Flatbush life

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An old Brooklyn color line is fading.

Stores along Flatbush Avenue that appealed to black consumers are being displaced by upscale national chains with a broader appeal.

Fourteen businesses closed this year, including two hair salons that catered to African-and Caribbean-American women and a soul-food-themed barbeque place as purveyors of Pilates, carrot juice and astutely branded leg warmers flock to the border between Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

Even the notoriety of having a famous son couldn’t save Mama Duke, owned by P Diddy’s mom, which closed last year. The storefront is still vacant.

And the strip’s biggest tourist (and foodie) attraction, Christie’s Beef Patties, is even being forced out — albeit only across the street (for now).

“They are moving us out to make room for multi-national chains,” said Paul Haye, owner of the 40-year-old patty and coco bread landmark.

Haye said his landlord didn’t renew the lease after a Crunch gym offered more money for the space.
Moonshine Realty, Haye’s landlord, declined to comment.

The highest-profile addition to the strip is American Apparel, which opened two weeks ago in the former Flatbush Pavilion.

The trendy clothing chain sells its brightly colored basics using images of young people from all over the globe, darlings of a mixed-race, youth-powered, Benetton-style urbanism that is on the rise on Flatbush.

“Flatbush was more interesting than the already gentrified streets nearby,” said Miguel McKelvey, a location scout for the Flatbush Avenue American Apparel, the fourth in the chain.

“The most important [thing] is being in a community of people who are intelligent, sophisticated, fashionable, forward-looking, interested, interesting, and excited about the growth and development of our ever-changing culture.”

American Apparel says it caters to shoppers of all races and creeds, as it conributes to the upscaling of the avenue.

Mirvilyne Bruce, executive director of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District, was excited by the changes.

“Our turnover rate has increased,” she said, “but we believe that more new businesses in the area will mean more new shoppers.”

Longtime residents and shoppers agree that Flatbush is changing for the better in one very noticeable way. When Diane Allison started working at the Christian Science Reading Room at Sterling Place and Flatbush in the 1970s, stone-throwing youth, drug dealers and vacant buildings were the big problems.

“Now,” she said, “the stores are having to respond to a different kind of community.”

On this “different” Flatbush, gyms are doing well — so well, that in addition to annexing Christie’s, Crunch will also take over the 99-cent store next door.

But the newly gentrified strip isn’t pleasing everyone.

The owner of Idalias Salon — a stylish shop with a primarily black clientele — moved from Flatbush to Washington Avenue last winter. Owner Darlene Dorsett said her salon wasn’t really appreciated anymore.

“Landlords think the Yuppies — black or white — don’t want salons,” said Dorsett, who is doing well at her new location deeper into Prospect Heights.

It’s not always clear which direction Flatbush is headed. A few months ago, Charcuterie, a classic Park Slope sandwich shop, closed to make way for a Dunkin Donuts, which should be peddling coconut lattes by summer.

“Maybe they think it’s ‘Park Slope East’ on Flatbush now, but definitively, the change that is happening endangers what Brooklyn was originally and has always been,” said the Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown-Baptist Memorial Church in Fort Greene.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

amera from 80 clarkson says:
i want to sees my block
Dec. 2, 2008, 3:49 pm
Susan Campbell from South Midwood says:
We the parents of MS 381 want to shed light and get news coverage on the issue below:

Why would the Department of Education “strong-arm” and bully a performing middle school in the heart of Brooklyn that successfully services “At Risk” inner city children while closing the “Achievement Gap”?
Middle School 381, located at 1599 East 22nd Street has been unfairly targeted for “consolidation” now termed “co-location” with Andries Huddie(Huddie) middle school for September 2017.
Huddie is a zoned sinking ship, plagued with deteriorating enrollment because of its unsafe environment.
So what does our illustrious DOE suggest? They suggest piling more students into this sinking ship against parent opposition in order to keep Huddie from accepting the encroaching attempts of a charter school utilizing their free space. With all the resources within Huddie’s walls, parents are choosing to send their children to M.S. 381.
There is a saying that “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.” M.S. 381 is being punished for doing their job too good. MS 381 boasts a 14% increase in ELA scores; the second highest in District 22. M.S. 381 boasts being the first middle school in District 22 that uses the School Wide Enrichment Model. M.S. 381 boasts a small loving and nurturing environment where the principal and teachers know their students by name. M.S. 381 boasts a rich and rigorous curriculum that fosters learning, growth and enrichment in the Arts. M.S. 381 boasts having dedicated teachers, young and old, who go above and beyond for their students. M.S. 381 boasts having a diverse school community without any reportable offenses among its students.
So why you ask is MS 381 being targeted by the DOE? We are being targeted because we are one of Brooklyn’s best kept secret. We have generations of families who attend our school and we grow solely by our reputation.
But we cannot remain silent to the blatant injustice that is being done to our school community and the families that depend on us and rely on us to educate and ensure a safe and nurturing community for their children.
Our numbers speak for themselves so we need to take action. The next joint public hearing is Monday, December 12 at Andries Huddie JHS (K240) located at 2500 Nostrand Avenue. The PEP (Panel for Education Policy) is scheduled for December 21 (strategically 4 days before Christmas) at High School for Fashion Industries, 225 West 24th Street.
I am asking everyone within earshot of this letter to come to these two meeting and voice their discontent with the treatment of our students in the DOE public schools. Personally I am asking you to take a stand for quality public education. Our children deserve to feel safe. Our children deserve to learn in a non-threatening environment. Our children deserve to hear our voices fighting for their basic educational right. We need to let the DOE know that “Parent Choice must remain Parent Choice”
Dec. 12, 2016, 5:42 pm
Marilyn from Lefferts Garden says:
My daughter was slated to go to MS 381. In the middle of July I received a letter from the School saying they were relocating. I called MS 381, right away, the Parent Coordinator claims that she and the Principal of the school did not know about the relocation during application time the previous year. I told her is I wanted my child to go to Hudde, I would have placed it on the Middle School Application.I went to the Welcome Ctr., and told them about the lying, deceitfulness and out right injustice of closing a school and not let the parents pick another school of their choice. They also claimed they could not help.When I heard that absurd answer; I quickly asked my friends and family about alternatives. I was able to find a private soon quickly. It is a sacrifice. No more movies,vacations, Christmas gifts, ...etc, for three years; but I am looking at the long run so it’s okay.
Nov. 9, 2017, 8:30 pm

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