After a week of “secret talks” with leadership from one of the state’s most powerful interest groups, details are emerging regarding Governor Cuomo’s first major steps toward reviving 421-a. The New York Times broke the news yesterday evening about the first sign of a turning point for the controversial billion-dollar, affordable-housing tax abatement that was allowed to expire in January.
Colony 1209, a rather, um, insensitively named luxury development in Bushwick featuring a doorman, ping pong tables, a “speakeasy,” and a gym, has caused quite a stir since it opened up its 127 units inviting “bohemians” to become “settlers” in “Brooklyn’s vibrant new frontier.” Last summer, Bushwick Daily dubbed Colony 1209 the neighborhood’s “most controversial new building,” which judging by the apartment’s website copy, is something the developers might just have been aiming for. But in a neighborhood where there’s an acute and visible housing crisis happening (see: tenant harassment, demographic shifts, skyrocketing rent, etc.) it was a matter of time before people got really angry.
You’d have to be living under a rock to be surprised to hear Bushwick is undergoing some explosive changes. It feels like streetscapes here are transforming faster than anywhere else in the city and many longtime residents feel they’re losing grip on their neighborhood. But Bushwick is in a strange limbo right now. While the northeast corner is bubbling over with ritzy new restaurants, bars, clothing stores, and art galleries, all increasingly patronized by German tourists and chiseled young bro dudes with man buns, for now at least the southern section closer to the graveyard has resisted these striking demographic shifts and skyrocketing rents. “We need to make moves now,” explained Drew Vanderburg, a resident of Bushwick and a graduate student at Parsons in the Design and Urban Ecologies program.