I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the buzz that hipsters were rollerskating in Bedford-Stuyvesant! I thought everyone had slowly made the switch to inline skates when the Roxy in Chelsea and Empire roller-skating rink in Crown Heights, closed within months of each other in 2006. I was astounded people would be eager to go to a high-crime area for some night-time fun. It turns out that Crazy Legs Skate Club had been opened since 2009, and it is part of an even bigger metamorphosis that was gradually occurring for over a decade since 2000.
In the same way Hoboken, New Jersey was transformed after artists, musicians, yuppies, and other bohemian types in search of cheaper, Manhattan-accessible housing, moved in droves there, Bed-Stuy may be the new bedroom community for the same group of people.
At one time Bed-Stuy was 75 percent black. According to the 2010 census, that number dropped to 60 percent. In an older section of Bedford section west of Throop Avenue, blacks are now a minority.
What has made this area more attractive to people who may have considered it an undesirable area in the past? Mark Dunlea, the director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State and his wife, Judith A. Enck moved from upstate New York and have purchased an apartment in a four-story condominium that was an abandoned warehouse in Bed-Stuy. “To us, if you’re going to move to New York City, one of the benefits is a really diverse neighborhood,” Mr. Dunlea tells the New York Times.
According to the director of the Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, other factors include both the fall in crime rates and an improvement in the subway system.
Due to the increased popularity of neighborhoods such as Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Williamsburg, all neighborhoods that have gone through significant gentrification, artists and musicians are being priced out of those housing markets. Bed-Stuy is attracting those that were priced out and are anticipating it will go through further gentrification. Arthur Kell purchased a brownstone in Bedford with two friends. Mr. Kell a white jazz musician and composer said, “It seems to be similar to what I saw happen in Fort Greene starting in 1997.”
Ryan McCullough, 48, a sculptor was also a white pioneer who moved near Bedford Avenue 10 years ago. He was the first white guy on the block but now whites make up 50 percent of the neighborhood.
From 2000 to 2010, the white population soared 633 percent — the biggest percentage increase of any major racial or ethnic group in any New York City neighborhood. In Central Harlem, meanwhile, the number of whites rose 400 percent, increasing their share of the population to 10 percent, up from 2 percent.
Availability of housing increased when homes became one step shy of foreclosures and retirees headed back down south.
The blacks that have remained in Bed-Stuy have been able to do so by renting out part of their homes, benefiting from the increased market, according to Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. *
Factor in increased prices for gas and other transportation costs and you have the makings of a truly significant demographic sea change which marks the reversal of “white flight” that had been ongoing for nearly 50 years. Brooklyn is one of the hottest places in the country now!
* As an aside, if you live in District 9 and are a registered Democrat, you should come out and vote for him in the primaries which is Thursday, June 26.