|This Is Now Part Of Your Future|
Round Halloween, from the sorely missed DNA Info, word came that the NYC Planning Commission approved the plan for the Armory to become housing and rec center - in City-time this whole five year process has been relatively straight-ahead (the bumps, it turns out, were mere bumps - the Q being a bit player I can attest that a whole lot of noise turned out to be just that). And then just yesterday, councilwoman Laurie Cumbo declared victory for the neighborhood, Pyrrhic though it may be, saying she'd extracted the best possible scenario from the proposal by adding more affordable units and nixing the "luxury" condos. (The Q insists on using the quotation marks, because frankly anything new these days gets the "luxury" tag, to the point where buyers roll eyes and haters use the term as a gentrificational pejorative.)
For those not in the groove on this one, the story is remarkable, though hardly unique in the annals of NYC land-use history. I'm gonna try for the layman's version and you can let me know whether I nail or flub it. The short version: the neighborhood gets a big new rec center, an inexpensive one at that, replete with swimming pool, basketball courts and space for community groups. Developer BHC gets to build a big, new signature project in the middle of Brooklyn, one that will surely be its urban calling card, if not its most profitable deal ever. 250 or so below-market rent-stabilized apartments get built; as many more market rate get built. So maybe 1500 new people move to the neighborhood, a great many of them white and professional, and the juggernaut of gentrification continues unabated. Housing activists feel they got nothing. Developers feel they lost millions. The elected officials are grateful the election happened beFORE the final decision (coincidence? I think not).
And while the site rests on City property, no new public housing will be built. And the Q would add that if the City can't find its way to build any truly affordable housing for those struggling below the poverty line RIGHT HERE, it clearly has little will to build it anywhere. One might say without hyperbole - the days of NYC being affordable to the working, senior or disabled poor are officially winding down. To say otherwise, in the midst of a humanitarian housing crisis of obscene proportions in this City of Trump, would be to tell a bald faced lie. Or bold faced lie. Maybe both.
This is America folks, in 2017. It is the land of entitled greed. The land of populism. The land of anti-immigrant fervor. The land of anti-anti-immigrant bark but no bite. The land of guns, drugs, overindulgent consumerism, vulgar and violent entertainment, voting-in sexual predators, and to top it all off - liberals apparently unable to do anything about any of it. Because, among many many other things, and let's get real here, nobody REALLY wanted poor people moving into newly built housing along the 2 and 5 lines. It's just so...so...socialist and La Guardian and icky.
For a moment in the Empire Blvd Farce and Bedford Union Armory battles we were witnessing a strange mixing of true lefty activism and NIMBYist anti-development tantrum-ing. To the Crown Heights Tenants Union, homeless advocates, NY Communities for Change (nee ACORN), Flatbush Tenants Union, Equality for Flatbush and more I'll re-up my advice: you have no true allies in the halls of power and the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn. Ripping through Community Board meetings and carrying signs and marching does little more than prove, in the eyes of the deciders, that YOU are the ones out of touch, and thereby, out of luck. Good riddance, you can almost here them saying.
Were there ever a moment for Great Cities to explode into chaos, here in 21st Century USA, I'd have to guess this is it. Something must be holding back the rioting, looting and burning...low unemployment perhaps? Trump shock? Tough policing? Or is this just the calm before the hurricane that finally convinces us that income inequality is just as dangerous as climate change?
And make no mistake. It's ALL about the gap between rich and poor. They will write our story, the Obama-Trump-?? story, and they will wonder how we didn't see it coming. We were focused on the reckless and rude snake-oil salesman, missing the real problems behind the Brash Baby Man. It's dangerous stuff, but maybe not in the ways that we and the Media Elite keep telling us.
Either that or this year's The Bachelor will merge with Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and American Idol to create a truly un-missable season of mind-numbing suspense and can't-look-away repulsive sexual tension. Oh, and check out the new X Box, iPig and self-driving social media convertibles from Amazon Prime Whole Foods Venture Capital Silicon Home Delivery Gluten-Free Yoga Uber anyway "Where's the Fuck Is My Charger????"