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You Say You Live Where? In Clinton-Stuy?

More and more realtors are fudging the neighborhood borders while branding them with new nicknames. But is it really a big deal, or should it be a violation?

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.

Joe Gonzalez April 22, 2011 at 06:57 PM
I am taking credit for moving Assemblymember Hakeem Jefferies to action! He must have read my on-line postings. For over the past year I have posted on various blogs about the manipulations by real estate types who rebrand a neighborhood with new name just so they can milk higher prices for apt and homes sales. "Clinton Hill" is an invention of local real estate brokers. It's time to bring some sanity to this out and out scam that has gone on for too long.
Gwen Ruelle April 22, 2011 at 08:01 PM
Great article! From realtors, I've heard I live in Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Bed-Stuy, and South Williamsburg. Even after moving in, it took me forever to figure out which neighborhood I was actually a part of.
pat April 22, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Great, now we can go ahead and waste more time and money on things your average person can look up online through city records, it took me 10 minutes to figure out where I was buying my home. I don't understand why other buyers can't do the same, regardless of what the real estate agent says. It's called due diligence before dropping half of million dollars on a property. How about we push our city people to fix the terrible streets we drive on, or taking better care of our elder population. What will we do next, buy bibs for everyone, so we don't stain our shirts. Ridiculous.
Emma April 23, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Ms. Goodwin is deliberately attempting to deceive out of towners. Everyone knows the established names for neighborhood and with those names comes pre-conceived notions and reputations (good or bad). What does she say to her clients? This apartment is not in Bed-Stuy it is in Bedford Hills.
Savannah April 23, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Great article, Zawadi! I am a life-long Brooklynite and I believe in neighborhood integrity. It should also be known that in Queens the US Postal Service is helping the realtors by moving parts of neighborhoods into other neighborhoods served by other post offices. Parts of Laurelton went to bed one night and woke up in Rosedale because USPS moved these residents into the Rosedale Post Office. Now, these people have to address mail with Rosedale because mailing systems use zipcodes. So what's in a name, everything if you care about the history of your neighborhood.
pat April 23, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Property values go up, because of the new construction and the wealthier people that move into the area. Then it continues to creep from there on. I think the names that are being used in neighborhoods are ridiculous, but we cannot control what people say all the time. I don't think most people in Bed Stuy want government to actually speak for them, as if they are not capable of using their own intellect to know where they live, or are going. There are housing projects that have names like Stuyvesant Gardens and property values have not gone up around them, surprise. Interesting to see, so many people up in arms about this, but not a word about attempting to preserve the historic character of their homes, or pushing for historic preservation. Could it be because we do not want to answer to the man, or it involves paying for special permits? I think this has to do more with taking credit for something that has not been given and that is charm. The architecture has always been here, but not the charm. Names are being changed for a reason and they are too many to list. What is the history that some of the readers want to preserve? The days of riots, crack epidemics, drug houses that lined many blocks? Who would want to be associated with that? Sometimes there are just things associated with BAD and things need to be done to change them. It is not the best option, but no one said we live in a perfect world.
Claudette Brady April 23, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Pat - There is strong movement for Historic Preservation in Bedford Stuyvesant. Requests for Evaluation for 5 historic districts have been submitted to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. http://www.bedfordstuyvesantsocietyforhistoricpreservation.org/ . Community activists, Community Board 3 and Council Member Vann have been actively working with LPC for to have these areas designated. We anticipate the Stuyvesant Height Extension will be designated by 2012. Bed-Stuy Patch ran a series of articles on landmarking. Earlier this year Community Board 3 hosted a landmarking meeting for area residents, more than 400 of our neighbors were in attendance. The neighborhood has lots of charm and the residents take pride in beautifying their blocks. Over the past few years Bed-Stuy blocks have won are placed in the Greenest Block in Brooklyn competition. May 14 is Flower Bed-Stuy day. Over 40 blocks will be participating in a day of clean-up and planting.
pat April 23, 2011 at 11:04 PM
I agree, there is charm and Bedford Stuyvesant is beautiful. Many great people live here, but in the not so distant past it was lacking and the locals will tell you that. I am fully aware of the current movement to preserve the neighborhood, what do you think that will do to the value of the properties. Do you think the taxes will not go up because of it. They will go up even more so than if we give the place a quirky new name. What is the history we are preserving, I hear many mention it, but what is it? Are we talking about the architecture, or the residents that live within it and if so, which residents? during what time frame? What are we trying to accomplish by wasting time and money trying to prevent something that should be left alone, because the premise behind it is flawed. I am for historic preservation and all the higher taxes that will come with it, if it means better services. I do not mean to offend anyone on the site, but let's be real about things that are evident. Mr. jeffries is nees to focus on more important matters.
Claudette Brady April 23, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Pat - Taxes DO NOT rise because of Historic Designation. Please take a moment to review Historic Districts Council’s FAQ. http://www.hdc.org/FAQ.pdf. Stuyvesant Heights Historic was designated in1971. The property values and taxes no higher in Stuyvesant Heights than in the proposed Bedford Corners District. Landmark Historic District Designation is about preserving the architecture; however we are also engaged in researching the architecture and the history of the neighborhood. Some of the research can be found here. http://savebedfordstuyvesant.blogspot.com/. We do not have a time frame as to when the proposed districts will be designated. Designation is dependent on the Landmarks Preservation Commission which is currently working with more than 2 dozen neighborhood in New York City. I have been a home owner in Bedford Stuyvesant for 15 years. There was charm when I moved here and residents actively involved in building a better community. Bedford Stuyvesant is no different from many other neighborhoods throughout New York City that gone through bad times and has risen from the ashes. When you speak of the decline of Bedford Stuyvesant and other urban communities, I think you need to do so with knowledge of how government polices like redlining and planned shrinkage affected these communities.
pat April 25, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Claudette, thank you. I think designating a district as historic is great. The reality of the matter is that once it is designated as such, people seek the properties more. With more properties wanted, prices go up and with the sales, the comps go up. Once this happens, taxes goes up based on the value. The property does not go up based on the fact that they are historic, but more based on the trends afterward. It happened to me once before, so i am familiar with what I am discussing. With that being said, the benefits outweigh the cons. Living in a historic neighborhood is great and I fully support it, but let's not blame new neighborhood names on raising property tax value. We need to look at the real reasons and further study the impact as to the true damage of calling an area something other than what it really is. Have a great weekend.
Adam Mendola May 22, 2011 at 06:35 PM
I wonder if folks in Lafayette Gardens projects feel like they live in "Clinton Stuy". For that, they'd probably have to be welcomed into the jurisdiction of the 88th precinct RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET on Classon Avenue. And maybe if they were served by the police station that's on their block, instead of having a giant robot camera land on their corner (videotaping the sidewalk next to their buildings), they wouldn't have had so many murders this month.
Stacey May 31, 2011 at 03:13 PM
There are valid points made for both sides. I will say if a street is located in Bed-Stuyvesant call it that. That goes for Prospect Heights which is somehow moved to bedford, Rogers and Nostrand,.unbelievable.

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