Colonizing BK to the Fullest: Rent Biggie’s ‘One Room Shack’ for a Measly $4,000 Per Month

Illustration for article titled Colonizing BK to the Fullest: Rent Biggie’s ‘One Room Shack’ for a Measly $4,000 Per Month
Screenshot: Global Grind (YouTube)

If you ever dreamed of sipping Mo’ on the living room floor of the Brooklyn apartment immortalized by the Notorious B.I.G., you might not be able to play Nintendo with Cease-a-Leo, but for a scant $4,000 per month, you can rent Biggie’s childhood home, presenting the unique opportunity for affluent hip-hop fans to pick up the phone and say: “Papa not home.”


The New York Post reports that real estate agents have refurbished the 972-square-foot apartment at 226 St. James Place in Brooklyn’s gentrified Clinton Hill neighborhood. According to the listing, the iconic emcee’s childhood home now features three bedrooms, hardwood floors, a formal dining room, bike storage, and a common garden with plantings and barbecue area.

And probably, white people.

A lot of white people.

Calling the apartment “a historical gem,” Compass broker Fabienne Lecole noted that “Things Done Changed” in the old neighborhood, telling the Post that the former “drug-infested” neighborhood is “so calm and residential now,” adding: “It’s hard to imagine it’s the same street that he sang about with all the drugs and gunfire. It couldn’t be more different.”

The current owner, who apparently lived Biggie’s mantra of “Get Money,” bought the third-floor walkup in 2013 for $825,000 and wants to offer the apartment to anyone who wants to “Gimme the Loot.”

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition ranks New York City as one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in the country. In 2012, Rent Cafe listed the areas where Biggie’s one-room apartment is located as one of the top 20 most-gentrified zip codes.

The apartment’s list of amenities does not include a hot tub, so it’s impossible to know if the lucky renter will have the opportunity to invite someone to “watch a movie in the jacuzzi, smoke Ls while you do me.”

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Any input on how to improve a struggling neighborhood, without running the risk of gentrification?

The city I live in used to be considered the insurance capital of the world. But that was at least 2 decades ago. Companies merged. Buildings shuttered. Poverty and abandoned property settled in. But now we’re currently going through a downtown “resurgence” if you will. Starting around the mid 90s, the downtown area(5-10 min from my home) would become a ghost town at 5, when all the insurance execs left for their home in the suburbs. Fastforward to 2017, one minor league baseball stadium, and a several upscale/luxury refurbished condo projects later. The nightlife is almost unrecognizable today. White folks jogging and walking their dogs well past sunset. Outdoor cafes on every other block.

And now I’m conflicted. I’m more than happy for the improvement projects currently underway. We’re getting a desperately needed 2 ½ mi. gorgeous streetscape a block over from me. And not to mention the other new infrastructure projects scattered throughout town because of the influx of investment and funding.

But I can’t help but to feel some kinda way about the people moving in. Because these folks who are now willing to pay $2,500-3,5000 & up/month for a 1 bedroom condo are the same folks who wouldn’t have ever thought about dining downtown 5 years ago. Almost overnight, there’s been this drastic shift. I used to feel completely at ease when going into some of the downtown establishments, or going to the park to relax. Because most of the patrons, staff, and pedestrian traffic looked like me. But now, it’s like I’m aware of my Blackness(if that makes any sense).

My neighbors even vent about the changes. “White mon is taking ovah” is what my Jamaican mailman said to me half jokingly/half seriously the other day, when he overheard my neighbor and I talking about this issue. We’re legit worried about getting priced out of our neighborhood. On our side of town the average apartment rental is $850-900. Knowing there are newly built condos just a few blocks away going for 3-4Xs what we’re currently paying is worrying.

Sorry for the long thread. Just wanted to vent and for input. How can you improve a neighborhood without changing it? Are there examples where this has actually worked?