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Is South Brooklyn’s Midwood The New Williamsburg—Minus The Cool Part?

Gentrification in Midwood features price hikes, but no kale of coffee shops in sight.

By Nathalie Nayman September 20, 2017

During the past some months we at Agorafy published so many articles on gentrification-related issues, we could easily create some kind of an online material generator. Or, perhaps, it already exists somewhere? Imagine: you input the name of any Brooklyn neighborhood along with the words like “artisanal,” “white folks,” “coffeeshops” and “new development,” then hit the generate button and muse over the results—” landmarks wiped out,” “rents are unaffordable to literally everyone,” “less cultural diversity” and, of course the “there goes the neighborhood” inevitable conclusion. Unhappy end. Once you run out of hoods, try The Bronx.

Related: Rapper Nas Gets Mural In Old Queens ‘Hood: Will de Blasio Spread Gentrification Love To The Projects?

On a serious note: It is bad that certain life-quality perks such as a decent coffeeshop or an opening of a local gallery signify that some people will have to move out of their homes due to the rent hikes. But you know what’s even worse? Living in a neighborhood which has no galleries or coffeeshops—and still having to battle insane rent increases and other gentrification aftermaths.

Case in point: Midwood. This South Brooklyn neighborhood seems to have an astounding resistance to anything fun. But that doesn’t prevent it from gentrifying at an alarming pace, even though the majority of New Yorkers first time heard about Midwood when Streeteasy put it on the 2016’s list of NYC’s hottest neighborhoods.

“Where exactly is this Midwood? Ah, who cares. I need to call my real estate agent ASAP”—such seemed to be the general conclusion. And voila: Midwood’s latest market trend shows a seven percent increase in median home sales over the past year, and the average price per square foot jumped from $456 to $551. But what about rentals? According to Agorafy data, an average two-bedroom apartment in Midwood costs around $2,400 per month—that is, if you manage to grab it fast enough. This neighborhood has one of the quickest rental rates in NYC.

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Photos courtesy of Aaron Zebrook/The New York Times

How is that for gentrification? And, if Midwood is slowly but surely sliding into the “unaffordable” category, then where are those kale salads?

Well, living in Midwood might be getting expensive—but still isn’t cool.

It still has no parks, galleries, dive bars, kale salads —or hipsters, for that matter.

The few retail stretches with kosher restaurants and Judaica bookstores still closed for Shabbat—good luck getting your coffee fix on Saturday morning. A couple of attempts have been made to open some sort of a hip cafe with decent tea selections, both places bit the dust quite fast. Another thing that doesn’t change about Midwood is its predominantly white (and mostly Jewish) population—and those folks are not exactly known for the lavish or hip lifestyle.

One of the things you would, no doubt, be getting for your buck should you decide to invest in Midwood, is safety. The local residents take it to a whole new level by pointedly choosing to not rely on the government establishments and launching their own volunteer groups. There is Hatzola, an extremely reliable and free local ambulance service, and Flatbush Shomrim. The latter is officially a neighborhood watch group, but let us put it this way: you don’t want to mess with them. Ever.

So if safety (and deafening silence on Saturdays) is something you would rather have instead of a vibrant local community, then gentrifying Midwood is definitely your top destination among other gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods. And if you can’t afford the rent, Midwood will never run short of basements, window-less and humid, available for desperados like me and you at a reasonable price.

Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nathalie Nayman

Nathalie is an international media trooper. After working as a journalist in Moscow, Nathalie participated in local politics and social movements in Cairo where she covered the protests and political upheaval of the Arab Spring. Nathalie is Agorafy's content manager. She produces and oversees unique and creative content for the Newsroom.
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