NYC/GLOBAL CITY RESEARCH: AY
HOUSING - BROOKLYN
- NAME: CONDO CART
A proposal and activist campaign to convert over 200 unoccupied or partially occupied New ‘Luxury’ Loft Condominiums in the neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn into affordable housing. In the summer of 2009, I worked with a group of local teenagers as part of the CAPITAL B Youth Culture Lab and Make the Road NY’s Gentrification Research Group to map and survey the under-inhabited condo stock of Bushwick. To share our survey residents abou their attitudes towards the new construction, we created a ‘Condo Cart’ mobile stand composed of paper popsicles of condo images, along with information about the housing crisis in Bushwick and the qualities and prices of the new condos. We were able to interview residents in an engaging way and distribute our research in the form of ‘popsicle’ take-aways that seemed to fit into the summertime park aesthetic.
- WHY DOES IT EXIST:
Condos were planned and built in the height of the speculative NYC real estate market (2005-2007) and then in the wake of the 2008 recession, they were not completed or sold. In a historically low-income neighborhood experiencing a crisis in affordable housing and an aggressive, rapid process of gentrification, some Bushwick residents (teenagers, workers, families) organized in a larger city-wide appeal for the city housing authority to interfere and convert the unfinished and unsold condo stock throughout the city into affordable housing.
- HOW DOES IT MANIFEST AN EDGE:
The condos are new construction, often embodying a material lexicon of high-rise ‘luxury’ (e.g. steel, glass, granite, cabanas, pools, concierges, loft units that amenable to families etc.) that do not integrate or reflect the surrounding urban fabric of high rise public housing projects and 2-3 storey row houses. The buildings skins disregard their immediate surroundings and appear as typological cousins to the ‘luxury artist’ lofts found in more affluent parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn (e.g. SoHo, Chelsea, Williamsburg). Their physical appearance manifests an edge, their priciness out of range of local residents is another edge.
- WHAT ARE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS:
There is a danger in the City turning its back on local housing needs and instead supporting developers who build projects that only attract higher-income residents from other parts of the City. If and when the new, higher-income residents move into the neighborhood, there is a tension that exists with longer term residents, as new amenities appear to serve only the newcomers (e.g. private buses to subway stations and big-box retailers, and other higher-end businesses, services and arts/culture institutions). In essence, what can happen is that an archipelago of housing and services is overlaid over the existing lower-income neighborhood in ways that do not support or integrate into the local so that newcomers exist independently of their surroundings and only live their to benefit from relatively lower housing prices than if they were to live in more central areas closer to Manhattan.
- NAME: CONDO CART