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Hypothesis shmypothesis

June was apparently a big month for this crazy yuppie spaceship. It got an article in the New York and LA Times. What publicity! And it seems like everything is going great for those wanting to live like Gordon Gekko on a budget.

But au contraire baby bear, something is rotten at Myrtle Place and these two articles see only the calm duck above the water.

I recently told someone that I felt like this building was a failed experiment, but I think I spoke too hastily. After all, experiments require a hypothesis, but what is this one’s? Join me as I hypothesize a list of possible hypotheses of this peculiar experiment. The LA Times article has a subheading that includes “It’s a test of coexistence.” That is enough to begin the list.

  • Can a load of newcomers to the established community of Bed-Stuy coexist with current residents?

But perhaps there is more to the story than this. What about for those who built the building? Do they care if the people in this building coexist with the neighborhood? The fact that it is a for-profit business shows that their chief aim is to make money, so coexistence is not required. We have (and have been promised more) amenities to keep us in: doormen, an on-site laundry, a “fitness center”, Fresh Direct delivery and our very own convenience store.

Our own little minty fresh ice cave.

  • Can a load of newcomers to the established community of Bed-Stuy coexist with current residents?
  • Can a load of newcomers be sold condos rented apartments in Bed-Stuy if they are sufficiently separated from the established community?

But then again the owners of this ludicrous speed vessel had help. These units are subsidized baby, by none other than the friendly folks at your State and Local government. What is their angle?

  • Can a load of newcomers to the established community of Bed-Stuy coexist with current residents?
  • Can a load of newcomers be sold condos rented apartments in Bed-Stuy if they are sufficiently separated from the established community?
  • Are property values inversely proportional to crime rates?
  • Bonus How far can we ride this crazy wave of gentrification?

Concerning crime rates, apparently the police presence around this area was increased significantly once we moved in. Where was that heat coming from? Why would the police suddenly decide this block was worth policing? It’s a question which might have answers that many would like to ignore. Heck, I’d like to ignore it because it’s quite uncomfortable to think that I am being given special treatment just because I’m new. But I will not. I cannot. Now that I’ve worded the question, I need to find its answer, or at least acknowledge it. I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe they were already going to do it. Maybe it was, as someone else told me, all for the Jews. Maybe they only did it briefly which would explain the response time to pantless wonder who as it turns out was a resident (oops).

That’s where I could use your help dear reader. Which of these hypotheses have been proven true? Which are false? What are others that I have missed? What changed in Bed-Stuy?

P.S. An experiment normally requires a control group, but this ‘experiment’ could be construed as a measurement of a truth value, in which case no control group is necessary. Think of flipping a coin, but where the coin is shaped more like a basketball.

13 Comments

  1. anon wrote:

    I kind of think the experiment on the part of the gov’t (cynical, sorry) is “can we make our real estate developer campaign donors happy while passing our legislation off as neighborhood revitalization?”

    It isn’t just “Bed Stuy” though. I won’t pretend the Mynt isn’t also part of the neighborhood, but I live in a brownstone with a stoop and a community garden. I have neighbors I can’t avoid (not if I want to sit on my stoop) and they’re nice people (except the ones who aren’t). I think there are tree lined blocks all over Bed Stuy where people are actually okay with paying $1700/month even without a gym or childcare or special fresh direct deliveries.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  2. smokedgouda wrote:

    I read the article in the Times and also your interaction from Dec. ’07. I currently want to move myself but won’t to a neighborhood that has few options for food and bars I like. Good luck.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  3. Jessica wrote:

    “Heck, I’d like to ignore it because it’s quite uncomfortable to think that I am being given special treatment just because I’m new.”

    Sorry,Dakota…you aren’t receiving special treatment because you’re new. New lower-class, and *cough, cough* black people move in daily and don’t receive special treatment. You get it because you’re white and can afford to live in a $1700/month apartment by yourself. Ah yes, I too am a gentrifier, and as a gentrifier I acknowledge my place in the social disruption of a once Dutch, then black, and now majority Latino neighborhood. We need to stop speaking in veils “because I’m new” and face what this really is: racial, political, and economic injustice at the hands of big businesses and politicians.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  4. brooklynborn wrote:

    I agree with the previous poster. You seem to be looking for opinions so I’ll offer mine.

    I’ll assume based on the way you formed your question that you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to perceived as receiving “special attention” but the reality is you do.

    Anyone who matches the template that can probably be drawn from you:

    that of a financially able person whose youth could translate into a long-term residence, with a desire to invest in new developments, and yes, a person who is “white” (which is as much of a code for upward progress in many minds as low-income is a code for downward progress in many minds)

    Anyone who fits that outline, as you seem to, is going to get more police protection.

    I probably realize that, and it may make you uncomfortable to do so, but simply it is more about wealth and lack there of than anything else. Unfortunately we make snap judgments about those qualities, who has and who doesn’t based on what people look like and what they can seemingly afford.

    The reason Bedford-Stuyvesant and neighborhoods like it are moving the way they are, having zoning laws relaxed to allow outscaled developments for example, is also due to another financial realty, one the city has a larger stake in.

    People who can afford at market and above market rates grow the tax-base. Which of course benefits the city and it ultimately has the potential to directly benefit local government more than people who for the moment need assistance.

    Residents like yourself grow the population in areas that have room to grow which can affect representation, and residents like yourself are more likely to increase the valuation of the neighborhood, as measured in financial terms.

    Cops lets face it protect the city structure and finance as much, if not more the citizenry.

    You may friend and anyone like you, are considered a resource for these reasons and as such you are afforded more protection. As well as better services, which may be less than what you are accustomed to (depending of course on your experience) but are probably better levels of service than they had been before you got there.

    This is where my disappointment with the state of redevelopment in areas like Bedford-Stuyvesant comes in. Because in my opinion, based of over 30 years in Brooklyn, there are and were people in these neighborhoods already, homeowners and financially able renters, who could have redeveloped the neighborhood as it is happening now. But their numbers have plummeted in the last two decades because in my view those people were not viewed with a favorable superficial lens. The black and latino residents of the past who could built a new upwardly mobile community were left without the policing you receive without asking for it. The loan allowances that allowed so many to come into Bedford-Stuyvestant and Harlem in the last eight years wasn’t as readily available to the previous generation of renters, owners and potential buyers. Yes there were drugs and crime devastating these neighborhoods in the 1980s, however it takes a complicit governance to let things go to the level they did.

    So to summarize, a person who is new relatively young, able to afford at or above market prices, and who has the superficial look of financial solvency is going to be treated better, and will receive benefits in neighborhoods even while the longtime locals with lesser finances go without.

    -umbrooklynborn

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  5. 5-0 wrote:

    “Concerning crime rates, apparently the police presence around this area was increased significantly once we moved in. Where was that heat coming from?”

    Do yourself a favor and Google the term CompStat. Ever since Bill Bratton introduced this strategy in the 1990s, the deployment of police personnel has been based solely on crime statistics.

    “Why would the police suddenly decide this block was worth policing?”

    They didn’t “suddenly” decide anything. They had one of many CompStat meetings and determined that the rate of violent crime required an increase in resources. This isn’t rocket science. (And that’s all assuming there even was a “sudden” decision about anything. There have been a ton of police officers assigned to that area for quite a long time now. What are you basing your claims on? The fact that you happened to see a couple of footmen walking down the block? Hardly a reasonable basis for throwing around accusations, don’t you think?)

    “It’s a question which might have answers that many would like to ignore. Heck, I’d like to ignore it because it’s quite uncomfortable to think that I am being given special treatment just because I’m new.”

    Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not being given “special treatment.” The only connection that I can see that might be related to you newcomers would most likely be that a good many of you are easy targets (no offense but most of you really do look like easy marks) and are thusly becoming the latest robbery victims. So, in a sense maybe you are getting special treatment. But it’s merely for being the latest pin on the weekly crime map, not for any other reason.

    The 79th precinct has a good deal more personnel allocated to it than lower crime neighborhoods, and that’s been going on for a lot longer than you and your new building have been around. High crime (= low income) neighborhoods get the biggest chunk of police resources. Please don’t insinuate that you or anyone else of greater economic means moving in has anything to do with it. The police don’t care about your income, they care about the level of crime you’re generating. If anything, expect there to be fewer and fewer cops assigned to your area as (or if) it continues to improve economically.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  6. Quincy wrote:

    To be fair, Brooklynborn your summary, while I agree with it in many regards, contributes to a pervasive sense of defeatism I perceive in many of my “townie” neighbors. The “we can’t get any protection because we’re black and poor” mentality transforms into fact when the police and elected officials, as a result, have no fear of being held to account for directing their attentions toward the more petulant, demanding, and vocal (viz our blogohost) newcomers. I hate to throw the lit match, but much of what produces the stalls in progress toward security and quality of life here is the widespread presumption of victimhood and the conviction that this community deserves no better.

    You and I can take the liberal high road and point fingers at local govt., but if we’re going to be real here, the uncomfortable truth is that the suffering of generations of blacks from racism has severely compromised our ability to form extensive trusting and cooperative communities. On a microlevel, it is easy to identify great blocks. But those are consistently the ones we, who are vocal and new, live on. You won’t find newcomers on the blocks with projects on one side and fedders houses on the other, even with a decent brownstone mixed in here or there. Because of the sheer size of Bed Stuy, the overall political and economic confidence in in this nabe, unlike a much smaller area like Prospect Heights, is difficult to achieve.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  7. Walking Complaint # wrote:

    Hey,

    You asked whether you’re getting preferential treatment from the cops. And the answer is yes. Not because the NYPD is interested in making sure that Bed-Stuy becomes a community that can have gentrified neighborhoods. Truth is the cops who work in your area don’t care about that at all.

    They are more vigilant because you’re not. They realize that the first time you take a gypsy cab back to your place from some East Village party and you’re hammered that someone is going to try and take advantage of you before you get in the door. And that will require work from the cops, and they don’t want to do work. Not that kind of work. They want to catch actual bad guys.

    So you get preference because you’re complaining about a gym in your building and you’ve walked by 10 hand to hands and have no idea what they look like. Eyes open, mouth shut. It’s what my first sgt. told me.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  8. KR in TX wrote:

    I still can’t believe you got quoted in the New York Times, Dak. Oh well, just don’t try to sell them any of your dumb t-shirt designs.

    Sunday, July 27, 2008 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  9. brooklynborn wrote:

    Hi again,

    To “5-0″ and “Quincy”

    I agree with some of what you said, I’m lost with some of the point’s Quincy’s making and disagree a little with both comments.

    Quincy, when you said my comments to a degree, “contributes to a pervasive sense of defeatism I perceive in many of my “townie” neighbors. ”

    I can tell you I don’t see my view as defeatism leading reality but the other way around. (which I am sure we can debate ad nauseum.) I’d add simply; my point is the issue is starts with finance, and what that affords. When an area has value up to a certain metric it is provided for. Race is not the main component in my view, but race is one of the markers society uses to indicate the presence wealth/finance. Regardless of mentality, if you’re area fails to meet a certain metric of value (which can be attributed to any number of causes) you’re level of services will decrease.

    As for the CompStat comment, I have followed the reports on CompStat and I agree to a degree. CompStat reports drive policing to a large degree. However “5-0″ I think you’d agree, that even if crimes ceased at Grand Central Station and CompStat had no reports from there, there would still be a massive police presence there, for obvious reasons, it’s a valued vital location. Conversely out in East New York, the crime stats have been among the highest in New York City from the time of crack 25 yrs ago to now, and while that area is policed, if CompStat purely dictated levels of policing there would be more cops in East New York than residents.

    Also I don’t wish to hijack our bloghost’s site, so I posted my comments about gentrification on my site:

    http://umbrooklynborn.blogspot.com/2008/07/when-gentrification-attacks-but-avoids.html

    Feel free to post there if you like.

    -ubb

    Monday, July 28, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  10. QueensIsBetter wrote:

    I agree with Anon. There are alot of hypes about Bed-Stuy nowadays and there’s a buzz among young professionals looking for affordable apartments. It would kill the buzz if the 3rd white dude in a month got knocked in the head. It’s kinda of an accident waiting to happen. I think the neighborhood real estate developers and city councillors have all thought of this ahead.

    I was curious and took a train out to Bed-Stuy and was surprised that they called it an up-and-coming neighborhood. Maybe in 25 years and in the meanwhile, I’m staying in Queens!!!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink
  11. QueensIsBetter wrote:

    5-0 and Vigilant wrote:

    “The police don’t care about your income, they care about the level of crime you’re generating.”

    “They are more vigilant because you’re not.”

    Huh? So, HIS creating crimes because he lives there? Since he’s not more vigilant, it’s HIS fault for getting mugged instead blaming on the muggers since NO ONE should be getting mugged anywhere? I hope I’m reading this wrong but this sound weird…

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink
  12. Dakota wrote:

    Again, I have not been, nor have I heard of anyone in the building being mugged.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  13. christopher wrote:

    lets focus on the real problem population here:

    bedbugs

    given the choice between stick-up kids on the street and bedbugs at the crib…sh*t, i’ll drink in my home at night if i have to.

    can’t we all just turn on the bedbugs?

    Monday, August 11, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

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