Artists make or break neighborhoods. I know this sounds like a stretch, but trust me. No neighborhood has ever flourished without the foundation of an artist community. Think SoHo, TriBeCa, Williamsburg or Dumbo.
Once upon a time, these neighborhoods provided artists with cheap loft space to express their creative freedom. Artists create a neighborhood's vibe. They are the people who bring culture to spaces long left abandoned by the industry they used to serve. With the cool vibe that artists bring come coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques.
Soon after the coffee shops come, some of the artist lofts get turned into rentals or get demolished all together to make way for new development. This series of events usually creates friction between the artists and new residents, as the neighborhood no longer provides an affordable sanctuary for artists. As real estate prices climb, the artists get totally pushed out of the neighborhood. Consider the aforementioned enclaves, and you'll realize this is indeed the case.
Although this cannibalization of the arts is the sad truth of neighborhood development, seeing the trend take place can provide for a massive opportunity for savvy real estate investors. Imagine if you had the opportunity to have purchased in Williamsburg or Dumbo 10 years ago!
So where are artists moving to these days? Bushwick! I remember speaking to somebody several years ago, before I really knew the neighborhood. He said that the way to follow the neighborhood development is to follow the art. I thought that was easier said than done, but he assured me that it's actually quite easy.
This acquaintance showed me something called Bushwick Open Studios, an art exhibition where artist show their work across expositions across the neighborhood. He said to track neighborhood development, just follow the map of dots that make up the expositions. This past weekend was Bushwick's 2015 Open Studios, and I took a look at the map. I was in shock! This guy was so right on the money in his understanding on how artists drive real estate development (and prices!). I decided to take a look at the 2012 map and compare. Let's take a look. The purple dots represent exhibition spaces.
2012 Map of Bushwick Open Studios
2015 Map of Bushwick Open Studios
I know these images are not 1 for 1 in terms of scale. I had to scrape Google for the 2012 map, but the comparison is still quite clear! Notice how the 2012 map shows an area labeled "South of the Border." This area wasn't touched in 2012 by artists. It wasn't by real estate developers either! Now that artists have been pushed further east, and developers have also been sensing opportunity. Three years ago you wouldn't find any renovated multi-family development in this area. This area is now densely packed with new multi-families hitting the market every month, ranging from $1.1M to $1.5M.
The lesson is clear...follow the art and be ahead of the curve. The art is not what causes developers to go further out, rather it is the influx of people and demographic trends that get developers interested.
So the good news is this...there is still a robust artist community in Bushwick. It's not going to disappear anytime soon. There are still massive opportunities to buy into this neighborhood before artists get pushed out to East New York. It's nowhere near some of the other neighborhoods mentioned above, which once upon a time had a rich tradition in the arts.
Have you been out to Bushwick? If not, I would highly recommend going to Roberta's Pizza and go for a walk in the area. It's right off the L train Morgan stop.
Are you interested in seeing what real estate opportunities have to offer in Bushwick? Opportunities range from $400K newly developed condos to $1.1M newly renovated multi-family homes. Just connect with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.