Not to say that moving to Queens is “giving up” by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it. Ridgewood is nice, even knowing it only from afar, and based on its restaurants that’ll deliver into Brooklyn (namely Coco Lin and my specific Domino’s branch). It’s just that, if the New York Times is to be believed about something trend-related, the small Queens neighborhood is now the Plan B of choice for people finding themselves priced out of an increasingly expensive real estate market in Bushwick.
Which makes plenty of sense, as a person who is getting decisively priced out (and generally tired) of Buswhick as we speak—did you know even Craigslist weirdos with terrible apartments by Broadway Junction think they should be getting $1,600 a month or more for a one-bedroom? Because they do. Aside from earnest, extremely concrete fiscal limitations, from an objective “cost-benefit” standpoint, the threshold of money I’m willing to pay to live in an isolated area with a generally mediocre housing stock, unreliable access to amenities like quality produce, minimal to nonexistent green space, an unsettling number of people who are able and eager to pay thousands of dollars a month just to live next to cool bars, and a steady stream garbage lining the streets is… not that high. On principle, prices shouldn’t be allowed to multiply that exponentially if the product itself isn’t catching up at even close to the same pace.
But they are, people are paying them, and as a result, other people are leaving. As several re-zoning plans have surfaced to speed along the process even further, MNS Real Estate chief executive Andrew Barrocas told the Times, “We’re getting a lot of these landlords who historically have been in Manhattan saying, ‘Tell us about Bushwick; what is this area in Queens,'” and another broker said, “Many of the young people who work in Williamsburg — bartenders, waitresses — if you ask them where do they live, they say Ridgewood. It’s the young folks, east of Fort Greene, the Pratt kids, finding themselves priced out, who are now pushing out there.”
And people interviewed for the story all said the usual things about swapping an apartment in an on-trend neighborhood for one that’s actually affordable—it’s “not as much of a hotbed for artists,” but it’s also allowed them to live in the biggest, cheapest apartments they’ve ever found in New York. Meanwhile, the Times blames the whole thing on Bushwick’s brief cameo in Girls (really), and a developer of an expensive new apartment complex off the Dekalb stop (featuring amenities like vintage Donkey Kong arcade games), earnestly said of the project, “I have to be authentic with this. [Tenants] don’t like corporate. You can’t fool around.” Well, right. Of course they don’t, and of course you can’t. And of course this particular brand of “authenticity” is rapidly driving people elsewhere.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.