Community Change Can Be Bood

Capital One Bank’s nearly $100 per square foot retail lease on Franklin Avenue at Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights appears at first to be about gentrification and the hot Brooklyn retail market. “There goes the neighborhood,” some would say. Others, including many longtime residents, are pleased to see basic services many New Yorkers take for granted return to their classic Brooklyn homeowner community.

Community banking divestment, an issue in communities of color, has had a devastating impact on local merchants, home lending and personal services. So when a bank branch lands on a street that, just a few years ago, had narcotics issues and is now a go-to millennial ‘hood with fun bars and food, many cheer.

The displacement of moderate- and low-income New Yorkers from their longtime homes is the tragic dimension of the naturally occurring economic gentrification wave washing over Brooklyn. Yet that takes place while services like banking, healthy food and nightlife return to fine neighborhoods once scourged by crime and flight.

A city official recently told me while sitting through yet another liquor license hearing in a solid central Brooklyn community that he was surprised to hear not complaints, but a woman urging the Community Board  to approve the bar so she and her husband could have a drink down the block on date night rather than have to drive out of their own neighborhood and lose their parking space just to hang out.

Hang on to your rent-stabilized apartment, share your house with boarders if you have to, but don’t move. Improve!

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