It’s hard not to notice the projects taking place in Fort Greene when walking to and from Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center. Barclays Center itself is one a recent construction, with its opening only in 2012. Skyscrapers are beginning to almost surpass even the Williamsburg Savings Bank in height, hard to miss in the skyline. The difference is noticeable even on the street, with the construction of chains like 7/11 or Applebee’s. These are steadily beginning to outnumber the amount of small-businesses owned by locals, such as Rocky’s Deli.
Maybe we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact of a more expensive, exclusive, and upper-middle class Fort Greene, with its original diversity growing more and more elusive. Sam Lazar, a sophomore at Tech, agreed with this sentiment, saying, “What makes this city great is the arts and free spirit. Unfortunately, that can’t cohabitate with the extremely high rents caused by gentrification. Essentially, these higher rents just make Brooklyn into a urban suburb of Manhattan, destroying our arts scene.”
Gentrification, the process of a region growing increasingly more upper-class while displacing the original, lower income citizens, seems more like a fact of life than something one can combat. Previously, apartment residents along Pacific St ran the risk of getting evicted from their Pacific Street apartments due to rising rent.
Neighborhoods like Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, and Bushwick seem to be growing increasingly more catered towards the upper-middle class, driving out previous residents. Previously poor neighborhoods are now seen as beacons of wealth and culture. When asked about this change, Sennett Lee, a junior at Tech, said, “It is unnecessary and inexcusable without just compensation. The compensation should be higher than the property value to make up for the loss, and so the former property owners could be able to adjust to the area as its wealth increases. However, housing is more important than building sites for commercial wealth.”
The longer we keep ignoring the struggles of the original residents for this, the harder it will hit them. Some argue that this is beneficial, as it contributes to a stimulus in the economy of the neighborhood and lowers crime. However, this economic stimulus only benefits the wealthy and crime only drops due to an increase of people leaving the neighborhoods. The rent keeps rising in these now desirable neighborhoods, working-class turned rich, with no alternatives to the people originally there other than to flee. Families that have found themselves in one area for years are now being forced to move their legacy, as their neighborhood is no longer affordable. The original culture present in these neighborhoods turns almost whitewashed, with neighborhood diversity being driven out in favor of gourmet espresso bars and Soulcycle gyms. It’s a shame to see these neighborhoods undergo grand transformations while forgetting the original residents, and people must stop taking it as a fact of life.