Friday, November 14, 2014

As Carroll Gardens Old-timers Age and Pass On, Next Generations Cash In - Observer

I've been in the neighborhood ten years now, and Mrs. Firstandcourt for fourteen.  Everybody knows a story like this (at least one) from their block.  It's not a story unique to Carroll Gardens, though the astonishing rise in property values here certainly has increased the pressure.  The fallout for families results from a sort of resource curse in a microcosm, not so unlike a developing nation that discovers oil riches.  From the Observer (via mcbrooklyn):
The typical conflict involves a home where a group of siblings grew up together, with most eventually marrying off and decamping for Staten Island, New Jersey or farther flung locales. Meanwhile, one sibling stays behind to care for the aging matriarch or patriarch, or both. Once the parent dies, “the whole thing can crumble very quickly,” says Ms. Kelly.
Like Anthony, the sibling who stayed, his or her caretaking duties done, is now an obstacle to putting the house on the market, as their siblings—who from a distance have been clocking the ever-rising seven-figure sums being fetched by neighborhood homes—are often in a sweat to do. So leverage is applied, and not always gently.
“That person is considered a liability, because they’re sitting on a goldmine and they won’t leave it,” says Maria Pagano, the president of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, who says she’s seen “many, many of these types of stories.”
With prices in the multimillions, buying one’s siblings out is rarely an option. And in any case, “often they don’t make enough to take out a mortgage,” notes Mr. Levine. So they’ve got no choice but to leave, cut off not only from their lifelong home, but also from the family that forced them out.
In fairness, the desire to get one’s piece of a $3 million asset is easy to understand. But what’s striking is the extent to which flashing dollar signs seem to blind people to familial considerations.
I'm grateful that some of the "old-timer" Italians on our block have taken us in and treated us like family over the years, even though we are "the liberals".  Change is a constant.  But I hope to share their company for a long time to come.

Side notes - I have never heard, not even once, a "newbie" refer to long time residents as "leftovers.  Never.  So there is that.  And a minor quibble Red Rose is not the only red sauce joint on Smith - Vinny's of Carroll gardens has been our go-to spot for years, and that's an old neighborhood family too.

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