Rezoning the Olympic Bid for Sustainability

While the Olympics certainly sets a stage upon which its host city can rise, Tom Angotti makes it clear in his book, New York for Sale, that this preparation of Olympic land closely aligns with the local real estate agenda as well. In 2012, when New York set up its bid for the Summer Olympics, public participation was largely ignored in favor of mass rezoning. These rezoning policies would geographically carve an “X” into the New York landscape in homage to the ancient crossroads and promise of globalization. Yet, despite this message of unification, many of the residing immigrants were excluded from the picture, and would not even be able to afford a ticket to the games. Furthermore, the change in landscape would revive developments in Hunters Point, Queens, as well as increased traffic to Chelsea Piers—all actions which would increase income in the real estate coalition (Angotti 212, 213).   

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Small Businesses in Peril: Harassment Prevention


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).

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Mapping Preventative Measures for Gentrification

Although at first glance, gentrification in our context may appear as a clearly negative term for the ways in which people of lower income are affected by changes in their community, Stabrowski, Newman and Wily, and Vigdor argue otherwise in their respective pieces. Gentrification does not always equate to displacement, and displacement does not involve solely a spatial movement, Stabrowski emphasizes in New-Build Gentrification and the Everyday Displacement of Polish Immigrant Tenants in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Everyday displacement manifests in the forms of prohibition by landlords, appropriations within the community, and insecurities generated by the changing neighborhood. This becomes detrimental to populations of ethnic enclaves, who even though are not necessarily pushed out of their neighborhoods, suffer in neglected living spaces and are mentally affected by the loss of sociocultural connections within their neighborhood. Vigdor, in Does Gentrification Harm the Poor? seems to understand this perspective; however, he elicits the complications in determining the amount of damage actually being done. The government has considered gentrification in a positive light when it has brought about the desired revitalization of a “run-down” area. Yet, upon backlash and quantitative studies, officials have retraced their steps to inspect the effects of this “revitalization” on lower income populations.

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2017 Audit Reports a Loss of the Public to the Private

Sharon Zukin highlights in her novel, Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Cities the growing reliance of the city government on the control of private corporations. While it is true that the involvement of the Business Improvement District (BID) and Local Development Corporations (LDC) have created safer spaces, it is also evident that they have intentionally directed the traffic of people and stores according to their agenda. This notion is especially supported by the history of Union Square Park. Originally a working class venue, with a bustling shopping/ trade district featuring S Klein, and the host of many political parades and beliefs, the intervention of private organizations changed the area drastically. The extent of Union Square’s Partnership and Con Edison’s high rise Zeckendorf Towers, and multitude of NYU’s dorms have changed the demographics of the area—shifting to a middle class area with students ready to take on commercial endeavours.

Since Zukin’s piece, published in 2010, the city has continued to hand off projects to private corporations, with increasing responsibility, as the Audit Report on the City’s Oversight of Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) recorded last year in 2017. This transition; however, has not been handled well as the report states that POPS are in a number of violations for not effectively promoting their public spaces. Of the 333 POPS recorded in NYC, 275 POPs have been left unchecked by the Department of Buildings (DOB) in the last 4 years. The 58 POPS that had been inspected found 41 of them faced violations for restricting public access in one or more forms. Not only has the city failed to inspect these POPS within the required intervals, but it has also failed to keep track of the locations of these POPS. The DOB has an inaccurate database currently, meaning that certain private corporations would be able to dismiss certain public space regulations should they not be counted under the header of a POPS.   

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Robert Moses Vs. Jane Jacobs: The David-Goliath Dynamic

Jane Jacobs, in her novel The Death and Life of Great American Cities, describes a monotonous ‘new’ New York City, stripped of its former vitality by pedantic urban planners, who are unable to consider the rich network that keeps these neighborhoods thriving. As a woman of the West Village herself, Jacobs is part of the world she describes, and in stark contrast to Robert Moses, she argues for a city for the pedestrian. Jacobs’ position opposed that of Moses’ so much so that I wondered how they would react should they find themselves on the same battlefield. It turns out they had been on the same turf, fighting on opposing sides. The PBS documentary Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses: Urban Fight of the Century illustrates the interactions of the two well—from the clash between their policies, to the David-Goliath dynamic to which the two are compared.

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