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Curbed Cup: (2) BAM Cultural District vs. (15) St. George

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The Curbed Cup, our annual award to the New York City neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 'hoods vying for the prestigious fake trophy. This week we'll have two matchups per day, and all the results and the full tourney bracket will be reviewed on Friday. Voting for each pairing ends 24 hours after it begins. Let the eliminations commence!

Downtown Brooklyn has been regularly seeded high in the Curbed Cup, winning in 2011 and making it to the championship round in 2012. But this year, we're focusing on a smaller portion of the neighborhood that saw particularly concentrated growth: the BAM Cultural District. The new arts space BRIC House opened in the historic Strand Theater, and the Theater for a New Audience opened in its new glitzy black box. The new rental building 66 Rockwell Place started leasing, and plans for several new buildings were solidified. Construction started on a 200-room hotel; Two Trees' 32-story tower called BAM South was approved by City Council; and the proposals were revealed for two other city-owned sites. A 52-story residential tower designed by FXFOWLE will rise at 598 Fulton Street, while a mixed-use building with 109 apartments, several cultural groups, and a Craft-branded restaurant will be built on Lafayette Street between Rockwell and Ashland Places.

A Staten Island neighborhood has never made it into the running for the Curbed Cup before. It may have "had a moment" in 2008, but this year's approval and stated timeline for a megaproject that will completely overhaul the oft-overlooked borough's northeastern shore in St. George—a mammoth observation wheel and adjacent 125-store outlet mall-cum-hotel complex, the first outlets ever for the city, all next to the ferry pier—have changed that. The evolution and gentrification of what's already a hub of Staten Island will be fast-tracked to the next level; imagine the workers and employees who will live near the site, the visitors who will come—they need other places to eat and enjoy outside the shopping center, too. (Beyond the hip, fringe few who relocated to St. George, seeing it as a new Williamsburg, years ago.) What name-brand and big-box stores and a major tourist attraction lack as a sensitive, small-scale catalyst they make up for with sheer transformative power. But is it enough to overpower the behemoth that is Downtown Brooklyn?

Poll results

· All Curbed Cup 2013 coverage [Curbed]