At one point or another, pretty much everyone I know has said, “My neighborhood could really use a ...."
What you fill in that blank, whether it's a coffee shop, bar, burger joint, dry cleaner or produce market says a lot about the area you're in--and its inhabitants.
I’ve decided hang about in front of storefronts for rent around Brooklyn to ask locals what they’d like to see materialize in that empty space.
This week, I visited the open space on Bedford Avenue between N. 6th and N.7th Streets to see what locals thought Williamsburg’s busiest area was missing. I stopped passersby looking for locals and when I found them, I asked them all the same question, “What would you like to see in this spot?”
Here’s what some of them had to say:
Stephanie Wilkie, barista: “I think Williamsburg needs a small movie, a second run, $2 dollar-type movie theater.”
Sarah Vitale, waiter/singer: “I’d want a really excellent produce market that makes really excellent salad and soup.”
Hamilton Morris, writer/researcher: “Umm, anything? How about a weed dispensary? That would be ideal.”
Of the ten or so people I spoke to, four mentioned the need for a movie theater, although, each person stipulated that they wanted an “indie theater.” I found myself wondering what people meant by this since there is currently a small, very indie theater in Williamsburg right near that particular open space. When I pushed further, I often found that locals wanted something closer to a mainstream theater. Perhaps when a proper movie house settles in the Burg it will be a kind of hybrid of the Angelika and one of the big stadium-style theaters--a perfect reflection of the neighborhood's inhabitants.
Two people mentioned that they’d like a branch of their bank to open up on Bedford, one citing the exorbitant fees at Bedford Avenue ATMs. One interviewee declined to offer a suggestion, but instead voiced support for the local Duane Reade, stating, “I don’t see why everybody made a big deal about it, I think it’s great.” Also, two people mentioned having difficulty finding good soup in the area.
It’s likely that if I’d asked a few months ago, locals would have mentioned the need for a proper grocery store, but now there’s a shiny new Foodtown just a few blocks away. With the addition of a movie theater, a produce market, soup and of course, a weed dispensary, Bedford would be damn near utopian--provided of course that the ATM fees were eradicated.