Sigh.... here we go again... according to a letter in this week's Brooklyn Paper, "the extension of the Park Slope landmark district will contribute significantly to the exclusion of future new middle class homeowners, helping make Park Slope a less diverse neighborhood, economically."
The writer continues:
"I would like to have a neighborhood where newly arrived, middle-class neighbors can imagine moving, working to raise their children, and paying their mortgage — like me. The real irony is, in the South Slope that is what we have without landmarking."
Actually, we hate to break it to you, but the irony is, the South Slope is not a neighborhood where "newly-arrived middle class families" can move in and raise their families. Even without landmarking.
Let's do a price check... just the other day, Brownstoner listed the results of a public auction that included 482 7th Street, a 3-family, brownstone-faced building on the south side of 7th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. The building is in the proposed first phase extension of the historic district, and part of a block we have discussed before on this blog (it is identical to the house, 2 doors away, shown below):
The auction price of this "affordable to the middle-class" house in the South Slope? Get ready for the "real irony":
And this building isn't in the historic district.
We preservationists are often accused of being "delusional," of wanting to walk around in a fantasy land of fake-old lampposts etc. (Except, we invite anyone to find any appeal for fake-old lampposts on this blog... you will search in vain.)
But the idea that a $1,600,000 house is affordable to anyone in the "middle class" seems totally delusional to us.
Perhaps the battle to keep the South Slope "affordable" has nothing to do with landmarking, and has already been lost, years ago? Could there perhaps be larger economic forces at work?
Meanwhile, in the "lower Slope", west of 5th Avenue, one finds housing that still might be slightly "affordable" to the "middle class". Often it is in older, walk-up "flat houses" or small apartment buildings from the late 19th century. Unfortunately this older housing is increasingly being ripped out and replaced by "luxury" condo developments.
Case in point: the following groups of buildings stand across the street from each other in Sackett Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. If you were looking to rent an apartment, in which building do you think you'd find a more reasonable rent? Which group of buildings is historic, and which is a new development?
The new development even has off-street parking for residents in the rear, with a "convenient drive-thru" passageway protected by an automatic gate, quite like the automatic garage door openers one finds in the suburbs.
Which buildings look more "affordable" to you?