Those who must not be nabe’d? Bill would ban brokers from renaming ‘hoods

Move comes amid community outcry over "SoHa" designation for southern Harlem

TRD New York /
Jun.June 09, 2017 09:45 AM

Brian Benjamin and map of South Harlem (Credit: StreetEasy)

Real estate agents want to introduce clients to hot neighborhoods such as SoHa, SoBro, GoCaGa and, of course, ProCo. But one politician says the practice of new-nabe naming is a big NoNo.

Fed up with the alphabet soup of new neighborhood nicknames, state Sen. Brian Benjamin of Harlem introduced a bill that would prevent New York City real estate agents from getting too creative with nontraditional neighborhood names. If passed, the bill would allow the city’s government to block new names, and brokers who don’t play by the rules might lose their licenses.

Benjamin said he was spurred into action because longtime Harlem residents are upset about the recent use of “SoHa” to describe southern parts of the neighborhood, which they said insults the history and culture.

“I have received so much angst and concern from long-time Harlem residents about this name change attempt, because of what it means for the history of Harlem and the culture of Harlem, and the fact that we don’t want to lose our name,” Benjamin told Politico.

Benjamin cited other neighborhoods he said are experiencing a similar fate, including the South Bronx (SoBro), Gowanus and Carroll Gardens (GoCaGa) and Prospect Heights-Crown Heights (ProCo). “There are other neighborhoods and other locations that are feeling this same angst,” Benjamin said.

The lawmaker isn’t the first to take on the renaming issue. In 2011, some Riverdale residents objected to an attempt to rename the enclave into NoMa. Many South Bronx residents also haven’t been happy about gentrification in their neighborhood, deriding attempts to rename the waterfront area the “Piano district,” as a nod to its piano manufacturing roots.  [Politico]E.B. Solomont

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