Construction crews refacing a block-long Ditmas Park building will cover over a four-year-old mural depicting children of different races working together, charge scorned neighbors who are questioning if the changes are in step with the gentrification of the leafy community.
“It does seem to be a shame to have done this to the mural,” said Jen Lagasse, a Flatbush resident who walks by the vibrant Newkirk Avenue artwork, which depics a multi-racial community at work and play, on her way home from work every day.
Lagasse said the construction has decapitated the painting’s marquee figure — a child with a paint bucket — and covered up its slogan, “Together we can change the world.”
The mural was painted by youngsters in conjunction with the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Flatbush Development Corporation, but representatives from each of those programs couldn’t even remember the artwork, let alone comment on it.
The landlord of the building near E. 16th Street also owns the adjacent C-Town Supermarket. A store manager there said the exterior of the building needed a face-lift.
“We’re remodeling the top of the building,” said Danny Fernandez. “We’re going to have new signs up there, and make it look nicer.”
But residents disputed the motive behind the beautification, claiming that C-Town wants to drum up a gentrified vibe. The store was remodeled a couple years ago and the shelves have since been stocked with expensive, organic products.
“I think they’re just trying to appeal to the new demographics in the neighborhood, it’s a microcosm of what’s going on in the neighborhood,” said Lagasse.
But merchants with storefronts in the building, which includes a dry cleaner, a psychic teller, a fish market, and a small grocery store, said they don’t feel that the neighborhood is being gentrified and their rents haven’t increased as a result of the remodeling.