Skip to main content

Housing displacement? The map points to Prospect Heights/Crown Heights

Maybe Christopher Morris, the real estate investor quoted in the 10/21/06 New York Times as anticipating a rise in property values because of the Atlantic Yards project, was right. Or maybe he was riding on trends that already existed, trends that suggest that blight and stagnation are trumped by development.

Indeed, as Brooklyn College sociologist Aviva Zeltzer-Zubida recently reported at a panel in June, "Housing Displacement in Brooklyn: A Discussion," there’s some stark evidence about gentrification trends, and they point directly to areas in the orbit of the Atlantic Yards proposal. It's not common for areas of poverty to nudge up against areas of wealth, but when they do, the poorer areas are vulnerable to displacement.

Looking at the map

That evidence is based on 2000 census information, which captured the beginning of the trend. In the map of Brooklyn’s housing patterns she produced, Zeltzer-Zubida reported a multi-faced segregation--with poorer households in the tracts colored red-orange and green.

She counted four types of housing tracts in Brooklyn, but most people live in the first two. In type 1 (red-orange), where 60% of Brooklyn residents live, the median per capita income in 2000 was $12,090; in type 2 (green), where nearly a third of Brooklynites live, it was almost $21,000. (The median Brooklyn household income in 2000--not the same as per capita--was $32,135 and certainly has gone up. Still, the poorer majority must be offset by a much wealthier minority to reach $32,135.)

But her analysis went well beyond income to include race, large families, owners vs. renters, and housing costs, among other things. In type 1 households, about 30% of residents are white; in type 2, it’s almost 60%. In the blue and yellow (types 3 and 4) tracts, incomes are considerably higher and more than 70% of residents are white.

Honing in on displacement

In the type 1 census tracts, about a quarter of the people pay more than half their income in rent, which means their tenancy is precarious. “What I think is going on, and if we think about housing displacement, and the bottom line here is that orange next to blue or yellow presents risk of housing displacement. Somebody told me that I should show this to real estate developers and make a lot of money,” Zeltzer-Zubida said, to some laughter.

Indeed, if you look at the right side of the small map, where the blue nudges up against orange-red below a black line, that tract in orange-red includes Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.

What the Census says

My eyeball analysis is that the orange-red tract east of blue is between Atlantic Avenue and Bergen Street, and Vanderbilt and Grand avenues--just east of the Atlantic Yards footprint. (Grand Avenue is just east of Washington Avenue, which formers the border between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.)

The incomes for the tract, according to the Census (below) do not precisely conform to what Zeltzer-Zubida reported, because she was analyzing per capita income (which depends on household income divided by household size), while the Census focused on household income.

Still, the Census confirms a dramatic transition going east from Vanderbilt Avenue below Atlantic Avenue, at the center of the map. Whereas the section to the west, between Sixth Avenue and Vanderbilt, is the wealthiest category (dark green), going east, the next tract, between Vanderbilt and Grand north of Bergen, is the middle category (light green), thus skipping the intermediate category (medium green).

(The wealthy segment would include most of the Atlantic Yards project. While there's a diversity of incomes there, including rent-stablized apartments, the presence of the Newswalk condos and some other high-end buildings undoubtedly raises the average income.)

Last month, in a New York magazine article headlined Brooklyn is Burning, with the subtitle “Do development and arson go hand in hand?” Mark Jacobson observed:
Within three months, from December 7, 2005, to February 24, 2006, there were eleven such fires along Prospect Heights’ “Pacific Street Corridor,” formerly home to single-story factories and flat-fix establishments but now part of the realty zone sandwiched between the escalating rent sprawl of Williamsburg and Fort Greene and the proposed Atlantic Yards megaproject to the West.

So, would the Atlantic Yards project stem gentrification, as ACORN and other proponents argue, or accelerate it? The component of affordable housing contrasts with other luxury development in the area, and thus has been seen to balance gentrification--except that much of the affordable housing wouldn't be accessible to average Brooklynites.

Also, given Zeltzer-Zubida's theory, the acceleration of luxury development near a poorer census tract makes vulnerable poorer neighbors who don't live in rent-regulated housing. It should be no surprise that luxury condos have begun to appear on and around Washington Avenue, in the transition zone.

The development map

The map from the November 2005 issue of the Real Deal lists oodles of condo projects. Some of the info isn't correct--there's no plan to develop 636 Pacific Street, as far as I know, since it's a building slated to be demolished for the Atlantic Yards project--but you get the general picture. (Click to enlarge)

It certainly raises questions about the Empire State Development Corporation's Blight Study, which contends that only government action can change the 22-acre proposed project site:
Given the pattern of successful economic development in ATURA [Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area] north of Atlantic Avenue and general neglect on the project site, south of Atlantic Avenue, it is highly unlikely that the blighted conditions currently present will be removed without public action.


Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…