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Bronx Gentrification Conference

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Time Out says

For a huge number of New Yorkers living in already gentrified areas, weighing the pros and cons has become a largely theoretical discussion. But for longtime residents in neighborhoods like East Harlem or Hunts Point, there are real, looming concerns about cultural and physical displacement that dwarf debates over the merits of craft-beer retailers or factories turned galleries. Those highly minority-populated areas might soon be facing an influx of wealthier young residents, as witnessed recently throughout north and central Brooklyn, and the associated changes—lower crime rates, higher property prices and a new crop of businesses. Data culled by real-estate research tool PropertyShark shows the average price per square foot of residential space in Williamsburg increased 174 percent between 2004 and 2012, and that trend is already spreading north: According to the New York Latino Research and Resources Network, between 2000 and 2005, median housing value in the Bronx’s Mott Haven neighborhood nearly tripled. For families who’ve called Bronx neighborhoods like Melrose and Morris Heights home since the mid–20th century, gentrification can signal an uprooting of their culture and community.

This ongoing dilemma of what some see as progress and others as forced exile has spurred Bronx Documentary Center to host the first annual Bronx Gentrification Conference. The town hall–cum-workshop invites experts, academics, developers and city documentarians to discuss both sides of the phenomenon. Former Department of Housing and Preservation photographer Larry Racioppo will open with a slide show of evocative before-and-after images of the five boroughs, followed by a panel discussion with Columbia University professor Stacey Sutton, affordable-housing developer Henry DiRienzo, and journalist and Columbia adjunct professor Ed Morales (3–6pm). The event concludes with a screening of Morales and journalist Laura Rivera’s 2008 documentary Whose Barrio? about similar changes in Spanish Harlem (7:30pm), putting concerns over relative proximity to Starbucks in a whole new light.—Kenny Herzog


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