Baby steps in real estate

It’s a testament to the resilience of New York that, during this downturn and nascent real estate recovery, there are still new additions to the list of family-friendly neighborhoods.

The latest neighborhood seeing a baby boom is Long Island City, according to a series of stories by reporter Candace Taylor that looks at “The New Buyers” in today’s market.

Long Island City’s growth in recent years has been driven by young professionals with modest budgets. But now those young professionals are starting families, and are staying in the area because larger apartments are more affordable with prices down. And retail is following them, with stores like Duane Reade discovering new outposts (thereby giving neighborhood brokers another selling point).

Having a Duane Reade, or any other drugstore, close by has suddenly taken on a new significance in my life, too.

My wife, Julie, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sophie Emmilene Elliott, last month, meaning that diapers (and all those related products) are in high demand in our house.

While it may have plenty of drugstores, our neighborhood — the southern edge of the Lower East Side — isn’t that family-friendly. At the local restaurants and cafés we have to assess whether we are welcome guests with a baby carriage in tow, or whether we will be looked at askance by the 20-something barista with nose ring and bandana. It’s true of any neighborhood, but more so in this young and hipsterish area, which doesn’t appear poised to become a haven for families anytime soon. We won’t be there for long, though.

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In 2009, which of course was not a great year for residential real estate overall, more than 1,200 three- and four-bedroom units were sold in Manhattan, almost double the 670 that sold in 2008, and a lot more than the 830 that traded hands in 2007, according to recently reported numbers from appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

Many of those buyers were families, a trend that we write about in “The New Buyers” package. My wife and I were part of this: We purchased a larger apartment in the West Village, where we will move to later this year. We decided to skip Tribeca, since there is such a thing as being too family-friendly a neighborhood, with strollers inside the door of every restaurant and café (though being the prime, go-to neighborhood for families in Manhattan hasn’t hurt Tribeca’s real estate values at all).

When we look back in 2032 — the year my daughter will graduate from college (assuming she doesn’t join the circus or a rock-and-roll band) — it will be interesting what budding family-friendly neighborhoods today will have cemented their status as stroller Shangri-Las. A wave of gentrification in the 1970s and 1980s, after all, gave us modern-day Park Slope, Soho and the Upper West Side.

While I was learning how to burp a baby, the editors here were holding down the fort. Jill Gardiner, Lauren Elkies and Matthew Strozier are the ones who make the wheels turn behind-the-scenes at The Real Deal. Collectively, in addition to breaking news every day on the Web, they’ve put together an issue full of interesting stories. Some of the main features include a look at the “deal killers” that are threatening the market recovery; a ranking of the top residential brokers in the Hamptons; an examination of which companies are looking for the biggest blocks of office space in the commercial market; and a look inside the guarded world of one of Manhattan’s top high-end brokers, Adam Modlin.

I also want to congratulate three other members of our editorial team on promotions this past month. The prolific Candace Taylor, our go-to residential real estate writer, has been promoted to senior reporter. Adam Pincus, who has increased the magazine’s coverage of the commercial brokerage world considerably, has also been promoted to senior reporter. And Amy Tennery, who has shown great dedication manning the Web site as an editorial assistant, has been promoted to Web reporter.

Enjoy the issue.