Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Gentrifyin' Days: "Culture Wars as Housing Boom Generates Culture Clash"(Crains NY)

Very interesting article in Crain's New York (October 8-15) regarding gentrification fallout in Williamsburgh and Greenpoint which is leading luxury coop - real estate buying parents to opt out of the public schools. Culture clashes with existing school administrations and long-time community residents over more traditional educational philosophy focusing on penmanship, test prep, with, in the words of one gentrifying parent "no room for fun", leads those parents who can afford it to send their kids to private schools or charter schools (some involving one hour commutes for the kids).

To quote from the article in Crain's New York by Erik Engquist:

"When parents come in and say a school's not good enough for their children, it's a very sensitive issue," says Kate Yourke, an activist parent who moved to Williamsburg from the Upper West Side in 1985. "Parents are quite naive about the implications."
The may 2005 rezoning of northern Brooklyn by the Bloomberg administration and the City Council has triggered a boom of luxury apartment projects. In the next few years, tens of thousands of affluent residents will plunk themselves down in what has long been a poor, heavily ethnic area.
The schoolyard fights of the last two years point to uglier times ahead for the administration's most ambitious experiment with accelerated gentrification.
Consider what happened to Brooke Park, who led an effort to increase arts education at PS 84 in Williamsburg. "I was running for the school leadership team, and I got heckled by faculty at a meeting," she says. "The faculty was trying to push out parents they didn't want."
It worked: Ms. Parker and the others pulled their kids from the school.

When we lived in Clinton Hill in the early 90s, there was a movement by some gentrifyin' parents to establish a "Gifted Program" which some of the long-term residents identified as a program for white students within schools predominently of students of color. Some of the parents behind this who were white had actually lived in the community since the time they were Pratt Institute students, having bought and renovated their homes when Clinton Hill real estate could bought for a song. Still, the program never took off. As the realtor who showed us our home said in a singsong fashion when we asked about schools in Clinton Hill at the time: "Frie-nds!"

Well, the bottom line is that although Easy Money may have made the idea of gentrification a simpler process, more like "Monopoly" than the Game of Life, moving into established less affluent neighborhoods and finding common ground can be a complex, challenging issue. However obvious it should seem, Gentrifyers may not always be welcome since they drive up prices and can serve as an unwelcome cultural wedge .

Interesting also, a recent issue of New York magazine http://nymag.com/realestate/features/37656/index3.html dealing with the bursting of the real estate bubble, observed that "Hipster Brooklyn: Williamsburgh/Greenpoint" rated 7 our of 10 (with 10 being the worst) in terms of risk in loss of real estate value. One imagines that that can only create more tension. Brownstone Brooklyn and other more traditionally established areas in the borough seem to be retaining their value, but that may remain true of areas that are currently established...moving into areas where much of the appeal is speculative and in the dreams of future perfect may quickly lose steam. That will require real vision, patience and courage, a willingness to homestead and help build the community, not count on a quick flip.

The willingness to engage in this level and type of commitment will be the real test and the determining factor on the future of surreal estate in post-Bubble Brooklyn.

--Brooklyn Beat

1 comment:

  1. Here in Montana, we've got outta-staters (mostly from California) moving in, and driving up housing costs.

    Houses that used to go for 35K, now sell for 120K. Old folks who've lived in the same home for 60 years, are being forced out, cuz they can't make the taxes.

    In addition, these outta-staters are bringing their wacked out culture with them. School violence is no big deal to the people moving here. They claim they've moved here to escape such problems, but they've actually brought it with them. Their children, while not as violent as the ones they've left behind are MORE violent than the children raised here.

    Sometimes I wish we had our own border patrol. I don't mind the Canadians one bit...it's those pesky ferriners from California, Colorado, and Utah that I'd like to keep out.


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