Rent soars, small businesses close as Brooklyn neighborhood goes through ‘rapid gentrification’

FLATBUSH, Brooklyn — Flatbush. Neighbors call it “rapid gentrification.”

“Some of the businesses that were here, were here for a while, and it’s sad to see them go,” said Dudley Sylvian sitting inside his tax firm office Sylco Consulting. It is pretty much the last business on the block that doesn’t have a for rent sign hanging above it.

During the past few weeks, Cortelyou between Flatbush and 22nd has said goodbye to the barber shop and to the bakery. The cleaners were cleared out before that.

“Rents are pretty high,” Sylvian said. “A lot of the businesses are minority owned, you know struggling to make ends meet to survive and bring something home to the family.”

“This is really disheartening for many of us, this is rapid gentrification happening in our community,” said Imani Henry, the lead organizer of Equality for Flatbush. The group tracks rising rents and helps displaced tenants.

Henry pointed out that just a few months ago the other side of the block, the residential side, was turned over as well.

“The smaller apartments across the street also closed and tenants were out,” Henry said. “And a guy job renovation is going on, which is a way to destabilize rent stabilized buildings.”

The City Council has flirted with the idea of commercial rent control to help prevent situations like the one on Cortelyou. Several council members are on the record supporting the idea, but there is no pending legislation.