Being cool in New York is becoming increasingly difficult. Williamsburg and Bushwick — once the ultimate strongholds of hipsterdom — have opened to young professionals who are settling down with their children and pets. Across the river in Queens, luxury towers are sprouting up in Long Island City neighborhoods that were once filled with warehouses and artist hangouts.
And now: Red Hook. While still maintaining a fair share of its original coolness — due in part to a lack of public transportation and zoning that’s geared mostly for industrial use — Red Hook appears to be transforming as well.
Est4te Four, a Los Angeles-based Italian developer, seems to be the pioneer in the area. The developer bought four waterfront properties this year for more than $30 million, in addition to land it purchased in 2012, some of which it will combine into a massive, 1.1 million-square-foot project. That complex will encompass the space from Coffey and Wolcott streets, and Ferris Street and New York Harbor. Est4te Four also launched sales at 160 Imlay Street, a former warehouse that underwent a condo conversion earlier this year.
“We want to create an innovation district,” said Massimiliano Senise, a partner at Est4te Four. He said the firm is currently working on developing the master plan for its office project, which aims to be a “Silicon Valley” style campus for high-tech and fashion companies.
At 160 Imlay, 52 of the 70 units are currently in contract, said the building’s broker, Douglas Elliman’s Patty LaRocco. As a broker in the area — and a recent resident of the Brooklyn community after living for decades in Manhattan — LaRocco said interest in the neighborhood is booming.
“I can’t return phone calls fast enough,” she said during a phone interview. LaRocco said the units “sold very quickly.”
Est4te Four’s Senise said he was attracted to the maritime background of the area, the available warehouses, the artsy scene and the million dollar view of Manhattan — in an atmosphere that is vastly different from the rest of the city. “It looks like a canvas,” he said. “The only reason you know you’re in New York is because you can see the Statue of Liberty.”
Red Hook’s commercial and retail development is doing quite well, said Aleksandra Scepanovic, managing director of the Ideal Properties Group, a Brooklyn-based real estate firm. While she expressed some worry about the lasting impact of Superstorm Sandy on the residential component of the neighborhood, she said that retail is “rebounding much better.”
“If there’s no repeat of Sandy,” she noted, “Red Hook will continue on that trajectory.”
Another noteworthy residential development is coming to the area in the form of 22 townhouses on King Street. Sales will launch in the spring.
Williamsburg-based Sanba Partners plans to break ground at the end of the year on the homes, which will be located between Van Brunt and Richards streets.
The 22 new homes, LaRocco said, will be “architecturally significant.” The project will have five different facades that include wood, brick and steel. The townhouses are being built to minimize damage from another hurricane. The homes, for example, will not have basements. And none of the mechanics will be located on the ground floor, LaRocco said. Construction of the homes is expected to be finished in 2016.
Meanwhile, at 185 Van Dyke Street, a 3,000-square-foot communal office space opened earlier in the month that’s aimed toward “creative and freelance professionals,” according to an announcement from SHARED Brooklyn, the shared office space provider.
“It’s just a beautiful community and that’s very hard to find in New York these days,” LaRocco said of Red Hook. “It’s just really funky quaint.”