New York’s neighborhood borders and names are changing left and right, and one of Bed-Stuy’s assembly members, Hakeem Jeffries, is saying enough is enough!
As more people begin eyeballing Brooklyn as their potential new homestead, more and more realtors are fudging the neighborhood borders, while also branding them with new nicknames.
For example, although Bedford-Stuyvesant’s border to the west is Classon Avenue, many people who reside east of Classon Avenue through Bedford Avenue truly believe they live in Clinton Hill. Have they been sold a bill of goods?
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries thinks the practice has spiraled out of control. He announced on Monday that he will introduce legislation in the coming weeks, the Neighborhood Integrity Act, that will require the input of local community boards and the neighborhood before a boundary can be redrawn or a neighborhood renamed.
But is renaming small sections of the neighborhood really such a big deal in a city that has grown accustomed to enclaves with cutesie names? The city has fully embraced names for sections like SoHo (South of Houston Street), DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and NoLita (North of Little Italy).
“I think it’s no big deal. As long as it uplifts the neighborhood, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Dante Allen, 33, a Brooklyn native who lives on Franklin and Gates Avenues in Brooklyn – an area he refers to as “Clinton-Stuy.”
But do Brooklyn natives – or even those who have lived in Brooklyn more than ten years – even know what is a BoCoCa (where Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens converge), a GoCaGa (Gowanus meets Carroll Gardens), or a ProCro (where Prospect Heights and Crown Heights converge)? How about DoBro (Downtown Brooklyn)?
“There is a free-for-all in New York City with respect to renaming neighborhoods and redrawing boundaries. Enough is enough,” said Jeffries. “Even in circumstances where change makes sense, there should be a process that involves significant community input.”
Elizabeth Gray, 25, a native New Yorker from Queens, has live in Brooklyn five years. Currently, she resides in Bed-Stuy, and she says her understanding is that Bed-Stuy’s border is “around Classon Avenue.” Although by most accounts, she’d be considered a “gentrifier,” she admits that realtors are trying to give the neighborhood more attractive names to push gentrification.
“They changed the name of the area where I used to live in Flatbush and started calling it Kensington,” said Gray. “And then all of a sudden my rent was too much. The neighborhood got to be different than what I had expected -- more yuppies moved in.”
A quick glance at Corcoran Real Estate's website states that the Prospect Heights’ border to the east is Bedford Avenue. However, using a simple Google map, Prospect Heights’ traditional boundary lines are drawn at Washington Avenue to the east, Eastern Parkway to the south, Flatbush Avenue to the west and Atlantic Avenue to the north.
Moving the historic boundary three blocks to the east sends Prospect Heights into Crown Heights. This allows Corcoran to raise rental and homeowner prices for people looking to reside in the more affluent Prospect Heights, said Jeffries. In effect, without any checks and balances, Corcoran is able to redefine on their terms the boundaries of Brooklyn's historic neighborhoods, he said.
Lanishia Goodwin, a licensed real estate broker and franchise owner of Rapid Realty – which refers to its Bed-Stuy office location as “Bedford-Hill,” -- said she sees the pros and cons of renaming neighborhoods:
“It makes it easier, especially because, as a real estate person, you find that a lot of your market are not New Yorkers; they’re coming in from out of town,” she said. “So I feel like if they can identify with a Clinton-Stuy and a Bedford-Hill, it makes it easier for them.
“But I think it changes the history and I know it also affects the cost, because now, we’re 'The Heights,' and we’re 'The Hills.' So with that being said, I understand there’s two sides of the coin.”
Goodwin also asserts the county office pushed Clinton Hill’s eastern border from Classon to Nostrand a while ago. She says she can confirm this, because her mother – who lives on Nostrand and Monroe – received a letter four years ago alerting her that her property taxes would be raised, as she was now living in Clinton Hill.
After several calls to the Kings County Clerk's Office, no one person was able to confirm that claim. However, the police precinct and congressional office in Bed-Stuy, as well as Community Board 3, follow the same map that places Bedford-Stuyvesant's western border at Classon Avenue.
The Community Board 3 map outlines Bedford-Stuyvesant's official borders (including Stuyvesant Heights) as: Flushing Avenue to the north, Atlantic Avenue to the South, Classon Avenue to the west and Broadway Avenue flowing into Saratoga Avenue to the east.
So, for all you Bedford-Hill'ers and Clinton-Stuy'ers, newsflash: You live in Bed-Stuy. And if you’ve got beef with that, according to Jeffries, soon you may have to take it up with the city council or state assembly.