VICE: What Makes a Neighborhood 'Hip'?

By Moiz K. Malik

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Among them is Moiz Malik, the Chief Technology Officer of Nooklyn. Nooklyn is a real estate company first and foremost. But it's also much more. Slowly, steadily—and because of Malik's work for the company, where he's also a partner—it's become a lifestyle brand and content creator. On its website and app you'll find gorgeous photo essays and articles of neighborhood hot spots—Izakayas, old timey ice cream shops that employ soda jerks, coffee shops, etc—that rival something you might see on Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge or Domino.

Malik takes a break from coding his latest project for the company—basically a Yelp that doesn't suck, pointing residents of various neighborhoods to the cool bars, places to get good grub, and other hot spots—to flip his computer around to show off unedited video footage the company has taken so potential renters can see exactly what their regular day-to-day walks in the neighborhood will look like should they choose to rent there. Think Google street view, but one designed to show what the walk to your train looks like.

Nooklyn has offices in three distinctly hip Brooklyn neighborhoods—Bushwick, Greenpoint, and their newest, Crown Heights—and have listings across the entire borough. This year the company will expand into Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company's well-curated Instagram account features pictures, not of the insides of barren apartments, but of gluten free cupcakes, "Wu Tang Forever" graffiti spray painted on a wall, and a pumpkin carved with the band logo for SLAYER.

Nooklyn, and Malik in particular, have set out to approach real estate almost like a tech company. Rather than just throw up listings on their site, they started asking the same basic questions renters do before finding a place. "Can I afford it? Is it safe? What is there to do [around my apartment]?," says Malik. Nooklyn can provide the answer to all three, but has recently made the last question their point of focus. People want to live where the action is if they can afford to, and feel like they can walk around at night free of too much fear. Those three things swirling together can certainly create the perfect storm for a neighborhood's chance at cool, the criteria required to attract people to a neighborhood to begin with.

Remove any one of them, and it doesn't work out. Cheap but supremely dangerous isn't cool. Lots to do, but only Finance Bros can afford to live there? Not cool. Ditto if there's nothing to do.