brooklyn historical society
Exhibit Dates: May 23 - August 26, 2007
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UP FROM FLAMES

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Bushwick Today Slideshow photos
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Make the Road By Walking Future Needs Map
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2007

Bushwick Revisited 2007
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Meryl Meisler photos

 

 

 

 

Bushwick Today

SECTION GUIDE

The Bushwick Initiative | Private Development | Gentrification | Bushwick Today and Tomorrow
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bushwick


The Bushwick Initiative

By Adam J. Schwartz

The newest public housing program in Bushwick is not building new development, but rather redeveloping old housing stock in whole new way.

The Bushwick Initiative is a holistic, multi-agency program designed to remediate the degraded housing stock in the Knickerbocker park area. Beyond simply rehabilitating the physical building structures, the Bushwick Initiative aims to break the cycle of deterioration through improved sanitation, educational opportunities, economic development and even medical services for residents.

The Bushwick Initiative also adds an increased police presence in the area to target drug dealers, continuing a long and hard struggle against drugs. The Initiative has been hailed by Mayor Bloomberg as a model for future work by the Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) for maintaining affordable housing and friendly communities.

COMMUNITY VOICES
"That's the fundamental challenge of the Bushwick Initiative."

Vito Lopez
New York State Assemblyman
Founder, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council
In interview 3/4/07
"Landlords see the City, they think trouble. We have to convince them that the City is not out to get you, that we are there to help."

Ann Marie Mierez
Coordinator, Bushwick Initiative
Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
In interview 3/16/07

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Private Housing Development

By Adam J. Schwartz

Over the last few years, unsubsidized private housing has become increasingly common in many areas of Bushwick. As land becomes scarcer, prices have skyrocketed.

An empty lot 20 years ago had essentially no cash value and now sells for half a million dollars. In turn, real estate developers are increasing their investment returns by exploiting Bushwicks generous R-6 zoning and building as high as possible.

Buildings as tall as fourteen stories are changing the feel of Bushwicks neighborhood blocks.

COMMUNITY VOICES
"The housing authority was vital to starting the redevelopment in Bushwick...The partnership was necessary because until [the year] 2000 the potential for private housing development was practically zero."

John Derezewski
Former District Manager, Community Board 4
In interview 3/16/07
"Back in the 80s I was telling people not to sell. I had seen the plans for the community, and until that came to fruition, if you needed to move, then you could sell your property and make some money. Dont move because they are forcing you to leave. Leave because you want to."

Nadine Whitted
Community Board 4 District Manager
In interview 4/5/07

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Gentrification

By Adam J. Schwartz

The arrival of artists and young professionals is transforming the formerly depressed industrial zone along Bushwicks northern border into a rapidly gentrifying district of converted lofts, coffee houses, bars and restaurants.

Along with gentrification, property values have risen and many long term residents are being priced out of their homes. Bushwick still has one of the highest concentrations of rent stabilized housing units in the entire city.

At the same time, the area now ranks as one of six city neighborhoods with the highest rates of homeless shelter entry. The challenge for local leaders today is to ensure that Bushwicks success as a community includes remaining an affordable place for current residents to live.

COMMUNITY VOICES
"These families survived the bad times. They should be able to enjoy the good times. Increased public support is needed to make that happen. "

State Senator
Martin Malave Dilan
In interview 3/26/07
"With the new influx of younger people willing to pay higher rents, some property owners are going to exert pressure on existing residents to move."

Angela Battaglia
Director of Housing,
Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council
In interview 4/23/07
"Gentrification cant be prevented. So the question is: how much can you control it? Our focus is keeping housing affordable."

Vito Lopez
New York State Assemblyman
Founder, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council
In interview 3/4/07


STUDENT VOICES - The Evolution of Bushwick
" At one time Bushwick was a place where immigrants would migrate. Today, everything has changed. The neighborhood no longer has large numbers of Germans or Italians because they were replaced by Hispanic and African-American residents. Bushwick, however, is still evolving.Today many of these long-time residents of Bushwick are being forced out of their homes so that the younger residents can move in. Basically, the rents in Bushwick are becoming too high for these families and they are being replaced by younger, richer residents. I think that this will have a bad effect on Bushwick because the older residents made the community. The whole feel of Bushwick will change when the new group of residents make it their home."

Erik Farmer and Israel Rodriquez
The Academy of Urban Planning
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Bushwick Today and Tomorrow
By Adam J. Schwartz

One measure of a successful public policy is the extent to which it encourages private investment. By this measure, the redevelopment of Bushwick has been a roaring success.

But such success can also be a danger to itself. It was a mad dash for profit that started Bushwicks burning 30 years ago, just as that same force is sending both rents and buildings sky high in todays hot real estate market.

True sustainability is about balance and public policy is needed once again to provide that balance. Bushwick currently needs affordability, zoning and historic preservation laws to maintain the communitys neighborhood feel.

Facing the future, Bushwick residents have grown wiser by the lessons of their communitys painful past. During the 1970s, one of the reasons that Bushwick required the citys help so desperately was because the community lacked its own political organizations.

Today there are several organizations that are fighting to protect the Bushwick community. Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Care Council (RBSCC) has been instrumental in Bushwicks redevelopment.

More recent organizations like Make the Road by Walking were created for the poor and working class to keep Bushwick a safe and affordable place to live.

The history of Bushwick is far from complete and the future is uncertain. But the people of Bushwick and the city are finally working together to make sure that the crisis of the 1970s will never happen to the Bushwick community again.
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