Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Refinery

Last week, Curbed shared photos from the marketing materials for the new luxury development of the former Domino Sugar refinery. The place is now being called "The Refinery." Because, yes, that's what the building was, but also--obviously--because that's what the developers (and City Hall) want the luxury development to do.

It will help to refine the neighborhood.

What do refineries do? They cleanse. They purify. Sugar refineries, in particular, take darker materials and turn them white. That is also being done--has been done--to Williamsburg and to much of Brooklyn and the city.

New York is becoming exponentially whiter every day, thanks to hyper-gentrification. The process acts as one big refinery, a factory for smoothing and bleaching.

Mayor de Blasio appears to be all for this. Or else he's been brainwashed by the neoliberal free-marketeer myth that luxury development is inevitable. (It is not.) He recently told Crain's NYC Summit conference that the "only way" to create an inclusive city "is through development."

He could not be more wrong. Development excludes. Development whitens. Development segregates.

The designers who created The Refinery's renderings know this. Look at the people in the images. What do you see?


Caleo said...

Ethnomasochism as empty moral posturing.
Although I agree that the new and improved refinery is an empty charade and will most definitely not improve the neighborhood, the mere increase in the number of white people is not an evil in and of itself. It's the type of white people, namely homogenized upper middle class whiteys, that is the problem. Brighton Beach is filled with white people, new immigrants arriving all the time, but does not look or feel like Williamsburg because the white people in Brighton beach have a distinct culture that is tied to real traditions that go back centuries. The deracinated SWPL's that will move into the refinery are devoid of real ethnic traditions, their entire sense of self derived from social media and the consumer products they use.
If the people moving into the refinery were Albanians or Neapolitans or Chechens it would be a much different situation and produce a much different neighborhood.
Alas, most Albanians and Neapolitans can't afford to immigrate to NYC now and certainly can't afford to live in the new refinery.

Brian said...

De Blasio seems to be for build build build and never raise rent stabilized rents and the city to agree to any affordable housing project that comes up, which often means big tax breaks for the project, e.g. Stuytown agreement. Neighborhood preservation, not so much.

Pat said...

The renderings, yeah. I don't see any babies or dogs in these pictures. Or people with gray hair. What planet are these people from anyway? Most of them on the roof deck absorbed in their i-crap, that I expect, but even in the street scene so few of them talking to each other. I smell body snatcher pods.

Unknown said...

I agree with Caleo and Pat that It's not so much the increase in white people, it's the particular homogenized bland culture-less brand of white that pervades the city today. It's as generic as the corporate chains that have taken over and it's seeping into all the races. It's all about being comfortable with a touch of universally acceptable mall inspired style, some fake cultural appropriation, and then round it off with some personal expression in the form of ugly tattoos and piercings. It's all played out and boring already and it's not the least uniquely expressive or interesting when everyone is doing it. Hispanics, African Americans, Middle Eastern, and Eastern ethnicity's are all adopting this vapid blend of "Multicultural Anglo-chic" so they can look like what they see in Hollywood or musicians like Bono.

The illustrations are depicting this "globalized" look on a very pretentious and obnoxious level. More than showing a bent towards white skin is the presentation of this globally casual dress code. Also everyone's age is in the sweet spot of 20 to 30 something. As mentioned by others here, no kids, no elders, everyone looks right out of an episode of "Friends", or "Girls". This is the demographic the city is trying to attract today. It thinks it will save itself banking on young childless professionals who will trade marriage and family for a chance to live the dream in an expensive generic condo unit with a mall view, working in a cubical and eating in an advertainment food court. Good Luck!!!

Scout said...

As has been pointed out above, it's not just middle class white folk who are homogenized and boring.

Since the death of religion, those in power have discovered multiple other opiates to keep the masses complacent and less inclined to revolution (intentionally or not, it doesn't really matter).

So if you really want change, you'll have to get rid of air conditioning, television, smart phones, tablets, heroin, oxycontin, meth, and the Internet. If you can't do that, the majority will be too comfortably numb to take any effective action.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

You should rename your blog Jeremiah's Vanishing New York City Character and Ethnic Diversity.
You can make the official proclamation: "The Legend Is Dead!!!!" That can be the blog's new slogan.

rongee said...

If NYC administrations were serious about maintaining a balanced and diverse middle class presence within and throughout all bouroughs, especially Manhattan and Brooklyn, all new residential construction should be required (by law) to include a specific percentage of affordable units. Fat chance, as long as well connected developers maintain their stranglehold and influence on city officials.

Scuba Diva said...

Well, "refined" sugar has been a big deal for a long time!

Unknown said...

"Development whitens"? Could you get any more racist? A white person says anything even remotely similar but substitute "blackens" for "whitens" and you'd be screaming RACISM from the tallest rooftop. Tell me I'm wrong.