With our research we created a few generalizations about the area; Williamsburg has a lot of residents in the 20-30s, the commercial area at Bedford Ave attracts young individuals looking for “hip” culture, and there has been a gradual change in the standard of living in the area. Then, we traveled there to interview the local people and stores and managed to find out a lot of information on the current changes occurring in the view of local people and workers.
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Bedford 6 Real Estate
We first interviewed Matt Gelfaud, a worker at Bedford 6 Real Estate to learn more about the current real estate market, the types of people moving in and moving out, and his thoughts on future familial growth in the 11211 area.
We started by asking what he thought the main differences in Williamsburg are between now, a decade ago, and two decades ago. 20 years ago, no one wanted to live in the area. The rent ranged from $300-400 in the area, which mainly attracted poor artists and college students. Over the years, the rent dramatically increased to a current range of $2,500-7000. A majority of people that moved in and out of Williamsburg moved out due to economic reasons. Matt Gelfaud said gentrification was the main factor that increased Williamsburg’s standard of living. In general, the area is turning into a middle to high-class neighborhood. There are still remnants of the past Williamsburg living in the area. Rent stabilization let some tenants stay in the area, but as people move into the new condos and rent prices skyrocket, the past population will slowly dissipate.
He also told us, “In the past 5 years, I’ve seen more baby carriages more than anything else.” There are sure signs of family growth in the area. Several preschools have opened as well as children’s stores to cater to the population. Matt Gelfaud attributes the surge of babies and families due to people settling down. We initially thought that more couples moved in, but Matt told us otherwise. People who move into the area come from various places ranging from Europe to Asia, and there is no huge trend regarding single or married people moving in or out. The family growth is due to people in the area creating families with each other. The college students who have not moved out due to financial reasons have created families within their own group, and most of these babies started popping up around 5 years ago.
Also we would like to point out the multiethnic nature of the community that Matt had pointed out to us. Originally, the area was mostly white from preexisting communities (Jews, Italians), but immigrants also lived in the area. Before the rise of hipster culture and Williamsburg becoming a mainstream area, whites and latinos were the primary inhabitants of the area. Dominicans, mexicans and polish people were the main foreign groups in the area 10-20 years ago. Matt tells us that, currently, the community is becoming a mix of different people from different backgrounds. There is a surge of western europeans attracted by the hip culture of the area moving in, and high class japanese people are moving into condos (such as businessmen). There is no longer a mix of latino and young white college graduates.
We also interviewed the local people about what they are observing and how they feel about the changing area. We interviewed a group of three men, who looked particularly hip and shared an apartment, about how they saw how Williamsburg changed. Dan (29), Jarret (27), and Matt (28) had opposing feelings about the current state of Williamsburg. Dan said that there was a possibility that he would settle down because the area is safe and a great environment for a family. The other two said that there was no way to know about the future, but they would probably leave because it was becoming too expensive and the area was becoming too snobbish.
Yet, all three do agree that there has been an increasingly large number of babies in the area. Dan said, “strollers are coming in full speed.” Matt said, “the sound of brats are flooding the area.” Dan was also in the process of setting up his new store in the Williamsburg Mall, a candy shop. He thought that candy would be popular with all of the children. We ended the interview with them pointing us in the direction of a new baby store that just opened, Wee baby.