Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brooklyn's 4th Ave

The super-gentrification of Brooklyn's 4th Avenue has created a bizarre battleground. On the hotly contested borderline between Gowanus and Park Slope, thick-legged condos wrap their thighs around tenements, gripping the old buildings in scissor holds, wrestling them into submission.

The little white walk-up below is already for sale and the absence of substantial windows in the crotch of condo Argyle says it might be waiting for a shaft of glass to fill it.

Le Bleu, the luxury boutique hotel, welcomes guests "to a whole new world of uber chic glamour and luxurious living." Their finest rooms offer a prime Gowanus view: U-Haul lot, concrete silos, sewage:

Enjoy these views from Bleu's balcony. If you squint your eyes, far off in the distance, you can just make out the green figurine of Lady Liberty. Does she still welcome the tired, poor, huddled masses, the homeless, the wretched refuse to her golden door?

The wretched refuse is right here. All along 4th Avenue, glistening towers sprout up from deserts of weeds and barbed wire. They overlook dialysis centers, taxi garages, and flat-fix shops. The sidewalk foams with soap from a humming car wash. Billboards ask the stacks of used tires, "Who wants to be a millionaire?"

"Style and Substance" reads a sales banner draped across a condo's side, windowless, as if closing its eyes to the neighboring greasy Golden Arches. Another sign nearby warns, "Car stripping will bring police immediately."

Riding a wave of irrational exuberance, the development here might be called "flash gentrification," it happened so fast. Instant and massive, it's like a coordinated invasion by a foreign army. Like an attack of alien warships that suddenly drop from the sky. Shock and awe.

But with the economic immolation, some are wondering if 4th Avenue will "crash and burn." As condos convert to rentals and money dries up all over town, who will enjoy those Bleu views? Who will fill those condos with West Elm furniture? Who will make love to the Clover brewer at the Root Hill cafe?

A movie billboard, at first glance, seems to speak for the long-time residents, but maybe it's the newcomers who will think twice if flash-gentrification hasn't succeeded in turning 4th into a sanitized Park Avenue. Either way, on this battlefield, someone will someday be saying, "They're here. We're gone."


Anonymous said...

I just heard that LIPSTICK JUNGLE on NBC was cancelled.

Now while I have never actually seen the show. I am positive and confident this is a victory for our cause. A victory in the win column for us. We just won a battle in this war.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I've heard Flatbush was the next Park Avenue. In both cases this is nonsense, horseshit.