Back In Brooklyn . . .

Back to the old sod . . . 

Recession or not, Ratner Atlantic Yards project on hold or not, development continues apace. Downtown Brooklyn has not just one but several new condos/ office towers, including this one here, which must rate as one of the most hideous condo/ office towers I’ve seen in quite some time. Like a combination  roadside motel/ battleship . .. 

Condo/ office tower on flatbush ave.
Condo/ office tower on flatbush ave.

And in my old neighborhood, Fort Greene, another huge complex, which I’m sure will change the character of DeKalb for good, 80 DeKalb: 

80 Dekalb
80 Dekalb

Not to mention another tower going up around the corner from a deserted patch of Willoughby Street, courtesy of Land-Lease, the Aussie development company now in negotiation with London’s Southwark Council to ‘regenerate’ the Elephant and Castle in what will be the largest such scheme in all of Europe: 

Lend Lease Tower
Lend Lease Tower

Let’s face it. Downtown Brooklyn is a short subway/ bike/ car ride from lower Manhattan. People with families don’t want to live in Manhattan. Downtown Brooklyn, and the areas around downtown Brooklyn, are just going to get more and more expensive. The recession hasn’t slowed development any – even out in Bed-Stuy the condos are still going up. Two huge towers on Greene Ave, one ten or twelve stories high, the other four or five but covering half a city block. When these are filled, Bed-Stuy, or that corner of Bed-Stuy, will become a crowded place. 

The place to rent, I hear, is no longer Brooklyn, but parts of Manhattan like the Upper East Side, or even Chelsea . . .

But the recession has slowed development somewhat. The above-mentioned Atlantic Yards which, if it ever goes through, will make most of central Brooklyn unrecognizable. But also on Willoughby, around the corner from the Land Lease tower, is two blocks of total desolation.  Seems a development company called United American Land booted out the thirty merchants from Willoughy, Duffield and Bridge streets to build a $208 million dollar commercial and residential complex. But the recession kicked in, and the project is on hold. 

In the meantime, the company struck a deal with the Metrotech Business Improvement District and art-hoc an arts organization. to create Willoughby Windows, art installations in a dozen of the abandoned storefronts. From the Daily News: ‘Artwork Helps Brighten Gloomy Brooklyn street as construction stalls”

Storefront by Cycle
Storefront by Cycle

 

 

Wiiloughby Windows
Wiiloughby Windows

 

 

Kind of cool and everything, but but on the two afternoons I went down, one weekday, the other weekend, the street was pretty much empty. And anyway, what does this art really mean, when it’s sponsored by the very development company that is responsible for evicting the small businesspeople who kept the area alive? 

As always, artists and development/ gentrification are inextricably, inexplicably and inevitably linked . . .whether they want to be or not.

 

Close up - Cycle
Close up - Cycle

2 Comments

  1. “As always, artists and development/ gentrification are inextricably, inexplicably and inevitably linked . . .whether they want to be or not.”

    Very true, it’s the same here in London. Art projects and in particular galleries and other permanent ‘spaces’ in run-down or ‘edgy’ neighbourhoods are always uncritically reported in the media.

    The unspoken reason for this is that they show prospective home buyers that they will be safe from physical attack.

    • Yeah, it’s a hard call. ‘Whether they want to be or not’ is about it . . .

      Graffiti in downtown Montreal, circa 1986, back when it seemed downtown might just be on the road to abandonment:

      ARTISTS ARE THE SHOCKTROOPS OF GENTRIFICATION

      I see it very much in this neighborhood, and neighborhoods like it. Local people fought hard and long to make their neighborhoods safe, get rid of the dealers and so on – and as soon as they did, in come the ‘prospective home buyers’. White and black. A certain kind of artist will always move to these neighborhoods because they have nowhere else to go, they like to homestead, they’re willing to put up with the isolation, the danger. Then, after a few years, they are forced out for another kind of artist – here they’re called hipsters – is there an equivalent term in London? – who bring in gentrification right behind them. This process has almost become inevitable.

      Tomorrow I’m going to blog about Budduck, Pensylvania, the mayor of which is actively trying to bring in artists – because no one else is crazy enough to move there. We’ll see if they follow the pattern. Somehow I doublt it – not soon anyway.

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