Residents of a seven-square-block micro-neighborhood south of Prospect Park are succeeding in their quest to have the community renamed “Stable Brooklyn” — yes, that’s the name of the neighborhood, not the local bumper-sticker slogan.
Sure, some opponents think the name is uppity — and, perhaps more important, local real-estate brokers haven’t latched on yet — but city officials have adopted the locution that evokes a political message as much as the appeal of a barnyard.
“Stable Brooklyn is a small neighborhood with significant character and charm,” Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Carroll Gardens) said in a press release last week, supporting residents who want to restrict the size of new buildings in the area bounded by Caton Avenue, Prospect Expressway, Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Parkway.
The Department of City Planning also uttered the name in recent documents about a proposed rezoning of an area that many residents know as Kensington, but the agency is reluctant to rankle the territorial nature of cantankerous Brooklynites.
“This is a tempest in a teapot — City Planning is not in the business of defining neighborhood names; we work closely with communities, to preserve the character of their self-identified neighborhoods,” said Jennifer Torres, a spokeswoman for the agency. “In this seven-block area of Brooklyn, residents agree on the need to preserve the character of this area, by any name.”
But in Brooklyn, your neighborhood says something about your identity.
The local community preferred to let sleeping dogs lie rather than potentially stir up a turf war like the Jets versus the Sharks.
“You can’t call one block this neighborhood and the next block another neighborhood without someone taking offense,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers a vast area once known as South Brooklyn, but now is broken up into neighborhoods such as Windsor Terrace, Sunset Park and the South Slope.
Real-estate brokers, known for latching onto innovative neighborhood names to forge that identity to increase their profit, are dubious for once.
“It sounds weird. I love the horses, but [the name suggests] a block that’s messy,” said Mary Mulkahey, an agent in Park Terrace Properties. “It has a country ring to it, but I’m not sold on it.”
Anyone who doubts that a name with malodorous connotations can catch on needs only look to the Meatpacking District in Manhattan to see that smelly, gory pasts can be cleansed into a trendy barrio (which, ironically, is exactly what the community group rallying behind “Stable Brooklyn” want to avoid).
The relatively young Stable Brooklyn Community Group wants to deter real estate agents and developers from taking an interest in their corner.
“When we formed in 2005, it was sort of a pun of what we hoped to achieve,” said Mandy Harris, a founding member of the Stable Brooklyn Community Group.
The group, which makes names like DUMBO and East Williamsburg sound like ancient areas, coalesced when the sole heir to the pungent and hay-strewn heyday that gave the organization its name, the Kensington Stables on Caton Place, was reduced to one stall after developers tore down its “old gray barn” to make way for luxury condos.
While real-estate dealers downplayed the appeal of Stable Brooklyn, Harris told The Brooklyn Paper that her group caught some flak from neighbors in Kensington, a name that pays homage to the equestrian past, too. Some residents there criticized the Stable Brooklyn group for trying to break away from the rest of neighborhood, as if they were too good to be lumped in with polyglot and working-class Kensington.
Harris said they’re not secessionists because wide boulevards and highways perforated them long ago.
“We’re bordered by all the big streets,” and “we feel isolated from other parts of Brooklyn.”
In other words, stable.