The Times takes a look at look at the Williamsburg housing scene, by now well-trod territory for the paper. Yet instead of cooing about the latest cut-rate condo, the Gray Lady takes a peek at an unusual band of locals, those in love with the neighborhood’s “historic character” as ground zero for vinyl-sided homes.
To Mr. Canfield, replacing vinyl siding with wood, as some homebuyers do as soon as they have the deed, is like carelessly restoring antiques that came over on the Mayflower. He views vinyl siding facades as the key to preserving Williamsburg’s working-class traditions, which arguably has become its own facade.
“It’s not the most beautiful thing, but it’s real,” he said. “It’s authentic. It’s tied to the history of the neighborhood.”
In a neighborhood like Williamsburg where vinyl siding is as dominant as brownstone is in Park Slope and concrete is in Midtown, many residents are ready to fight with Mr. Canfield with equal passion. Real estate bloggers devote hours mercilessly photographing homes and posting online what they think are the most lowbrow examples. To the preservation-minded, vinyl siding, and its close cousin aluminum siding, are nothing less than a metastatic cancer.
You’ve got to be kidding.
The Observer certainly hopes that this is yet another one of Billyburg’s ironical jokes. After all, this is the same neighborhood that made a national obsession out of trucker hats and Pabst Blue Ribbon. It was only a matter of time then, with their industrial lofts having become the height of cool, that Williamsburgers would turn their attention to an even lowlier form of habitation.
If they’re lucky, the declasse siding might help repel some of the ibankers and “condo-kids” who keep trying to ruin what remains of their “authentic” neighborhood. Never mind it already has been. And if history is any guide, the hip embrace of the ugly and ungainly will only make it all the more popular. So everyone may wind up priced out, but at the very least they will have saved the homes they’ve fooled themselves into loving.