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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Conflicting Views On Nabe Change

An interesting and perhaps a bit heated exchange broke out in the last few posts on the planned residential tower at 626 Flatbush, and I thought I'd elevate a germane exchange to a post, since I think a commenter got a bit of a misread, and their feelings were ones I've heard echoed a lot recently, though not so much on this blog. The exchange went thusly (I'm leaving out the less relevant comments):

Lifetime on Lefferts said...
The fact is that many people have been not so secretly wanting this to happen for years. This is the payoff for their investment. They don't care if there's some collateral damage. They can rationalize all they want but this building is a victory for everyone who wishes they could have afforded to live somewhere else. But it's a loss for everyone who needed this neighborhood to stay the affordable side of the park. You can claim your victory but you don't have to be smug about it.
December 9, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Anonymousdiak said...
I'd like to respectfully ask "Lifetime on Lefferts" what evidence you have for your comments (11:46PM above). Not grudges or resentments. Not assumptions or stereotypes about people who you probably don't actually know. Evidence.
December 10, 2013 at 4:10 PM
Lifetime said...Delete
Many people I know first hand have told me they attempted to buy in other neighborhoods and were priced out. You must be blind or deaf not to know that. They settled on PLG. It was not there first choice. And now they are thrilled to see that there neighborhood is becoming more like the ones they couldn't afford. You ask for evidence. Why not ask around.
December 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM
BloggerClarkson FlatBed said...(after claims he/she was referring to ALL newcomers and buyers)
Sticking up for Lifetime here I'd say that he/she may have put it inelegantly but I don't think they were claiming to be talking about everyone. Actually I know that - s/he said "many." This is what I'm talking about that everyone is so defensive on these issues. SOME people obviously feel they want the neighborhood to be more like others. SOME people fear that were it to become so, they'd be priced out. SOME people have lived here a long time and have always loved it. SOME people are probably brand new and couldn't be happier. That's not a dichotomy, that's a quadchotomy, and there are many more "sides" I'm sure.

But the defensiveness is troubling to me, my own included if I'm honest, because I think what's at play is a very imperfect study of what's been, what is and what is to come. The change happens so fast and it's scary. I'm frankly floored by what's happened in Brooklyn in the last dozen years since 9/11. Whole neighborhoods are completely unrecognizable. After 9/11 we thought the City might just disappear as we knew it. It did. Just not like we thought it might!

And c'mon guys, let's be honest here. The racial change of neighborhoods is absolutely astounding. There is no precedent for it, accept perhaps the Great Migration northward. If the PPEN movement skews black, it is likely the result of this. I think Lifetime was pointing out that the forces of demographic change are extraordinarily powerful, both race and class (I'm putting words in mouth here) and that some seem to be winning and others losing. How can you argue the point? I can't see it otherwise, frankly. We don't have to take it so personally, really. If he/she had said the word ALL you'd have a beef, but that's not what they said. Diak in particular said that Lifetime was condemning all, and I think that's unfair. I suspect your nuanced view of the neighborhood is beyond that person's criticism, so loosen up.

And to those who do wish this neighborhood get a little more Prospect Heights, your wish will soon be at hand. I'm a betting man. I give it five years tops, barring a major terrorist attack or financial implosion.
December 10, 2013 at 10:48 PM

AnonymousAnonymous said...
I bought here this summer not because we could not afford to live on the other side of the park, but because we could buy an entire house that was the nicest we had seen in over 9 months of looking and for the same price as the single floors or duplexes of brownstones in PS or the classic 6s and 7s on PPW we were originally going to buy.

I bought here specifically because I expect it to change significantly over the next 5-10 years and sure hope it does both for our investment and for our daily quality of life. I'd rather it look a lot more like prospect heights on Flatbush avenue than the hot mess it is right now.

I've lived in quite a few of the Brooklyn neighborhoods that went through similar changes throughout the years and it certainly seems as though it's about to happen here as well and the sooner the better. Not so I can cash out, but so I can raise my family here and not worry about people getting shot in broad daylight on Flatbush avenue like we saw the first week we moved in this summer.

Hopefully the development gets done with some sort of compromise to make it more contextual and still has the impact of bringing more amenities and a cleaner , safer Flatbush avenue.
December 10, 2013 at 11:55 PM

Okay Anon 11:55. I appreciate your honesty, though as always I'd appreciate a screen name so we know who you are throughout the conversation. However, I must point out that you are EXACTLY who Lifetime On Lefferts was talking about. You would have bought that big house had you been able to afford it in other more gentrified neigborhoods. And now you hope that development like the new building will move the nabe towards a more like Prospect Heights-like scene. (I don't think I need to note that PH has become much wealthier and whiter in the last 10 years, so we can infer that's what you want for Lefferts.)

You call Flatbush Ave a hot mess. You point to shootings and I suspect lack of stores catering to your interests and perhaps trash and/or graffiti.  Perhaps you've noticed tough guys on corners hanging out, and wondered which of them are dealing drugs or members of violent gangs (most of them are not by the way). And so now you want Big D developers to come in and solve your problems.

The Q would argue, as he has repeatedly, that these problems can be solved by current residents working together, and does not have to involve wholesale demographic turnover, which ultimately is what you're suggesting, because I guarantee you the newcomers at 626 will not resemble the guys on Flatbush that you want gone. The babies will most definitely be tossed with the bathwater.

You can clean up trash and invite economic development with a strong merchants association come B.I.D. (this is happening). You can organize and work with various law enforcement and create watchgroups and clean up drugs and gangs (believe it or not, this is happening). You can encourage local business owners to carry more of the items you're going cross town to buy.

There is a lot of great stuff on Flatbush Avenue, much of it deserving of support, and some of it already thriving. Your "hot mess" depiction is indicative of the attitude I find most problematic. You'd rather replace than improve.

That's why there's resistance.


The Snob said...

Good food for thought here, Tim. Part of the insanity that is Brooklyn real estate right now is that most people who are fortunate enough to buy are just looking for somewhere nice to raise their kids. People with the means to choose Park Slope or Fort Greene will buy there, and those of comparatively lesser, but still vast, means will buy in places like our nabe, the so-called "unexplored" neighborhoods. (Does it get more colonial?)But to question whether such newcomers will really "get it" and love the neighborhood for what it is smacks to me of so much "before it was cool" boasting. The important thing, as I've said many a time, is that you can choose to be a part of your community or you can complain about it. But have some humility; acknowledge those who have come before you and what they have won, and lost, since.

Anonymous said...

I just am appalled by some of those attitudes, though.

Some of us, like, oh, me, could have gone to many other places and sought out a place like PLG specifically because I wanted a certain experience that reminded me of my childhood in NYC and Brooklyn, not whatever was happening in Williamsburg and Park Slope. I wanted a neighborhood that felt like a neighborhood, where I noticed people knew each other and said hello, and that is exactly what I found in PLG despite the occasionally dangerous street corners. I have been here now for many, many years.

So while I "pity" (just kidding I don't) those of you who were "stuck settling on PLG", please speak only for yourselves. There are plenty of us who have the means or resources to go elsewhere and came SPECIFICALLY here and have CHOSEN to stay because we actually DO love PLG and the folks that have made this place what it is. NOT because we "went where we could afford".

Thank you kindly in advance.

Alex said...

Anon 11:52, you're perpetuating the type of defensiveness that Q is trying to mitigate. No one is trying to speak for you. Whether you agree with some, all, or none of the sentiments being expressed, they all exist, and no one is trying to say that there's a unified opinion on how the neighborhood will, should, or might change. You've asked that people speak for themselves, and from what I can tell, that's what they are doing.

Personally, I am smack in the middle of the polarized views being shared. I've lived here for almost 10 years, and I came here "prospecting" (dirty word, but I'll cop to it because it's true) for a solid investment in a home that would appreciate over time, and also hoped to see more amenities spring up in the neighborhood.

At this point, I would still like to see more amenities, but I am also concerned about displacement and losing the neighborhood's feel. I grew to like PLG how it was when I first arrived. That being said, I am anxious about the type of changes that 33 Lincoln, 626 Flatbush, and 123 Parkside will bring to the neighborhood because I find it exciting in terms of benefits they might bring and nervous about negative consequences. In saying so, I am expressing my own view - not yours, not anyone else's. Love the neighborhood as it is, love my neighbors, love my apartment, and I'd love to have more options for dinner and shopping outside my door.

anon1155 said...

sorry, i will be known as anon1155 going forward

I can afford to buy the same size house anywhere I want in Brooklyn. I chose to do so here because I think it makes a lot more sense from a relative value standpoint and to put the rest of my money to work in other assets.

I bought and moved here knowing full well what I did and did not like about the neighborhood.

Im not looking for anyone to "solve my problems" or to make the neighborhood "whiter and richer" as you incorrectly inferred. Not sure how me hoping that some of the development will make things safer and bring more amenities that I drive over to park slope for makes me want to change the entire racial and socioeconomic makeup of the neighborhood.

I admire your commitment to changing things at the community activism level and wish I had the resources to help on that front, but that doesn't preclude me from also welcoming another agent of change via development.

I am not solely for replacement over improvement. There is a middle ground where someone can support both, which is where I stand, without being labelled with your matter of fact inferences.

I apologize for not highlighting the businesses that fall under the ones deserving of support, but there are plenty that I support and frequent regularly in the neighborhood, but that does not change the fact that there are some elements of Flatbush that i dont particularly care for.

Maximus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Alex, I think you missed the point of my post completely - the posts that were highlighted in this main article were by someone who specifically (and explicitly) was saying that most people (not just them - but most) who settled here SETTLED here because they couldn't afford elsewhere. As my comments were a direct response to that, I stand by my point that those posters (see again the comments highlighted in this post and many of them in the article that lead to this) were making blanket statements and I'm telling them directly that their blankets are full of holes.


Alex said...

Alright, well, I didn't read it that way, and I still don't think anyone is trying to speak for everyone.

diak said...

Mr. CF, I think you are cherry-picking the comments that serve your point best. (Well, it's your right; it's your blog!) There were clearly comments in the original post that directly contradicted "Lifetime"s assertions. (Since I've been ordered to "loosen up" I'll use "assertions" this time instead of "accusations.") Mine, Bob Marvin's, cheryl on parkside, plus a couple from the always-voluable anonymous.

Instead, you've chosen to refocus on a single commenter who "proves" Lifetime's stance. This doesn't seem like an entirely honest representation of the numerous viewpoints that were expressed.

Anonymous said...

I am not Anon 1155 but I can echo his/her sentiments verbatim. I could've afforded to live anywhere else in this borough or city, and actually owned elsewhere before buying here. And buying here because we found our ideal house here. And saw the potential of what this neighborhood could be, and would be in 5 years time, given it's proximity to the park and ease of commute to manhattan. And there are many more people who've moved here recently and not so recently who feel this same way.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Well, you're right about one thing. It's MY blog!

Seriously though it's not your comment or Lifetime's I'm talking about here. It's the last anon's. I understand that you and others want to assert a different viewpoint into the mix, and that's cool, and I encourage folks to go back to the whole drawn out thread if they want to see everything. I chose those comments for context, and yes, to prove a point, that there are those out there who a) believe like Lifetime and b) believe like Anon1155. BUT of course there are those who believe like c) believe like that Lyndon Larouche- Thomas Sowell wannabe or d) believe like Diak and so on and so on.

No one likes being typecast.

But I know for a fact that my blog skews right (does that come as a shock to some of you?), or middle class anyway, and at best I'm trying to keep another view in the public eye because I think it gets lost when development happens. As much as I respect Butler and Brownstoner, I don't think we need any more of the real estate rah's done its job quite well thank you, and I'd like to see a bit more balance.

A reader has offered to intro me to David Kramer at Hudson and I hope to have that opportunity, because if I could share a message right now it'd be that his PR machine sucks, and he could have done a much better job of being a community partner. But then I suspect he'd have opened himself up to compromises he didn't want to make. I dunno. I'm not a real estate dude.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon 2:54.

Um, okay.

Have me over dinner sometime? Got a business idea I want to pitch...


Anonymous said...

As if it matters WHY someone buys or rents a place in PLG. All that matters is the direction demand is heading. The individual rationalizations have no meaning when it comes to moving the needle on the NY City real estate meter.

However, it's a sure thing that no one living in the area or planning to move to the area is hoping for or predicting a downturn.

Meanwhile, before moving to PLG everyone made a financial decision that it was the place to go. That PLG filled the bill.

As if finding a good real estate value -- determined by personal circumstances -- because it's in an area that might evolve into a place with some cachet is a troubling idea.

Anonymous said...

Tim - skewing right and being middle class are waaaay different things. I happen to know several of the folks who have commented here in favor of 626, and to call them "liberals" would be a gross understatement.

Please don't let the two anon commenters you identified represent the rest of us.


Clarkson FlatBed said...

Skew. Skewing to the right of the population of Flatbush in general. The city is basically all Democrats. Most people describe themselves as liberal. In the PPEN pro and con, which position would you call the more liberal one? I would argue the anti big money developer one. You might feel differently. I've noted what I might call a "skewing" in favor of the project on the blog. Therefore I've concluded, at least on this issue, a skewing right. Not right-wing. Just a rightward tilt.

I stand by the analysis. I'm not calling anybody names, just like I see it.

By the way, Pol Pot was also considered far left, so you needed hear "left" and consider it all sweetness and light either. It's got a pretty agreed upon definition though, usually MORE egalitarian/socialist is left. Am I totally off the mark?

Anonymous said...

Well, high density apartment housing near mass transit is more ecologically sensible than low-rise, single family homes. So one could argue that supporters of 626's large size represent a more eco-conscious (lefty) position than those who point to PLG's already high density as a reason to oppose the project.

Worry not comrade Thomas, we will reserve a space for you in the politburo.

-Paul G.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Super Paul. Thank you!

And we'll be sure to place your name atop the atrium of the Lefferts Opera House. I do hope you'll chair our gala again this year!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Rents are still increasing in Brooklyn, with the biggest increases happening in formerly affordable areas such as Bed Stuy and Bushwick, according to two reports out today.

In Bed Stuy, average rents were up 15.6 percent to $1,835 in November, vs. $1,587 in the same period last year, according to MNS. Over in Bushwick, average rents increased 13.5 percent in the same period, rising from $1,849 to $2,099.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Where would we all be without are standard 15.6% annual cost of living raises? Yikes!

I'm starting to feel we can forget about gradual change. We may just shoot right past whatever comfortable co-existence there might be between old and new. It's kind of like when you're trying to put that perfect buzz on, but dang it you shoot right past it and end up drunk.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clarkson FlatBed said...

For those interested in my removal of the last comment, the gist was this: longtime renters should have bought when prices were dirt cheap. Then there was a little dig that ensured his comment would be taken down no matter what his point.

To those who haven't even a bank account and rely on check cashing places and money orders, yeah, what were you thinking? And to the others who were busy just getting by raising families, you should have bought on Maple! Lovely block that...

Unknown said...

Quite late in the discussion, but I must ask, what amenities are available in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Prospect Heights that are not available here in PLG?