Staten Island Wants You

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Photo: Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, Staten Island is burning. Well, not quite yet; but a new report from the Center for Urban Future extrapolates the mysterious borough's stats into 2020, and comes up with a less-than-pretty picture. According to the prognosis, "without a change in direction," Staten Island is in for "an economic decline and a significant deterioration in its quality of life." The doomsday scenario is this: The population will grow, but the young people will keep skipping the island for trendier addresses. As a result, the borough's makeup will soon begin to resemble a kind of lower-middle-class retirement community. This, in turn, will attract a certain kinds of businesses: day care, social services, ESL courses, and downscale retail -- "low-skilled" and "low-paying" jobs all (the report's words, not ours). What's the Center's solution? Artists! Hip, happening, broke-ass artists!

Job One, says the report, is to attract "creative people from Manhattan and Brooklyn." To that end, the Center held a round table with the native creatives, whose views ranged from the upbeat "We can be so much better than Williamsburg" to the dour "Do you guys think you can manufacture an arts community?" Finally, one participant pinpointed the borough's main selling point so succinctly that Staten Island may want to adopt the phrase as its slogan: "A big old haunted mansion in [your] price range." Should the art colony fail, there's always this suggestion, also found in the report: "Hold a high-level, attention-grabbing event." Yikes. If we were Bloomberg, we'd start watching these guys more closely. They're getting desperate.

Staten Island 2020 (pdf) [Center For an Urban Future]