The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Echo! Echo! Echo!

It's finally here. The Spring Echo from your friends at the Lefferts Manor Association. The Q loves the Echo and becomes visibly thrilled when he sees the freshly printed copies available at local bizzes. Here's the link: spring 2012 Echo.

Despite a glaring mistake in a front page headline on entrepreneurs Carl and Shelly Kramer, I'm always impressed with the high standards, visually and editorially, at the Echo. And how bout that tip that a new Fish n Chips joint is opening up next to Ray's on Flatbush at Maple, perhaps providing competition to the F&C truck on Lincoln Road? Priceless info!

A couple nits to pick though. For an issue so thoroughly devoted to the PLG House Tour - a seriously high-brow praise-of-high-incomes-and-house-prices-and-original-decorative-molding affair - it seemed odd to lead with Milford Prewitt's well-considered piece on the intense rich/poor divide in the neighborhood. His research related to precisely the same streets that the House Tour champions (June 4th...get your tickets now! $20! Proceeds to the LMA! It's serious peeping-Tom-style fun!). Because in fact, the decades-old house tour itself has been the single biggest booster of the single-family LM enclave that has driven house prices into the 7 figures, attracting precisely the demographic that has led to a wholesale reassessment of the desirability of the neighborhood to high earners, or if not always high earners, those with means to purchase homes, from earnings or equity or inheritance or elsewhere.  (I'm not sure why I feel the need to make the distinction, but it's often left out of the discussion, as if having a home that's worth a lot necessarily means you're income-rich. In NYC anyway, it's most definitely not always the case.)

Lengthy descriptions of expensive house renovations included, the whole Spring 2012 Echo issue mirrors the fundamental contradictions of the neighborhood itself. That it's not afraid to be what it is - that's it's strongest quality I think.

Also, my recent readings on Brooklyn history suggest that very few of the trees around here are 100 yrs old +, if any. Street trees were largely planted during spurts all through the century, and many of the borough's sweetest blocks have trees planted after WWII. Some blocks are just starting to look nice after planting campaigns in the 80's and 90's. On my street, Clarkson, all the trees were removed during the crack years, only to be replanted two years ago. 18 of them. Enough to make a serious difference on the block, in, say, 2030. IF, we take care of them, mind you.

And how 'bout that story on the actress who got a plumb part on Downton Abbey and got written out? Get The Onion's editors on the phone!


Kevin said...

I, for one, appreciate a store with a conscious staff. Have you ever shopped at one where they weren't? Not only are they completely unhelpful, but it's a pain to have to step over and around them all the time.

babs said...

Not all new residents in PLG are affluent, or even middle class. There is a growing contingent of young people moving here, priced out of places like Williamsburg and even Bushwick/"East Williamsburg," as well as Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, etc.

These people are renters, not owners, and look for cheap apartments. However, while a $1300 one bedroom may sound like a steal to some, to the previous residents, who most likely paid under $1000, it's not an option.

These residents have different priorities - they're more likely to eat out in sit-down restaurants, they appreciate a friendly cafe for a latte and a chat, or a beer and some live music at a non-forbidding-looking (as in no tiny, blscked-out, and iron-bar-covered windows) neighborhood bar.

Income is not the issue here - many of these people would fall into the "under $25K/yr." segment - they are freelancers, bartenders, musicians, etc.

They are also the people who will be changing the face of this neighborhood, more so than the three-four over $1 million house sales every year.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Excellent point Babs. However, I think it would be wrong not to characterize the young laptop set as anything but affluent compared to the majority of residents here. Having lived the boho life for the better part of a decade myself, I would attest (though not in a court of law) that when someone says they make less than $25K on their tax returns, that is often not the only capital being tapped towards living expenses. Crafty, that's what you get.

Many of the newcomers, too, are owners of apartments in condo buildings, homes that are more reasonably priced than the mansions. Many of the renters are just-starting-out professionals, who could lovingly be regarded as yuppies. The upwardly mobile part suggests that while they may be poor now, they may not remain so for long.

I think affluence is pretty much in the eye of the beholder, but you're spot on in your analysis that the numbers of priced-out-of-other-nabes newcomers has shot up dramatically in just the last two years. Milford's focus on the census of 2010 will seem wildly outdated even six months hence methinks.

ElizabethC said...

I hate the idea that people move here solely because they are "priced out" of places like Williamsburg, Park Slope, ect. You couldn't pay me to live in either WIlliamsburg/Greenpoint (I'm over 30 and NOT an artist --a bizarre demographic there) or Park Slope (a place that gives me hives even thinking about it). Some of us actually moved to this neighborhood intentionally--although the large number of pet friendly apartments didn't hurt. It has awesome food, it's a straight shot into the city, and some of us actually like diversity in our cereal every day. Sorry, but this whole "people are moving here solely because rents are lower"...I don't buy it. There needs to be more to like in this hood besides low rent, or the negatives you DO have to put up with simply don't make it worth it. Hey, I LOVE this neighborhood and the amount of street noise and clamor necessitating nightly 311 calls STILL drives me to distraction.

ElizabethC said...

and I should add nightly and completely ineffective 311 calls. I'm putting my air conditioner in this weekend...rain or shine, simply to drown out the noise on the block that goes on until 5am some nights.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. It's all the hipster renters moving in who are changing the face of the neighborhood, regardless of what their incomes actually are.

Anonymous said...

"It has awesome food..." ???? where?

babs said...

I din't say that those people are moving here solely because they have been priced out elsewhere - certainly the transportation and proximity to the park are key as well - but the cheap rents are definitely what caught their eyes in the first place.

And I'm sure these people have other resources (as in parents), but it isn't an income thing at all - even if their incomes are the same, their life experiences have been fundamentally different from the urban poor demographic that is the traditional consumer of low-cost housing around here, and, as you've noted, so are their future opportunities.

At some point some of them will decide that it's no fun to be poor any more, and go back to school, or pick up the phone and call that parental connection who's always offered a job, etc., etc - because they can. This is not an option for other residents, unfortunately.

babs said...

And many of these new residents don't last here more than a year or two - much to the delight of their rent-stabilized landlords, who get to tack on a nice fat vacancy increase on the new tenant, furthering the process of "gentrification."

babs said...

Finally, the number of co-op apartment buildings in the neighborhood is not a large one (and there are even fewer condos), and their prices are not that cheap - even if a parent is providing the down payment, it would be a stretch to cover the maintenance/common charges and mortgage on a bartender's salary.

The people buying apartments here (and I've sold quite a few) may be younger, or less-well-off, than the people buying the $1.5 million houses (like the one sold recently by the writer of the Echo article - how's that for irony?), but they are much more well-established in their lives and careers than the hipster renters.

Think about it - unless you're looking at an all-cash purchase (and even then there would be a board approval process for a co-op), the purchaser needs to be able to get a mortgage. That requires a stable income and good credit - not a likely combination for many of the types I see getting off the Q/B and 2/5 trains - and going into rental buildings.

ElizabethC said...

Trinidad Ali's Roti? Have you experienced that deliciousness? THey have appetizers called doubles that are TO DIE FOR. (Actually RIP Rams of Church ave, which was just as delicious as well). I'm also a fan of Zen Vegetarian. Scoops has incredible vegan food, and grape nut flavored vegan ice cream that is actually GOOD.(I'm not even Vegan and I like it). I like Ghandi's vegetable samosas but prefer King of Tandoor for food and mango lassi. I like Family Pizza, but I have to admit I am do wish they delivered. Delroy's paninis are quite tasty. Must admit I am no foodie (I scoff at the Googa Mooga set)but there are gems here. Although know that I am CSA-ing it this summer, I'll be eating home more...

I'm sorry but generalizing about all the "new people" is just as bad as generalizing about all the "old residents", isn't it? There seems to be some variance to go round.

Jen said...

Elizabeth, I agree. I get a bit sick of all of this new people, aka young white people, being classified in the negative sense (not that what has been said here is overly negative). This neighborhood is the only place I've lived in NYC. I came to Brooklyn almost 8 years ago to find an apartment without knowing anything about Brooklyn, gentrification, or where the "it" place to live was. Hell, I didn't even know what Williamsburg was other than a place in Virgina. I only looked at one apartment, the one I currently live in, only visited one neighborhood, the one I currently lived in, and signed up. The first time we set foot on Ocean Ave was on a super hot Sunday in July to see the apartment and walked around the immediate area. We went to the park, walked on Flatbush, got a little lost on Church trying to find the train station. It seemed like a great area. People running around with their kids. Working people. My kind of people. We moved here for the area - the apartment was actively under construction when we signed the lease. We didn't even know if it was going to be any good. For the first several years people, of all races, would stop my husband and me to ask us what the area was like. Nevermind, that there were other people around to ask...they sought us out - racism is a strange thing. (My husband and I joke sometimes that we should've lied and said it was awful. I mean if you had to seek out the only white people you see to ask what the neighborhood is like, then someone needs to go back to Kansas or wherever they came from.)

Any way, the overt generalization because I'm white and youngish looking (according to my college student's I look like student even though I'm in my 30s)is that I'm new to the hood and don't respect it. I will say, yes, there are people who move here that are only interested in the hood being a temporary stop over until their salaries are big enough for a glitzier area. And they kinda look like me. However, that ain't everyone.

And, I will say, Tim and Babs, what makes you so obviously different form me? The wrinkles? That you were here a few years before me? I gather Babs, that you grew up in NYC. But, Tim, you're from Iowa. Both of you like good bread, desire the ability to buy creme fraiche and pretty toy stores for your children in your hood. But, it's too much of a game changer for me or someone who looks like me to want a sit down cafe? I mean that as respectfully as possible - I do like you guys.

I know the hood pretty well. I've gotten to know it. I love it and have no interest in moving. When I see older white people I don't automatically assumed they have lived here their entire lives.

Funny story, went into Delroy's a few weeks ago. Sat at the counter and spoke with the lady who manages the place. She asked me how long I lived here. Needless to say that she was surprised that I had several years on her. She was sweet, and I liked her, but the assumptions that we all bring to the table based on what someone looks like can be counter productive to fostering a sense of community.

I get what y'all are trying to say regarding the young crowd that descends on a neighborhood and complains about it, but, just remember some people moved here because they like it here.

Well, that's my ramblings for the day.

ElizabethC said...

Are there some Shangri-La communities here in Brooklyn where no new people ever come in, and no one ever leaves, and the rent never goes up?

babs said...

Whoa, Jen, you have totally misconstrued my comments - as anyone who has read any of my previous comments on other threads, I am one of the area's biggest, and unashamed, proponents of more and better restaurants, shops, cafes, etc., and have actively worked to bring same into this area and decried their absence (I'm a real estate broker; come on - I have a vested interested in rising property values). I do recognize, however, that there is a sizable contingent of people (for want of a better word, pre-gentrification residents) who are neither interested in nor able to afford to patronize such establishments.

And I do recognize that this neighborhood is becoming unaffordable for many of them, and I feel how scared many people are that their neighborhood, where they've grown up and lived their whole lives, is being taken away from them.

Many of us are working simultaneously to improve the neighborhood, while trying to preserve the diversity of race, class, socio-economic status, or what have you, that was part of the reason we came here in the first place. And that is a tough line to walk - yes, I want my nice cafe where I can sit, read my NY Times on my iPad, and sip my latte (and would really like it to be closer to my home, say on Rogers Ave.), but I also want my neighbors to be able to afford to stay in their homes despite rents rising all around them.

And in terms of newer residents looking different from long-term residents, that's simple observation - when I first moved here, 7 1/2 years ago, I used to play an informal game of "count the white people" getting off at my subway stop - in the beginning it was pretty much just me and the occasional Lubovitcher (who went east of Nostrand Ave.). Now, at rush hour in the evening, for example, I often can't count them all.

As my initial comment started out, "Not all new residents in PLG are affluent, or even middle class." How is this a criticism of anyone? The fact is, however, that these new residents, who may have similar (or even lower) incomes than long-term residents, also have different priorities - and these are priorities that are more akin, in many cases, to my own.

Also, Jen, what is different from you and me is what you said yourself - you've never lived anywhere else in NYC, so you have no sense of the history of what's happened in other Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Park Slope, etc., which all used to have large numbers of lower-income residents, who have now very largely been priced out of these areas. I lived in Fort Greene in the 1990s, when I was probably considered a gentrifier by some - I certainly couldn't afford to live there now. This sense of deja vu is what makes the current situation so alarming, and is a call to action on our part to prevent the same transformation here.

ElizabethC said...

"I din't say that those people are moving here solely because they have been priced out elsewhere - certainly the transportation and proximity to the park are key as well - but the cheap rents are definitely what caught their eyes in the first place.

And I'm sure these people have other resources (as in parents), but it isn't an income thing at all - even if their incomes are the same, their life experiences have been fundamentally different from the urban poor demographic that is the traditional consumer of low-cost housing around here, and, as you've noted, so are their future opportunities.

At some point some of them will decide that it's no fun to be poor any more, and go back to school, or pick up the phone and call that parental connection who's always offered a job, etc., etc - because they can. This is not an option for other residents, unfortunately."

I think the mass generalizations contained above are what Jen was referring to. Or; Is stereotyping NOT stereotyping when it's about people you perceive to be "white hipsters"?

ElizabethC said...

Here's what they're trying in Crown Heights:

babs said...

Well, Elizabeth, how many apartments have you rented out to people in the area lately? As a real estate broker, I talk to people all the time about the apartments they're looking for - and the major concern of moat of the people moving here is the price.

For the vast majority of them, if an identical apartment in Park Slope cost the same as one on this side of the park, there'd be no question as to which side they'd choose. In fact, many of them start out looking in Park Slope, realize that's not affordable, and wind up here.

Having lived here (by choice) for a good long time, I am able to sell them on other aspects of the neighborhood, and I'm not saying that many don't wind up loving it here and staying a while - but they were not the original draw.

My generalization isn't based on hearsay, or on preconceived notions, but on actually having rented out over 25 apartments in this neighborhood over the past four years.

Many of the renters moving in here are young, of limited incomes, but with guarantors (i.e., parents) who can cover the income requirements. Most of their career choices are not in high-earning occupations, for a variety of reasons, and many of them are able to have the option of changing that, unlike many people who were born into lower-income households.

And those are the ones who can afford to pay a broker's fee and pass a credit check. Many others are getting into roommate situations via places like Craigslist.

Try chatting up some of the types at LPT some evening about why and how they moved here and you'll see what I mean.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these people, nor have I said there was - simply that there is an important element of people here that do not conform to the Echo author's contention that only rich people are moving into the neighborhood.

I'm sorry if you feel I'm including you in that group. Perhaps your priorities are more about where to get the best doubles than where to get the best latte, but I'd have to say that many newer residents don't agree with you. Myself, I like (and want access to) both.

And many people, BTW, perceive CSAs to be another yupppie white stereotype, so by mentioning that you're part of it, you may be seen by some as signalling your bourgie bona fides (I actually worked very hard on CSA outreach this year in an effort to bring as many lower-income and subsidizied shares into the program as possible, but it's undeniable that the appeal of a CSA is completely obvious to one socio-economic class, and not so to another).

Jen said...

Babs, Overall I think your points are fine. And, in fact, I wasn't really referencing your particular points. Rather, I was referencing the constant negative tone regarding discussions around the new comers and the assumption that people move here just because of the cost of rent. (okay, so that's really the ONLY point of yours I did reference.) Some people really do choose to move here and they happen to be young. (I'll be honest, sometimes I too am guilty of such negative talk regarding new comers. Some people can be frustrating and then I find myself generalizing from those experiences. I personally don't like hearing people, who just moved here complain that their is nothing. I always tell them that they must be walking around with their eyes closed then.) I was simply agreeing with Elizabeth, that I don't like the negative generalization that goes on regarding issues like this.

I have found that people like to use terms like hipster or bourgeois, which you personally did NOT use, to describe the new comers. These terms are not seen as compliments. They are only used to set up an us verses them dynamic - I'm not hipster or I'm not bourgeois, but they are. Maybe it makes one feel better about being part of the changing dynamic that goes on when a neighborhood is going through gentrification. It allows one to say, "Oh, that wasn't me. I'm not a hipster nor am I bourgeois. I just happen to be white/middle class enough to afford the somewhat higher rent." I think that if you're white, but older, it's easier to use these terms to set yourself apart. However, if I was to say the same thing, because of my age and style of dress, one might find it funny and as a weak attempt to set myself apart from a group of individuals who appear to be my peers. If you don't know me, that is. Knowing a person makes it harder to negatively stereotype them.

The reason why I asked what made you and Tim different from the newbies was because ultimately you (and myself) seem to want the same things as the new comers. They too want affordable rent and "fancy" shops. I know that you and Tim see the personal dilemma in these two requests. Fancy shops = higher rent ultimately, which means loosing the dynamic of the neighborhood that we love for so many reasons. I've read this blog, and your comments, for a while now. (I believe that you were the one who stated that you would like a Mike to sell creme fraiche at his new shop. Yes, my memory is that good. ;-))

Perhaps we can say the difference between you and them might be that you hope to stay here, are willing to wait for these things to come, and will spend the extra money to help the local businesses, whereas the some, or most, of the new comers are not? Respectfully, this might be a better explanation of difference rather than assuming that I (and I was just using myself as an example) "have no sense of the history of what's happened in other Brooklyn neighborhoods." I know my history. I've researched and talked to people who have lived here their entire lives. So, I don't think it's fair to claim that I "have NO sense of history." I do understand, though, that having lived through it is a unique experience. However, I'm not sure that the claim of having never lived through a changing neighborhood does not allow one to be sensitive to such issues. I certainly am.

Anonymous said...

This blog has talked about the BIDs and their desire to get new business for the hood. I think we can agree, as you nicely stated, that some of these changes we personally welcome and can even directly benefit our personal lives, and at the same time have a potentially negative impact on the nature of our neighborhood. I'm not sure what one can do to prevent the neighborhood from changing. Perhaps we give up on the quest to buy cheese in our hood? (mmm cheese...)

Any way, I think for the most part, we probably all agree on somethings regarding this issue. (I know we do, because I HAVE read your comments on this blog.) My main point here, which is not in reference to anything that you said in particular, is that a new comers/old timers division is not fruitful.


Clarkson FlatBed said...

I'm still reeling from all the references to "tim AND babs" like we were two peas in a pod. I think Babs is a super-smart and biting writer, but we hardly agree on everything.

Listen, I'm no doubt way too bourgie for some people, and way to reverse-cool-acting cynical for others. I just lay it out there and hope that the conversation stays civil, which for the most part it does.

As I've said many, many times here...I like the neighborhood just the way it is, save the hoodlums and garbage. I grew up on hamburger strogonoff made with cream of mushroom soup and sour cream, oh, and lots of jello salads, many made will Cool Whip. I'll probably never fully understand the new foody culture and I love to poke fun at it. BUT, I shop at the food coop and tell you the difference between purple and lacinato kale. And my kid drinks organic kiefer.

But if I've ever given the impression that I'm poking fun at anyone in particular, then I'm not expressing the right tone. I pretty much like everyone I meet around here, and have no intention of hurting anyone's feelings. But, you gotta admit, some of us "gentrifiers" are pretty darn silly, and worthy of a gently thrown barb or two.

Thanks all for a great back-and-forth. It's why I write this thing after all. That, and to try to make sense of what goes on around me.

ElizabethC said...

well, I'm not a real estate agent but I do talk to people. I was able to rent an apartment here without a broker's fee or a clearly it can be done. Maybe because the people you meet are the ones who don't mind paying a brokers fee, you are already dealing with a differentiated group. As a person with a background in sociological research, generalizations tend to irk me, primarily when they aren't really substantiated.

(One of the reasons I joined and supported my CSA is because it has a sliding scale, thus making it affordable for all, including people on food stamps). why that's a "yuppie white stereotype" I'm not sure. I'll ask the non-causcasians who belong. Again, even using a word like it any different than referring to someone as a thug?

"You're white, and you moved here, therefore you are a gentrifier". There's so many things wrong with that statement. I mean for goodness sakes, I moved from Queens, not from Montreal. I live in an building with people who have been in the same apartments for 35 years. If they don't resent me or ring the bells of doom, why does anyone else?

Jen said...

Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to put you two together as though you were one or agreed on everything. I just wanted to ask, what made us so different? I simply picked you two because Babs, who I agree is intelligent and has some astute insights, commented and because it's your blog. So no reeling needed.:-) I just asked what made you so different from those who are talked about as being so other from us. I think to highlight or remind ourselves of similarities can be useful. Everything I'm saying should be heard in an even tone, without insensitivity. (I only use all caps to highlight words because I don't know how to do italics in this thing.) That said, I'm not trying to pick on anyone in particular. So, I don't understand why when one disagrees with another s/he feels as though they are being personally attacked, which I hope is not the case here.

We are all open to the occasional teasing - we all have weird things. For example my new neighbor, who is subletting in my apartment building, commented that the googally moogally thing was good event to publicize our hood. I teased him, although it was a serious point, about the ridiculousness of such a comment. I told him (in a teasing fashion) that our hood doesn't need no stinkin' advertising people already know about it. You know like the thousands of people that already live HERE. I warned him that he gives people that look like us a bad name. So, yeah, people say stupid things and should be called out on it. I'm for that. (I should add, though, this neighbor of mine also hails form the great mid-west - Minnesota to be exact. Foodies come from every walk of life. Also, some might even embrace jello salad as a foodie blast from the past. Granted, this might be done with a sense of irony. ;-))

My comments about the hipster/bougie stuff is that it can be divisive. We start classifying people base on how they look, which was why I mentioned the conversation I had at Delroy's a few weeks back. It was a pleasant conversation, the lady was super nice. But, it just highlight something that was a little unpleasant. When I first moved here it was clear that I was new. People were okay with that. But now the dynamic has changed. There is more of an us verses them thing going on. I dunno if you, Tim, can sense it. Like I said, I look like one of the new comers. So, sometimes I'm treated as though I am one. That's fine. I guess. More people look like me are around and sometimes they are jerks. So, occasionally I'm lumped into that group. Whatev's, I get it. It's on me to make sure that I'm nice to everyone and talk to people on the street, which I would do regardless cos, you know I live here.

I will say that I don't like that some of the people who look like me openly complain about the area in front of people who have live here their entire lives. That's the sort of snotty behavior that is shameful.

I think one's motto for life should just be: don't be a jerk.

I will say, Tim, I know you mean no harm. I enjoy your blog. If I thought you meant harm I wouldn't read it. I'm not that kinda gal.

Anonymous said...

My experience (as a white, older guy) is that some people who think they have been here longer than us are friendly neighbors and others are openly disparaging. It takes all kinds. But we all should remember that this land was inhabited before us and will be inhabited (if it isn't underwater) after us. Too many people think that they are entitled. History tells us otherwise.

Just passin' through.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the debate in the comments here, I just wanted to comment on the article in the Echo about income disparity. I can't for the life of me understand why anybody would see something sinister in a measly two or three groceries starting to offer healthier options or why the writer thinks only newly arrived white yuppies buy those foods. The person most disgruntled by the groceries here I know is a longtime black female resident. Black people eat organic too. And for anybody who doesn't, rest assured there are plenty plenty less healthy lower priced options remaining. 2 or 3 small corner groceries is not a huge change to a neighborhood. Neither is one kids store arriving; that store has been a wonderful thing for the families here but as a business doesn't herald a huge shift. For every new business like those there are 4 new salons or cell phone places still opening. And again, they don't only serve one small part of the neighborhood. Every time I've been sitting in Play Kids I see people from the Caribbean community come in to buy something. The kids who attend their classes are diverse. It's insipid anybody would complain about a small handful of new businesses opened by local residents thereby creating new opportunities for themselves. And does the writer never read the multitude of articles about ALL of NYC changing in terms of income? And how the rising prices affect families of ALL races and backgrounds? It's hardly only PLG. In fact PLG has changed the slowest of all the historic brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, commercially anyway.

diak said...

Dear Mr CF,

As a member of the Echo staff, I'd like to thank you for your positive comments regarding the paper. Since we don't have space for readers' letters, we get almost no feedback — positively or negatively — on our efforts. Nice to know someone's out there reading and responding. And good work getting a discussion started based on Echo stories.

As far as the "un-conscious-able" error, it certainly provided a slap-to-the-forehead moment. I can tell you that at least a half dozen people, most publishing professionals, read the issue before publication and no one caught that mistake. While we were debating comma-versus-semicolon issues, and triple-checking the exact hours various stores would be offering tour day discounts, here was a gigantic error hiding in plain sight (in 24pt. bold type!). A good example of the mind seeing what it expects to see rather than what's actually there. Good catch!

babs said...

Not to revive an old discussion, but just to mention that the author of that Echo article, who sold his house on Midwood St. for over $1.5 million did stay in the neighborhood - they bought a house in need of care and renovation and have done a lovely job on it. Very glad they could stay with us, but further proof that you might need deep pockets to do so, at least as an owner.

Milford Prewitt said...

So sorry I'm just now responding to your most complimentary blog about The Echo. Sorry also about the boo-boo in the headline of the toy story. I noticed several posts down that one person cited the irony of me contributing to the nabe's gentrification by selling my place at a hefty profit to an affluent family that we talk about in the income inequality story. Well, the thing is, unlike other former neighbors who sold their homes at hefty prices and moved out of the neighborhood - if not the city itself - I used the profit to stay in PLG, moving just four blocks away to Sterling St., to repair and live in a fixer-upper.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

More power to you Milford. I'd say fixing up two homes - the previous and the current - hardly qualifies as grounds for a public stoning. Anywhere else you'd be applauded for investing in the local economy.

Others have noted, convincingly I'd say, that the real serious change in the neighborhood is not happening in the single-family homes on the stately blocks of the Manor, but rather in the dozens of huge apartment buildings where young people are flocking as a result of price shifts in other nabes.

My take is that the demographic shift is happening so fast that the census data is already ancient history. Renters are being squeezed, even middle-class folks, by a 10% to 20% annual rise in rent. And I repeat: there is NO coherent strategy that exists anymore to keep longtime residents in their homes. You have to be mighty tenacious, even in rent stabilized buildings, to resist landlord attempts to achieve market rates.

It's a jungle out there, and meanwhile, we talk of cappuccinos and artisanal cheeses. New York City is not, nor has it ever been, for the faint of heart.

Anonymous said...

A big eyeroll to all of this but especially the last comment.

If you sell a house for $1.5 million who does it help where you take the proceeds except yourself?
You want to give this guy a prize for not taking his cash to Park Slope rather than doubling down on his PLG bet? Give me a break; all he is doing is real estate speculation.

Each and every one of you is part of the problem, whether you got here 8 months ago or 8 years ago, whether you live in a brownstone or you are bringing your poorer cousins into the neighborhood to take up apartments. It's hilarious to see a bunch of relatively wealthy white people (and the occasional half-white or white-married) talking about gentrification as if it isn't their entire plan. This isn't integration. It's eradication by degrees and you absolutely love it.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon at 8:21. Valid, but gutless. Reveal your identity and/or your particular relationship to the neighborhood and I'll be glad to engage in a conversation, either on or off-blog. I'm intrigued by the strength of your conviction, if not wowed by your lazy analysis.

When people buy houses, fix them up, work in good faith to better the neighborhood and interact lovingly with their neighbors, it isn't called "real estate speculation." It's called life. We all need a place to live Anon, in my opinion the longer-term the better. And yes, we're shopping for deals, just like the lot that came before us.

We happen to live in a culture that permits, and in fact heavily encourages and subsidizes, home ownership. As such, non-speculators buy houses too, live in them, then sell them to the highest bidder. If you're the sort of chap who looks for conspiracies behind every action, you're likely to find them. Or, you could grow up and recognize that things are considerably more nuanced than polemics allow.

So...who are you, and what is your stake? Otherwise, be off with you. Sheesh, and I was almost asleep too...!

babs said...

That comment isn't even valid, for many reason. First, neither the writer nor his wife is white. Second, they have lived in the neighborhood for far longer than eight years. Third, fixing up a house provides work for construction personel, some of whom actually live here, while those who do not come here and no doubt spend money at local merchants while on the job (if only for a cup of coffee or a sandwich - still, it's money that wouldn't be here otherwise)16 CentsRo. It also improves the property values of surrounding homeowners, many of them also long-term residents. It's only real estate speculation if you plan on flipping the house and making a profit; these people are here to stay, and I am vary glad of it, as are many others.

babs said...

That 16 CentsRo was the Captcha for my comment - not sure why it showed up in the meddle of it! Sorry for the non sequitur.

babs said...

Oh, and the insinuation that interracial marriages are somehow inferior to same-race ones is as racist as white laws prohibiting miscegenation, and is highly offensive. Whoever this commenter is he/she should be banned.

Anonymous said...

Babs, The comment has nothing to do with denigrating IR marriages and if you want to ban ppl, you should get your own blog rather than telling the mod how to run his.