Thursday, March 13, 2014

Art in the Hood: Sunset Park Artists and the SOHO of Brooklyn's Short Lived Life




     It was hoped that when Bush Terminal was bought by some developers and renamed Industry City a few years back that Sunset Park would evolve into a center of the arts for Brooklyn and New York City. But starting late last year some disturbing stories began to appear in the news. In particular some articles in the New York Times. As someone who walks every corner of the neighborhood and what I call the PASUBA (Park Slope, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge) corridor on either side of 4th Avenue, I have seen the slow wave of gentrification creeping along southward towards Bay Ridge that began when Real Estate agents renamed the norther part of the neighborhood south of 17th street Greenwood Heights so they could rent apartments and sell houses at a higher price. As this wave of hipsters begins to move south with it come higher real estate prices and higher rents driving out long time local residents that now find it difficult to survive  in the gentrified areas.  There are two aspects to this encroachment. On the one hand one is seeing more upscale restaurants and bars appearing along 4th and 5th Avenues. On the other hand, artists who settled here because of the cheaper rents are now finding themselves priced out of the market. The moving in of the Brooklyn Nets as a tenant at Industry City certainly didn't help matters. The result is that a diaspora of artists has begun and is accelerating out of the neighborhood. The most recent article published last week in the Times confirrms this. As does this piece on another blog..

    There were high hopes that with all the artists moving into Sunset Park we would become a center of creativity and a magnet for other aspects of the arts, such as music etc.. All is not lost however, as there are still some artists remaining. At least those who can afford the higher rents. There are other warehouses on the other side of third avenue that could well become artists spaces. perhaps someone with an inventive mind could perhaps firgure out a way to get some city money to subsidize rents for artists spaces. Why not? We waste money on a lot of useless stuff in this country and city and putting it into art has at least some long term gain. If there is one constant in Sunset Park as most residents know, it is change. And more often than not, it's not for the better.






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