In 1957 my wife and I bought a townhouse in Brklyn Heights. We wanted a real neighborhood with real neighbors who would share in our interests in living with improved schools, nice shopping, clean streets, personal security and the rest of all those good things that make a great neighborhood. We are still here. And so are many of our friends and neighbors from 30, 40 and 56 years ago.
Aren't those the real values, the kind of good quality of life values that Prospect Lefferts is seeking. You don't want to be overrun by huge dormitories for Manhattan workers. What it boils down to is that you want to preserve and even improve the neighborhood.
You and your blog kibbitzers would find the story of how the Heights beat off the Big Developers including the master himself --- Robert Moses --- and re-created from a pretty run-down area the solid, stable, child-rearing neighborhood we have had for decades. No more threats from over-development. And, lots of people who want to put down roots. You can see it all and maybe be inspired by the 13-minute video, "Brooklyn is My Neighborhood"
There is also a printed version of the same story. Bottom line: It takes more than costly law suits; you need a united neighborhood favoring the same fundamental values.
I wish you and your fellow neighborhood protectors the best.
Let me know if there is anything in our successful history that might usefully be shared with your threatened area.
BTW: I am 85-years-old and am comfortably retired from a long career in public affairs.To which I replied:
Thanks for the reality check! I wonder though, and please remind me. Was there a racial element to the Brooklyn Heights changes? In other words, were blacks replaced by whites?
There were transient people of all colors. The picture then was that the St. George Hotel, which eventually morphed into a huge dorm for college students of all colors, was being used by the City as a dump for welfare and homeless folks. The once-fancy brownstones had become run-down and neglected multiple dwellings owned by absentee landlords. Color was just not an issue. Permanent ownership was the driving force. And it was good and fair all around. In other words, all anyone needed, other than a few bucks, were the motives and the willingness to take on the hard task of long time ownership.
Remember, at one point in this neighborhood, Jews were not welcome. Blacks and Latinos, of course not. That all changed and today this is an open and welcoming nabe for anyone who wants to be a Brooklynite. Perhaps you may want to widen your horizon. Take a look at the video.
I suppose in all honesty I must admit I was being a bit coy. Longtime readers of the Q will know I have a pretty firm grasp of gentrification and its history in NYC. The story of Brooklyn Heights is great lore, as is the Jane Jacobsing of Greenwich Village that immediately preceded it.
It's interesting to note that the building that sold $20K in the classified ad of the video back in the '50s can now likely fetch $7-10 million. So as beautiful as the Heights is, and it sure is beautiful, to me it's become something of a museum. The people who valiantly fought to keep the neighborhood intact and protected were mostly of the middle class professional variety. The people who buy and move into the Heights now are One Percenters. No one would argue for the destruction of the Heights in favor of middle class or affordable housing - it's become a treasure of the City. But it makes you wonder, in a world that grows ever more populous, what's in store for the future of landmarking? When houses go from 8-12 people renting to just 2, 3 or 4 owning, is that helping or hurting the quest for affordable housing? Just a question, not an argument.