My Research Is On The Effects Of Gentrification On Retail Activity Through Documented Data And Case Studies Of Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Since 2000 Greenpoint has undergone rapid neighborhood changes that have affected both the socio-demographics of the residents and the types of businesses that line the streets. Retail changes at the street level have significant implications for a community’s character that are worth attention. To observe the relationship between redevelopment (gentrification) and retail change, I will look at two questions: how has Greenpoint retail changed since 2000, and what are the underlying causes of these changes?

Due to language barriers it was extremely difficult to gather personal information from business owners but documented statements from articles and census data serve as the foundation for the study.

Observing timeframes on business closures and business openings. This research is to gain a better understanding of the reasons underlying retail change as it relates to gentrification, serving as the structure for future efforts to preserve certain defining elements of neighborhood character.

Gentrification from the viewpoint of the tenants and; the effects of gentrification on neighborhood features such as retail, property value, and cultural displacement continue to be made light of.

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Brooklyn is currently in the midst of significant change largely due to processes of gentrification, with rising property values and shifting household composition. Greenpoint, a traditionally working class and predominantly Polish neighborhood along the East River, has experienced notable demographic shifts over the last decade. Transformation in Greenpoint is due to a variety of factors including: area rezoning, housing policy, real estate development, and property value inflation in neighboring Williamsburg, leading to residents moving to Greenpoint instead.

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The retail impacts of these forces are being seen in a variety of ways.

Case in point, new retail strips are being made in areas that previously had little to no businesses, and new types of businesses catering to the new patrons are replacing some of the original neighborhood businesses along Greenpoint’s landscape. By conducting a neighborhood analysis of changing retail dynamics in Greenpoint before the complete displacement of existing retailers, and by identifying the underlying causes of change, it is hoped that retail planning interventions could be implemented to both prevent future potential business displacement and preserve some of the neighborhood’s traditional retail character. While policies to protect local residents and industry were incorporated into the area’s 2005 rezoning, retailers were left vulnerable. However, it is not too late to address this gap!

The definition of gentrification can be broadened from Glass’s original definition to encompass a series of associated neighborhood changes. In instances where gentrification is accompanied by zoning changes that permit residential uses in formerly manufacturing or commercial areas, these other building users can be physically displaced, which can have repercussions for local employment. As Winifred Curran presents in her 2004 article, “Gentrification and the Nature of Work: Exploring the Links in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” the rezoning of formerly manufacturing zones and the conversion of industrial buildings into lofts subsequently decreased industrial employment, creating a divide between places of residence and places of work.

While the first immigrants to Greenpoint were mostly English, Irish, and German, by the early twentieth century the neighborhood’s Polish community was firmly established. As the presence of Polish immigrants increased, the number of industrial jobs began to decline in Greenpoint. By the final half of the twentieth century, many of the neighborhood’s industries had left, although two major industrial employers, American Sugar and Leviton, remained. This loss in industry sparked by the fiscal crisis was followed by disinvestment and decline, as seen in much of New York City at the time. With the exception of a new wastewater treatment plant along Newtown Creek, little to no new building was initiated in Greenpoint during this period. The facility, constructed between 1965 and 1979, would become a destructive and defining feature of the neighborhood. While disinvestment and offensive facilities may have prevented some people from moving to Greenpoint, the Polish presence continued to increase. Sparked by the founding of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity (Solidarnosc) in Poland in 1980, the strikes,and declaration of martial law, many Poles immigrated to America. 

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My Research Is On The Effects Of Gentrification On Retail Activity Through Documented Data And Case Studies Of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (2022, May 24). Retrieved from

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