Heart & Soul: TerraCRG’s Geoff Bailey on Williamsburg’s Next Act
When asked how he encourages purported progress without fully extinguishing a neighborhood’s edgy character, Mr. Bailey acknowledged that Williamsburg is in at least its “fourth wave” of gentrification—the first being artists looking for cheap, open space, and so on—but he is also optimistic that it will retain at least a semblance of its rakish, sleeve-tattooed self.
“I don’t want to call them mom-and-pop stores, but Williamsburg is a bit more homegrown, despite the zoning changes that [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg pushed through in 2005,” Mr. Bailey said. “It still has that aesthetic. There’s a certain ethic and sensibility that holds Williamsburg together that’s still there.
Mr. Bailey likes to play the guitar in his downtime, and he has “gone to [the bowling alley and live rock venue] Brooklyn Bowl quite often.” Life changes have mostly kept the Tribeca resident away from the Williamsburg scene, though. “Being married with a child—and another on the way—has put a damper on my clubgoing,” Mr. Bailey said.
Still, he’s critical of the “generic” retail—Duane Reade, CVS—that has popped up at the base of The Edge, the high-rise and high-income residential building that has become a punching bag for those who malign the neighborhood’s glam transformation. Mr. Bailey also acknowledges that seamy rock clubs like Monster Island and Bruar Falls have been priced out even as new dance floors pulsate.
High-rises and spinning boutiques have been slower to spread on Williamsburg’s south side, the area bounded by Grand Street and Broadway, around the Williamsburg Bridge. “Historically, it’s the more residential part of the neighborhood,” Mr. Bailey said. “You can’t find a 40,000-square-foot warehouse or an entire block to convert. I think it will maintain its character a bit more, kind of like the East Village, where there’s a few big developments but mostly smaller mixed-use properties.”