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Ridgewood: Leading The Queens Movement Towards Gentrification

Ridgewood, like much of Queens these days, is moving towards gentrification.

By Jeff Vasishta October 7, 2016
Courtesy of weloveridgewoodtheater.org/

You may as well call it Ridgewick or Bushwood because Ridgewood, Queens, has been wallowing in the inevitable hipster overspill of Bushwick for the last few years. When the words yoga, vegan and artisanal describe neighborhood businesses rather than lifestyles that’s when you know— a neighborhood has flipped. With the M train access to Manhattan (about a 45-minute journey) and scores of brick townhouses (Brooklyn anyone?), Ridgewood wasn’t hard to flip. It was kind of like persuading Enzo the baker in the Godfather to act like a tough guy. It just had to stand there and that was enough.

Related: Gerritsen Beach – The Land That Time (And Gentrification) Forgot

Throw in the 7 train’s gentrifying trail through Queens, coupled with Long Island City’s gleaming reinvention to the north and it’s a pincer movement any four-star general would be proud of. But don’t get all hot and bothered in the comments section quite yet—in Ridgewood’s favor is the lack of an ethnic displacement issue. White people replacing other white people generally doesn’t make headlines. Ridgewood has had a potpourri of residents for many years including German, Polish, Italian, some Hispanic (the 2009-13 census has the Hispanic number up at 51 percent) and Egyptian ancestry. Also in Ridgewood’s favor was that it was the place priced out Brooklyn-ites, from Williamsburg Bushwick relocated to. Being the place that people move to when they’re priced out isn’t as bad as being the place people couldn’t afford to stay in.

Still, the Bushwickification (endless fun, these new verbs), Brooklifying, Williamsburgation (I’ll stop here) of another Queens neighborhood is like an endless supermarket tabloid scandal for house buyers that they can’t stop reading about. There’s lost to gossip about in Ridgewood.

“You see a lot of younger people moving into the neighborhood because of the affordability and the convenience of getting to the city,” Cono Natale, a licensed broker with Citi Habitats told AM New York.

“Ridgewood is abuzz since it has been discovered by the hipster community,” Vincent Arcuri, chair of the local Community Board 5 also told AM New York, adding, “anyone interested in Ridgewood should be aware of the camaraderie of its residents [and] its multi-ethnicity.”

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Fueling the camaraderie with the younger residents is the 30 percent owner occupied (compared to 21 percent in Bushwick) long-term residents. But, for the neighborhood’s low-income tenants, gentrification has brought inevitable struggle. A multi-unit building on Summerfield St was recently purchased by large scale landlord, Silvershore Properties who own more than 130 buildings in New York City. When repairs weren’t done immediately, Section 8 tenants complained fearing they were getting squeezed out to make way for more affluent residents.

“It’s hard to find a neighborhood where you can raise a kid, where you can live safely,” Tasha Rivera, 34 of the building in question told the NY Daily News. “When I walk around here, I’m not scared. I don’t want to move.”

So far Ridgewood’s multi-generational residents who are reluctant to sell have stymied Ridgewood going the way of neighboring Long Island City.

With numerous restaurants, coffee shops, parks, two historic districts and prices (the median is $706,000) that remain around two thirds that of Williamsburg, Ridgewood’s still enjoying its underdog status. But for how much longer is up for debate.

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.

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