In Bed-Stuy, Holding Out Against Gentrification

At the Sugar Hill Restaurant and Supper Club (Photo by Lem Peterkin via Our Time Press)

Few property owners in changing neighborhoods can resist the lure of selling in order to gain big profits. But Eddie Freeman, who started what’s now the Sugar Hill Restaurant and Supper Club at DeKalb and Nostrand avenues in Brooklyn, is determined to stay put running what has become an iconic family-owned business.

Eulene Inniss writes in Our Time Press that Freeman, who settled with an aunt in Bedford-Stuyvesant when he migrated from North Carolina, got his start driving gypsy cabs and working in neighborhood factories. He worked at the post office, then started a burglar alarm company. Eventually, he opened a small bar/club, then added onto the property. Today, 39 years later, the Sugar Hill Restaurant features six different areas offering dinner, dancing and live entertainment.

As property values in the community continue to rise, so does the frequency of calls from realtors and developers asking him to sell. “Take the 15 million and buy something someplace else,” a voice on the phone demanded in one such call from people salivating over Eddie’s property.

Eddie is currently in a court battle with HPD over an additional four lots in the vicinity which he owns. This man of character, principle and commitment says that he will never acquiesce and “take their offers and buy something someplace else,” although he does believe that he doesn’t get the deserved support from his elected representatives.

Go to Our Time Press to read about some of the other challenges Freeman has faced, and about the origin of the name “Sugar Hill.”

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