Bedford-Stuyvesant was New York City’s most active neighborhood for new residential building applications last quarter, an analysis by The Real Deal found.
Developers filed applications for at least 33 projects in the neighborhood, nearly three times the number filed in Bushwick, the next most active neighborhood in the city with 11 new project applications. By comparison, at the end of the first quarter of 2014, Bed-Stuy accounted for only 13 new applications, compared with Bushwick’s 22.
Overall, there were at least 103 applications in Brooklyn for 3,311 units, at least 36 applications in Queens with 2,381 units, and at least 18 applications and 2,089 units in Manhattan. The data came from permit applications filed with the Department of Buildings in the first three months of the year.
Just a month ago, GFI Realty Services’ president Michael Weiser told the New York Daily News, “It seems like the Bed-Stuy market has topped out,” echoing other investors’ thoughts that stagnating rents and sky-high home sales spell “over” for short-term investment in the rapidly-changing neighborhood.
And for the buying up, renovating, and flipping of existing buildings in the area, they might just be right. But on the new development front, the 33 planned residential buildings put the brownstone-heavy area ahead of the pack.
“I think we’re just getting started,” said Erik Serras, principal broker at Brooklyn-based brokerage Ideal Properties Group, responding to doubters of Bed-Stuy’s strength. Serras’ company is currently marketing high-end rental and condo buildings in the area, such as Joseph Emergi’s 120 Hart Street, which finished construction just last year.
“We’re still setting records on price per square foot,” said Serras, adding that the slew of new developments in the pipeline “is going to push prices even higher.”
Although Long Island City developments outranked Bed-Stuy by units proposed this past quarter, those units are mostly confined to a few high-rises, such as the planned 930-unit skyscraper at 29-37 41st Avenue, which at 915 feet in height will be the loftiest building in New York outside of Manhattan.
The Bed-Stuy applications, however, have the potential to change the face and feel of more than two dozen neighborhood blocks, as construction sites are spread out across the entire neighborhood—one of Brooklyn’s largest by area.
If approved, a couple of the developments will be quite large themselves, such as the Velocity Framers USA project at 21 Kane Place, a 188-unit rental at Bed-Stuy’s southern border near Atlantic Avenue, away from the brownstone blocks of Stuyvesant Heights.
However, many of the applications submitted in the first quarter are infill projects, or buildings erected in tight lots between existing buildings and homes. Such homes can now sell for as high as $3 million.
That’s a prospect that alarms neighborhood groups like the Stuyvesant East Preservation Action League (SEPAL). SEPAL, which seeks to establish a new historic preservation district east of Malcolm X Boulevard, operates the “Bed-Stuy Construction and Destruction Monitor”, and worries that the neighborhood “is being eroded by uncaring profiteers at an alarming rate,” according to a statement on the group’s website.
“We simply want the buildings to fit in with the late 19th-century streetscapes that are so important to everyone who lives here,” said Reno Dakota, a member of SEPAL who is still awaiting the city’s decision regarding the creation of the Stuyvesant East historic district.
While Dakota keeps watch on his particular corner of the neighborhood, architect Karl Fischer, best known for large, glassy condos in Williamsburg, is set to design a 10-story rental building at 924 Myrtle Avenue. The developer is Shifra Hager’s Cornell Realty.