Community Planning and a Need for Increase in Diversity for Community Boards

It is often debated on the impact a community has on the outcome of their own neighborhood or the power of the people to control their own city.  After all, public involvement is what democracy is built on.  As seen in Tom Agnotti’s excerpt, “From Protest to Community Plan” in his book New York For Sale, The Cooper Square committee, comprised of the residents of the Lower East Side, and their allies managed to dictate what a portion of the land in the Upper East Side would look like and on their terms, not the governments or the terms of developers. In the same way the New York Times article, “Greater Diversity Sought for New York City’s Community Boards” outlines the importance of community boards through cases where they have in fact made an impact in community planning.   The article not only vouches  for participation by residents in community boards but also for the increase in diversity of the publicly appointed board members themselves to include those that Agnotti calls the “few” in his chapter, “Community Planning for the Few.”  The article provides a nice summary for the two points brought up in Agnotti’s chapters.

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Despite Gentrification, Small Manufacturing Businesses Thrive

Twoseven, an 11-year-old company housed in an old factory in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, makes window displays for upscale stores like Louis Vuitton. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

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”

Atlantic Yards: Why Brooklyn?

(The focus of my post consists of  the first 5 minutes of the video above and is analyzed using the old scheduled readings as well as the updated scheduled readings)

The Atlantic Yards Porject, later renamed the Pacific Park project, was a project proposed by  Bruce Ratner to build Barclay’s Center in the neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  When Bruce Ratner was asked why Brooklyn was his choice of relocation of the Nets and the creation of the Stadium, his answer was everything but the way developers can exploit a neighborhood divided by race and class.  Instead, as stated in Julie Sze’s, “Sports and Environmental Justice: “Games” of Race, Place, Nostalgia, and Power in Neoliberal New York City”, developers played upon the desolation of Brooklyn after the relocation of the Brooklyn Dodgers and promised to bring back the spirit of Brooklyn using the Brooklyn Nets (Sze, 118).  In the interview Ratner also goes on to say that Brooklyn had the “bones” of a great city, meaning strong infrastructure, access to transportation and beautifully preserved residential areas.  These pitches, for development in Fort Greene, would  normally come as bad news for the underprivileged and lower class individuals living in the area yet accordign to Sze, the people in opposition to the development were often criticized for being upper class and elitist in their views.  However, the consequent gentrification due to large-scale projects, such as Atlantic Yards, creates displacement of underprivileged people and outcomes far from what is promised by developers.  Continue reading “Atlantic Yards: Why Brooklyn?”

The Inequality Between Business Improvement Districts of New York City


Business Improvement Districts are held all over New York City yet the reasons for their creation and outcomes after creation vary greatly.  These two videos promote the establishment of BID’s in two separate parts of New York City, one in Chelsea and the other in Harlem, showing great contrast between BID’s throughout the city.

The first video is a promotion video of the Meatpacking District which demonstrates Sharon Zukins’ point on the effects that private corporations have on public space.  The businesses taking part of the BID are all wealthy designers, investment bankers, tech moguls and can be considered, under Richard Floridia’s terms, as the “creative class.”  The video promotes the Meatpacking District as the new public destination for New Yorkers to enjoy the culture New York City has to offer.  What’s missing from this video is what went missing as well when Union Square became a public-private partnership, the meaning of a true public space.  Although the video boasts about public attractions and open space for leisure, the “entire” public of New York City is not included.  Zukin often mentions that the true meaning of a public space is one in which people from all classes inhabit the same space and interact, including the homeless.  This video promotes an elitist city, with shots of people who seem like they have enough money to spend on the luxuries the Meatpacking District has to offer.  The businesses in the Meatpacking BID also mention that they are happy what the BID is doing not only for business but also residential life.  However, the Meatpacking district is no longer, “zoned for residences” (Mooney) and its main purpose is to feed to the night-life indulgences of New Yorkers. Continue reading “The Inequality Between Business Improvement Districts of New York City”

Rebuilding from “Inside-Out”

In Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs discusses the creation of public life and trust through the use of sidewalks and the common ignorance of “outsiders” or orthodox planners.  Jacobs’ uses Bostons North End as an epitome of a neighborhood that is self-functioning yet still considered a “slum” in the expert terms of bankers and developers.  Similarly, New York City’s Brownsville is commonly misconceived by outsiders and its image tarnished through untelling statistics.  In WNYC’s ongoing feature Brownsville: No Label Necessary, the members of the Brownsville community have commited to rebuilding Brownsville from “the inside out” using public life and trust created within a community to create what Jane Jacobs calls a, “self-governing” neighborhood.

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