Colony 1209: tone deaf condo in Bushwick looking for “settlers” to colonize “new frontier”


Given all the displacement happening in New York’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, you’d think developers and the PR companies would show a little more tact:

Here in bohemian Bushwick, Brooklyn, you’ll find a group of like-minded settlers, mixing the customs of their original homeland with those of one of NYC’s most historic neighborhoods to create art, community, and a new lifestyle.

Like-minded settlers? Mixing the customs of their original homeland? A colony? Gross.

The Awl is appropriately perturbed too:

According to the website of, the brokerage firm renting units at Colony 1209, only fourteen units remain available in Colony 1209. The rest are occupied by renters settling what the luxury building’s website calls “Brooklyn’s new frontier.” That “new frontier” is “bohemian Bushwick, a vibrant industrial setting reimagined through artful eyes.” The area—where there are just as many empty lots overgrown with weeds and buildings with boarded-up windows as there are tree-lined streets, Puerto Rican flags, and yards with colorful lawn ornaments—might unnerve some potential settlers if Colony 1209’s website didn’t reassure them, “we already surveyed the territory for you.”…

When I contacted Quinn, the “lifestyle public relations agency with global impact” behind the building’s marketing, to ask what kind of statement the branding was trying to make, the spokesperson declined to comment. But it’s clear that Colony 1209 celebrates America’s colonial past in order to enact a similar kind of displacement in the present: A colony-themed residential complex in a historically working-class neighborhood promises potential tenants that they’ll enjoy what they will inevitably “discover” in the neighborhood. The rhetoric of pioneering implies that Bushwick is a blank-slate territory, full of possibilities; thinking of the urban space as an empty frontier authorizes recent arrivals to reshape it to match their own particular vision of “authenticity.” The process of discovering the authentic, then, is not so much a process of seeking what exists in the neighborhood, but of tailoring the environment to their own preferences, like conquistadors…

To colonize a place means to overtake it, to pillage its resources, to dehumanize its people, and to attempt to erase its past; Colony 1209’s revisionist history belittles this legacy of violence. A hierarchy of importance is established in such a situation: The people who already live in the neighborhood, matter less than newcomers from whom developers profit—or matter only in the sense that they add “diversity” and “local culture” to the area. And even if Colony 1209 is an exercise in self-aware irony, it’s at the expense of those who have been living in Bushwick for decades, and of those who can’t afford to live there. Irony here functions, at best, as just another exclusionary inside joke for the young and privileged.


  1. The ad should note that once the area is gentrified, the local zip code will be removed from the jury duty summons distribution list, as has been the case with places like Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and the Hasidic sections of Brooklyn. For many years now, jury duty has been the exclusive domain of minorities and working class whites from the outer reaches of Brooklyn. Somehow this scandal has eluded the media…or been deliberately suppressed by it. After all, the yuppies, hipsters, and assorted “gentry” have no desire to sit next to the detested hoi poloi in a jury room.

Speak Your Mind


− 1 = four