Neighborhood Changes as Barclays Center Moves In

Prospect Heights and Park Slope locals believe the opening of the multipurpose arena, the Barclays Center, has been a key factor in the significant changes in their neighborhoods, especially in restaurant population.

“We were all pretty much expecting the Barclays Center to completely change everything around here. We expected loud, uncontrollable crowds that would be constantly around here, disturbing the peace that you can usually find in this neighborhood,” said Melissa Clark, who lives just three blocks from the center. “But I think most of the worries people had have been proven wrong. If anything it feels as if the center has changed the living in this neighborhood, but in good and bad ways..

Most residents share Clark’s view. A series of interviews found that most locals find the biggest change in the surrounding neighborhood has come in the restaurant population.

“Everyone always really liked the restaurants in this neighborhood even before the Barclays Center moved in, but now that it’s here it feels like there are just a bunch more small cafes, restaurants and even chain restaurants filling up all of the empty spaces,” said John Herrera, a neighbor of Clark’s.

According to locals, in the past year the number of restaurants lining the few blocks up Flatbush Avenue, just south of the Barclays Center has doubled. They also have been going through continuous change. While some places stay for a long time, clearly profiting off the increase in business, others disappear almost as quickly as they came and their place is filled up almost instantly by another organic coffee shop or tasteful eatery.

“The restaurants can be good and bad because there’s more business in the neighborhood, but everything seems a little more crowded and busy which I think some people were afraid of,” commented Rachel Urquhart, a Prospect Heights resident.

The residents also have taken note of the new presence of certain chain establishments, such as the all-famous Starbucks Coffee shop, and the increase in certain eateries, such as burger joints, probably because of the need to cater to the crowds attracted by the Barclays Center.

“It is really convenient having a Starbucks just up the street now, but I think everyone can tell that it gives the neighborhood a totally different feel,” commented Herrera. He, like others who commented on the matter, thinks that the presence of something like Starbucks make it seem that the neighborhood is shifting from its previous loyalty to local independent cafes and coffee shops.

The change hasn’t only been in restaurant population and type. Locals speculate that businesses keep popping up and then disappearing because the rent drives them out, and yet the location continues to attract business owners. Many local Brooklyn newspapers have run articles focusing on the increase of rent after the arrival of the Barclays Center and how that has affected certain shop owners in the surrounding are

The increase in rent causes smaller businesses, which can’t afford the increase in rent, to leave the area and therefore creates space for more chain establishments to move into the neighborhood. Locals have said that the change from small to large businesses in the neighborhood and the new crowds brought by the Barclays Center have created a significantly different atmosphere for those living in the surrounding areas.

“I always felt like this was a very family orientated neighborhood. It was super quiet, and all the local places really felt like local places. I think now there are just more people here coming from all over the place, wanting to see the Barclays Center. Tourists, you know?” said Clark.  “And the crowds you get at night after a big show has happened or a game, they are only looking for a bar to drink in after, which is not something we all would have expected to have here before the center moved in.”

Despite the fact that residents claim the neighborhood wasn’t a bar and late night partying scene before the Barclays Center arrived, there has been a clear demand for those venues now that the center is in action. Certain places have been fighting to get liquor licenses that extend later into the night. Community boards have been challenging these attempts because they fear the streets will end up being filled with late night drinkers and partiers. More importantly they also hope to regulate the number of drivers under the influence.