Do Beautiful Murals Boost Housing Prices?

Hotel RL in Bushwick displays the blending of art and commerce. (Photo via BK Reader)

The Bushwick Collective has been beautifying the Brooklyn neighborhood with wall art, murals and graffiti, and the work of artists in the collective has been celebrated at annual events – most recently at a “block party” held on June 2.

Now Miranda Levingston writes in BK Reader that those very artists may have unwittingly helped contribute to the phenomenal gentrification of Bushwick, where average home values more than doubled between 2010 and 2016. During the period, the black population decreased by 5.1 percent, the Hispanic population fell by 7.3 percent, the Asian population rose by 2 percent and the white population increased by 11.7 percent, according to data from the NYU Furman Center that Levingston cites.

Some real estate companies are using BC’s exquisite murals blatantly to court its clientele. On the websites of Bushwick’s recently established luxury apartment buildings, CastleBraid, located at 83 Bushwick Ave and 1209 Dekalb Ave, the developer advertises specifically to the “creative professional,” marketing Bushwick as the “new creative epicenter,” while boasting the area’s “photogenic, graffitied streets.”

NYU Social and Cultural Analysis Associate Professor Thuy Linh Tu said this approach to marketing a neighborhood goes hand-in-hand with onset of gentrification.

“I think Brooklyn follows the pattern of many other places that have gentrified,” said Tu. “Largely low-income, largely ethnic neighborhoods get taken over by white creative types. Gentrification is really about bringing in new capital into spaces, and it often leads to the displacement of people, particularly poor people of color.”

What do the artists think? And the residents? Go to BK Reader to find out.

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