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Developers Trying To Gentrify East New York

Somehow this is Banksy's fault.
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Somehow this is Banksy's fault. via @malleryav's Instagram

Rich hipsters are flooding Bed-Stuy, Gowanus stuck a Whole Foods over its disease-flecked waters and Bushwick stars in so many media trend pieces it might marry Chris Martin and start bullying the editor of Vanity Fair. It's time to find a new Brooklyn neighborhood to utterly gentrify into a Bugaboo-pushing yuppie dystopia—turn your attention, please, to East New York!

The Daily News ran a piece today extolling the neighborhood's cheap real estate, noting that homes in the area can run lower than $400,000. One homeowner profiled in the piece purchased a $360,000 East New York townhouse last August, gut-renovated the space and has put it back on the market for $599K, a major jump that is still a more affordable deal than, say, a $700K apartment in Clinton Hill, or a $6.5 million loft in Williamsburg. Plus, you can always hook those renters looking for a spot in The Most Popular Borough Of Our Time. "Rates are very low and rents here are going through the roof," one real estate agent told the paper of the $599K property. "It’s a great house because if you bought it, your rental income would cover most of your mortgage."

Then again, East New York has one of the highest crime rates [pdf] in the city, and though it too has benefitted from the overall decrease in violent crime over the past decade, it's still pretty far off the Starbucks index. From January 1st to December 29th of last year, for instance, the neighborhood reported about 1,035 grand larcenies, 901 robberies and 939 felony assaults, in addition to 18 murders and 64 rapes.

But is the prospect of an East New YorksBurgWickStySlope all that crazy? Considering the current development happening in formerly high crime Brooklyn neighborhoods, eventually even those crime stats may not deter homeowners from trying to score a good deal. And it doesn't hurt that East New York borders increasingly popular and pricy Bushwick, or that it can be accessed from the 2,3,4,5 and L trains, assets homeowners can use to attract profitable renters. Slap a hybrid name on the neighborhood and the people will come; these nifty sales tricks have worked before, and they will work again.

Like its now-gentrified and gentrifying neighbors before it, East New York could face a whole new set of problems if and when developers and Australian investors pick up on the cheap property values. Just a few years ago, reports noted an influx of low-income black New Yorkers moving into the neighborhood after being priced out of Bed Stuy and Fort Greene by developers catering to wealthier residents. "We’re asking developers to realize the median area income is $30,000, and we’re asking for tax breaks so the people who live here can stay here," said Councilwoman Inez Barron, who represents the district. Good luck with that.

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