No new jobs from Bed-Stuy gentrificiation

A City Limits report points out that the predominantly African American and West Indian neighborhoods of central Brooklyn have seen the greatest jump in unemployment since the onset of the Great Recession. Unemployment in Bedford-Stuyvesant and the northern slice of Crown Heights has leapt from 6.0% in 2008 to 15.3% in 2010, outpacing even the South Bronx.

A steady influx of more affluent, white homeowners has been unable to create new jobs in Bed-Stuy. A 2008 study by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation showed more middle-income residents coming to Bed-Stuy. It concluded that Bed-Stuy has more spending power per square mile than Brooklyn or Queens as a whole.

The head of the Business Improvement District says the fastest-growing income segment in the neighborhood is households earning $100,000 or more a year. Doug Jones insists that residents are simply not shopping in Bed-Stuy.

“There’s about $785 million of retail leakage in Bedford-Stuyvesant,” Jones said. “People in the neighborhood leaving the neighborhood to spend their money. They drive to south Brooklyn or they drive to somewhere in Long Island or go up I-87 somewhere, and they take their dollars with them.”

Bed-Stuy’s problem, insists Jones, is that its traditional mix of low-end retail stores — something that dates to the days when Fulton Street was a bustling strip of street vendors, before a Giuliani-era crackdown that cleared the streets and herded them into a single market far to the east on Albany Street — doesn’t appeal to the neighborhood’s new clientele.

“You have a preponderance of 99-cent stores and nail shops and hair salons,” he says. One hardware store, he notes, has an excellent selection that should be able to compete with the likes of the new Home Depot that opened recently on DeKalb and Nostrand, but still turns off potential customers by having card tables full of hand creams stacked out front. (“This is a class conversation,” he acknowledges.)

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