April 4, 2019
Brooklyn has changed drastically over the past few decades. Our low income neighbors are being displaced as newer, richer people take over. Starbucks are taking over our local bodegas, family owned businesses are closing, and rents are going up, Brooklyn is becoming the next Manhattan. But why is Brooklyn being so gentrified?
I don’t think there is one real explanation for why people come to live in Brooklyn and gentrify it to their liking. There are so many factors that contribute to the gentrification of what was once Brooklyn. For one, Brooklyn is pretty close to Manhattan allowing easy movement of people from borough to borough whether it’s through a car or train. Brooklyn is also in high demand of bigger businesses coming in, who can afford the higher rents such as the Chipotle’s we see. Money rules our world, wherever the money is, is where the people will follow. The rich can afford to buy property, drive up rent prices, making the neighborhood less minority filled and bringing in more high rise luxury apartments that most of us can’t afford.
According to the New York Post “escalating housing costs — spurred by gentrification — have driven lower-income Hispanics out of once the predominantly Latino neighborhoods.” Due to higher rents, low-income families are forced to leave their neighborhoods and move to other boroughs like the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, which are more affordable for them.
The true culprit that started gentrification was the “rezoning of parts of Downtown Brooklyn in 2004 to allow for denser residential growth, the area has seen the development of new condominium towers, townhouses, and office conversions, which all have spurred population growth,” according to James Dinsdale who was a student at John Jay College. The rezoning has allowed more retail shops to come into Brooklyn, more offices, and of course more people. It’s shocking, yet amazing to see how the heart of Downtown Brooklyn is being modernized and filled with shops while just a few blocks away we have affordable housing projects with many low-income families struggling. Rezoning is the action or process of assigning land or property to a different category of restrictions on use and development allowing developers to build higher buildings, and so on.
According to Jillian Steinhauer’s article “development companies are given huge subsidies to build condos, and new residents receive deals that allow them to not pay property taxes for the next 10 years!” This article is from 2013, which means the 10 years these developers were given have not finished yet, we can see more changes coming to Downtown Brooklyn and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
I currently live in Park Slope, Brooklyn which has become one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn. My mom was born and raised in Park Slope and has seen it changed throughout her life. While we walk the streets she would tell me things like “wow, I remember when this was an empty lot where we would all play,” Today we see see expensive supermarkets or high rise condos in placement of those empty lots. When I asked her when she noticed Park Slope was changing she told me it was back in the early 2000’s. Park Slope used to be filled with minorities, burned down buildings, corner stores and empty lots all over but now it’s the new mini Manhattan.