Brand-new neighborhoods are popping up all around Brooklyn, in areas we know but with names we’ve never heard of before.
No, I’m not talking about the controversial practice by developers of re-naming border areas between neighborhoods in an effort to evade a neighborhood’s “sketchy” past (for example, Bushwick between Flushing and Dekalb avenues renamed East Williamsburg or Bed-Stuy west of Nostrand Ave rebirth as Bedford-Hill).
No, not exactly that.
What I’m referring to is the full-scale carving out of an area within a neighborhood by luxury developers and renaming the area something altogether new.
Take, for example, Pacific Park, the 22-acre, 15-building complex rising over Brooklyn’s Atlantic Rail Yards on Pacific and Vanderbilt avenues near Barclays Center. While under construction, its sign boldly announces itself to passers-by in Prospect Heights as “Pacific Park. The first condominium in Brooklyn’s newest neighborhood.”
When Central Brooklyn resident Fritz Celestin first saw the sign Wednesday while on the corner of Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues in Prospect Park, he was surprised. He snapped a picture and posted it on his Facebook page with the comment, “When developers get cocky: What once took decades to happen, they can now create neighborhoods overnight.”
The comments that followed echoed his dismay.
But is this really a case of cocky developers invading Brooklyn or can this be viewed as, well… nothing new at all?
NYC real estate giant Forest City Ratner Companies owns the property, and for their part, what the area is about to gain is a lot more than it loses in a name: That includes 6,000 more apartments (one-third of them affordable), multiple retail spaces, eight acres of parkland, schools, playgrounds, parking, food courts, office spaces– basically an all-inclusive, self-contained village that blends home, work and play.
Think: Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan or LeFrak City in Queens, both similar-type neighborhood complexes christened with new names and wholly accepted as such.
“Density ought to be embraced, and vertical living ought to be celebrated,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, president of Forest City Ratner Companies in a New York Post article.
So is it really such a big deal?
Well, according to some residents, it’s not as much about the name of the development itself as it is the annexing of an existing neighborhood to rename it, when it already has a name. It’s what some (read: Spike Lee) have referred to as “The Christopher Columbus Syndrome.”
“All of a sudden, Prospect Heights isn’t good enough?” remarked another commenter on the Facebook thread.
“When you say ‘LeFrak City,’ it’s clear you’re speaking of a development complex,” said Nestor Rodriguez, a Prospect Heights resident. “Ask someone in LeFrak City what neighborhood they’re from and they’ll tell you Corona.”
Well, whatever side of the argument you fall on, one thing is for sure in Central Brooklyn: There goes another neighborhood.