Why this Blog Exists

To make the case for expanding the Park Slope Historic District

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Does Preservation = Affordable Housing?

People occasionally blame Historic Preservation for accelerating gentrification and the loss of affordable housing. It is sometimes charged that historic preservation "pushes people out" by making neighborhoods unaffordable for long-time residents, resulting in less economic diversity etc.

We're not sure we buy this critique. It seems to us that in Park Slope, at any rate, historic preservation can help preserve affordable housing (relative to Park Slope at any rate).

Consider the two buildings in the photograph below:

The building on the left is one of a row of 12 8-family flats built in 1893 by Charles Hagedorn on the north side of 3rd Street between 4th & 5th Avenues. The lot size is 27', which makes for two 13'-wide apartments per floor. It lacks an elevator, and the apartment layouts are probably somewhat quirky. Perhaps most shocking (at least to cranky Brownstoner commenters), the residents must keep their rubbish in exposed bins in the front areaway.

The new building on the right, by contrast, yields two spacious 20'-wide apartments per floor. The apartments feature large windows admitting lots of light, elevator access to all floors, a discreet place to hide the rubbish bins.

But all these amenities offered by the new, "luxury" building come at a price. In which building do you think it costs more to rent or buy an apartment? In which building would you expect to find more economically diverse residents?

We suspect there's a lot more folks who could afford to live in the old building on the left, than in the new building on the right.

We're not saying that a 4th-floor walkup is the right housing for everyone. But for many people, at some point in their lives, a 4th floor walkup may be their only affordable choice in Park Slope, that will allow them to live here rather than elsewhere.

1 comment:

Green Groups said...

Park Slope is a diverse community. Preservation keeps intact what many of us like about the area that attracted us to Park Slope in the first place. Without preservation, the very common buildings with small cookie cutter spaces will replace our unique housing stock.