The 4 C’s of Peak Williamsburg

One thing that has fascinated, surprised and horrified me to a certain extent, is a phenomenon that I call PEAK Williamsburg. The hippest neighborhood in New York City, arguably in the entire U.S., is growing and changing. Some folks thinks it’s great. Ask any NYU student stumbling giddily down Bedford Ave on any weekend night. Other folks are not so excited. Think families and people who have lived in Williamsburg for a while or for generations, but are now being pushed, or more accurately priced out to make way for condos, yuppie dream castles, and nubile, hipper than thou Midwesterners. The pro and cons of gentrification are complex and this is not a forum in which I want to make value judgments on the current situation that is Peak Williamsburg. Instead what I’d like to point out the 4 C’s of Peak Williamsburg. The increase of these 4 C’s usually can be made applicable to most any area that is in the middle of gentrification or at least areas experiencing what I’ll call for my purposes here a non organic turnover in population. That means a neighborhood whose residents are fundamentally shifting not due to age, birth , and or death rates. These 4 C’s do not apply to neighborhoods experiencing fluctuating crime rates due to focus or neglect of a city’s limited allocations and resources, or lack there of, or anomalies like when interstates are built in the middle of existing communities either. These 4 C’s are limited to shifts where economic upgrading and or development act as overt driving forces

1.Condos– The most visible sign that things are changing anywhere is when new and in some opinions more attractive residences spout up like weeds in a garden of what some may term dilapidation.

A bike ride through the main thoroughfares and back streets of Williamsburg show that while the U.S. is in a housing and credit crisis, contractors building yuppie dream castles and condos filled with modern luxuries in hip neighborhoods are fairing relatively well.

Though it could take years for all this new housing to be filled, the landscape and feel a of neighborhood are changed immediately.

2.Cops- Neighborhoods become more ‘desirable’ when residents are more affluent for obvious reasons. Property values rise with amenities like restaurants and shopping areas. Parks, lawns and streets become more manicured, and once non traditional or historically non-typical residents move in the final piece for a neighborhood’s safety profile is set in place. Who does not want to live in such a neighborhood ? What locality does not want more of these kinds neighborhoods?

The answers to those two questions are everyone and all respectively. One major way localities make this dream a reality is an increase in police presence.

3.Cabs- When a neighborhood changes status from a merely residential one to one of destination, leisure, culture, and or commerce not only localities, but business owners,and community members who will gain from these increased activities in said neighborhood want to make it as easy as possible to get there. As a result of this influx of leisure, culture, and commerce, both the parties spending time and money, and those serving the parties spending time and money in this neighborhood want it to be as easy possible to get to this neighborhood as opposed to a hassle. Hence transportation to and from this neighborhood becomes easier to navigate and more abundant.

4.Chain stores- Once a desirable , safe, easy to get to place exists in our capitalist society, who wants to be a part of it?

Well business of all types of course want to play a role in this blooming/booming. So the increase in chain stores as opposed to mom and pop or smaller locally owned and controlled stores unable to pay higher rent, and or property taxes increase, and attempt to fill the needs of would be consumers.

the former gritty Kellogg's Diner,all shiny like a Puff Daddy video

the former gritty Kellogg's Diner,all shiny like a Puff Daddy video

Of course the effects of the increase of these 4 C’s is complex with both positive and negative consequences. Often times the people most responsible for the negative effects, who reap the most benefit are the ones to complain most about Williamsburg just not being what it was, aka, losing it’s appeal. It’s ironic, as ironic as hipsters making fun of hipsters for merely being hipsters. It also a cycle. Perhaps not as out of our hands as the cycle of life, but a cycle that has to and must continue in the current state of the culture and time in which we live.


~ by MikelJason on July 26, 2008.

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