The Real Estate-Media-Industrial Complex

A rhetorical question: Is it possible for us in the media to report on gentrification without either cheerleading or, worse (though we’ll be more readily accused of this), coming off as the reverse-snob snobs that want everyone else to leave Williamsburg except for us and our friends? Witness The Times thanking Jehovah Wednesday for getting rid of the “airline ticket offices, fast-food outlets, stores selling faux antiques and cheesy souvenir shops” along Fifth Avenue and bringing instead Best Buy! No offense to the perceptive staff at Square Feet, but isn’t it a value judgment to declare that as a result of this retail change, the stretch between 42nd Street and Saks “seems to be perking up”? And since when does a neighborhood achieve self-actualization only when a lot of restaurants open up? The headline for the December Times profile on Prospect Heights— “A Neighborhood Comes Into Its Own”—was paradoxical because of how many elements that the article celebrated about ProHo have been around for decades, if not centuries: the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park and Tom’s Restaurant.

On the other had, we don’t really have anything against real estate hype. It is good for the economy–particularly our economy.

-Matthew Schuerman