Gentrification Express: Breaking Down the BQX

Gentrification Express: Breaking Down the BQX


– My family has lived in
Sunset Park since 1980. I grew up where there were people from different nationalities
and different races and different ethnicities and I grew up in that kind of environment. – Where I live in Sunset
Park is right in the middle of the D Train and the R Train. So if I get off on the D Train, I’m going to walk through the
Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. And then when I hit 8th Avenue, there’s a large Chinese population. Every summer we would have
the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Sunset Park, and I
remember I used to work at this party store on 5th Avenue, and they would always sell a whole bunch of Puerto Rican flags. And this little kid
came in with his father, and they were both Asian. And he bought him a Puerto Rican flag, and he’s standing outside, because everybody was outside doing it. So that’s something that I’m used to. – We are a grassroots
organization that really addresses the intersection of
racism and climate change. We do that by addressing the displacement that is coming from the repurposing of the industrial waterfront. What happened in Sunset was
that we had an industrial sector that really protected the character of a waterfront working-class community. And so what the industrial sector did was it made Sunset Park the
largest walk-to-work community in New York City. – [Antoinette] I didn’t
know that any sort of, anything like Industry City existed until very recently. – Industry City is a gigantic complex of enormous industrial buildings along the Sunset Park Brooklyn Waterfront. It used to be a thriving hub
of waterfront blue-collar jobs, and the rents were affordable
there for quite a while. But then it was taken over
by Jamestown Properties, and the rent started to skyrocket. Jamestown Properties,
they’re the same owners who own the Chelsea Market in Chelsea. So they want a different kind of tenant. – The experts are coming
in from out of town and want to move here. They want our spaces. They want the luxury of
being able to have their gym, their winery, their coffee,
and their party scene all in one place, and so instead what we’re getting is jobs that supposedly Industry City is creating that turn our community
into a servant workforce for the privileged so that
they can make the salary that an 18-year-old can make
while they’re in college, but not a 40-year-old’s
to support a family. – It’s great, right? It’s nice, but at the same
time, it’s not for someone like me coming from this neighborhood. If that space was genuinely for the people who lived in the community, I wouldn’t have learned
about it so many years after they were already established, and now that they want to build the BQX, it’s sort of, I don’t know, it
just seems very shady to me. – [Narrator] The solution
is Mayor de Blasio’s Brooklyn-Queens Connector,
a state-of-the-art streetcar that is modern, fast, and emissions-free. It is the best transit option for connecting the 600,000
people who live and work along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. – We have been working to make sure that transportation amenities come to low-income communities for years. So obviously, we had
an interest in the BQX. So we had questions more than anything. We did not have a position. – [Narrator] The BQX will
run at five-minute intervals, linking 10 neighborhoods
along a 15-mile route from Astoria Cove in Queens
to Sunset Park in Brooklyn. It will utilize the latest technology to run on dedicated
lanes on shallow tracks installed in the existing roadbed. – The first time I heard
about the streetcar plan, a guy named Ben Kabak who writes a blog called Second Avenue Sagas, he called it a solution in search of a problem. – There’s only one
subway line that connects the outer boroughs,
and that’s the G Train. – People with Uber can get around, but people with a Metro card cannot, because right now our transit system does not serve everyone. an that’s a stark fact. – The MTA does studies on this regularly, and they list areas that are
essentially transit deserts that don’t have subway lines,
and where buses aren’t enough. And they came up recently with
a list of nine neighborhoods that are really in need
of new transit investment, and they included the 3rd
Avenue corridor in the Bronx, Utica Avenue in Brooklyn,
East Elmhurst in Queens. These are neighborhoods
with high concentrations of population, generally
working-class people, and not a lot of transit. None of their top priority
areas were along that BQX corridor, or along the
Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. – On 5th Avenue, there’s the B63. On 4th Avenue, you have the R Train that connects on 36 street to the D, the N, and the R. The last proposed stop on
the BQX is Sunset Park, and it just doesn’t make
sense for it to be Sunset Park when there’s so many
transportation options here. And then when you find out the
BQX will stop right in front of Industry City, oh,
okay, now it makes sense. – Okay, we already have a bus system. To me, I feel like the bus
system should be built up better. There should be a better way
to increase the bus system than putting that BQX. – The main reason that buses are slow is that we don’t give them
priority on our streets. The solution then, is to give
buses priority on our streets. You don’t need a streetcar
to have a fast-moving mode of transportation
along the same streets. Having a nice bus line will
not increase property values nearly as much as a streetcar will. – Now, they said the BQX is
gonna be convenient for us to run in from Astoria to Brooklyn. But how many people
really over in this area go to Brooklyn? Have you did a survey on it? Really, I don’t go to Brooklyn. I have everything right here between Manhattan and Long Island that I need. Why do I need a BQX to go to Brooklyn? Okay. It’s only gonna be for certain people. It’s not gonna be for me. – [Speaker] Yeah, so now
we’ll go into like a more like just numbers analysis of the BQX. We saw that people going to Astoria, 78% are coming from somewhere in Queens. Then we go down to Long Island City, 68.7 % are coming from Queens. And then, Greenpoint, it
switches over to Brooklyn, and 74% comes from Brooklyn, and then Dumbo is 70.7%. Red Hook is 79%, and then
Sunset Park is 77.7%. So they are people not
going north to south. They are going east and west. – I think a lot of developers see the Brooklyn-Queens
waterfront as a gold coast, and it is for them. They come out and say it, the
Jamestown property owners, “We want another Williamsburg
Waterfront in Sunset Park.” They just come out and say it. It’s not, they’re not hiding what they want. And they’re getting it. – When you look at the developers who are part of the friends of the BQX, they are all people who have an interest in development along this route and rising properties along this route. You have heading the whole
charge, the Walentas brothers who own Two Trees Management,
which developed Dumbo, is now building a major
complex in Williamsburg, also has property in Brooklyn Heights. Then you have the Durst family, which is expanding from
Manhattan into Long Island City. You have Andrew Kimball, whose
company bought Industry City in Sunset Park. And if you just overlay those developments with the particular route
that this thing is going, you’ll see that it’s
almost a perfect match. – It’s very tactical, and
they’re moving people, and they’re positioning them in places where they want them to be. – So the projected cost of this whole line is about two-and-a-half billion dollars. The standard model for
financing these things is you tell people how much
it costs to demolish stuff and put up the stakes along
the route that you want to go, and then you get more
money after you’ve already torn stuff down because it
would be a public outcry if nothing was built after
they tore down the buildings. So I think we can expect that
it will cost a good deal more than two-and-a-half billion dollars, even though that is quite
a lot of money right there. – You bring up the cost
of 2.5 billion dollars, but you also know Dallas as
being one of your guideposts, as being the biggest light-rail
system in the United States, the one that you’re modeling on. I point that out because
Dallas’s light-rail system costs 5.1 billion dollars,
so I’m curious as to why you think you can get a
light-rail system here done for 2.5 billion dollars, which is half the cost of Dallas, and includes capital construction costs that date back to 1980s
when the dollar was cheaper, and in a metropolitan area
where real estate is cheaper, labor is cheaper, and unions are squashed ’cause it’s in Texas. So isn’t this likely going
to be more likely to cost of around six, eight, nine,
or ten billion dollars? – We’re looking at costs,
operating cost models from New Jersey, which has union labor, has a cost maybe a little
cheaper than New York, but we’re basing it on
more of those models. When it comes to capital cost, I mean, and so whenever you look at capital cost, you have look at
everything from, you know. – In the case of the BQX, the plan is to have a special tax on the
increase in property values for real estate along the line. So as the value of property
along that line goes up, a certain amount of money will be diverted towards the maintenance of that streetcar. Now, you could say that that’s great. That’s the people who are
most benefiting from it paying for it, or you could say
that this project only works if it increases property values, and the predictable result of
a rise in property values is a rise in rents. The result of a rise in
rents is displacement. – I think that they’re building it for the people that moved around in the back. When gentrification came
in this area, I believe that the people in the
back complained about the no, not enough buses and trains in the area and stuff. We have the 61 and the 57 here. We got the F Train on 9th
Street and Smith street, and I believe it’s being built for them. Okay, I feel like they did enough already. They raised, they made our rents go up. – I fear that we are being pushed. We are really being pushed
out of this community because everything that
they are building now, all the new constructions
that are going up, they are really forcing a lot
of people in these communities to relocate, okay? You see families moving out every day. They’re going, they’re
taking their families and moving south, or going to Jersey. And that’s not fair. Why should we have to
move out of the community we was raised in, to go
to another, someplace new, when we’ve been here all our lives? – The only thing on the table
is how do we make this thing something that people won’t resist? There were questions
about disability access, about whether or not people
had to pay two fares. What happens if this thing is
the middle of a storm surge. We just went through Sandy
just a few years ago. What does that mean in Red Hook if it’s in the middle of a storm surge. Red Hook is Zone A. – During Hurricane Sandy, all
of those factory buildings along the waterfront, where
Industry City bought out, those were flooded with water, like gallons and gallons of water. And the thing is if a disaster
like that happens again, and the BQX flops, the city
is going to pay for that. And by the city, it’s
like, people who work here and live here. That’s coming out of our tax money, so we’re paying to get displaced? Like that just doesn’t make any sense. – So the consequences,
and this is for all of you who’ve just moved in and are on the fence, and don’t really know whether
to support this or not. The consequences of what is being proposed on the waterfront, providing a streetcar, to support the developers that
are building up to displace us to create another Williamsburg, right, where 30% to 40% of the
population was displaced, really takes away an
industrial waterfront that could be building
for climate adaptation, and a climate change future. And what you’re doing, is
it’s putting us in harm’s way because climate change is here, and we just got a president
who doesn’t believe in it. And so, on top of the fact
that the federal funding is gonna be cut from the
city, you all could come up with 2.5 billion dollars
to create a streetcar to displace the people
that live in this community to support a vision that
doesn’t include building for renewable energy, for offshore wind, for community on solar. The new industrial development
that needs to happen to address the fact that
climate change is here and this is a waterfront
city and so what you’re doing by putting us in harm’s way is immoral, and we are not going to allow it. We are not going to allow it. (applause) – Gentrification is a losing
battle all over the country, in fact in different
parts of the world. But there are things that
can be done in New York City that you can’t do in other places. So for example, the industrial
sector in Sunset Park, well, you can retain manufacturing, and you can start building
for renewable energy for offshore wind and
for all the buildings that are happening in Brooklyn
should be carbon-neutral, and where do the materials
for that come from? Where does that get created? That could be created on
an industrial waterfront. The industrial waterfront can be used for the distribution of food. We could connect to upstate farmers who could bring their food
down by refrigerated barges. Those are blue-collar industrial jobs that keep people in the community working, and maintain the working-class
character of the community, and people will be able
to make as much money as they need to raise a family, and that protects the
community from displacement. – [Crowd] No BQX, No BQX, No BQX! No BQX, No BQX, No BQX! The BQX is just not right.
Fight, fight, fight! The BQX is just not right.
Fight, fight, fight! The BQX is just not right.
Fight, fight, fight! (chanting in spanish language)

40 thoughts on “Gentrification Express: Breaking Down the BQX

  1. BQX .. Great video..thanks!

  2. This is a beautifully shot video with crucial information. Keep up the good work.

  3. Interested in the 9 transit starved coridors that Sam Stein mentioned in the video.

  4. The man (de Blasio) is a first-class jackass. Nothing else needs to be said.

  5. Great video! Fabulous work! An excellent explanation of just why the BQX was proposed. It clearly explains it's impact and just who is pulling the strings.

  6. Sort of how RIPTA wanted to run a streetcar line between Brown University and the Hospital complex on the south side of Providence. Completely missed all the more economically disadvantaged areas. It's gone nowhere.

    And empty lots don't get as much outrage here in Providence, RI – I want to propose legislation that increases property taxes to say 8 times normal rate per thousand of valuation. That would dis-incentive tearing down properties because they don't want to pay the single tax rate.

  7. Amazing video. I have been on the fence about the BQX for the past year, but this video made me completely sure of my disaproval. Thank you!

  8. Really such a short sighted view of this project. Never turn down transportation improvement projects. Of course they are going to hit the densest neighborhoods along the river where the jobs are. Once established other lines can be built. To refuse this project is absurd. Busses emit pollution. Many cities already have this type of train and they are successful. I don't understand the grumbling.

  9. Thank God for gentrification to bring some diversity to neighborhoods! The BQX will tie the boroughs together and allow for easy travel between non Manhattan boroughs.

  10. lol, is this an stilted attempt at humor?

  11. Well made video but opposing mass transit investment is antithetical to the cause of improving people's lives. The status quo of buses mired in street congestion is unacceptable. There is nothing sinister about planning for a robust transportation system where housing density is already increasing, such as along the Bk/Qns waterfront. DiBlasio is doing what he can given the shit sandwich of poor urban development policies presented by dysfunctional state and national government. We are arguably the richest large city in the West, yet we can't have adequate surface transportation on par with every French town of 250,000? Not even where billions of dollars are pouring in to develop new world class neighborhoods?

  12. In NJ we have a light rail, BUT the light rail worked because A: it provided transit in an area that didn't have it (IE Path goes East to West while HBLR goes north to south, meaning it did NOT parallel a line, B it was cheap, using existing lines, and C it didn't require major redevelopment.

  13. Well deblasio could use the money to restore the rockaway beach branch but he has to please his developer overlords, plus he wants to give queens a highline which is funded by his developer overlords who put money into his campaign coffers

  14. Even if a bus line made sense for this corridor, the city would not be able to add one without funding and approval from the MTA. The BQX can be done by New York City alone, without the complications and political issues that come from projects requiring coordination among city, state, or federal agencies.

  15. 5:14 Seriously! 3rd avenue in the Bronx is just one of the worst examples of a really bad transportation setup in the borough. Traveling East/West is one of the most miserable experiences by bus, taxi or car and is impossible by train. And there are still only a handful of feasible options for traveling North/South within the borough. I can only imagine the situation is just as bad in Queens and Brooklyn

  16. this makes me so proud to be a Hunter College alum! Thank you for making this documentary! I live along the BQX route and am strongly opposed to it. My rent is already crazy high!

  17. If you owned property before the value increased then you aren't mad. It's only the ones that rent that are upset. No one is pushing you anywhere. You must own/control your housing.

    It's just business.

  18. Hypocrites. You cheered as my neighborhood, Stockton Terrace, was torn down by the same Mafia Bastards.

  19. You celebrated when this happened to the Upper West Side. You deserve it.

  20. This was the plan of the Architectural Review Board.

  21. A load of losers bitchin haha, how about you get out there and try earn some money to buy a place rather then expecting to be given it on a plate

  22. City says construction development along the route will pay for this train. At this point, the city and the real estate industry are the same thing.

  23. Just like in Detroit that line only goes up Woodward ave. Where the white community is living and working , but give it due time it will make its way futher north on Woodward ave.,but by that time the vast majority of black people will be removed from those areas ,now you can see that the city is now coming into certain poor areas doing certain things to get it ready for the next inhabitants , which will be white people , because there's is not enough room for all the new inhabitants to live downtown , so now the city needs certain neighborhoods to redevelope for them , that's when you'll see that Q line come into the hood , because it's not the hood anymore .

  24. Hay why not build a underground shuttle like the s train to Brooklyn and Queens. I really think that would benefit everybody. And I think Brooklyn and Queens are are supposed to have Subways and not streetcars because thats not what the boroughs where built for. Streetcars. And quick fact: Subways are a lot faster than streetcars due to them being underground and elevated without traffic.

  25. This is the mentality of idiots. Stop the development because i can't affprd to use it.

  26. But no Amercan flags.

  27. It is not your space you do not own it.

  28. It is not your space you do not own it.

  29. It is not your space you do not own it.

  30. gentrification = white people moving back into neighborhoods their ancestors built.

  31. That Puerto Rican flag was made in China…

  32. Same thing happening in D.C.

  33. did you know what's going on in Coney island the ocean dreams luxury development project & by putting a streetcar from the ocean dreams development site on Surf Avenue to Stillwell transit terminal

  34. Thanks.

  35. I support it, but Im a sucker for street cars.

  36. The only people that's going to be negativity affected by gentrification are working class residents regardless of ethnicity. Union Square and Hells Kitchen are still gentrifying and they're predominantly European Americans.

  37. Money talks
    Your color doesnt stop you from making money – your victimhood mentality does.

  38. I am now convinced that BQX is the least efficient method of public transportation for the Brooklyn Queens Waterfront. NYC Ferry would do a much better job at a much lower cost and would have the most positive effect on the communities served. Right now, virtually the entire BQX route is served by NYC Ferry although not by a single route. The cost projections for BQX are completely unrealistic. Using New Jersey's Light Rail costs as a guided is forgetting the Hudson-Bergen began construction in the 1990s and most of the River Line's right of way (Trenton – Camden) is concurrent with an existing rail freight route. With funds for urban public transit drying up and urgent infrastructure needs not being met, spending money on the least efficient methods are an unaffordable luxury that make no economic or political sense.

  39. you gotta love nimbyism, protecting empty industrial properties

  40. Its not about race at all or class warfare. Its about making an American area prosperous again the way America has been doing since the industrial revolution and its part of the American foundation of wealth creation and innovation. Its about making the area safer, cleaner, more productive and wealth creating. But these morons with little education other than indoctrinated social activism and victimhood ideology and low IQs can only think about not seeing some stupid Puerto rican flag on parade day. Yet those same people are too stupid to even realize that that very same flag is a common wealth of the U.S. and only stays afloat because of the U.S. But do you ever see any of those boricuas (as they like to think of themselves as) ever wave the flag of the very country that grants them a home? Has given them everything that their little island couldn't give them? No. Ungrateful spoiled brats that have been given the lucky privilege of citizenship by birth which many other countries and islands wish they could have. Yet all they prioritize is salsa, wepa!, Jennifer Lopez and wrapping that stupid worthless flag around their back like a cape. What a joke. Then they complain about not making money, being unable to improve their living conditions like "Los Blancos" and feel stupid and displaced because other groups see the potential in such an area and actually take steps to improve it and make something out of it other than a lazy idea of "Mi barrio".

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