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Ridge bucks gentrification trend, says report

While rent has skyrocketed in the majority of New York City nabes, Bay Ridge is sitting pretty among two other “non-gentrifying” ‘hoods where rent has lessened from 2002 to 2014, according to a rent analysis released by the Community Service Society (CSS), a nonpartisan anti-poverty group based in Gramercy Park.

According to the study, rent has gone up 32 percent citywide since 2002, with areas like Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant experiencing the greatest surge (rents have spiked 90 percent in Central Harlem and 63 percent in Bed-Stuy).

On the other hand, rent has risen at much slower rates throughout much of Queens, southern Brooklyn (where rents in Bensonhurst, for example have risen on average less than 15 percent), the upper Bronx and the Upper East Side, while rent has actually decreased since 2002 in Southern Staten Island (minus five percent), Canarsie (minus one percent) and Bay Ridge (minus three percent), the latter coming as a surprise to CSS.

“I was surprised by it,” said Thomas Waters, housing policy analyst for CSS, stressing that while areas like Canarsie and the South Shore of Staten Island have their downsides (like being pretty far from the center of town), Bay Ridge is a fairly urbanized neighborhood, unlike the others.

Indeed, said Waters, Bay Ridge experienced its surge earlier than many other communities around the city. “In 2002, the newcomers to Bay Ridge were paying much higher rents than the long-timers and, what’s happened since then is that the newcomers are paying around the same after inflation as they were back then while the rest of the neighborhoods’ rents have caught up,” he explained.

“In fact,” Waters went on, “[Bay Ridge] is one of the few neighborhoods where newcomers are not paying more than the incumbent population, which makes it seem like the neighborhood went through its gentrification wave 10 years ago.”

To many Ridgeites, the stats – however shocking – made total sense.

“When I tried to find an apartment in Bay Ridge a couple of years ago, I couldn’t find much in my price range, but when I was looking this year there were quite a few apartments and a good amount that were in my price range,” said Eileen Fitzpatrick, a Ridge-born 23-year-old who, in 2013, gave up on looking for a new pad in her hometown and settled down in Flatbush, where rents were lower. Just three months ago, however, she moved back to Bay Ridge where, today, she pays less than what she was paying in Flatbush. “I thought it was really weird.”

Local resident Justin Brannan attributed the shift to the Ridge’s “small-town vibe” and the R train, which he referred to as “hipster kryptonite.”

“Bay Ridge will always be the perfect mix of old and new Brooklyn. You see a lot of young families moving here because once you discover Bay Ridge, it’s impossible to go elsewhere.” he said. “But I think when it comes to ‘gentrification’ you’re really talking about neighborhoods and their proximity to Manhattan. So if you’re looking for a 10-minute subway ride to Manhattan or a neighborhood full of old warehouses that can be converted into million-dollar loft spaces, then, yes you should certainly look elsewhere because that isn’t our thing.”

Other residents, however, feel the stats just don’t add up.

“As a renter in Bay Ridge, I find [the study] extremely hard to believe,” said Ridgeite Patty Hutton.

Map courtesy of the Community Service Society
Map courtesy of the Community Service Society

Updated at 3:25 p.m. to include further comments.

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