Will Flatbush Lose It’s Cultural Status As High Rises Take Hold?
Big changes in Flatbush means rising property values and improving infrastructure. But what is the price?
If an around the world vacation is out of your budget, you could always head to Flatbush. With more variety than a Ben and Jerry’s convention, the smorgasbord of food and ethnicities takes in Caribbean, East Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi, Chinese and Chasidic cultures. It’s what makes New York New York. But of course, such unbridled diversity has, for a while, had the grey cloud of gentrification hovering above it.
The changing face of Brooklyn can be traced along the entire strip of Flatbush Avenue. The moment you cross the East River in Brooklyn a new city of glittering skyscrapers greets motorists where there were once gas stations, single story business and strip clubs. The journey towards BAM, Atlantic Terminal and Barclays Arena continues the sparkling construction frenzy. The changing face of Park Slope is typified not by high rises because of zoning and brownstones. But the disappearance of neighborhood stalwarts such as the two Dominican restaurants that used to sit opposite one another at the intersection of 7th Avenue, show how things are changing.
Follow Flatbush Avenue and you get into Flatbush the neighborhood. It’s here where you can still find one of New York’s most diverse districts. Around Brooklyn College’s lush campus, the range of foods, music and people could have you thinking for second that you’ve landed in teeming international street market. A second look and off in the distance the towering cranes will have you realize that it’s New York and like the rest of the city, Flatbush is caught in a maelstrom of change.
A home to much of Brooklyn’s vast immigrant culture, Flatbush has also been prone to the ills of low income urban dwelling as well—crime, violence and poorly performing schools, which gentrifiers are always quick to point out. Activists, however, like Imani Henry of Equality For Flatbush contend that along with gentrification, police brutality and tenant harassment are instigated to displace long term residents.
“Our community is in crisis,” he said to Patch.com. “To tell us we should go somewhere else is just what the gentrifiers do. If they’re trying to silence us, it won’t happen.”
According to Agorafy’s data, the median price for a two-bedroom rental is around $2,300/month ($24 psf). A scan on New York Yimby shows a hive of construction activity in Flatbush. One of the most active developers is the Crown Heights based Hello Living. They have a 55-unit rental building going up at 271 Lenox Road, at the thriving junction between Nostrand and Flatbush. Among the highlights are underground parking for 33 cars, passive/energy efficient technologies, a 600 square foot non-profit art gallery (tax breaks anyone?) and 8900 square feet of ground floor retail. The top floor apartments will be duplex penthouses. No mention of an affordable housing component. The building is being designed by Loadingdock5 Architecture.
Let’s hope at least some of the roti shops and curry houses stay when the dust settles. Flatbush won’t be the same without them.
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