There Goes the Neighborhood

There Goes the Neighborhood

United States

An in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, from the developers to the mayor’s plan for affordable housing, to the integral role that race plays in the process.


Episode 9: There Went the Neighborhood  

The team behind There Goes the Neighborhood talks about what they've learned throughout the process of making the podcast, and how to move forward in a post-gentrified Brooklyn. Where do we go from here? How do we reconcile with what now seems the inevitability of gentrification not just in Brooklyn, but nationwide? 

Episode 8: Our Town  

Gentrification has many New Yorkers asking the same question: Is there still a place for me in this city? We meet Dr. Ron Dailey who's been practicing medicine in Brooklyn for two decades, all the while watching long time patients leave the city, one after another. We meet New Yorkers fighting to stay and others who have made the decision to go.

And we check in with East New York, the neighborhood where Mayor de Blasio's rezoning plan was passed by city council just last week. With the wheels of gentrification already in motion, we start thinking about solutions. There are some good ideas on the table that we don't always give enough space in the conversation. Take for instance, public housing.

No, not that public housing. The public housing idea that never happened. It involves going all the way back to Fiorello La Guardia -- and looking beyond the de Balsio affordable housing plan.




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Episode 7: It's Complicated  

Some Brooklynites are wrestling with their own role in gentrification. Changes may be welcomed, but they come with mixed emotions for many. This week we take a walk in Bed-Stuy with 14-year-old Corrine Bobb-Semple. She's grown up in the neighborhood and for the last few years she's been reconciling the changes in her neighborhood with her experiences at St. Ann's, the elite prep school in Brooklyn Heights where she is surrounded by students who are a part of the gentrification process.

We'll meet a black homeowner and community organizer named Mark Winston Griffith who tells us how he landed in his home, and the conflicted security it affords him. We also meet Allie LaLonde and Emily Wilson, two 20-something new arrivals to Bed-Stuy who talk about how hard it can be to move outside the circle of gentrified coffee shops and bars. 

And we journey back to East New York where a community of artists that has lived there for years is bracing for change. We meet Catherine Green, who started Arts East New York because there were no arts organizations in the neighborhood. Now she's determined to let her organization, and the communities it serves, have a say in how their neighborhood is capitalized. She also introduced us to her friend, artist Rasu Jilani, who is turning the conversation away from developing economies and toward preserving ecosystems.





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Episode 6: Trickery, Fraud and Deception  


In the fast moving world of Brooklyn real estate, for some it feels more like the Wild West – developers and investors looking to cash in on the gold rush don't always play by the rules.

Meet Tia Strother, she's a young mother whose family has been living in Bedford-Stuyvesant for five generations. Tia tells us how horrifying it was to learn that her 90-year-old great grandmother was convinced to sign away the family home to a speculator. She did so for no money and with no lawyer present. Now the family is fighting to hang on to the house. 

And we visit Prospect Lefferts-Gardens to get the story of a vacant lot at 237 Maple Street. Neighbors – new and old – have spent the last five years transforming this one small piece of Brooklyn from a dumping ground to a thriving community garden. They put together a composting program and arranged visits for kids at a local pre-school; there were summer BBQs and weed picking parties. But all of that came to a halt one day in 2014 when Joseph and Michael Makhani showed up, claiming to own the lot. The only problem: their deed might be fraudulent. Now they are in court, battling it out with the gardeners, trying to establish their ownership of the property in order to build a five-story luxury apartment building. The gardeners and their lawyer have a plan to beat the Makhanis, but the cost of such a victory might be too high. 


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Episode 5: Williamsburg, What's Good?  

While politicians and developers strategize how to control the changes in New York, we want find out what gentrification feels like on the ground. How does a tidal wave of money and fast-shifting demographics affect the people who share a neighborhood? What role does race play when it comes to deciding who is included in a community — and who is excluded?

We start on the west coast in San Francisco, where Alex Nieto was shot 14 times by police after new white residents reported him as a foreigner in his own neighborhood of Bernal Heights. Jamilah King of talks about the gentrification dynamics that were central in Nieto's death. 

Then we swing back to the epicenter of Brooklyn gentrification: Williamsburg. Writer and humorist Henry Alford talks about the inherently white aesthetic of the Brooklyn hipster, and YouTube personality Akilah Hughes tells her story about a racialized assault that spirals out of control at a well-known bar one Halloween night.  

And we meet Tranquilina Alvillar from Puebla, Mexico, who's been living in her Williamsburg apartment for 25 years. Her landlord tried everything to get her out — paying her to leave, changing the lock, demolition — but she's still there. 



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Video Extra: The Renter on Bedford Avenue  

Meet Tranquilina Alvillar, who has been living in the same Bedford Avenue apartment for 25 years. 

In 2011, developers bought her building to convert it into modern luxury rental units. The only problem was, they couldn't get her to leave—not with a cash buyout, or by changing the lock, or by demolishing the building all around her. 

"I always pay my rent," said Alvillar. "Why do I have to leave?"

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Episode 4: Here’s the Plan  

Mayor de Blasio's plan to rezone East New York and 14 other neighborhoods is his administration's way of controlling the fierce gentrification machine that is steamrolling across the city. So what does the zoning plan for East New York actually look like?

This week we talk with WNYC's Jessica Gould and City Limits editor Jarrett Murphy to understand the nuts and bolts of the plan.

And we go deep into the gentrification machine to see how it works. We meet Elizabeth Grefrath, a young gentrefier in Crown Heights who tells us what it was like to move to the neighborhood just a few years ago. We sit down with big time developers like Boaz Gilad of Brookland Capital and Kunal Chothani of Akelius -- a new player from Sweden -- to understand how they operate in the borough's various markets.

And we walk the streets of Flatbush with real estate agent Namane Mohlabane who shows just how complicated -- and personal -- the machine can be.   







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Episode 3: Turf Wars  



With his first rezoning plan, Mayor de Blasio has declared East New York the place where the city's future begins. But what does East New York's past look like?

This week we go back to the founding of East New York in order to understand how it became the place it is today. We meet the people who have been organizing since the 1960s when the neighborhood underwent radical changes.

And we'll revisit the blistering summer of 1966, when an 11-year-old black boy named Eric Dean was shot and killed amid the neighborhood's simmering racial tensions. We hear reactions to Dean's death from the street and from city hall.

Ron Shiffman talks about the dynamics in the street at the time of Dean's death, as East New York rapidly transformed from a mostly white, working class neighborhood to an under-served community of mostly black and brown New Yorkers neglected by both society and policy.  



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Episode 2: 'Brooklyn, We Go Hard'  

 East New York is the starting point for Mayor de Blasio's vision to rezone much of the city with a central goal: more affordable housing. So what's the reaction to rezoning from the people who live in East New York?

Take a ride down Atlantic Avenue with Joshua Jacobo, a 29-year-old musician and aspiring music producer. Hear what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood -- and what it's like to survive there now, feeling the pressure of rising rents and real estate speculation.

Sit in the office with Boaz Gilad, a developer who started working in Brooklyn a decade ago. He'll tell you what it takes to move into East New York this early. The de Blasio administration says it will take years for the neighborhood to develop but the action is already on.

Just ask Pastor David Benke and his parishioners at St. Peter's Lutheran Church: unsolicited offers for their homes are pouring in.

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Episode 1: Mouth to Ear  

Gentrification is something everyone is talking about -- and the conversation is often heated. It's a complicated idea with a range of factors: race, class, history, policy. And of course there is the personal experience that we each bring to the table.

Take a walk in Bedford-Stuyvesant with Monica Bailey, a resident of the neighborhood for more than 30 years. She'll show you the home she lost.

Monica Bailey was forced to leave her apartment after the owners of the building sold it to a Brooklyn developer who wanted it cleared out. (Richard Yeh/WNYC)

Sit in the office of a Brooklyn developer and listen to him work the phones. He'll talk tactics for going after foreclosures.

These are the people affected by change -- and the people who are bringing it. Meet them up close and follow the wave of gentrification deeper into Brooklyn. 

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.



Welcome to 'There Goes the Neighborhood'  

There Goes the Neighborhood takes an in-depth look at gentrification in Brooklyn and the integral role that race plays in the process.

Developers from all over the globe are hunting New York City, looking for deals that will allow them to “revitalize” neighborhoods, and make a few bucks in the process.

But to many tenants and homeowners, it feels like a violent shove out of the way, especially for black and brown Brooklynites who have lived here for generations.

Add to the drama the fact that the nation’s most progressive mayor has a plan to slow down gentrification, and encourage developers to create more affordable housing rather than luxury condos. Only, people are marching in the street stop it.  

Beginning March 9, listen in to discover how the process is playing out. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.




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