Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rebranding Harlem

Hyper-gentrification--the jet-fueled process in which city government and corporations collude to displace the existing culture and population of New York and replace it with something shinier, wealthier, and homogenized for your safety--is often used by real estate agents to rebrand and sell "newly discovered" neighborhoods.

Sometimes, the sell can be unabashed in its revanchist rhetoric. A reader sent in a newsletter from one real estate agent working to sell Harlem. I'll let the text speak for itself.

- "New Yorkers are always debating which hood is the hottest. Is Bushwick the next Williamsburg? NoHo the next Tribeca? It’s Harlem: buy now and you will thank me."

- "Harlem is getting a tech-led makeover, thanks to a new series of economic development initiatives aimed at combating the neighborhood's infamous high unemployment rates and widespread poverty."

- "Blue-collar retirees are watching their neighborhood, once crime-infested and poverty-stricken, being reborn and rechristened as money-hungry real estate investors mine for gold in the pocket between W. 125th St. and W. 150th St."

- "Harlem is facing another wave of gentrification, which will push prices up further than the current median."

- "Call it the Whole Foods Factor. The organic grocery has the power to remake neighborhoods
, and it’s planning a new location at Lenox Ave. and 125th St."

- "That will add to a bevy of bars and restaurants that have opened up in the last few years, like Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster and the 11 commercial banks on 125th Street from Lenox Ave to Morningside Ave. Some of the other retail giants following Whole Foods is H&M and Forever 21."

11 banks! And, ooh look! There's an Olive Garden, too!


Elwood D Pennypacker said...

The best part is obviously the mindless imitation of neighborhood renaming. This particular Realtor appears to be a little late to the party on Real Estate Relevancy. I believe that the MIMA effort failed and that killed this kind of nomenclature.

Caleo said...

This city is over folks, and we all know it. Hypergentrification also entails lightning fast population shifts. What used to take 10+ years now happens in less than 5, and on an ever widening scale. A recent piece in the New York Times highlighting all the nouveaux riche hipsters spreading out into Queens and Harlem and New Jersey, of all places, portends a massive population shift in almost every neighborhood in the 5 boroughs, or at least those less than an hour by train from Manhattan.
The piece made clear that any commute over an hour was not worth the effort, effectively leaving certain swathes of outer Brooklyn and Queens free from initial hipster migration, inevitably followed by the wealthier bankers and brokers and tech workers. So, the far reaches of the outer boroughs will be left intact... for now.
This trend is unstoppable. It's a goddamn tidal wave taking place at warp speed.
When you stop to think about the rapidity of this transformation, and the totality of it, it's pretty stunning.

Anonymous said...

If the existing culture is crime and.grime and poverty its OK then? I'm thinking of East/Spanish Harlem. So keep it as is? What about blacks in Harlem cashing in? Bet you won't blast them for selling. No scorn for Magic Johnson? Funny how it was deemed racist when developers wouldnt go to Harlem. Now its horrible hyper gentrification. I'm confused. Which is it? Just say what rev all did years ago you want.the.white/Asian interlopers out.of Harlem.

Caleo said...

On a related note, I just read the piece in Curbed linked by EVGrieve about the rapidly changing face of the bowery.
I was stunned because it said Jay Maisel had sold his building. I remember reading an interview with him several years ago stating he would never sell. I guess he caved in, or someone in his family did. His graffiti covered building always amazed me, and gave me hope that some people would never give in to developers. I should have known better. I'm literally stunned by that article.
I shouldn't be stunned anymore, but sometimes the extent of the development just kicks you in the gut.
And how many goddamn hotels can you have on one strip ? Not enough for the developers, apparently.
Brutal reality setting in.
Good bye New York.

Caleo said...

As several commenters over at EVGrieve stated, New York hit a "sweet spot" in the 90's when the worst aspects of street crime started to wind down, but the city and it's distinct neighborhoods and flavors were still alive and intact.
I believe Jeremiah has stated the same himself.
Thank the gods I was here to live it. If you had told me it would all disappear, I wouldn't have believed it.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable and horrible

Anonymous said...

Um, crime and grime were NOT part of OUR vibrant culture .YOU weren't here so you don't understand. You only consumed what was media fed. Poverty is not a culture, btw. You might want to take a class in sociology

Anonymous said...

To add to the destruction of NYC neighborhoods and people by the forces of luxurification in formerly middle or low-income areas,etc....the blatancy of the new "normal" is unbelievable.

Another example, as described in The NY Times, two new buildings with marketing starting in Singapore. "Soo K. Chan, an architect and developer from Singapore who has designed and built residences, hotels and museums around the world, is launching his first two projects in the United States in New York City....with two condominiums along that magnet for brand-name architects, the High Line....515 Highline, a 12-unit condo at 515 West 29th Street…and Soori High Line, a 27-unit condo across the street at 522 West 29th....Since marketing began in Singapore this summer, five units have sold at the building; prices start at about $3,000 a square foot, or $3.7 million for two-bedrooms. The project is scheduled to open in spring 2016.
“We’re definitely going after buyers from that part of the world,” said Ashwin Verma, a Siras managing partner and a developer…...

Anonymous said...

Oscar Lewis and Daniel Moynihan would.prob disagree. I like the use of caps. Just say you want Whitey out and be honest. Isn't all this anti gentrification just anti white sentiment? I guess that's OK now.

Anonymous said...

There are several old beautiful buildings and blocks in Harlem. That being said, I have yet to see any large scale development there (such as that proposed Olive Garden hybrid thing, or the current Magic Johnson architectural abortion) that hasn't been anything but opportunistic and hideous. So you've got the double whammy of evicting/pricing out the current population, and then adding insult to injury by creating a commercial environment that doesn't fit the aesthetic level of the people whose money they're trying to attract.

laura r. said...

bad news: the neigborhoods which are more than 45 minutes on the train (even over an hour) will be bought up too. they will have express busses to midtown, downtown, east & westsides. do you think they havnt thought of this? give it 3 years.

Filmatix said...

I'm a white dude, moved from Poland to NYC when I was 4 years old in 1978, and have lived here much of my adult life.

At the commenter who wrote, "If the existing culture is crime and.grime and poverty its OK then?" What the hell are you talking about?

The culture in Spanish Harlem is a vibrant one with deep roots. And yes, it's in most people's best interest [anyone who makes an honest living] to get "Whitey" out--namely, bland-ass people with lots of money who don't know anything about culture, community, compassion, or originality. People who are afraid of diversity, and seem to hail mostly from privileged backgrounds, even if they feign some kind of alternative hipster bonafides.

But rich-kid Israeli trust funders, corporate raiders from Dubai, Russia, or a million other places are ruining the place, too, and that has little to do with ethnicity. If you got rid of the 400+ years of racism implanted into the genetic code of the USA, and into the processes of hypergentrification, you would still have a class war.

Anonymous said...

Was all this approved by Bloombergs administration? Is all this hypergentrification his "legacy"? I guess there is no way to legally stop any of this? Is there any way any of this will benefit the current residents? I live in a part of Queens that is off the hypergentrification radar (at least for now) so I was wondering about this.