their neighborhood) demonstrated that preservation doesn’t have to be backward-looking.

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LES Tenants Demand Repairs From Landlord, Say They’re Being Pushed Out

(Photo: Michael Garofalo)

(Photo: Michael Garofalo)

Dozens of tenants and activists gathered blocks from the Tenement Museum on Thursday morning to protest what they claim are unsafe living conditions in two Lower East Side apartment buildings. A group of predominantly Chinese residents of 247 Broome Street and 135 Eldridge Street, many of whom live in rent-controlled units, complained of eviction threats, chronically ignored maintenance requests, shambolic common areas, and illegal construction in the buildings. The residents claim that R.A. Cohen & Associates, which manages both buildings, is deliberately mistreating low-income renters in an effort to push them out of their homes.

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Mikey’s Hookup Gets Hooked Up by the Williamsburg Apple Store

The chillers at Mikey's Hookup have got your back, and apparently someone's got their backs too (Photo courtesy of Mikey's Hookup)

The chillers at Mikey’s Hookup have got your back, and apparently someone’s got their backs too (Photo courtesy of Mikey’s Hookup)

It seems silly now to imagine that some of us groused about the opening of a “Mini-Mall” in the Realform Girdle Building– it just seemed so yuppie-ish and suburban and right there on Bedford and North 5th, like the places we’d escaped to get to New York. If you can image, “gentrification” wasn’t yet a watchword.

But by 2001, along with the Verb Café (RIP, well sorta– there’s a Verb 2.0 in Greenpoint) and the Internet Garage (read: before email was on your phone, you’d stop by here to “Get high on speed!!!11” as their Facebook page advises), you could stop by Mikey’s Hookup and play ping pong while picking up a guitar cord.

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Anarchists Aiming to Stop ‘Bushwick II’ Development in Its Tracks

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

It was difficult to ignore the fluttering signs at last week’s Bushwick Community Plan meeting. Sure, they were black-and-white, only about as big as two sheets of computer paper and just as flimsy, but there were tons of them. As City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal touted their community-driven alternative to developer-led change, almost everyone sitting in front of them seemed to be holding a flyer reading: “EVICT THE RICH.” The rallying cry may have been more Mao Tse-tung than #BushwickBerners, but the Brooklyn Solidarity Network (BSN) couldn’t have been more serious. 

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Bushwickers Are Making a Community Plan Before Developers Make It For Them

Antonio Reynoso speaks at the Bushwick Community Plan open house (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Antonio Reynoso speaks at the Bushwick Community Plan open house (Photo: Nicole Disser)

A slew of city agencies and elected officials are asking Bushwick residents for direct input on how best to handle the rapid change that’s consuming the neighborhood.

“We’re here to make sure we give the people the opportunity to make a decision on what their neighborhood’s going to look like in the future,” City Council member Antonio Reynoso told the crowd at a Monday meeting at Ridgewood Bushwick Youth Center. Among the areas of concern: population growth, demographic shifts, the loss of affordable housing, an influx of luxury housing, private interests, and businesses that cater toward the moneyed. In other words, gentrification.

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What Will Happen to Clinton Street, the ‘Toss-Up’ of the Lower East Side?

Clinton Ink next to Koneko Cat Cafe (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Clinton Ink next to Koneko Cat Cafe (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Lillian Melendez still remembers when Clinton Street was a destination for anyone planning a sweet sixteen, baby shower or wedding. “If you were having a party, you had to come to Clinton,” she said. “Clinton was famous, everybody knew Clinton.” As a child she spent afternoons playing in her mother’s shop, Genesis Party Supplies at 97 Clinton, packed with custom wedding and bridesmaids dresses, speciality balloons and centerpieces and themed baby shower chairs and pins. Back then, Genesis held court with three other Latino party shops on that stretch of the block alone– if a customer didn’t find what they wanted at Genesis, her mom would send them next door or across the street.

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Lakeside Lounge Owner Releases a Musical Homage to His Old Dive

Eric "Roscoe" Ambel (Photo: Courtesy of Johan Vipper)

Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Photo: Courtesy of Johan Vipper)

When the Lakeside Lounge closed in April 2012, East Villagers mourned the loss of another quintessential dive bar in the rapidly changing neighborhood. For Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, a musician, producer, and the former owner of the Alphabet City bar, the venue’s departure from NYC’s live music scene was a symptom of the greater economic forces at play in redefining the character of the city’s neighborhoods, and served as an inspiration for his newly released solo album, Lakeside, which takes its spirit from Ambel’s bar-owning days. With Ambel playing a live show of his record at Hill Country Brooklyn on June 25, Bedford + Bowery caught up with him to chat about Lakeside Lounge and live music in New York.

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Short Film Captures the Lower East Side Before Essex Crossing Changes the Fabric

via Off Track Betty

via Off Track Betty

With the streets of the Lower East Side reshaping themselves faster than any of us can keep track, it’s easy to become a wistful piner for the “good old days,” when a storied building with a 100-year-old storefront was your neighbor instead of all these fresh new high rises. (A teaser site for the Essex Crossing condo building on Broome Street was just released today; the first of its 10 buildings is expected to be finished in the fall.) One longtime resident, Clayton Dean Smith, decided to channel that urge to preserve the neighborhood into an artistic outlet. Maybe he couldn’t save all the buildings he’d come to love over his 16 years in the area, but he could use some of them for the backdrop of a short film that serves as a living time capsule of the neighborhood as it currently exists (or existed, only a year and half ago).

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Specter of More Luxury High Rises Looms Over ‘One Manhattan Square’ Meeting

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

Every bob has its day (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Anxiety over the 77-story apartment building coming to the Two Bridges waterfront multiplied last night as neighbors grappled with the possibility that two more towers will join it.

In addition to Extell’s controversial One Manhattan Square, L+M Development Partners are feeling out plans for two 50-story twin towers– one at 265-275 Cherry Street, at Lands End II (a pair of Section-8 housing complexes located on a site that was purchased for $279 million a few years back) and a second at Lands End I (257 South Street), which the firm bought last year. L+M has assured that the existing buildings will maintain their Section 8 designation, and preliminary discussions have indicated that the two new towers would likely go up in the parking lots parcels between the East River and Lands End.

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The Gentrification Art Show That Inspires ‘Intentional Awkwardness’

via Month2Month

via Month2Month

In New York dingy, overpriced studio apartments manage to command bidding wars, while longtime city-dwellers with sweet rent-regulated deals have come to expect landlord harassment. Meanwhile, archaic affordable-housing lotteries regularly have something like 56,000 people fighting over a handful of slots. We’ve all hear these stories (many times) before– but this city is so wildly unequal that it sometimes feels like we’re all living in separate bubbles, ones that are often completely different from the ones where our neighbors dwell.

But what if you could actually step into the shoes of (or slide into bed with) a New Yorker on the other side of the tracks, so to speak, for a few nights?

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Gentrification Study: NYC Rents Have Risen Highest in Greenpoint/Williamsburg

Affordable housing advocates protesting last fall (Photo: Nicole Disser)

Affordable housing advocates protesting last fall (Photo: Nicole Disser)

A new report on the state of the city’s housing released today by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy has a special focus on gentrification and neighborhoods that have seen rapid change in the last few decades. The report provides quantitative evidence that confirms what we already know– that rents are rising, people are being displaced, and areas around the city including Bushwick, Williamsburg, and the Lower East Side look very different today than they did in 1990, or even 2000. But there are a couple of surprises worth noting. We’ll have an in-depth followup tomorrow, but for now here’s a summary of the report’s findings.

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Stay Woke With New Gentrification Podcast from WNYC and The Nation

via WNYC

via WNYC

If you’ve lived here more than a second, you know the drill: A bodega closes up, a cocktail bar goes in– you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders. “Gentrification,” you sigh, staring bleakly into your $10 cocktail.

But Rebecca Carroll, a producer at WNYC and co-creator of a new podcast examining that very phenomenon, says that the bougie coffee shop or new chocolate artisan isn’t exactly worth fixating on– they’re only symbols of the last stage of the process. “At that point, when those markers arrive, that ship has kind of sailed,” she said.  “I think that’s one of the things that people don’t realize. [Gentrification] is a multi-pronged-beast kind of process, that involves a lot of moving parts.”

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