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The end of the oldest Black-owned store on Harlem's 125th Street?
July 7, 2007 1:48 AM   Subscribe

Harlem's commercial and cultural backbone, 125th Street, has been gentrifying fast; many of its Black-owned businesses have been forced out by high rents and replaced by branches of white-owned national chain stores. The street's best-known cultural centers remain (notably the Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum in Harlem), but now, its oldest surviving Black-owned store, The Record Shack, is facing eviction. Owner Shikulu Shange, along with other Harlem residents, will lead a town meeting next week to discuss strategies for keeping Black economic development alive in Harlem and in NYC (as of the 2000 U.S. Census, NYC's five boroughs were home to more than 98,000 of about 129,000 Black-owned businesses in all of New York State).
posted by allterrainbrain (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
But... but... but... Clinton!
posted by pruner at 1:51 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah? Whaddaboudim?

Yes, he's maintained office space on 125th St since leaving the White House. If I'd listed every significant gentrifying force on 125th St, my posting would be a novel... but you're right, he is clearly notable. I know some Harlemites have expressed very mixed feelings about the way his arrival was covered by white media as a "Harlem Has Arrived" moment.
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:14 AM on July 7, 2007


Even the national chain record stores are having trouble staying open.

Anyway, gentrification, to the extent it is a problem, doesn't seem to have a solution. If something is scarce and becomes more desirable, it's price will go up.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:32 AM on July 7, 2007


Uh, isn't part of the problem in the US the fact that you all have numbers like "98,000 of about 129,000 Black-owned businesses"?

We're all people. I know this is one of those old tropes about the collection of statistics, you know, "oh you can't say that, it encourages people to think of themselves as divided by this characteristic", and I know there are a lot of intelligent arguments against what I'm saying. However, dry logic aside, I feel like the way this is framed kind of reinforces the racial divides that are incredibly pervasive in American society and bother the hell out of me.

/drunk, expat Canadian in the US
posted by blacklite at 3:01 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


word blacklite.
posted by dobie at 4:18 AM on July 7, 2007


If it's a matter of pride, legacy or reputation, they ought to call up Patron Saints Magic Johnson and Dr. Cosby and try to put together a business plan.

Or some of the other 'Black Crusaders'...

< /says the self-mocking black man>
posted by vhsiv at 5:09 AM on July 7, 2007


vhsiv: You are very brave even to mention the Black Crusaders in a public forum like the internet. I hope you are posting from an anonymous account.
posted by Slap Factory at 5:37 AM on July 7, 2007


Wow, black people in Harlem are becoming almost as scarce as Middle Class people.

You remember Middle Class people, right? Those folks that worked boring, 50k/year jobs 9-5 so they could put their kids through college? Man, those were some funny people! Hah! Remember when they were all, like, "I can't afford to raise my children in the neighborhood my family grew up in." Man, they cracked me up. I think we even had some black middle class people, if memory serves.

My pappy tells me stories that Old New York used to have real poor people, and that they were slaves of the City, and that the City made them all wash your car windows for you when you rode around in your car.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:38 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


MLK's (and my) old neighborhood in Atlanta is experiencing a similar wave of gentrification. But then, that's not exactly a novel development in the history of the area.
posted by xthlc at 6:10 AM on July 7, 2007


NYC seems to be getting richer and whiter as the poor people leave

Williamsburg used to have a really diverse population. Now it's white hipsters everywhere.
posted by bhnyc at 6:11 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Slap Factory – LOL!

Actually, I'd love to get their attention – I've got a couple of ideas I'd like to discuss with them. I might be just their kinda n^gga – low investment, stronger payout. If it takes a nation of well-heeled cabalists to get Chapelle started, I only need one.
posted by vhsiv at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2007


I would say that I'm probably not helping the situation by going to starbucks on 125th nearly everyday, but every time i do, it's 85 -90% black customers and it's owned by Magic Johnson. Is that still gentrification? This is anecdotal evidence, but to my own eyes the reports of black scarcity in harlem are overrated.
posted by brevator at 7:16 AM on July 7, 2007


...and it's owned by Magic Johnson... [...] but to my own eyes the reports of black scarcity in harlem are overrated

I guess black people have rich folks, too.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:31 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's always sad to see the cultural touchstone change or vanish. But this isn't a black/white issue. It's part of the cycle of neighborhoods, and the cycle of businesses.
posted by The Deej at 7:33 AM on July 7, 2007


reality check time. gentrification takes place because of economic disparity in the U.S. Those with money-making jobs seek rentals or houses to buy to live in urban places and developers build or rebuild for them. This happens in most cities where there are jupscale jobs. In NY, rents being what they are, people are now flocking to Brooklyn. Gentrification taking place in what was once the Jewish ghetto: lower east side. and on and on...should we have a law, or controls, that preserves lousy urban living quarters for the poor? Have the owners of slums the right to sell to developers? We see the problem so What Is To Be Done?
posted by Postroad at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is always an interesting issue because it plays out on so many levels and involves so many issues. It's like the Quebec vs English Canada thing. The French feel their cultural is under attack and in need of defense with human-right violating laws. Yet in Toronto there are plenty of thriving minority enclaves with ethnic identities that persist in spite of the cultural Anglo dominance. Why do Creek, Italian and oriental areas maintain their identities while other communities lose theirs?

My suspicion is that it is tied to immigrant cultures with very strong family traditions and family run business. In the cases of Harlem and Quebec the cultures are not immigrant cultures. They have no influx of fresh culture carriers and probably even have a net population loss as people with less strong family ties integrate into the wider more mobile society chasing the full range of opportunities available rather than sticking with the family businesses.
posted by srboisvert at 7:48 AM on July 7, 2007


I guess black people have rich folks, too.

Yeah, you're right, it's really an economic issue, not a race issue. Hmmm, so, if Harlem became mostly black upper-middle class, and forced out most of the lower- working class blacks, would we still be talking about this as gentrification?
All these lines get so tangled in the US.
posted by brevator at 7:48 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, so, if Harlem became mostly black upper-middle class, and forced out most of the lower- working class blacks, would we still be talking about this as gentrification?

Yes, we would. Here's an example of black gentrification in Chicago. The ethnic composition of the neighborhood didn't change but the class profile did.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:15 AM on July 7, 2007


Well, according to the last episode of Sopranos, Little Italy is now basically just a square block in NYC.

The nature of businesses in our neighborhoods will always reflect the nature of the people who live there. The reason these black-owned businesses are closing up in favor of national chains is because people prefer CVS over Blackme Drugs.

"Big box" stores are taking business from mom-and-pop stores all over the country. It's easy to say you support the small local businesses, but much more difficult to actually shop at Bob's Hardware instead of Home Depot; or go to Jim's Electronics instead of Best Buy.
posted by b_thinky at 8:29 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


She won't go to Harlem dressed in ermine and pearls.
posted by three blind mice at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2007


I'm living in Harlem now, if in West Harlem, and feel partly responsible- when my siblings and I first moved up here, we were the only white people in our building and three of about ten in the neighborhood proper. Now the demographic has changed massively- it's still largely Hispanic and Black, but we used to joke that the 137th St. subway stop got whiter every Thursday night. Now they've opened a gourmet bread shop, right next to the dollar store, that sticks out like a sore thumb.
The history of New York is the history of neighborhoods changing hands- Harlem used to be largely Jewish, etc. The fact that the demographic is changing isn't a problem- but the racial demographics just hide the class ones. In the past, when neighborhoods changed hands, those leaving had someplace to go, usually in Manhattan; now, partly due to overgrasping real estate agents trying to find and commodify the next big thing, you're going to have no economic diversity in Manhattan at all. There are no easy answers, although not letting property developers run roughshod over New York might be a first step. The last thing we need is more luxury condos.
posted by 235w103 at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The deeper issue is that this is happening in every neighborhood in Manhattan, to a greater or lesser extent. Show me anywhere on this island where local, family-owned business can hold out against the influx of national chains - go on, show me. I'll wait.





I'll agree it's tragic for Harlem. It's tragic for the Lower East Side, too, and the West Village - and, writ large, for New York. But it's got nothing to do with who owns the mom and pops, or what color their customers are.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2007


has been gentrifying fast

Has it? If anything, the change of 125th St. seems to me to have been fairly slow compared to the rest of the city. The LES has, in the 16 years I've been here, gone from shithole to trend-central. Chinatown took over Little Italy (b_thinky- yeah, that's pretty much correct). Neighborhood after neighborhood in Brooklyn has changed dramatically.

Yet, 125th still remains what I saw in the early 90's- predominantly Black, but still mixed. What's truly tragic, as other have pointed out, is the growth of Big Chain Stores.
posted by mkultra at 11:28 AM on July 7, 2007


"The deeper issue is that this is happening in every neighborhood in Manhattan The United States..."

IFTFY.
posted by majick at 11:28 AM on July 7, 2007


Framing this in "white" vs. "black" terms is really damaging. The problem isn't race, it's middle class and working class vs. rich cultural tourists who's main concern is trendiness. I would bet that most of the property owners reaping a windfall from this are black (If not corporations).

That said, I'm not sure if there is really any way to solve the problem. One Idea would be to limit the number of "high rent" apartments in a given neighborhood. I guess the other apartments could be awarded on a lottery system. Any system would be difficult to work with federal fair housing standards, since even basing the awards on wealth would be discriminatory towards people with certain professions.
posted by delmoi at 11:45 AM on July 7, 2007


Same thing as the "Disneyfication" of New York. I've got nothing against Disney--in Disneyland. . . it would be nice if there remains someplace fit for non-breeder adults.
posted by nervousfritz at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


should we have a law, or controls, that preserves lousy urban living quarters for the poor? Have the owners of slums the right to sell to developers?

Yeah, poor developers. They're just trying to make an honest living, right? I remember when I used to live in Williamsburg. I didn't have enough to live in the "swank" part of town (Southside, represent). There was this giant hulking skeleton of a factory just two blocks from my shitty, nasty apartment that sat their and blighted all day long.

"Why, oh why," I lamented, "can't this place be turned into yuppie condos already?" Turns out the poor owners of the wonderful, "just needs a couple coats of paint" property couldn't get the $25 million they so rightfully deserved for the pimple on the ass of South Williamsburg. So it sat there, gathering dust and a new coat of spraypaint every month or two.

Buildings like that attract a bad crowd. They're essentially telling everyone, "the people in this neighborhood don't care if there's a giant 6-story pile of shit in their living room." In more civilized countries, the city fucking takes it over if the property owners can't keep their buildings standing. But because every square inch of cement of the greater New York Metropolitan area constitutes investment potential the citizens have to put up with it.

And no, those aren't low-income condos. Thanks to your friendly neighborhood government, federal spending for projects like HOPE VI are almost completely decimated, so no chance that any "real" people will be living there.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2007


their->there
I offer my firstborn to the language gods for this offense.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2007



Buildings like that attract a bad crowd. They're essentially telling everyone, "the people in this neighborhood don't care if there's a giant 6-story pile of shit in their living room."


Yeah, urban-social eugenics. Take charge, mop those piles of shit out of your hair already. . .
posted by nervousfritz at 12:26 PM on July 7, 2007


Thanks to your friendly neighborhood government, federal spending for projects like HOPE VI are almost completely decimated, so no chance that any "real" people will be living there.

What on earth are you talking about? Real people can't afford housing without federal assistance?

Go live somewhere you can afford, if you don't like your NYC neighborhood.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:19 PM on July 7, 2007


Civil_Disobedient: I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say. That the factory should have been turned into luxury condos, or that it shouldn't have been... You wanted it turned into affordable housing?
posted by delmoi at 1:21 PM on July 7, 2007


This is all based on a fabrication of race, so it will only end miserably for those who cling to the fabrication.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on July 7, 2007


That the factory should have been turned into luxury condos, or that it shouldn't have been... You wanted it turned into affordable housing?

My point was that the developers were allowed to sit on a piece of property that could have easily been sold had they been more realistic with their price, and until it did the neighborhood (which was, for the most part at the time, filled with working-class families) would just have to suffer the consequences until they were good and ready. My opinion is that this is bad.

My second point was that because of federal cuts to programs like HOPE VI (use the Google, Luke), when owners finally do get around to selling, it'll be for an outrageous sum that can only be recouped by converting the entire place to extraordinarily expensive condos. My opinion is that this is also bad.

It wasn't an either/or statement. It was an "this sucks/this also sucks" statement.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:53 PM on July 7, 2007


federal spending for projects like HOPE VI are almost completely decimated, so no chance that any "real" people will be living there

Yes, because federal housing projects have been such a smashing success everywhere they've been tried.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2007


Yes, because federal housing projects have been such a smashing success everywhere they've been tried.

At least they're populated by real people.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:12 PM on July 7, 2007


converting the entire place to extraordinarily expensive condos. My opinion is that this is also bad.

Well, I see how this is bad for you, if you can't afford the condos but wanted to live in that area, but how is it bad overall? The underlying problem is that far more people would like to live within an easy commute of downtown and midtown Manhattan than actually can.

Usually, in this country, when there's a scarcity of a good, we let the market sort it out. You haven't really told us why that's a problem here.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:21 PM on July 7, 2007


The purpose of the town hall meeting is to raise awareness about the racism encountered by Black Businesses in Harlem, as well as present strategies to empower those concerned about this very important issue.

Gentrification = racism?
posted by Afroblanco at 2:27 PM on July 7, 2007


I live 6 blocks from the Apollo. The whole point of a great deal of Black and non-Black economic effort and entrepreneurship in the area has been to "gentrify" the neighborhood, and by gum it's freaking worked. Harlem is in *no* danger of becoming a white enclave anytime soon, in any case. The biggest force driving the "gentrification" of Harlem short of the sheer absurdity of real estate prices to the south -- Columbia University -- has a good deal of respect for the historical character of the neighborhood as a source of value for their investments in Manhattanville.

You can't have it both ways -- you can't be against all gentrification and for the health of a formerly impoverished and violent neighborhood (of course, before that, a thriving one, but an artifact of segregation as well). Yes, I think it's important to keep Black-owned (and African and Caribbean-owned, and Asian-owned, and so forth) businesses alive and thriving, in Harlem and everywhere else where the work of minority entrpreneurs has benefitted the community so much through the harder times. But the real issue here is all the national chain stores. When a NYC neighborhood gentrifies, there's often some of that if it's a commercial neighborhood. But the middle-class shopping district concept for 125th street has magnetic appeal for middle-class national chains looking for an NYC presence and wanting to trade on the coolness of a Harlem location. But there are so many locally owned businesses too, and especially as you go east of Lexington Ave, where the effects of gentrification are a lot less evident.
posted by spitbull at 3:02 PM on July 7, 2007


Yes, because federal housing projects have been such a smashing success everywhere they've been tried.

Actually, if you bothered to do any research or read anything whatsoever on the program you might lose some of that stink of ignorance that's in your clothes.

See also:Etc.

Just because it's public housing doesn't mean it has to be Shit Row.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:32 PM on July 7, 2007


It seems to be in vogue these days to rail against "gentrification," as if it's some sort of new phenomenon. It's not, and in some of the older neighborhoods of the East Coast, this is probably the third time they've been through this cycle.

Neighborhood is new, it's upscale, people want to move there. Over time, it loses the "new hotness" thing, property values start to slip, things start to get 'deferred maintenance' issues, maybe a black eye here and there ... people who can't get housing elsewhere move in. It gets "discovered" by the children of the people who inhabited it originally, or maybe their grandchildren, and property gets bought up and redeveloped. Suddenly it's hot again.

This is how things are supposed to work -- it's because of this turnover that we don't have permanent ethnic ghettos; there's nothing bad or wrong about it. The real downside is that it exposes a completely separate truth: if you're poor, you don't get a lot of choice in where you live.

The demise of small businesses at the hand of national chains, though, might be a little more troubling, but ultimately I'm not sure there's anything you can do to prevent it that wouldn't be worse than the problem itself; at best, you can try to help small businesses be competitive -- but just preventing competition altogether seems shortsighted.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2007


it would be nice if there remains someplace fit for non-breeder adults.

If I could triple-favorite that, you know I would.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2007


Actually, if you bothered to do any research or read anything whatsoever

Bitch, please. Don't pull three half-baked examples out of your copious ass and tell me it's all gonna be sweetness and light. There's a reason the term "the projects" is a pejorative.

Fuck, one of your examples hasn't even been built yet. The other two aren't even finished. Talk to me in 10 years and we'll see how they're faring.

In the meantime, I'll look at a project built 60 years ago and see how it's ... oh wait, we already knocked it down because it sucked so bad.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:03 PM on July 7, 2007


Wow. We just stayed at a friend's studio space on 131st and Lenox Ave- our first time in Harlem, and my wife's first visit to "the city".

We walked to/from the 125th st stop on the red line each day, and I was kind of surprised at some of the gentrification stuff that really didn't fit in with the neighborhood.

But as others say, freaking *everywhere* in NYC has this going on, and I think it's just part of the growing disparity between rich/poor in this country. It's not like this is limited to Harlem, you know.

Thanks for all the links, guys, it's always great reading here on the blue.
posted by EricGjerde at 6:37 PM on July 7, 2007


I guess I'm dense, but I can't see why 'gentrification' is a problem.

DC is gentrifying all over, and some neighborhoods are becoming 'more white', but isn't diversity and integration a good thing?

And the money flowing in to the city has to be good for everybody living there.
posted by empath at 7:52 PM on July 7, 2007


And the money flowing in to the city has to be good for everybody living there.

Not for the people who can move out of their neighborhoods because they can't afford the rent.
posted by delmoi at 8:24 PM on July 7, 2007


Interesting discussion as always! I agree there are no simple answers, but my first response is:

Race matters here.

Yes, NYC is made of endless spirals of gentrification. The key difference in this case is the meaning and history of Harlem as a center of Black history and culture (Harlem Renaissance, anyone?). Harlem is the best-known and most iconic Black neighborhood/homeland in the western hemisphere. This is about culture (both 'creative output' and collective cultural identity), not just population stats.

According to the Black Harlemites I know (perspective: I'm a white non-Harlemite) one of the MOST frustrating elements of this is hearing the reporters and real estate agents who call this decade a "New Harlem Renaissance" -- referring to all the new condo construction, the gourmet stores that sell caviar, the familiar national chain stores, the Clinton presence, and the skyrocketing property values (quoting, for example, a 300%+ rise during the same period over which NYC values overall rose only 12%). Using Harlem Renaissance to mean "a time when it is finally desirable for rich [white] people to live in Harlem."

Meanwhile, my friends and co-musicicans are moving to Philly, or moving down south, or sucking it up and paying increasing rents for as long as they can (working more or different day jobs to do so). Of course they won't be immediately replaced by whites on a one-to-one basis. But I will argue that displacement of longtime, low-income Harlemites, particularly artists and other culture-makers, is 'about' race/culture to the extent that Harlem itself is 'about' race/culture. In other words, to a significant extent.
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:25 PM on July 7, 2007


In the meantime, I'll look at a project built 60 years ago and see how it's ... oh wait, we already knocked it down because it sucked so bad.

Well the link you linked too indicates special circumstances for that particular projects failure.
Controversy over the project remains, based mostly on racial and social-class perspectives. Similar projects were highly successful in other larger cities, but St. Louis has its unique character and political climate. This was elaborated upon in the Harvard University study on public housing in American cities, and in reports by actual residents (see bibliography). During the Nixon administration, Pruitt-Igoe was widely publicized as a failure of government involvement in urban renewal, and the destruction of the buildings was dramatized in the media to convince the American public that 'government intervention' in social problems only leads to waste, and to justify cutbacks on social and economic equalization programs. Wealthy St. Louisans had also objected strongly to the racial integration, and the resulting decrease in property values. Similar projects in other cities, however, were quite successful in terms of increasing quality of life for residents, and reducing racial tensions.[citation needed]
posted by delmoi at 8:27 PM on July 7, 2007


Well the link you linked too ...

... contains a whole lotta "[citation needed]" when the Wikipedia dorks start editorializing, as in "the destruction of the buildings was dramatized in the media to convince the American public..." As if the demolition was a giant publicity stunt...

Pruitt-Igoe was demolished because public housing doesn't work over the long term. Period. For every success, there are 10 failures. So, arguments that gentrification should be combatted with increased HUD spending doesn't hold water.

Real estate prices are driven by plain-jane market forces. You may as well attempt to stop the tides on that front.

If you really want to combat gentrification, invest in transportation and telecommuting. The working poor and the middle class that can work in the gentrified neighborhood but cannot live there can get to where they need to go easily, which takes the REAL sting out of being priced out of the neighborhood. At the same time, the wealthy may choose not to gravitate toward the urban locales if they can be assured of ease-of-movement and access (real or virtual) to urban areas.

Buses, subways, trains and fiber-optics are expensive, and they don't come off as emotionally satisfying as a free handout if you're pandering for votes. But if you're really up in arms about the yuppies in the neighborhood, don't waste your time hurling vitriol at Starbucks and Pottery Barn. Don't try to make it harder to live in your neighborhood ...

... make it easier to live somewhere else.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:21 PM on July 7, 2007


Fuck, one of your examples hasn't even been built yet. The other two aren't even finished. Talk to me in 10 years and we'll see how they're faring.

You're mixing apples and oranges. Are there public housing projects that suck? You betcha! Was I talking about public housing projects? No, I was talking about HOPE VI, which is subsidized housing. What's the difference? The difference is that one place is a dumping ground for never-ending tenants who will never have any stake in their home, the other is a helping hand to get on your feet for those who can only barely afford to feed their kids. Most of those folks are working poor, by the way, thanks to some friendly reforms during the Clinton administration.

HOPE VI is (was) a program where old, dilapidated buildings in good (or shall we say, up and coming) neighborhoods were entirely gut-rehabed and converted into private dwellings--condos, houses, etc. This was private development firms getting free money, essentially. They bought the buildings from the city for pennies, paid to fix it up, then were by contract forced to guarantee that a certain percentage of the units sold for an affordable price to lower-income people (usually families, usually working). The percentage probably varied between projects. The Maverick project in Boston pegged it somewhere around 15%. The rest of the units could be sold for whatever the development firm could get. They made their money, believe me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:20 PM on July 8, 2007


This is jumping back in the thread a bit, but I wanted to respond to Civil_Disobedient's comment about absentee landlordism:
My point was that the developers were allowed to sit on a piece of property that could have easily been sold had they been more realistic with their price, and until it did the neighborhood (which was, for the most part at the time, filled with working-class families) would just have to suffer the consequences until they were good and ready. My opinion is that this is bad.
What you seem to be ignoring here is that the developers aren't just sitting on that land for free. They're paying through the nose for it.

Let's say they have a building, which they claim is worth $25M, but is assessed at $20M and would sell today at $20M. They can decide to just sit on the building as an investment, not doing anything with it, hoping someone will shell out 25M, but in the meantime they're going to be paying property tax on 20M, plus, even more significantly, they're going to be pissing away the opportunity cost of that 20M.

Sitting on vacant real estate is very, very expensive. Even in a skyrocketing market, it's almost never a good plan. Most of the time, when you see a vacant building of significant size, in an otherwise developed, up-and-coming area, there's some reason for it. Sometimes it's environmental contamination, sometimes it's weird legal issues. Simple greed usually dictates doing everything except allowing a building/asset to just sit there and not generate revenue.

I've seen places where municipalities have taken over vacant buildings, and they frequently turn out to be hideously expensive boondoggles. I thought it was a neat idea until I saw a project to renovate some old industrial space go seriously pear-shaped (costing the taxpayers millions in order to get rid of a vacant building that few people cared about); now I'm much more cautious: if a building is owned by a for-profit concern and they're leaving it vacant...be afraid of what's in there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:16 PM on July 8, 2007


" There are no easy answers, although not letting property developers run roughshod over New York might be a first step."

Actually the problem is more likely to be the exact opposite. Every time a new building goes up in Manhattan (or elsewhere in New York City) people scream about how its "scale" is too large for the neighborhood.

Since they're forced to build small and restricted in various other ways they're not able to build enough housing. As a result prices are sky high. If developers were let loose to build to meet demand we'd have a lot more housing and cheaper prices.
posted by Jahaza at 7:20 AM on July 11, 2007


well, no matter what happens the projects aren't going anywhere.
posted by hacksawjim at 8:45 PM on July 31, 2007


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