In this comfortable Westchester County community, many residents like to think of their village as the anti-suburb, jokingly calling it the Upper Upper West Side.
With painters, writers, jazz musicians and web designers liberally represented among the population of 8,000, the village displays an arty, slightly irreverent ethos. Subarus with bumper stickers that say “Make Dinner, Not War” outnumber the BMWs with vanity plates. Teenage rock groups are overshadowed by their parents’ bands; Housewives on Prozac is a local favorite. Residents are more likely to play down their wealth than to flaunt it.
So it came as a surprise when residents learned that a house was rising in their midst that was not only over the top for Hastings, but also called for superlatives even for Westchester, one of the richest counties in the entire nation.
The contemporary structure and accompanying pool house together measure more than 30,000 square feet. The underground garage is 3,572 square feet, larger than most of the Tudors and Colonials in town. On the application for a building permit, the construction costs were estimated at more than $40 million.
Maybe we could think of waves of gentrification: hipsters and creative types (think Richard Florida’s “creative class”) can represent a first wave that is willing to move into edgier (grittier, more authentic, cheaper) areas. However, what happens when these increasingly wealthy and educated areas start to attract the uber-wealthy? How does that big money fit with certain hipster values? The article ends by noting that the wealthy couple are Democratic and the big home features alternative energy, so perhaps it is less about money than it is about having the right progressive values. Big homes might be okay as long as the owners have the right morality about such homes.
The other interesting dynamic is that this all is taking place in a suburban setting, specifically in wealthy Westchester County. Hastings-on-Hudson is fairly suburban in its demographics: 85.2% white, the median household income is over $114,000 (the US median is around $50,000), and over 66% of adults have bachelor’s degrees. In other words, this suburban location may be hipsterish but it is certainly not that diverse in terms of race or social class.