Personal assistant Brenden Michaels is wondering if his days in Brooklyn are numbered. He still clings to a cheap rental flat in uber-gentrified Williamsburg, but has seen his neighbourhoodâ€™s prices skyrocket. He now laughingly suspects even the improvements heâ€™s made to his own home may eventually come back to bite him.
â€œIâ€™ve repainted everything, put plants on the fire escape and done a lot of maintenance. If I leave this apartment it will be in a far better state than when I arrived. And by that very simple step, I have almost gentrified myself out of my own building.â€
In many ways, the 29-year-oldâ€™s experience is typical of a host of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender city-dwellers. Seeking both an accepting community and affordable rent, they have often flocked together in cheaper areas of inner cities, such as gay-friendly Williamsburg. Their very presence in these areas, however, has allegedly transformed them, accelerating gentrification â€“ and in turn pricing them out.
This LGBT long march through the inner cities is not about housing alone, of course. There is often a corresponding wave among businesses. LGBT bars and clubs have been said to have had a catalytic effect in encouraging a wealthier public back to areas such as Londonâ€™s Soho or New Yorkâ€™s East Village.
Many western cities have nonetheless been faced recently with an epidemic of LGBT business closures. In London, more than 10 have pulled down their shutters permanently since 2010. This is a phenomenon that has also struck straight pubs and clubs, of course; itâ€™s just that, unlike gay venues, they donâ€™t yet risk becoming an endangered species.
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