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Rebranding rumors: “Avenue of Puerto Rico” could disappear with development

Posted: 6:36 PM, Jun 01, 2013
Updated: 2013-06-01 18:57:56-04

WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN (PIX11)– Irene Domenech lives on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg, but grew up in Puerto Rico.  That’s why she says knowing she lives on Avenue of Puerto Rico makes her feel right at home, “I feel very Puerto Rican 100%, I like it like that.”

But over the last decade Domenech says she’s seen a lot of the Puerto Ricans who helped earn the street its nickname move out, while a more diverse crowd moved in.

“Now more American people, they move to the neighborhood, all types. I see more all mixed,” said Domenech.

To continue to lure newcomers further into the neighborhood, many people are worried real estate groups are trying to get the nickname removed from the street signs.

But even though the neighborhood no longer has the same concentration of Puerto Ricans that once lived here, many who still do say the signs are a part of history and should not be taken down.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea because people worked hard to get that name up there,” said Williamsburg resident Iris Cortes.

But others say if getting rid of the signs will help spur development in the rest of the neighborhood, than maybe it’s time for the signs to come down.

“The real-estate wants to make it better around here, maybe it is a good idea since a lot of the Puerto Ricans did move out of this area,” said Williamsburg resident Anibal Acevedo.

But sign supporters say many of those who did move out of the area did not do it because they wanted to; rather they moved because they had to.

“I don’t know that it is more of a Puerto Rican issue that people moved away rather than a low-income issue where we were pushed away because rents were raised.”

And if the trend continues, many are worried they too will be forced to leave.

Now Community Board 1 in Williamsburg will ultimately have the final say over whether or not the name remains and they did not return our request for comment, but as of now there is no official motion to have the name removed.