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.
“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.
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?
This morning, real-estate brokerage firm Eastern Consolidated announced that the retail condo at 17 Orchard Street– otherwise known as homebase of The Fat Radish– was sold. The 2,500 square-foot space was snatched up for $2.5 million by Elijah Equities (a real-estate company that recently made headlines for leasing their 5th avenue storefront to a Chinese burger chain, Uncle Sam Fast Food).
Some people can work wonders in small quarters. (Remember that beautifully organized, itty-bitty kitchen-shower apartment?) I am not one of those people. I’ve lived in a 350-square-foot Lower East Side apartment with my husband for four years, and during that time I’ve managed to keep it in an almost uninterrupted state of mess (except when guests come to stay).
Aby J. Rosen, owner of the gloriously graffitied Germania Bank building at 190 Bowery (soon to be outfitted as a high-end office building for fashion agencies and archives) is in the news today for something other than his disruptive real estate moves on landmarked buildings (in case you forgot, he also pissed off preservationists two years ago, when he displaced The Four Seasons restaurant and its Picasso curtain painting from the Seagram Building).
It’s easy to speak about the consequences of all this change in abstract terms, and harder to know exactly who will be impacted, when, and how. But that’s not really the case when it comes to feral cats like Kool-Aid, a mangy little black-and-white dude who lurks around the neighborhood’s abandoned lots and the in-between spaces. Clearly, his way of life is about to change. As new construction threatens the colony where he and about ten other cats live, their caretakers are scrambling for a way to assert something like squatter’s rights.
Bushwick council member Antonio Reynoso was among the many who challenged Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to shoot it down entirely. Upzoning (i.e. rezoning certain areas to allow for higher buildings) is one of the more controversial aspects of the the mayor’s plan, and something that Bushwick residents have vehemently protested against in recent years. But in a report released earlier this month, Reynoso concludes that the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which would require a share of those taller buildings to be permanently affordable, represents the chance to address “missed opportunities” in North Brooklyn housing development.
After 29 years firmly planted on East Village’s fashion row, Gallery Vercon boutique is closing its doors on January 15. In the meantime all the goods are marked down, 20 to 50 percent off.
The store began life focusing on accessories and jewelry — owner Vashti De Verteuil is a jewelry designer by training — and added clothing 15 years ago. Over time, the style of the shop evolved with the neighborhood: “It began more punk, but as our customers grew up with us, we had more classic things — with a little twist,” said De Verteuil. Popular designers in stock today include Joanie James and Yolanda Kwan. More →