Greenpoint’s “Girls” effect

An uptick in the economy, plus exposure from the hit show, leads to more activity for North Brooklyn nabe

Apr.April 01, 2013 07:00 AM

From left: Matthew Schwartz and Chris Papamichael

Greenpoint has received a lot of attention lately for its role as the setting for the HBO mega-hit-series “Girls.” That exposure, brokers say, has boosted the neighborhood’s rental market. “We get more and more calls there for rentals every day,” said David Behin of the brokerage MNS.

And while the twenty-something crowd at Grumpy’s Café — the Meserole Avenue hangout featured on the show — probably can’t afford to buy real estate, the Greenpoint residential sales market is also seeing an uptick.

Actors Alex Karpovsky and Lena Dunham in a “Girls” Grumpy’s scene

Sometimes referred to as “Little Poland” due to its large population of Polish immigrants, Greenpoint’s housing stock is composed mostly of low-rise brownstones and attached single-family houses. The area has virtually no co-ops, noted Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Along with Williamsburg, the Greenpoint waterfront was rezoned in 2005 from industrial to mixed-use, but the downturn halted much of the planned residential development there. Now that the economy is improving, however, a slew of new residential buildings are popping up, including two massive rental projects: Park Tower Group’s 5,000-unit Greenpoint Landing and a 210-unit project by the Domain Companies. The two are the first large-scale residential projects in Greenpoint since the rezoning.

Plans for two other large residential developments — one by the Chetrit Group and another by Red Sky Capital — have not been made public, and neither developer returned calls for comment.

The neighborhood also has nearly a dozen boutique condo buildings on the market or in the works. And the units in those projects are selling quickly amid high demand and low inventory, said David Maundrell, president of the brokerage, which is marketing several new buildings in the neighborhood, including 145 McGuinness Boulevard, 287-299 McGuinness Boulevard, 141 Dupont Street and 98 Clay Street.

Prices are on the rise, too.

The average price per square foot for a Greenpoint condo was $739 in the fourth quarter of 2012, jumping 22.2 percent from $605 per square foot in the same quarter of 2011, according to data from Miller Samuel. The average condo sales price, meanwhile, grew slightly to $610,048 in the fourth quarter, up from $601,070 in the same period of the previous year.

Meanwhile, rents in existing buildings are skyrocketing, brokers said.

Bram Lefevere, vice president with brokerage Miron Properties, estimated that Greenpoint rents increased by more than 30 percent in 2012, and said he expects a similar increase in 2013.

“A decent two-bedroom two years ago rented for $1,900,” Lefevere said. “Last year, it went up to $2,400, and this year it’s going to be $2,800.”

Still, Greenpoint’s lack of subway access will likely limit price growth.

It currently takes two subways or a ferry to get to Manhattan, and many area residents walk over the Pulaski Bridge to Long Island City to catch the 7 subway line, Behin said.

The city is looking into adding stops to the G line, but for now, “Greenpoint is getting rents of $45 to $50 a foot, and I think landlords would get 20 to 25 percent more if you had better transportation,” Behin said.

This month, The Real Deal looked at some of the residential, commercial and retail newcomers to Greenpoint.

1133 Manhattan Avenue

Developer: The Domain Companies

Units: 210 rentals

Status: Opening August 2014

58 Kent Street

This 270,000-square-foot, $67 million project will start leasing units this summer. A joint venture between the city, Goldman Sachs and Domain, it’s the only 50-20-30 mixed-use project in Greenpoint’s latest wave of new development, and involves the remediation of a brownfield site. According to Matthew Schwartz, a principal at Domain, one-bedroom units will range in size from 650 to 700 square feet, while two-bedroom units will measure 900 to 1,000 square feet. The modern and rustic design is informed by the warehouse architecture of the surrounding area, Schwartz said. Amenities will include a fitness center, a business center/conference room aimed at tenants who work from home, a residents’ lounge, a landscaped outdoor space and a roof deck. There’s also a 123-car parking garage and 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

Greenpoint Landing

(Franklin and Commercial streets)

Developer: Park Tower Group

Units: 5,000 rentals

Status: Groundbreaking early 2014

Stalled for years during the downturn, the 22-acre waterfront Greenpoint Landing project will finally break ground in early 2014, with construction beginning on the first of 11 rental buildings, said Alfred Bradshaw, executive vice president of the Park Tower Group. All of the buildings will be between 20 and 40 stories, he noted, adding that the first building will include 350 units. The project will also contain a waterfront promenade, public parks, a marina and a public school. Handel Architects is designing the complex; a foot bridge linking the North Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts is to be designed by famed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

48 Box Street

Developer: HM Ventures Group LLC

Units: 6 condos Status: All units in contract, closings to start soon

This new-construction condo changed owners during the downturn. But when sales launched in January — four years after the project was initially envisioned — all of the homes were snapped up within 24 hours at an average price of $690 per square foot, according to Maundrell, who handled the marketing. He noted that there were 30 offers on the one-, two- and three-bedroom condos. Asking prices in the building ranged from $635,000 to $899,000, and each unit sold for above asking price, he said.

145 McGuinness Boulevard

Developer: Pillar Pro

Units: 10 condos Status: Sales launch this month

When sales at this new-construction, five-story condo start this month, asking prices will begin at $750 per square foot, said Maundrell. The developer, Pillar Pro, is a Williamsburg-based investment group that bought a number of properties in 2009 and 2010, during the downturn.

287-299 McGuinness Boulevard

Developer: Chaim Lefkowitz

Units: 40 condos Status: Opening summer 2013

Also located on busy McGuinness Boulevard, this project broke ground more than three years ago and then stalled. But active local developer Chaim Lefkowitz has restarted construction, and sales are slated to launch this summer, according to Maundrell. He said the units will also be priced at around $750 per square foot, lower than similar units on quieter side streets, where prices hover around $800 per square foot.

141 Dupont Street and 98 Clay Street

Developer: Chaim Lefkowitz

Units: 8 condos each Status: Opening summer 2013

These two new-construction projects, also developed by Lefkowitz, are both four stories. When completed this summer, each building will have eight one- and two-bedroom units, with an estimated price per square foot of around $800, Maundrell said.

Tørst (615 Manhattan Avenue)

Owners: Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø and Daniel Burns

Retail: Beer bar and restaurant Status: Opened last month

Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, a Danish brewer, has teamed up with Daniel Burns, the former head of the Momofuku test kitchen, to open an 80-seat beer bar with a 26-seat restaurant at the rear of the venue. The bar will be called Tørst, which means “thirst,” while the restaurant will go by Luksus, meaning “luxury.” There will be 20 beers on tap, many new to the United States, and a Scandinavian-influenced American menu. Partners Oliver and Evan Haslegrave of hOmE, the hip design firm that also did trendy pizza joint Paulie Gee’s and the Manhattan Inn, both in Greenpoint, have designed a modern interior with white marble, reclaimed lumber and dark oak floors, according to Haslegrave. The venue is steps from the G train and McCarren Park, but a bit of a hike from the planned waterfront residential towers.

Kickstarter headquarters (58 Kent Street)

Owner: Kickstarter

Commercial: Office space Status: Renovation under way

Work continues apace on the new 29,000-square-foot headquarters for crowd-funding site Kickstarter in the former Eberhard Faber Pencil Co. factory. Company principals are mum on the status of the building renovation, which is being designed by architect Ole Sondresen. But according to news reports, the headquarters will have a green roof, theater, glass-enclosed courtyard and a library, in addition to the offices. The company is currently located at 139 Norfolk Street on the Lower East Side.

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