Don’t Feel Bad for “Wealthy Newcomers” on Franklin Avenue

608 franklin ODA architects

Crown Heights’s lowly skyline continues its rise, getting glassier and glassier along the way. 608 Franklin Avenue (a.k.a. 1036-1042 Dean Street, down the block from the much-hyped Berg’n) will become the ever-fancier address of a big glassy boxy thing for rich people to keep their stuff in. But fear not: At least 608 Franklin won’t have a Starbucks! But who’s really to blame for all this pricey, pricey new construction?

YIMBY speculated that the new building, which is still a ways off, will likely house rentals (120 of them) and nearly 19,000 feet of retail space. Units at 608 Franklin Ave may top rents at 341 Eastern Parkway, where the cheapest studio rented for $2,200 a month, though 20 percent of its units are set to rent below market rate—a market rate that, by the way, is being nudged ever higher my the proliferation of buildings like these.

For its part, YIMBY passes the cost-of-living buck from developers to “politicians and planners… from Greenwich Village to Park Slope,” who “shirk their responsibility to house New York’s wealthy newcomers in more desirable, closer-in neighborhoods, where ample infrastructure for additional density already exists.” Whether or not you believe politicians or planners have any conceivable responsibility to “house New York’s wealthy newcomers,” the idea that they have nowhere to go but less “desirable,” less “closer-in [sic] neighborhoods” puts a pretty twisted lens on gentrification. It’s certainly true that real estate prices in Manhattan and in several Brooklyn neighborhoods close to the bridges have seen a spike in property value, and policymakers and planners should be doing more in defense of affordability, but no one needs to worry about “wealthy newcomers” in this rental market.

New York City’s housing problem looks different at different altitudes. For wealthy newcomers, scarcity is the primary issue—that there simply aren’t enough units, dahling. For the rest of us, it’s scarcity of affordable units, made even scarcer by landlords keen to flip rent-stabilized properties. Anyone willing or able to spend $2,200 a month on a studio apartment should have little trouble finding a place to rest their head, on Franklin Avenue or elsewhere.

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.

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