Manifest Bushwick: Colony 1209 Seeks Colonists, Settlers, Natives

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Bushwick’s hottest rentals are making gentrification vintage—so vintage it’s actually just colonialism. The name alone is pretty up-front about its intentions and its self-conception, so much so that the rhetoric of Colony 1209’s entire site makes it sound like a “Go West, Young Man” brochure, or a leaflet about life on the Moon.

To be fair, to Colony 1209’s target audience, Bushwick might as well be the Moon. (One of the website’s pages is titled, a bit too aptly, “Where is this place?”) “Here, in bohemian Bushwick, Brooklyn,” the developer entices, “you’ll find a group of like-minded settlers, mixing the customs of their original homeland with those of one of NYC’s most historic neighborhoods to create art. community, and a new lifestyle.” So don’t be alarmed if you see a group of men in khakis making white wine sangria with seasonal fruits from their CSA, they’re just celebrating their original homeland—Katonah.

Colony 1209 has amenities like art gallery space, ping pong tables, lucite chairs, “graffiti,” and wheat paper posters (which all feature white people on beaches?), all of which contribute to the incredibly confused and confusing aesthetic of the building’s spaces. The exterior is Kent Avenue Modern, the interior communal spaces a bit more Overwrought Downtown Co–Working Space, while the example apartments display a striking marriage of CB2 and West Elm.

“We’ve already surveyed the territory for you,” the website assures, as though “colonists” will need a local fixer to navigate around all the Poor. “You’ll feel like a Bushwick native in no time.” Will you though? Because I think a lot of them have had to leave. Where to? Who knows! Maybe Ridgew—oh, wait. Nevermind. “Need to venture into the city?” No, you won’t because you’re still in The City. Bushwick is in Brooklyn, is in New York City. Couldn’t you tell from the “bourgeoning art scene, cutting-edge eateries, historic mansions, yoga studios, and parks”? Or did you think you were in Hudson?

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The narrative of Brooklyn-as-pre-Columbian-wilderness has ascended to a new height in Colony 1209, one that is as upsetting as it was predictable. With every trendpiece reaching deeper into the outer boroughs as Manhattan rents skyrocket emptily, this was bound to happen. And what’s worse, without the confines of a coastline or developer-proof zoning laws, neighborhoods like Bushwick and Crown Heights and even “Quooklyn” (gag) are open season for high-rise luxury predation, gentrifying at a faster pace than their predecessors. What’s worse is that this new rapid-fire development aims to “fit in” with the “bohemians” and the “art scene”—and expects its tenants will want or be able to, for more than $3,000 a month. For any remaining local bohemians, and the actual Bushwick natives colonists of Colony 1209 may hope to emulate, Colony 1209 is tantamount to an eviction notice.

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.