Expanding Brooklyn: Six Areas on the Cusp

By The Real Deal | February 01, 2004 11:04AM

Brooklyn has seen its share of pioneering residents in the last several years. Starting out from Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, they brought gentrification to places like Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, Windsor Terrace, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights.

Now, those renters and buyers are moving further into the borough.

“At first, people were afraid of Brooklyn, and they went to Brooklyn Heights,” said John Reinhardt, president of Fillmore Real Estate. “Then people got more courageous. Now people are adventurous. Brooklyn is not a bad word these days. It’s a pioneer sort of word.”

Isabelle Reboh, a vice president at William B. May in Park Slope, said many people have expanded where they are willing to live in the borough.

“People call in, and they are more willing to go to Crown Heights, for example,” she said. “Last year, they wouldn’t have made that call.”

But the list doesn’t stop there, she said. The following is a look at some Brooklyn neighborhoods on the cusp:

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT

In the western section of Bedford-Stuyvesant closest to Clinton Hill, brownstones in the landmarked areas now range from $500,000 to $600,000, said Melinda Magnett, president of the Corcoran Group in Brooklyn. Ten years ago, they would have sold in the $100,000 to $200,000 price range, she said. They’re also a bargain compared to brownstones in the most expensive parts of the borough, which can cost $2 or $3 million. “The houses are beautiful, and many are intact,” said Magnett. She said the area is “still maintaining its diversity. It’s got professionals and artists, and Caucasians and well as blacks.”

Kris Dugan, an agent at William B. May, said she sees parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant becoming like Prospect Heights eventually. “There are beautiful homes with original detail,” she said. “And you’re still only 15 minutes to Wall Street.”

PROSPECT HEIGHTS/ CROWN HEIGHTS

Mary Ann Albano, head of William B. May’s Park Slope office, doesn’t think Bedford-Stuyvesant is “quite there yet” in terms of gentrification. But she said Crown Heights is right on the edge. “That’s probably the next area,” she said. In a recent transaction Albano described as a “fluke” deal, there were over 20 buyers for a place that needed a gut renovation, and the place sold for over asking price. Reboh mentioned a recent deal in which a building was sold in the low $400,000s after multiple offers, to a group of Orthodox Jewish buyers. “The housing there is really pretty,” she added.

To the west of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights continues to thrive.

“The area has very large homes and very large lots,” said Bette Cunningham, a sales agent at William B. May. Prices have doubled there in the last five years, and homes are going for $1.2 to $1.3 million at the top of the market.

LEFFERTS MANOR

Buyers priced out of Park Slope or looking for a bigger space have been flocking over the last several years to Lefferts Manor, a historic district east of Prospect Park. The area is restricted to one family homes, which can run up to $600,000 or $700,000 – half the price of a townhouse in Park Slope. Prices have almost quadrupled in the last eight years, and shot up around 25 percent last year alone. Inventory is scarce. “The area has been popular for the last five years,” said Cunningham, “and now it’s becoming even more popular.” Cunningham also said she sees buyers coming directly from Manhattan now. Besides Lefferts Manor, families are also increasingly spreading out to other one- and two-family home areas like Bay Ridge and Ditmas Park.

PARK SLOPE (FOURTH AVENUE)

Not too long ago, Sixth Avenue represented the boundary of Park Slope. Now, Fifth Avenue is becoming the neighborhood’s new trendy street. Fourth Avenue is also gearing up for a surge in new development, after rezoning adopted in April has set in motion plans for new 12-story buildings there. “It’s shocking that Fourth Avenue is happening,” said Albano. “It’s always been commercial.”

Few projects are completed, but given Park Slope’s immense popularity, Albano predicts great demand. “People are looking for condos, and only new developments are condos,” she said. There is also easy access to the nearby N and R subway lines. Albano said the new units will likely sell from around $300,000 (for lofts) to around $600,000.

RED HOOK

At the end of last month, New York Water Taxi was scheduled to begin ferry service between Red Hook and parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It could spell a big change for the area, which has been isolated because it has no subway line. “There will really be a boom,” predicts Dugan.

In addition to cobblestone streets and new restaurants, it’s mainly the loft space close to Manhattan that is drawing residents to the frontier neighborhood. “Other neighborhoods have lofts, but they are another half an hour away,” said Dugan. “You also have unbelievable views here, of Lady Liberty and Manhattan.”

Last year, studio and one-bedroom apartments could be had for $200,000, while townhouses ranged from $400,000 to $675,000. Another bonus is parking.

WILLIAMSBURG/ GREENPOINT

The latest stage in the evolution of Brooklyn’s hipster neighborhoods is luxury condo sales. Williamsburg already has several projects completed and “we’re starting starting to see activity in Greenpoint, too,” said Magnett of Corcoran.

Most recently, there has been Bedford Court on Bedford Avenue and the Gretsch, a converted 10-story factory with 130 lofts at 60 Broadway that will be ready for occupancy this fall. Units at the Gretsch range from studio to three bedrooms and run from $309,000 to $1.27 million, not including penthouses.

In Greenpoint, what was billed as the first condo conversion took place last year at 102 Clay Street. Two bedrooms in the small four-unit project ranged from $340,000 to $499,000. The only drawback in Greenpoint is limited access to public transit.

Magnett said much more residential development will likely occur in both Greenpoint and Williamsburg now that large sections of waterfront in both neighborhoods are in the process of being rezoned from manufacturing to residential use.

“Williamsburg is not finished by a long shot,” she said.