Winifred Curran in her pieces From the Frying Pan to the Oven, and In Defense of Old Industrial Spaces, largely focuses on Williamsburg and the displacement of not residents, but rather small businesses. Curran points out, in From the Frying Pan to the Oven, that gentrification may be navigable to larger companies looking to grow in space and employees—the push to new areas, most times funded by the landowner, brings these companies to outer parts of Brooklyn and even to New Jersey where they flourish (Curran 1433). However, this dynamic does not translate to smaller business whose resources are not sufficient to make drastic changes. Often times they have lost space to illegal tenants who renovated the space, making it more marketable for residential purposes—a market in which landowners could gain higher profits. Other times the inability to find and keep a space was due to the landowner’s desire to keep the lot empty for purposes of tax breaks. Ironically though, business owners who own their buildings seem to be largely in favor rezoning, finding the business of developing or selling their property more profitable (Curran 1437).
Manufacturing in New York City’s garment district is in jeopardy of unraveling at its seams. The city’s Economic Development Corporation may soon begin the certification process to lift the zoning laws that have protected fashion and apparel businesses in these few blocks in Midtown Manhattan for decades.
The intention is for manufacturers to relocate to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. With lower rents and longer leases, the development corporation hopes to lure factory owners to a 200,000-square-foot industrial space, now being renovated. The garment district’s Business Improvement District has voted to provide financial assistance to cover some expenses for relocating factories; in exchange, the zoning laws will be lifted. If the local community boards approve the plan, it will be brought before the City Council for a vote, and the changes could occur in as little as a couple of months.
Some questions for thought:
- Read the initial reporting about the proposed changes; what is the main reason for changing the zoning laws and moving the fashion district?
- What evidence is cited in favor of changing zoning laws?
- How will these changes theoretically benefit the fashion industry in New York?
- Do you find this proposal convincing?
- Read the entire op-ed by Lepore and Savage; why do they claim manufacturing in New York is in danger?
- What evidence do they cite to argue against changing zoning laws?
- Do you find their argument convincing?
- Is de Blasio’s plan similar to other types of developments studied this semester?
- How does this specific case, the zoning laws and move to Sunset Park, fit with the core question of the class: who has the power to shape New York?
In the nineteen-seventies [the factory] had moved from Carroll Gardens to Dikeman Street, in Red Hook. [Owner Arthur Mondella] set about expanding that location into two adjacent buildings, and eventually the factory occupied a total floor space of thirty-eight thousand square feet. He scaled up what had been essentially a mom-and-pop operation; his mother and his sister, Joanne, worked there, too, but he ran the show, increasing production capacity and acquiring large-volume food-service clients. In 2014, he made a seven-million-dollar investment in automation so that one day the place would “run itself,” as he told his daughters.
Despite automating, he wanted to keep his human workforce intact. By all accounts, he cared about his employees. Lots of ex-offenders had jobs at Dell’s. The Red Hook Houses, a nearby low-income housing project, supplied him with workers who needed the paycheck. Mondella was known for giving salary advances, and loans whose repayment was not vigorously pursued. He hired a homeless man, provided him an advance for a deposit, and let him use a company truck to move into a new apartment. Gang tattoos could be seen on the muscular, maraschino-red-stained arms of guys on the factory floor.
Read the rest of the article here (or check the class GDrive folder for a hard copy).
Beginning on Sunday (shortly after reading Nixon’s opinion), I asked 1,016 New Yorkers: Where does “Upstate New York” begin?
When you ask 1,000-odd people the answer to a question, you get a lot of variation. Some is subtle, such as “Albany” vs. “near Albany.” Some is dismissive: Got a “do not care,” 40 “don’t know” replies and one “no.” Others made jokes: “my house,” “upstate someplace,” “Peoria,” “San Francisco.” Others identified very specific locations in and around New York City: 14th Street, the George Washington Bridge. Six people said that upstate started at 125th Street, meaning that the Bronx is in Upstate New York.
I love “no” because that’s my initial reaction, too, and “San Francisco” is a pretty good nod to the NYC-SF shared connections.
Read the rest of Bump’s article here.
Winifred Curran in his essay called “From the Frying Pan to the Oven: Gentrification and the Experience of Industrial Displacement in Williamsburg, Brooklyn” discusses the role that gentrification has had in pushing out small businesses in NYC. The above video by TYT Politics Reporter Andrew Jones is an interview discussing how Governor Cuomo is favoring corporations and big businesses over small local businesses and that the rising rental costs along with gentrification in NYC are forcing small businesses to close down and relocate to less suitable areas. Continue reading “Gentrification and the Deterioration of NYC Small Businesses”
It is often thought that when a neighborhood is in the process of getting gentrified, the small manufacturing businesses are bound to close up shop and get replaced by large industrial companies or novel startup industries. However, after reading Winifred Curran’s article, “In Defense of Old Industrial Spaces” and the New York Times article, “Small Factories Thrive in Brooklyn Replacing Industrial Giants” this is not necessarily the case. As both the article and Curran stated small manufacturing companies actually thrive in gentrifying neighborhoods, especially in Brooklyn, by producing goods that appeal and satisfy the needs of those moving in. Continue reading “Despite Gentrification, Small Manufacturing Businesses Thrive”