When Tucker Reed finally stepped up to the lectern inside the new BAM Fisher Building on a Thursday morning at the end of July, the crowd could barely handle any more news about just how stupendous Downtown Brooklyn was, is and will be.
Karen Brooks Hopkins, entering her fourth decade at BAM, welcomed the crowd into the brightly lit practice space on the third floor of the two-month-old red brick theater, tucked in behind BAM’s original performance hall. This would be the linchpin of the latest, greatest cultural district in the city. Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president and cheerleader-in-chief for 11 years now, warmed up the crowd with his typical act. “Everywhere you look, things are looking up in Downtown Brooklyn,” he barked. This was, is, will be the center of the universe.
Next came State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose grandmother grew up on Albany Street in Crown Heights. He had made sure to wear his Brooklyn lapel pin, a gift Mr. Markowitz bestows on everyone he meets. Though he was a Long Island guy, Mr. DiNapoli was an adopted son of this former outer borough, at least for the day, for the good news he was bringing: economic growth in Downtown Brooklyn had outpaced the rest of the city over the past decade, according to a new report prepared by the comptroller’s office. This was, is, will be an economic powerhouse.
On the same streets where Jay-Z had once slung crack (and would soon be headlining the Barclays Center he ostensibly helped build), legitimate businesses had replaced illicit ones, and they were thriving. Thousands of new residents had moved in, filling the striking and unspectacular condo-turned-rental-in-the-downturn towers along Flatbush Avenue. National brands including H&M, Sephora, Target and Shake Shack were replacing the pawn shops and cellphone outlets on the Fulton Mall.
It’s not your bubbe’s Brooklyn anymore. It’s Tucker Reed’s.