News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
March 8, 2021
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News + Views

Cecilia Cacace Has to Move

By Lisa M. Collins

Is the old Carroll Gardens dead?

It — a place of large Italian families and dock workers, and where Italian was spoken on every street corner — has been dying slowly during the last 20 years, as rents and property values spike straight up, and longtime residents and business owners struggle to hold on, or sell their property to the highest bidder. New owners buy up buildings, build anew and rent at market value, or above, if possible. Reports have surfaced of Court Street landlords asking for as much as $15,000 a month for retail storefronts – come on!

Now some startling news: Cecilia Cacace, the fire-brand senior who many old-timers call the “mayor of Carroll Gardens,” born and raised here, and hot-with-fiery-tongue when asked about the neighborhood’s newcomers, who she does not, in general, care for (“yuppies, guppies and puppies,” she calls us) may have to move to Wisconsin.


This is news. Shocking news.

And, therefore, in accordance with another element of our life in CG: The city papers vied on Wednesday to claim ownership of the “breaking” news that Cecilia may have to move. The New York Post reported it as an “exclusive,” giving info about a fund-raiser at Mama Maria restaurant on Court Street to raise money so Cecilia can stay.

Then it was reported in The New York Daily News, and picked up by The Brooklyn Paper. Regardless of who was first, the story goes that Cecilia is preparing to move after her rental building on 1st Place was purchased and the new owner is doing away with her $500 apartment, which she rented from a relative, according to the News.

Cecilia, a regular at Court Street’s Happy Pants Café, thus may have to co-habitate with one of her sons, who lives in rural Wisconsin.

Now, previous to this, I thought the strongest symbol that Carroll Gardens was forever a new, different place was when a national-franchise, upscale children’s play space and shop called Kidville replaced the Eileen Duggan Senior Center, and the seniors had to move into the basement of the building.

But Cecilia Cacace priced out of Carroll Gardens: That takes the symbolic cake.

I don’t agree with Cecilia, by the way, when it comes to her stance that “yuppies” have ruined Carroll Gardens. The changes here have made it cleaner, safer, improved the schools — and also, made it more diverse. Maybe because I’m one of the newcomers she claims to despise, I feel like it’s every human’s right, in a way, to inhabit New York City in any way possible, if they so wish, and are so able. Why so many of us want to is often beyond anything we can understand.

It’s always been that way, at least for 300 years. Why shouldn’t it be that way now.

The city is a living, breathing organism; alive; changing always so it doesn’t die.

Yet, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to spend 76 years in Carroll Gardens and then be forced to move. It’s cruel.

As a six-year-resident, a renter, I’m already getting nervous for the day, not soon I hope, when rents go above what is reasonable or possible for me to pay.

I hope I won’t feel hateful, and remember that New York City is the world’s city, and that I only rented space here. Or maybe I’ll feel terribly hurt, robbed, sad and angry .

If you see Cecilia, say Hello, say Good-bye, say I’m sorry, or attend her fundraiser.

I can’t image she will like the cheese in Wisconsin. Hopefully, she can stay in the land of fresh mozzarella.

To RSVP for the fundraiser, held by Community Board 6 at 718-643-3027

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