It comes as no surprise that Bushwick residents aren’t exactly in love with the luxury apartment building, Colony 1209 at 1209 Dekalb Ave.
Not only are apartments at Colony a lot more expensive than already expansive Bushwick average (1-bedroom at Colony starts at$2,200, while Bushwick’s average is $1,962); the building has gained notoriety for its tone deaf marketing. Colony 1209 has been inviting “settlers” to colonize the “new frontier,” to which several media outlets reacted with a disapproval. “To colonize a place means to overtake it, to pillage its resources, to dehumanize its people, and to attempt to erase its past; Colony 1209′s revisionist history belittles this legacy of violence, ” wrote The Awl in September last year.
In addition, Colony 1209 has been enjoying the benefits of the 421a tax abatement program, according to which the luxury building has been exempted from taxes for 15 years “in order to promote the building of condos on underutilized or unused land.” The building is currently in the third year of its 421-a tax abatement, and is expected to receive approximately $8 million through the program, while only paying $2 million in taxes.
Bushwick non-profit organization Make the Road, whose mission is to build “the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services,” doesn’t like this tax abatement situation at Colony 1209 a single bit. And so today, about 100 participants are marching in Bushwick against “unwise tax giveaways to developers are fueling gentrification in neighborhoods like Bushwick across New York City.” Make the Road wrote in their press release:
Today, Bushwick residents, elected officials, small business owners, and faith leaders, joined together to issue a resounding cry of: “On 4/21, down with 421a!” The group, more than 100 people strong, marched and rallied through the streets of Bushwick to call for the end of the controversial 421a tax abatement program that provides tax giveaways to large developers who build units that are unaffordable to local residents. The march began at the office of Make the Road New York and extended to the Colony development, which received a 15-year tax abatement of several million dollars of 421a tax abatement money to build a 127-unit building with no units that local residents can afford. The building is expected to receive approximately $8 million of 421a abatement, while only paying $2 million in taxes.
Tellingly, the development has marketed its unaffordable units to what it deemed “settlers” from outside the area, fueling gentrification in an area where the average income is arn only thirty to forty percent of the Area Median Income. This case highlights how unwise tax giveaways to developers are fueling gentrification in neighborhoods like Bushwick across New York City.