Park Slope Under Attack on Both Ends from “Undesirables”

01/13/2011 1:37 PM |

Park Slope in the 80s--much scarier!!
  • Park Slope in the 80s—much scarier!!

Two days ago, news outlets reported that Grand Prospect Hall, Brooklyn’s premiere banquet hall (after the Botanic Garden’s Palm House) that overlooks the scenic Prospect Expressway, wanted to build a hotel on top its adjacent parking lot—an 11-story structure in an area whose zoning allows only up to six. Today, it’s being reported that, if they don’t get their way, the owners are threatening to unleash upon Park Slope residents their deepest fear: undesirables.

The Brooklyn Paper reports:

“If Grand Prospect Hall cannot compete with the ‘Mega Hotel Grand Ballrooms’ for the daily corporate business and the major institutional work…the alternate course would be to cater to a low end clientele with limited budgets, limited options, but with large numbers,” [a flier about the project] reads.

“The need for profitability will override any consideration of lifestyle, even if it may be undesirable — only profitability and group size will matter.”

While this bruhaha unfolds on the south end of the Slope, the north end had its own racial class problems earlier this week, when parents, students and teachers protested the creation of a separate high school for elite students within the halls of John Jay—what critics contend would isolate the white students from those of color, creating an apartheid school.

Historically, John Jay has been an object of consternation for Slope residents; many of the students are from out of the neighborhood. As one local described his younger days to Gothamist:

“During high school, we had to take special measures to avoid ever being on 7th Avenue between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.,” says the resident, who would only speak to us anonymously because of lingering John Jay fears. “I remember once where I accidentally got home around 4 p.m. with a few friends, and we got surrounded outside Methodist. The John Jay kids grabbed me by the backpack to shake me down. My friends were like, ‘Oh no, they got him!’ and were gone so quick it was like a cartoon.

“I could go on and on—about the time we got jumped for a pie from Smiley’s (‘Yo, you got my slice, son?’) or the time my sister got held up with a box cutter by some Jay kids at the F station on 7th Avenue. And every Thursday it seemed like some of the girls would come down to fight girls who were in the 9th grade at JHS 51—tremendous contests of wills where the object was to rip the opponent’s hoop earrings out.

It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that Park Slope wasn’t totally gentrified. And that’s really scary for gentrifiers.

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