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You live where? Inside the neighborhood name game

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amny Photo Credit: Behold ProCro, the fuzzy area between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights/Katya Pronin

Why live in mundane midtown when you can snap your fingers and say you’re a resident of trendy MiMA? And doesn’t SoMa have a cooler ring to it than FiDi, the older nickname for the Financial District? 

Brokers and residents alike have long been enamored with the buzzy neighborhood catch name, inspired by the enduring success of SoHo and TriBeCa.

While such rebrandings hit feverish levels during the real-estate boom, they are cropping up anew as the market revives.

“Sometimes the names are absurd, but other times they do help to give a sense of identity to a micro-neighborhood. They help to identify and develop [its] character,” said Stuart Elliott, editor in chief of The Real Deal, a blog and magazine.

Of course, some flop: Think Brooklyn’s BoCoCa — short for Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens — which never took off after brokers introduced it in 2004.

But they’re still trying. The latest contender is MiMA, coined by Related Real Estate, which is marketing a new 63-story residential tower on West 42nd Street.

“I love MiMA!” said Barbara Fox, president and founder of Fox Residential Group in Manhattan. “That’s very catchy.”

But will it be the new SoHo?

“You don’t know until [the name] sticks or it doesn’t,” Fox said. “There’s no formula.”

There’s a lot in a name and, at the same time, not much at all, Fox said.

“The biggest advantage is that it identifies the neighborhood. ‘Midtown’ is so generic, but ‘MiMA’ is unique,” she added.

But it’s not going to make apartments fly off the market, she said.  Still, “if you push something hard enough, it’ll probably stick.”

That’s what Sundeep Bhan is counting on.

Bhan, 38, who has lived with his family in the Financial District for five years, has banded with a group of residents to change the neighborhood’s nickname, FiDi, to SoMa (South Manhattan).

“‘FiDi’ is something that most people don’t like,” Bhan said. “It doesn’t sound good.”

The neighborhood has changed dramatically, Bhan said. It’s no longer overrun with stuffy Wall Street “suit” types; middle-class families are moving in. And “FiDi” is not an accurate representation of the new demographics, Bhan said.

“We want a brand that really fits the neighborhood,” he said. “We need a name that we can all be proud of.”

Bhan’s group has approached the Downtown Alliance to push SoMa (the Alliance hasn't taken any formal action yet), and merchants have expressed interest in creating products with the name, Bhan said.

Ed Joseph, senior vice president of Brown Harris Stevens, is hopeful SoMa works, as it’s a simple name that easily identifies its turf.

“If the name of a neighborhood makes sense, it’ll stick,” he said. “If it’s really off the wall, it won’t.”

If that’s the case, then brokers can count on the acronym for the Prospect Heights/Crown Heights area to fizzle.

As one commenter on the blog Brooklynian.com put it: “What the heck is a ‘ProCro’?”

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Getting a taste of Gotham's alphabet soup

You live where?

Next time someone mentions a neighborhood name that leaves you scrambling to look it up on Urban Dictionary, don’t feel bad. Trendy nicknames come and go — well, mostly go.

Here’s a look at some new neighborhood monikers that are popping up, and some that fell into the abyss of nice tries:

1. MiMA (Midtown Manhattan)

When it started: It popped up on real estate ads late last year.

Who’s behind it: Related Real Estate, which named a new residential tower on 42nd Street the MiMA tower.

Will it stick? Real estate experts said it’s the kind of name that can easily become part of New Yorkers’ consciousness.

2. FiDi (Financial District)

When it started: It’s unclear when the name was first mentioned, but it’s picked up steam since 2000.

Who’s behind it: Brokers initially bandied the name around, but today, it’s mostly used by area residents.

Will it stick? It already has. FiDi is pretty well-known, but some downtown residents are pushing to replace it with the more inclusive SoMa, for “Southern Manhattan.”

3. SoHa (South of Harlem)

When it started: In the past decade.

Who’s behind it: Businesses are the driving force in keeping the name alive, such as Max’s SoHa restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue.

Will it stick? For people who live there, sure. For the rest of us? Not so much.

4. WaHI (Washington Heights/Inwood)

When it started: 2002

Who’s behind it: Eduardo Gomez, who created the WaHI online community website.

Will it stick? Area residents use it fondly, but few others have heard of it.

5. SpaHa (Spanish Harlem)

When it started: It emerged as gentrification took root in Harlem during the past couple decades.

Who’s behind it: Realtors that were looking to attract new homeowners to the neighborhood.

Will it stick? It had its moment early on, but you won’t hear it much nowadays.

6. ProCro (Prospect Heights/Crown Heights)

When it started: At the beginning of this year.

Who’s behind it: Realtors wanting to describe the border area of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights.

Will it stick? A funny name for a sliver of Brooklyn. Seems unlikely to endure.

7. RAMBO (Right After Manhattan Bridge Overpass)

When it started: It’s unclear when the moniker emerged.

Who’s behind it: Someone with more time on his or her hands than a person should have.

Will it stick? Please, please no.

8. BoCoCa (Boerum Hill/Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens)

When it started: Several reports peg its origin to 2004.

Who’s behind it: Realtors

Will it stick? It died quickly, but was reintroduced later and never caught on — for reasons that some say are obvious.

9. SoBro (South Bronx)

When it started: Not clear

Who’s behind it: Realtors began to bandy the name around, but SoBRO — a South Bronx nonprofit  — is keeping the name alive.

Will it stick? It’s used by neighborhood residents, but it hasn’t caught on elsewhere. There’s also a rivalry to call South Brooklyn by the same acronym.

10. DoBro (Downtown Brooklyn)

When it started: About 2006

Who’s behind it: The Brooklyn Downtown Star

Will it stick? So far, this community paper is really the only one using the term, along with some blogs

 

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