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Red Hook Residents Are Divided Over De Blasio's Streetcar Proposal

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The isolated Brooklyn neighborhood could see big changes because of the BQX

One of the purported benefits of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, the proposed streetcar that would hug the waterfront of those two boroughs, is the fact that it has the potential to connect Red Hook—poor, transit-starved Red Hook—to many other neighborhoods, all with a single streetcar fare.

But how do Red Hook residents, who are famously averse to sweeping changes to the neighborhood (see: Ikea, Fairway, etc.), feel about the idea? According to a Times piece, views are mixed. Some people think it's a boon for the area; others are less enthused about the potential for increased traffic. Nick DeFonte, of the eponymous sandwich shop on Columbia Street, called it a "great idea," saying that "it’s a long time coming" after the neighborhood's rougher past. And the tenant association president of Red Hook West, one of the area's NYCHA developments, said that many of the tenants at the complex want the streetcar.

But there's one big fear shared by many people the Times spoke with: the streetcar has the potential to make the neighborhood, which is less pricey than many of its nearby counterparts, totally unaffordable.

A streetcar line "would accelerate gentrification and accelerate the displacement of industry, low-income renters and property owners," he said. "In fact, that’s the stated objective of the proposal," Professor Angotti said of New York City leaders’ claim that rising property tax revenues along the route could defray the estimated $2.5 billion cost of the project.

"I’d prefer that this neighborhood just stay off the map," said Dave Hill, a bartender at longtime watering hole Sunny's.

That seems unlikely, but others are optimistic that community involvement can make the streetcar less of a complete game-changer for the area. And soon, the public will have the chance to weigh in: the proposal is still in the early phase, and there will be public comment periods well before it's eventually completed in 2024.