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Thread: Class warfare in America, 2005

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Class warfare in America, 2005

    Condensed from The New York Times:


    Patrons at La Bottega restaurant on Ninth Avenue have a view of Fulton Houses, a public housing complex.

    Cheek by Jowl
    By JOHN FREEMAN GILL

    IVAN LOPEZ, an unemployed forklift operator who has lived most of his life in Chelsea, was chatting about his recent lunch with Harrison Ford, a newcomer to the neighborhood. "I met him at La Taza de Oro," Mr. Lopez said, referring to a small rice-and-beans shop on Eighth Avenue.

    "Well, I didn't really meet him," he admitted. "I was sitting there, and he was so close." Mr. Lopez could hear Mr. Ford talking about the luxurious loft he had bought. "I got his autograph."

    This is today's Chelsea, a neighborhood of sometimes stunning cheek-by-jowl incongruity.

    But perhaps the biggest incongruity is this: On Ninth Avenue, in the middle of $2.7 million penthouses on West 19th Street and $3,400 jackets at Chelsea Market, stand Fulton Houses, the 944-unit public housing project stretching from 16th to 19th Streets. Although the average Chelsea household earned about $83,000 in 2000, the most recent year for which data is available, average household income among the 2,215 residents of Fulton Houses is just under $25,000.

    Once, the two worlds were more similar. When Fulton Houses' 11 brick buildings were completed in 1965, the economic divide between the project's residents and those in the predominantly working-class neighborhood around it was far less pronounced. The average household income at Fulton was $5,408 in 1970, while the average Chelsea household earned $8,505.

    But the character of Chelsea has evolved considerably. Gentrification proceeded gradually in the 1960's and 70's, gathering force in the late 80's and 90's with an accelerating influx of gay professionals and middle-class families. Bodegas and workingman's bars gave way to upscale restaurants. The 1990's also brought Chelsea Piers (a vast athletic complex) and a thriving gallery scene in West Chelsea, lending an air of hip prestige that has helped drive real estate prices skyward.

    And the area is poised to transform further still. Late last month, the City Council approved a plan to rezone 68 acres of far west Chelsea between 16th and 30th Streets. The centerpiece of the plan is the transformation of the High Line elevated railway into a 22-block-long ribbon of green space, but the rezoning will also add 5,500 units of housing to the neighborhood.

    While the plan calls for about 1,200 of the units to be affordable to households with low, moderate and middle incomes, the remaining 4,300 would be market rate. And in Chelsea's sizzling real estate environment, where the median sale price of a three-bedroom condominium is currently $3 million, that means even more luxury will be bumping up against Fulton Houses.

    As these waves of wealth wash up on its shores, some inside the complex feel increasingly cut off.

    "We're an isolated little island," said Ann Marie Baronowski, secretary of the Fulton Houses Tenants Association. "We have great apartments and great rent, but we can't afford to do anything here. The only thing we can afford is Western Beef. There are no restaurants you can afford, no food shops you can afford, no clothing stores you can afford. You're living here, but basically all you can do is sleep here."

    Where did all the shops for the poor go? Couldn’t afford the higher rents.
    A possible solution: subsidized shops for the residents of the subsidized housing?



    The Maritime Hotel overflows with well-dressed night owls and celebrities. On the other side of Ninth Avenue, residents of Fulton Houses pay an average monthly rent of $348.

    Thursday through Sunday nights, the Fulton Houses apartment of Sonia Jamison throbs with music, laughter and alcohol-tinged conviviality. Unfortunately for her, this good cheer originates not in her home but across Ninth Avenue in the Maritime Hotel building at 17th Street, where La Bottega's restaurant, cafe and two cabanas regularly overflow with well-dressed night owls.

    "I have never been over there because I can't afford that," Ms. Jamison said one recent afternoon while chatting with friends in a Fulton Houses playground. "But I see who goes in and out of there: movie stars, P. Diddy, Jay-Z. A couple weeks ago, some guys came out of there arguing and fighting because they were drunk."

    Ms. Jamison, a mother of three who works as a bank customer sales representative, jabbed a finger toward the gleaming white hotel. "They put it right across the street from the project," she said, her anger building. "The bottom line is, it's for rich people."

    Line ‘em up against the wall.

    The midnight scene at the Maritime Hotel on a recent Saturday looked like a cross between Times Square and Tavern on the Green. Honking cabs lined up two deep along Ninth Avenue, disgorging well-scrubbed young men along with young women clutching designer handbags. A white Hummer stretch limo glided by. Above the raised plaza of La Bottega, glowing Chinese lanterns wafted in the breeze, hovering bowls of inviting golden light that provided a striking contrast to the mostly darkened windows of the Fulton Houses across the street.


    The glowing Chinese lanterns of La Bottega, where patrons sip martinis and groove to music, oblivious to the proximity of Fulton Houses. "We're an isolated little island," said one Fulton resident.

    In the northern cabana atop La Bottega's restaurant, accessible only through two sets of gatekeepers, young patrons sipped martinis and grooved to Foxy Brown's new single, "Come Fly With Me."

    Maurice Rodriguez, the Maritime's director of operations, said petty theft had been a problem, and attributed it to young people from Fulton Houses. "In fact," he said, "on Thursday night we caught two kids who lived in the projects purse snatching." Mr. Rodriguez said that the two youths had told the hotel's security staff that they lived in Fulton Houses.

    Law enforcement officials said they saw no pattern of Fulton Houses residents' being arrested for robbery.

    Many patrons, meanwhile, were oblivious to the proximity of Fulton Houses. "Are they projects?" asked Lianne Graubart, a Chelsea resident and real estate agent, when told that a public housing complex sat across the street. "Are they really projects? Really?"

    "Housing projects? No way," added her boyfriend, Morris Amiri, an asset manager who was wearing a white linen shirt, True Religion jeans and a tan acquired while attending a friend's wedding in Maui. "That's sad. They're all screwed up, and we're over here having a good time. I hope they're not going to be chased out."

    Between shots of Patron tequila, he added: "The rich are getting so rich, and the poor are getting more poor, so you're seeing a situation where extravagance is driving people's happiness. The more they get, the more they want."


    Rich and poor rub shoulders on Ninth Avenue. Gentrification gathered force in Chelsea in the late 80's and 90's with an accelerating influx of gay professionals and middle-class families.

    Not everyone living in Fulton Houses resents the presence of trendy newcomers like the Maritime, the former home of a sailors' union that was redeveloped in 2003.

    Melva Max, a funkily elegant restaurateur who opened the unpretentious French bistro La Lunchonette on 18th Street and 10th Avenue with her chef husband in 1988, is not among those who want more extravagance in Chelsea.

    "I'm happy about a lot of the changes, like the galleries, but now it's going too far," she said the other day, pointing to lots down the block from the projects where luxury condominiums are slated to rise. "The building of all these super, very, very expensive apartments is disturbing to me."

    Time to switch hats: trade in the Gentrifier hat for the NIMBY model.

    Ms. Max, who lives in a rent-stabilized apartment, noted that many customers had been priced out of the area by rising rents, while friends had sold their brownstones for $5 million and moved away. "These are like normal people, really working-class, middle-class people with kids," she said. "And it's just shocking to me that they're all selling and moving out. I just feel kind of sad."

    Who’s she feeling sad for: her fortunate and newly-rich friends or herself?
    Could the “funkily elegant restaurateur,” now flush with yuppie money, see her way to maybe turning over her rent-stabilized apartment to one less fortunate?


    Austin Nagel, a 22-year-old Brooklyn real estate developer, bought a $2.7 million triplex penthouse in Chelsea Club, an icy-chic luxury condominium, 12 stories of tinted glass and cast stone rising on the site of a former parking lot on 19th Street near 10th Avenue.

    Mr. Nagel, who has made a quick fortune turning Brooklyn Heights town houses into condos, stood atop his private roof recently and grew giddy as he scanned his sweeping views. He surveyed Chelsea Piers, where he works out; the high-rise where his acupuncturist keeps his office; docked boats bobbing in the glittering Hudson River; and the blocklong Chelsea Market, where one of his new neighbors, a celebrity hair-and-makeup artist, stores fine wines in the Chelsea Wine Vault. He also surveyed the dingy brick buildings of Fulton Houses, where the average monthly rent is $348.

    "It doesn't even bother me that I'm looking over this," he said of the project. "These people will talk with you if you talk to them. You'll see them when you're walking your dog. They'll say, 'What's up?' They'll get to know you. On the Upper East Side, no one will talk to you."


    The lively scene at the Park restaurant, part of the burgeoning collection of restaurants and nightspots that have given Chelsea an air of hip prestige.

    The fear that rising rents and the burgeoning development of luxury condominiums might further isolate Fulton Houses and other nearby projects, the Chelsea and Elliott Houses, in a sea of affluence impelled others to argue strenuously for the city to include affordable housing in the rezoning of far west Chelsea. As the new zoning plan shows, they largely succeeded, and 100 of the mixed-income units will be developed on a Fulton Houses parking lot.

    More people who can’t afford the local grocery. If this place is such hell for the poor, why increase their numbers?

    Joe Schuler, a powerfully built man with a salt-and-pepper Fu Manchu mustache, believes that Fulton Houses will eventually be sold to private developers. His comments echoed a longstanding rumor making the rounds at the project. "You don't have millions spent around a ghetto and have it remain a ghetto," Mr. Schuler said. "We're the sore spot in this neighborhood."

    Howard Marder, a spokesman for the New York City Housing Authority, insisted that the authority had no plans to privatize Fulton Houses. "That rumor pops up all over the city, for some reason, whenever a neighborhood undergoes gentrification," he said.


    The New Barber Shop, where Manuel Manolo, a 40-year resident of Fulton Houses, cuts hair along with two fellow barbers. Changes around Fulton vividly demonstrate what happens when a mixed-income neighborhood is pressed by forces of wealth and fabulousness.

    But Sophia Lamar, a Cuban-born transsexual who was performing and wore a polka-dotted Balenciaga bathing suit and high heels, was not entirely sanguine about the area's status as a magnet for gays. "Chelsea is still a gay ghetto," Ms. Lamar said, crossing one gartered leg over the other. "I'm against ghettos, whether they're youth ghettos or black ghettos or minority ghettos or gay ghettos. I don't think there's any need to separate yourself from the rest of the society."

    For this reason, she said, the juxtaposition of glamorous wealthy people with the low-income residents of Fulton Houses is a terrific thing. "I've lived in different cities in the U.S., and the housing projects are always in places where people don't go," continued Ms. Lamar, who has residents. "And here I think it's wonderful because it shows that there's room for everyone. Rich people are going to a supermarket, and poor people are going to the same supermarket, and that doesn't happen in any other city."

    Eddie Andujar, a longtime Fulton Houses resident who worked as a groundskeeper for the project for 25 years, said that it had been beautiful until about 1990, but had gone downhill since. "Because of the drug dealers, it's very dangerous over here at nighttime," he added.

    There have been two homicides at Fulton Houses since late January, the police said, but neither was thought to be drug-related. Crime in the 10th Precinct has declined dramatically in recent years.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Interesting read. It strikes me that if the area really is so unaffordable in terms of daily needs (groceries, services) then perhaps the housing commission should sell the property - at enormous profit - and construct a great number of affordable housing units sprinkled all over the city. Perhaps this should be viewed as an opportunity rather than something to desperately cling to.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian AubieTurtle's avatar
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    I wonder what shopping there was before the area became gentrified. It has been my experience that poor neighborhoods have really limited shopping and often the food prices are high but the residents have to pay because its their only choice and many can't get transportation to cheaper and larger grocery stores.

    Now I can see other items becoming difficult to find. Many poor neighborhoods do have low price clothing and general merchadise stores. Heck, I was driving through west Atlanta not too long ago and saw a store that sold clothes by the pound. Probably won't find that in Chelsea.
    As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by AubieTurtle
    I wonder what shopping there was before the area became gentrified. It has been my experience that poor neighborhoods have really limited shopping and often the food prices are high but the residents have to pay because its their only choice and many can't get transportation to cheaper and larger grocery stores.
    Try visiting the Pilson neighborhood of Chicago sometime. 22nd street is one of the most incredible shopping experiences anywhere.

    There's a different between a "bombed out" neighborhood and a "poor" neighborhood. Many "poor" neighborhoods function very well indeed as neighborhoods.

    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    It strikes me that if the area really is so unaffordable in terms of daily needs (groceries, services) then perhaps the housing commission should sell the property - at enormous profit - and construct a great number of affordable housing units sprinkled all over the city.
    http://thefrictioninstitute.org/cha/index.html

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    1. Gentrification is good, there is no specific reason why an area should nto cahnge coimposition. it does not 'belong' to porer people,e specially if tehy are there on others' dime.

    2. JordanAB is, for once , rght. 'Poor' is very relative in modern developed democracies. Some of the 'poorer' neighborhoods in london (read: code for non-white) have thriving high streets with a lot of nice shops and character; though admittedly there are some depressing ones as well. I perosnally prefer Southall (imagine India...with Edwardian architecture) to Oxford Street.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    especially if they are there on others' dime.
    That's the key factor here. Those people in Fulton Houses and others like them are looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    That's the key factor here. Those people in Fulton Houses and others like them are looking a gift horse in the mouth.
    Here is the disturbing class warfare- this disgusting idea that people who do not have as much income as others have less right to their neighborhood. You and I may believe what we want about the positives and negatives of the changes in Chelsea- but you should not dismiss their opportunity to vent about their problems in a public forum. Or do you believe that only people who make above the minimum wage should exercise their rights to free speech and to actively protest what they do not like? Or maybe property owners? Who is legitimate?

    As residents of New York City, residents of public housing should have a say in the dynamics of their neighborhoods. This idea that people with lower-incomes are parasites is disturbing and divisive. They are contributing to the city and state through various taxes and fees and are living here on someone else's dime as much as others who benefit from government subsidies and tax cuts.

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    Well said Urbliz.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    Interesting read. It strikes me that if the area really is so unaffordable in terms of daily needs (groceries, services) then perhaps the housing commission should sell the property - at enormous profit - and construct a great number of affordable housing units sprinkled all over the city. Perhaps this should be viewed as an opportunity rather than something to desperately cling to.
    It's highly ironic that this article came out about this in New York. I just completed a project that had eerily similar dynamics here in Chicago.

    The Chicago Housing Authority owns a public housing project on the city's north side, surrounded by housing and retail gentrification on all sides (and no, it's not the one that Chicago's most famous for). My firm was engaged to work with the CHA and public housing residents, and develop a master plan for the site.

    Our early work with public housing residents found some interesting perspectives -- they were physically and socially isolated from the surrounding (and much wealthier) community, and they felt there were no shopping opportunities in the area. The site is indeed isolated, and we tried to develop concepts that increased circulation, access and open space. Anyone who knows this area knows that shopping is one thing this area does not lack, but it became apparent during our work that many of the retailers that did serve the public housing residents had been displaced by condo development.

    Anyway, the CHA made clear that what they wanted was a mixed-income development on the site, with a three part mix -- equal parts public housing, "affordable" housing, and market-rate housing. But because the CHA is committed to bringing X amount of public housing units, to have the right mix the site would need three times as many total units. The residents wanted none of that; they simply wanted the site rehabbed to "contemporary" standards (this was one of the first of the CHA's projects, built in the '30s), and a commitment from the CHA that the site would remain 100% public housing.

    Bottom line -- the CHA gets little bang for its buck if it simply rehabs the site. But by making it a mixed-income community, bringing in a private partner to develop the affordable and market housing, they get a way better return on their investment on one of the most valuable sites they have in Chicago.

    Ultimately, the CHA was our client, and we had to be responsive to them. Despite the limitations and controversies, we came up with some pretty good concepts for the site. But the real issue for residents is whether there will actually be a place for them in this community.

    Maybe New York should look at things in a similar vein.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Y'all ain't seen nuttin' Check out the Grosse Pointe Park/Detroit border (Alter Rd) for a real shocker.

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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner
    Y'all ain't seen nuttin' Check out the Grosse Pointe Park/Detroit border (Alter Rd) for a real shocker.
    True, I don't know if I've ever seen a more stark contrast when crossing a street.

    Difference here though is that GP and the east side co-exist without co-mingling, and there's no perception that GP-style living is moving across Alter Rd. The example in New York and the one I gave talk about islands of poverty surrounded by spreading gentrification.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I have always been fascinated by gentrification and the prospects of original lower-income residents benefitting from the upscaling of their neighborhood by new residents. While some consider gentrification a form of colonization that pits native against newcomer in a zero-sum game, too few individiduals actually attempt to weave both parties into a cohesive, mutually beneficial community. Entrepreneurial politicians manufacture fear and stoke the fires of indignation within both camps, drawing lines in the sand with overwrought rhetoric. Meanwhile, the positive attributes of neighborhood transformation - increased services. aesthetic improvements, substantive increase of retail outlets, etc - remain largely ignored.

    What we as planners ought to pursue, instead of taking sides and adding fuel to these destructive social conflagrations, are ways and mechanisms that provide crucial advantages for the least advantaged and often most intimidated residents. Require community benefits packages from prospective developers. Enforce inclusionary zoning or provide locally based low-income housing tax credits - over and above the national funding levels - to ensure that permanently affordable housing in the gentrifying districts remain. Create open space requirements for developers; ideally, this will result in the building of places where a multi-income, multi-ethnic community could potentially form around social capital building moments in distinctive public spaces. The opportunities posed by gentrification are endless, if we remain inventive and open-minded.

    As an aside, I would like to reiterate that I am a big fan of gentrification. I am tired of seeing what could be gorgeous, vibrant urban neighborhoods with awe-inspiring architecture stagnate as monolithic, single use dead zones with pawn shops, bail bond centers and disgraceful strip malls.

  13. #13
    This is not just an urban problem. In my area, the "natives" are against the "I've got mine crowd" who want nothing more than to keep "those"people out of their neighborhoods. Being a small, rural town, the neighborhood translates to the entire town. This is done by outlawing mobil homes, large lot development {3-10acres}, and fighting any attempt to create density at critical locations. The outcome of this is that most people who have lived and worked in our town for their entire lives, me included, cannot afford to build in our own town. I know this soundss strange coming from a professed conservitive, but I do think that the people who created the town many years ago that was only recently made official by incorporation should have the oportunity th remain where their families have been for many years. One of our commision members even wanted to regulate how people stacked firewood! Gentrification can take many forms and this is only one of them.

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    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urbanliz
    Here is the disturbing class warfare- this disgusting idea that people who do not have as much income as others have less right to their neighborhood. You and I may believe what we want about the positives and negatives of the changes in Chelsea- but you should not dismiss their opportunity to vent about their problems in a public forum.
    "Crime in the 10th Precinct has declined dramatically in recent years."

    Crime most often affects poor and minorities at a disproportionately higher rate.

    I agree: gift horse.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Chelsea is where my baby brother lives. He just moved there after graduation from college in May. I have not been yet, but he told me his rent and I hit the floor....
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    Cyburbian ChevyChaseDC's avatar
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    The negative effects of gentrification - the displacement of working class and poor people, the income homogenization of neighborhoods - are the tradeoffs for 'rediscovering' cities of the U.S. The big 'G' is just the name we give to the latest trends in rapid urban change. There is really nothing that can be done to stop it (and any measure that does try and stop it would be draconian and un-democratic, a breach of private property rights so egregious so as to make Kelo vs. New London look like a milk-run). All that can be done is take measures to mitigate its negative effects - requiring affordable units in new projects, caps on the rates at which property taxes can rise, rent control...otherwise all we can do as planners is make the best possible place to live with what we have to work with. Change in cities over time is inevitable. Cities are living, breathing places - those neighborhoods that are in poor condition, rife with crime and blight, are doomed to eternal decline unless they embrace change. Change means new people.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    Difference here though is that GP and the east side co-exist without co-mingling, and there's no perception that GP-style living is moving across Alter Rd. The example in New York and the one I gave talk about islands of poverty surrounded by spreading gentrification.
    Its moving, I've seen 3,000 Square foot brick homes being built in the Mack/Warren Alter Road area this year. Kind of bizarre and surreal. Several subdivisions are popping up on the city side near new or existing marinas as well.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally posted by ChevyChaseDC
    The negative effects of gentrification - the displacement of working class and poor people, the income homogenization of neighborhoods - are the tradeoffs for 'rediscovering' cities of the U.S. The big 'G' is just the name we give to the latest trends in rapid urban change. There is really nothing that can be done to stop it (and any measure that does try and stop it would be draconian and un-democratic, a breach of private property rights so egregious so as to make Kelo vs. New London look like a milk-run). All that can be done is take measures to mitigate its negative effects - requiring affordable units in new projects, caps on the rates at which property taxes can rise, rent control...otherwise all we can do as planners is make the best possible place to live with what we have to work with. Change in cities over time is inevitable. Cities are living, breathing places - those neighborhoods that are in poor condition, rife with crime and blight, are doomed to eternal decline unless they embrace change. Change means new people.
    I hate to say it, but there is a racist aspect to this as well. This is "OUR" neighborhood. Even though said neighborhood has gone through at least four racial or ethnic transitions over the past century.

    I am not denying that some groups remain statistically poorer and have far fewer choices in the housing market than urban hipsters, and that it is certainly understandable when people feel fear at being forced out.

  19. #19
    The really interesting thing about the whole Detroit/Grosse Point Park senario is that if you stay in Detroit and go south of E. Jefferson on Alter Rd. you see a difference. You go from $65,000 homes to $250,000 homes along the canal with docks, etc.

    If you go to Google Maps! and look at the Satellite/Map hybrid you'll see there's a big stretch of land that stretchs north to south from Warren Ave. E. to E. Jefferson Ave. And west to east from Conner to Alter. This area is receiving more attention than when the aerials were taken, yet it still today resembles a burned out area.

    Mack Ave.is not nearly as bad; and, in fact goes through many of Detroit's nice neighborhoods that border the Pointes.

    By the way, I'm a newbie...

  20. #20
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I'm going to sound like a snob, but that's the opposite of what happend in the neighborhood where I lived in Denver. As the neighborhood (Berkeley, north of 38th Street in northwest Denver) gentrified at a frenzied pace, surrounding retail actually became increasingly downscale. Lots of hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants, Mexican bodegas, dollar stores, western clothing stores and the like kept opening, even as the population grew more Anglo and more affluent. The Hispanic population was cashing out and heading to distant northeastern suburbs like Brighton to live the American dream, but the number of small, low-end businesses with Spanish language signs were growing. No cafes, bistros, or funky coffee shops; you had to go to 32nd Street for that. A few art galleries opened up in the area, but that's about it. We appreciated the great Mexican food, but new residents longed for some mid-end amenities, like a bar that didn't have a sign at the door reading "NO COLORS."

    When Lincoln Park in Chicago was in the midst of its gentrification boom in the early-to-mid 1990s, imagine if dollar stores, White Castle restaurants and check cashing businesses went in instead of Starbucks and Irish pubs.

    I wonder about the economics behind a neighborsood where the residents are increasingly upscale, but the businesses increasingly downscale.

    My neighborhood in east suburban Cleveland is essentially middle-middle class, a balance of blue-collar and white collar, racially integrated, and not exactly known for being trendy and upscale. Ohio's first Whole Wallet Foods store is opening nearby. An indicator?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  21. #21
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    NYObserver Article: "Politicos Rally To Save Chelsea's 'Last Ungentrified Block'"

    On May 3, 2008:
    Protesters and politicans plan to rally in Chelsea on Saturday against the displacement of a handful of small businesses on Ninth Avenue by landlord Morris Monian.

    Eight stores along what organizers are calling “the last ungentrified block in Chelsea” —including Chelsea Liquors, the Ninth Avenue Gift Shop, Sweet Banana Candy Store, New Barber Shop and Famous Deli—have between three months and two years before their lease expires.

    Organizers said the shops cater directly to residents of the Fulton Houses affordable housing complex across the street.

    The flier reads: “We don’t need another designer shop …another fancy restaurant …another high priced food market! We need the Mom-&-Pop stores that have served this community for years.”

    “We don’t want them replaced … we don’t want to be priced out of our neighborhood. Show your support on May 3rd. Be there!”

    Since Mr. Moinian’s Fortuna Realty company bought 112-126 Ninth Avenue for $31.4 million last November it appears he has been laying the groundwork for plans to “renovate and upgrade” the building to lure high-end retail.

    A press release from the protesters claims “the owner of the building at 112 Ninth Avenue is refusing to renew leases for the businesses, which are being forced out to be replaced by newer, upscale businesses, while the superintendant in the building is being forced to give up his apartment to make way for a swimming pool.”

    City Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Dick Gottfied are expected to join.
    Source:http://www.observer.com/2008/save-la...-block-chelsea

    This appears to have become so "political" and high-profile that the Fulton Houses residents may actually win this one. Does anybody have a news update?

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