LATEST NEWS

Don’t Blame The Artists! Why Creatives Are Just Pawns In The Gentrification Game

Although they are often the first signs of gentrification, the artists that generated the value are also priced out soon thereafter.

By Jeff Vasishta November 10, 2016
Credit: Nigel Morris

There was a time when struggling artists and the poorly funded galleries that housed their work were largely left alone. Not anymore. With the line joining art and gentrification is so clearly defined, long term residents in some urban neighborhoods view the arrival of an art gallery with the same sense of fear as if the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had ridden into town, intent of taking souls.

Related: Seedy Bars And Gentrification—The Opposing Forces At Work On Roosevelt Ave, Queens

“Residents see that the neighborhood is attracting more people who would have never come in here before. They see people who are interested in living here who can’t afford downtown looking to move here,” Betty Avila, the associate director of Self Help, a community rights group in LA told the NY Times.  “You have a community that is really frustrated and afraid of being displaced. The galleries are the most visible sign of change now, and you go after what you see. It’s not all art; it’s art that’s not for this community.”

Her angst is aimed at of Mihai Micodim’s gallery which, during a recent opening, was beset by masked marauders hurling potatoes. Earlier this fall, activists placed mock eviction notices in front of galleries and held up signs which read, “Keep Beverly Hills Out Of Boyle Heights.”

Residents’ nervousness is understood given that dozens of art galleries have opened recently in downtown LA which has experienced rapid gentrification.

In New York, the global poster child for gentrification is, of course, Williamsburg. Since it was de-industrialized in the 1980’s and 1990’s, artists started taking up residency in the empty lofts and warehouses, often jerry-rigging utilities. Their wares—murals, graffiti, often illegal, gave the neighborhood a cool, artsy feeling which then attracted other artists and “hipsters”.

Related: Parkchester, Bronx: The Place That Gentrification Forgot

The addition of trendy restaurants, bars and vintage clothing stores only increased the hipster aesthetic. It was at this tipping point, around a decade ago, that developers felt the area was far enough along to risk coming in and converting warehouses to condos. In the ensuing stampede, the artists who had originally moved in were displaced, putting the neighborhood out of the reach of most working New Yorkers. A win for the developers but a punch in the stomach for the creatives who helped turn it around. A different scenario to Boyle Heights, because in this case the artists were in many ways adopting the role minorities have in other neighborhoods.

What turbo charged Williamsburg’s gentrification was the fact that much of it was largely derelict or consisted of warehouses without an identifiable community. In other parts of Brooklyn, like BedStuy and Crown Heights, where an African American and Caribbean community has been entrenched for decades, gentrification is a slower process. Artists in illegal lofts are easier to displace than low-income minorities. Also whites, generally, are less comfortable with the idea of moving into a black neighborhood than a white neighborhood, no matter how derelict.

 

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

  • AGORAFY
    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China https://goo.gl/PsTUwv
  • AGORAFY
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures https://goo.gl/NZ3zqD
  • AGORAFY
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury https://goo.gl/7TpLk6
Four Countries To Retire In With $200K In Savings—And How Much Real Estate Costs There
Ever dreamed of retiring abroad? You know, affordable healthcare, better climate, more positive news—becoming an expat seems like an enticing option, especially one you no…
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…