Congresswoman Clarke talks gentrifying Brooklyn

Congresswoman Clarke talks gentrifying Brooklyn
Community News Group / Alexandra Simon

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D–Flatbush) indicated her support for big corporations moving into Brooklyn but only if locals can benefit, she said during a roundtable on gentrification on Sept. 29. Amidst the possibility of Amazon considering a second main base in Sunset Park, the politician said she can get behind it with the promise of local gains.

“I’m not against companies coming to Brooklyn as long they’re going to employ Brooklynites,” said Clarke. “The challenge is when they move in — because what opportunities are they going to be offering, and are there going to be jobs for young people or the systemically unemployed?”

With Brooklyn certified as a desirable destination, Clarke feels that major companies looking for real estate in the area should frame their business state of mind on serving the communities they plan to set-up shop in, and also ascertain training to maintain local employment.

Big brands need to take into account of the usual end result when they move into working-class areas. Because if they maintain the typical business model, that ends up doing more harm.

“If you’re just going to transplant your employee base ultimately that’s going to drive things up, because those folks tend to be on higher end of the income spectrum,” said Clarke. “It’s a double-edged sword and the thing about it is for small business — having a major company here is going to create a ripple effect.”

And Sunset Park is no stranger to that, added Clarke. Earlier this year, Bed Bath and Beyond opened up a mall in the hot neighborhood, which is buzzing with a lot of interest.

“Sunset Park is going through a massive remaking, and it’s challenging for longtime stakeholders who have lived in Brooklyn and maintain it all these years,” she said. “When no one wanted to lived there, they stayed through the hard times and are not reaping the benefits or apart the discussion — and it’s almost like a hostile takeover.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at