Monday, July 6, 2015

Washington Heights Gentrification Sale

When the 25-year-old Jesse's Deli got the boot from its landlord in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, local customers Doug Cameron and Tommy Noonan protested with a colorful collection of "artisanal landlord price hike" posters. They created a sensation.

all photos courtesy Doug Cameron

Now they've turned their talents to a block of mom and pops in Washington Heights. The businesses, many of which have been on Broadway and West 162nd for decades, have been evicted by the building's new owners, again with an impossible rent hike. (Read about their story in the Village Voice.)

Doug Cameron explained to Vanishing New York:

"This time an entire block in Washington Heights is throwing a ‘Gentrification In Progress’ Sale. The Punta Cana is officially rebranded as the Casa de Campo, which is the name of an extremely wealthy gated community and resort in the Dominican Republic. Posters in its windows now offer 'small plates for twice the price,' such as a single Hand-Cut Seasonal Summer French Fry for $8.99. The awning displays the new Casa de Campo name, along with the logo of a large wealthy man with a monocle eating a tiny portion plate of food."

"The only other business that has not yet moved in the past couple weeks is the Frutera El Buen Camino. The landlord can’t re-rent the space because of a structural problem. Now, next to the Frutera is a new awning: The Nueva Frutera El Buen Hipster, a yuppie juice bar offering Fresh-Mowed Wheatgrass Shots for $7.99, and Locally-Skimmed Pond Scum Smoothies for $14.99."

Doug and Tommy have included a call to action as well: "Tell Bill De Blasio to support the Bill De Bodega," a.k.a. the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA). They've also created a site for the Bill de Bodega.

For more on what you can do to save small businesses in the city, visit #SaveNYC and join the group on Facebook.


Space Pope said...

That is some classic New York right there. Ascerbic sarcasm $1 per gallon.

Anonymous said...

If sarcasm is $1 per gallon how much is anti white racism?

Anonymous said...

This is silly and kind of hyperbolic. I live in the area (a little ways up) and thankfully, there's not stuff like $8 wheatgrass shots or whatever (yet); in fact, almost all of the new businesses that open north of the GWB are Dominican clubs and restaurants. There are far too many businesses like the frutera which causes way too much competition and a lot of them fail—nearly every main block in the Heights is the same stretch of businesses. While the rent hike is inexcusable and disgusting, there are many, many things in between hole-in-the-wall eateries and guys in monocles. There are also several Irish bars that have been in the neighborhood for decades that have had to close their doors this year because of gentrification which weren't mentioned here; to omit the struggle of *everyone* uptown to resist the capitalist takeover of affordable housing and businesses makes this into much more of a race issue than it is.

Anonymous said...

North of 162nd on west 181, an inordinate # of businesses have closed; this is about rents -- not race. The landlords have become so greedy. We lost the best pharmacy in the area- VIM - knew their customers, good prices; caring; informative etc. Landlord asked for a huge rent for lease renewal - so VIM had to sell their business/customer base. In the meantime the landlord could not get the rent he wanted so he had temporary lessees and got a huge tax break. Then he reduced the rent and Nunez Hardware moved in. As to pharmacies Now we are left with City Drugs - quite good but small; and Hilltop - way over-priced and smells like a country store. Not great for people with allergies and breathing problems. We lost the 99 Cent store; we are losing great vegatable stores; shoemaker - all for more money for landlords. Being replaced with more and more restaurants; bars; it is becoming less of a neighborhood. People who have tons of money who have moved in don't seem to mind because they don't know the history. Others, like me, who have lived here for a long time, wonder what the ##&!! is going on. It is about money money money. There is no consideration for the store owners nor their customers. It is time to get the Legislators to move and institute rent protects for Small Business Owners.

In addition, I live in an area with increasing homelessness, and crime (though the newbies here think it is such a safe environment!) and to top it off the local Dutch Reformed Church is spending over $15 M to build a solarium for its congregation. This seems riduclous, not to mention the fact that the construction is causing increased pollution in the area.

We need some Guerrilla signs up here, too!

Anonymous said...

'This is not about race its about rents' Are you serious? Of course its about race. Its all anti white. All of it. All the anti gentrification rhetoric is anti white. But its not racism. Oh no.

Jonah Falcon said...

"Of course its about race. Its all anti white. All of it. All the anti gentrification rhetoric is anti white. But its not racism."

I'm white and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

"Anonymous". Why am I not surprised?

Unknown said...

It's no secrete that educated white hipters, educated blacks, and maybe even majority gay communities cause rent to increase. Landlords see these people as cash cows! I'm not speaking against anyone. I think gentrification is a good thing. If everyone is included. Better jobs, safer neighborhoods, and diversity.

Unknown said...

If you lived or visit Washington Heights you must know Margot restaurant is been around for decades. A good meal good price home feeling with lots of memories is now becoming a memory bliss. Itsunami a Damm shame politicians talk all the shit and don't do a Damm thing about it. Soon enough it won't matter what race you are it matters how much money you have. GS

Rodin said...

Though I'm a first person witness to this exact are of Washington Heights in the fifties through seventies I can't provide proof that Spector's Apettizer catering to the Jewish community existed on this block between 163rd and 162nd or the German Jewish store that made and sold chocolate which I could smell in the hallway of my building or the Jewish Deli across the street and on and on so Wikipedia tells me they excised my entry for Wash. Heights because they don't accept "ancecdotal." So all this history is buried underneath these signs.