Earlier this week, New York's Adam Sternbergh dropped the degentrification bomb on Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood that remains, as ever, on the brink. In search of truth—or some semblance thereof—the Curbed, Eater and Racked teams have today decamped for The Hook, setting up shop at the delightful Baked on Van Brunt Street. All day today, we'll be reporting on the neighborhood, conversing with neighborhood personalities, and taking the pulse of things (if you're in Red Hook and want to say hello, please do stop by). And yes, as promised yesterday, famed Red Hook investor Barbara Corcoran will make an appearance.
If there's an overall purpose here—which, frankly, there may or may not be—it's to find our own answer to what's really going on. Let's take stock of the preeminent theories about Red Hook, c. November 2007, shall we?
The Degentrification Theory (as formulated by Adam Sternbergh in NYMag): What if gentrification isn't self-sustaining after all? What if, in fact, it's exactly the opposite: a self-extinguishing phenomenon? What if it's less a flood than a forest fire—wild, yes, out of control, absolutely, but destined to consume itself by burning through the fuel it needs to survive?
The Media Hype Theory (as formulated by Curbed's own Bob Guskind on Gowanus Lounge): Red Hook was never gentrified in the way that the press made it out to be and it is not degentrified now. Red Hook gentrification, as defined in the media has always been about a few blocks on Van Brunt Street. A few places have closed. A few have opened and a lot of spaces are still being renovated. The rest of Red Hook is a place where 2/3 of the people live in public housing, where there still isn't a bank branch or a pharmacy of any scale (in the heart of the neighborhood), that has functioned as a Brooklyn dumping ground for unwanted things like trash transfer stations for generations. The neighborhood's industrial character—and there's still plenty of it—is ignored.
The Ikea Theory: The Golden Age of Red Hook will be seen as the period between the opening of 360 and the debut of Ikea—or the closing of the Good Fork, evidence that the neighborhood runs out of money before Ikea finally opens. In either case, the point is it's all about Ikea.
The Locals Theory (as formulated by a Van Brunt Street resident): Adam Sternbergh made Red Hook look so wonderful (to a certain class of consumer) in the New York Magazine story this week that we'll be buried in condos and cocksuckers, as per previous predictions, within six months.
The Pupusas Theory: Make sure you order two pupusas at once, because you're just going to want another one anyway once you finish that first one.