clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How to Gentrify a Neighborhood: Just Study Hudson Heights

New, 14 comments

Yesterday the above video started making the rounds. It's a Brooklyn comedy troupe's old-timey instructional guide on how to gentrify a neighborhood, and while it's full of laughs, it's also full of lessons! But hold the iPhone. Today the Wall Street Journal dropped a real estate story about Hudson Heights that blows the video out of the water when it comes to teaching how to transform a neighborhood into something upwardly mobile. And best of all, the WSJ story isn't meant to be a parody of anything, which makes it all the better. Here's what we learn from the neighborhood in the north:

1) Create a nickname to separate the area from its crime-riddled past: "Locals coined the name Hudson Heights in the '90s to distinguish the area from the then-notorious Washington Heights neighborhood during an era marked by violence and drugs."
2) Use yuppie code: "Now there are a lot of young people and young families in the neighborhood."
3) Let quirky retailers take advantage of cheap rents: Custom hat store, anyone?

4) Expand the local palate: "'I was tired of what was available to eat in the neighborhood in six months," said Mr. Narvilas, who also owns two bars in Manhattan. "There are just a handful of places serving a large number of residents and newcomers who do want the options."
5) Yoga, coffee shop/wine bar, outdoor drinking?: Yes, yes and yes! "For fitness fans, Hudson Pilates has opened on West 181st Street while newcomers to the neighborhood's food scene include 181 Cabrini, a popular coffee and wine bar, and Bangkok Heights. Saggio, a Sicilian restaurant with a soon-to-open beer garden in the backyard, is the latest addition to the stretch on West 181st Street, launching three months ago."
6) Stress the cheap real estate while reassuring people they'll be fine: "You can get so much more for so much less here," said Gleb Gavrilov, who works at family-owned Moscow on the Hudson, a Russian gourmet-food store, and has lived on 181st Street for 15 years. "The difference is huge and it's much safer now than when I moved here."
7) Never admit to a commute longer than a "This American Life" podcast: "My commute is 25 minutes to Midtown," said one of the buyers, Eva Kaminsky, an actress. "Getting a view of the Hudson while not breaking the bank doesn't hurt either."
8) Leave some longtime locals behind to add gentle non-threatening nostalgia for days gone by: "I don't see stickball anymore or people pulling out chairs to sit outside and chat with their neighbors on a nice day," said 52-year-old George Moll, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. "I see a lot of iPods and iPads."
9) Starbucks? Duh. C'mon, that's covered in the 101 class.
· Hudson Heights Pumps More-for-Less Theme [WSJ]
· How to Gentrify Your Neighborhood [Ibish Comedy]