Red Hook's 'Degentrification': Was It Ever Gentrified?
The fact is: Red Hook was never gentrified in the way that the press made it out to be and it is not degentrified now.
In fact, the big New York Magazine story about the failure of gentrification in Red Hook, while interesting reading, misses the target by a mile: The immediate issue isn't gentrification or degentrification, per se, it's the fact that part of the neighborhood's historic waterfront has been literally reduced to rubble in the last 18 months and that an onslaught of Ikea shoppers and others drawn to big box retail outlets will turn the neighborhood into an on/off ramp. The waterfront plans are for upscale housing and suburban-style retailing.
We said it last year multiple times when the issue came up and we'll say it again: Red Hook gentrification, as defined in the media has always been about a few blocks on Van Brunt Street. A few places have closed. A few have opened and a lot of spaces are still being renovated. The rest of Red Hook is a place where 2/3 of the people live in public housing, where there still isn't a bank branch of a pharmacy of any scale (in the heart of the neighborhood), that has functioned as a Brooklyn dumping ground for unwanted things like trash transfer stations for generations. The neighborhood's industrial character--and there's still plenty of it--is ignored
What has happened in the meantime is that the Todd Shipyard is gone. The Revere Sugar site has been flattened. Ikea is coming. And, Bed, Bath & Beyond will probably go up next to it. The borough president boasts that no one will be able to recognize Red Hook ten years from now. The ultimate issue isn't gentrification or degentrification--gentrification will continue to the extent in can happen in a fairly remote neighborhood cut off from public transportation. The real issue is a planning vision that will make the neighborhood more like Elizabeth, New Jersey than a corner of Brooklyn. It's more about the dehookification or the debrooklynization of Red Hook than anything else.
Labels: Red Hook