Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Help - my neighborhood is changing!- The Rise of Real Estate and the Decline of the Industrial City

Matthew Schuerman discusses in this chapter how industrial areas (such a Williamsburg's Schaefer Landing, which the Royal Wine Company wanted to use for its expansion) were turned into residential housing. This comes at a price, since small businesses are being displaced and luxury housing is being built where they used to stand. Often these small businesses (like Royal Wine) leave the state, taking with them jobs and NYC tax revenues. Others, like the businesses that will be displaced by the Willets Point project, may go under.

Small businesses in NYC are endangered by developers who want to turn their land into condos or malls. They are also endangered by the expectations of the people who move into the gentrifying neighborhood:

"After a few years of illegal conversions and BSA gerrymandering, the manufacturers that remain in these areas start fielding complaints from the neighbors - idling trucks, bad smells, noises late at night - and parking tickets suddenly increase. City planning commissioners then jump in with a broad rezone, arguing that they are merely codifying what is already taking place on the ground." (p.133)...'The cop writing a ticket for one of your trucks is just doing his job. He doesn't know that the person who called to complain is upstairs in an illegal conversion." (p.136)

Back in 2002, I read an article about how the gentrification of its surrounding neighborhood was causing troubles for the Gillies Coffee Company roasting plant. Apparently the people who had moved into the neighborhood were shocked to find that the coffee plant was causing the air to smell like coffee.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/11/nyregion/cup-of-kafka-coffee-roaster-cited-for-coffee-smell.html

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/03/20/a-trip-to-gillies-ne.html

Since I lived across from three power plants, one known officially as the most polluting power plant in NY State, and my air was smelling more and more like something burning, I envied the Gillies neighbors. I would have loved to smell coffee.

I was also somewhat stunned to find that one of reasons that the Fulton Fish Market was moved to the Bronx was that they tourists complained about the smell of the fish:

http://www.fordham.edu/academics/colleges__graduate_s/undergraduate_colleg/fordham_college_at_l/special_programs/honors_program/seaportproject/essays/FultonMarketMoves.pdf

My questions:

Is the city actually encouraging illegal conversions (currently a hot topic) by reducing its industrial and increasings its residential zoning in areas where this is prevalent?

Should people be expected to do some research before they move into a neighborhood?

Please comment!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comments made about newcomers to industrial neighborhoods being unhappy about aspects of life like smells and sounds also takes place outside of cities. As rural areas have become developed, similar tensions between farmers and local businesses and the new gentry rear their heads. Newcomers are shocked to find that they have to deal with odors typical of farms, or odd traffic congestion due to the movement of farm equipment. Maybe the problem is that we idealize the new places that we move to, and are just ignorant of the fact that civilization was there before we arrived??