Rising to the top in Brooklyn and Queens

A look at five priciest residential sales in 2010 in each of the two boroughs
By Vanessa Weiman | June 01, 2010 07:04PM

When the most expensive residential sales are discussed in New York real estate circles, there’s usually one caveat: They’re all in Manhattan.

So this month, The Real Deal looked at the top five most expensive closed sales in 2010 to date in each of two other boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens.

The lists, which were created with information from StreetEasy and PropertyShark, include everything from flashy new condos to suburban-style mansions to historic townhouses. Prices ranged from $1.9 million to $8.495 million.

The prices for the top deals are lower than they were last year in both boroughs. In 2009, the top five sales in the two boroughs ranged from $2.5 million to $10.3 million, according to StreetEasy.

The lower prices are not surprising. According to appraisal firm Miller Samuel, average prices in the luxury market in Brooklyn were down 29 percent in 2010’s first quarter compared to the same time in 2009. But the good news is that the number of luxury sales was up nearly 96 percent. In Queens, meanwhile, the number of sales in the luxury sector shot up 72 percent, while prices were up a modest 1.4 percent.

A breakdown of the high-end sales at the tops of the lists follows.

Brooklyn

While the borough has made headlines for several of its über-expensive listings, including a $25 million penthouse in Dumbo and, more recently, a $10 million home in Brooklyn Heights, its most expensive sale so far this year was for considerably less.

The top deal was an $8.495 million condo sale at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the waterfront condo conversion that struggled to unload units during the downturn.

The February sale combined several apartments into one 9,486-square-foot space. According to the New York Times, three of the units had been combined by a previous buyer, who backed out after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

One Brooklyn Bridge Park also has spot number four on the Brooklyn list — a unit that sold for $4.1 million in January.

Highlyann Krasnow, a partner at TREGNY and the Developers Group, the exclusive agent for the building, said the opening of part of the new 83-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park is likely helping to drive the increased interest.

Meanwhile, Bay Ridge secured the borough’s second most expensive residential sale. A single-family home sold there in April for $4.65 million.

Anthony Ursino, owner/broker of Brooklyn Realty Center in Bay Ridge, did not work on the deal, but follows the market in the area closely and said that $4.65 million was “a great price for the house,” which is located at 8033 Shore Road. He said the owner had originally asked for $5.3 million about two years ago — but said that price was high even for a strong market.

Still, Ursino said, there are many homes priced between $1 million and $2 million lingering on the market.

Townhouse-heavy Brooklyn Heights had the borough’s third priciest sale — a single-family Home On Henry Street that sold for $4.575 million in April. According to the real estate website Brownstoner, the property went on the market in early March.

The high-end townhouse market in Brooklyn (especially in Brooklyn Heights) has experienced something of a growth spurt since the year started, brokers say.

Deborah Rieders, senior vice president at Corcoran, said last year townhouses were not selling, and few were even on the market. That’s now changed.

“The townhouse market has been on fire in Brooklyn since the beginning of the year,” said Rieders. “Last August I had a house on the market that got only lowball bids. We took it off the market, put it back on six weeks ago, and got a full-price offer the first day.”

Ellen Newman, a senior vice president at Corcoran who also works the Brooklyn Heights area, concurred, noting that she currently has a home in contract for $5.5 million on Monroe Street, which would be the borough’s second most expensive closed sale if it gets finalized.

Charles Homet, senior vice president at Halstead, who markets loft-style condos at 70 Washington Street in Dumbo, said that high-end condo sales have picked up in the borough. He noted that he’s encountered a number of European and Asian buyers looking for pieds-à-terre.

Interestingly, Gravesend, which snagged a bunch of the top deals last year in the borough, does not have any closed sales so far this year that made the list.

Queens

The five priciest sales in Queens for 2010 are clustered in two very different locations — an up-and-coming area known mostly for its flashy new condos, and an old-time neighborhood rooted in stability.

The most expensive sale was a single-family home located at 3866 10th Street in Long Island City, which sold in January for $3.15 million, according to PropertyShark.

According to the deed, the seller was LeRoy Adventures Inc., which appears to be connected to the family that until late last year owned Tavern on the Green. A bankruptcy lawyer for LeRoy Adventures did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, an 8,000-square-foot Home On Beverly Road in suburban-style Douglaston Manor took the prize for the borough’s second most expensive deal when it sold for $2.65 million in April.

Despite the Miller Samuel data, which showed a jump in luxury sales, Rod O’Connell, owner of the Little Neck-based brokerage Bryce Rea Real Estate and the broker for the Beverly Road sale, said the sale did not signal much of a deviation from last year.

“Nothing [in the market] is better than it was last year; I haven’t seen an uptick,” O’Connell said.

Douglaston Manor, which boasts one of the city’s best school districts and low crime rates, is populated with some families who have been living in the area for generations — O’Connell is the fifth generation in his own family to live there.

In addition to the LeRoy property, Long Island City also had two other properties on the Queens top-five list — both at the View, the 20-story waterfront condo by developer TF Cornerstone.

Long Island City’s proximity to Manhattan — and the View’s sight lines of the Manhattan skyline — are helping draw space-seeking Manhattanites to buy there, according to Silvette Julian, vice president and project director at NestSeekers, which is marketing the building.

She noted that common charges had been reduced as of January, which “brought back some potential clients from previous years who were now able to afford it.”

Now, she said, there is renewed interest in the building’s remaining penthouses, which start at $1.935 million.

“I’m not surprised,” Julian said. “You get a lot more for your money than in Manhattan.”