The mansions of South Brooklyn

The borough’s priciest homes — outside the brownstone belt

To most New Yorkers, luxury Brooklyn real estate means gracious four-story brownstones in Brooklyn Heights or sleek new-construction condos in Williamsburg.

But some of the borough’s priciest real estate is actually much farther south, in communities often overlooked by outsiders, including Gravesend, Bay Ridge and Brighton Beach.

In fact, some of the most expensive properties ever sold in Brooklyn are located in its southern neighborhoods, where high-end real estate often boasts water views, in-ground pools and plenty of square footage.

Brooklyn’s current record holder is a townhouse at 212 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn Heights, which sold for $11 million earlier this year, according to the real estate data provider PropertyShark. But before that, an 8,200-square-foot brick mansion at 2111 East Second Street in Gravesend held the record for Brooklyn’s priciest-ever transaction, selling for $10.26 million in 2009.

The priciest sale in Brooklyn in 2011 was also in the southern half of the borough — a single-family house at 451 Avenue S in Gravesend sold for $10.25 million.

The strength of South Brooklyn’s real estate market is due in part to the tight-knit communities that live there, brokers said. Over the years, for example, Gravesend has attracted a small but significant population of Sephardic Jews primarily from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Brighton Beach, of course, is known for its preponderance of Russian immigrants.

Many wealthy members of these communities choose to remain in South Brooklyn rather than decamping for more fashionable areas of the city, sources say.

Buyers of South Brooklyn luxury properties “could afford to be anywhere, but they consciously pick to be there” because of their ties to the area, explained Sheepshead Bay native Victoria Shtainer, an executive vice president with Prudential Douglas Elliman.

“There are a lot of people in the neighborhood who do want to stay,” said Kyle Talbot, a vice president at the Corcoran Group, referring to Midwood, where he’s currently listing a $3.42 million house. “[They are] people who have lived there for generations.”

International buyers, especially those from Russia, are increasingly interested in South Brooklyn properties as well, brokers noted.

All of these factors have helped buoy the median price of a single-family house in South Brooklyn to $1.36 million in the second quarter of 2012, according to data compiled by Corcoran.

But it’s sometimes hard for outsiders to get a handle on the South Brooklyn market, brokers said, because many properties change hands privately, without officially hitting the market.

This month, TRD looked at some of the priciest homes currently for sale in South Brooklyn.

The “Gingerbread House” at 8220 Narrows Avenue in Bay Ridge is listed for $11 million.

8220 Narrows Avenue (the Gingerbread House): Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge is known for its views of New York Bay, which once led wealthy Manhattanites to build extravagant summer houses there. Many of these grand homes still stand, though the neighborhood — a little over an hour from Manhattan by subway — is now known as a middle-class enclave of commuters.

Designed by J. Sarsfield Kennedy and known as the Gingerbread House, this famed Arts and Crafts–style home was completed around 1917. It’s over 5,700 square feet and its shingled roof is meant to look like storybook-style thatch.

The home first hit the market in 2009 with Bill Radtke and Peter Noonan of Brown Harris Stevens, who listed it for $12 million. Now listed for $11 million by broker Harry Chalbis of Bay Ridge–based Alpine Realty, the home appears to be the priciest house on the market in South Brooklyn. Chalbis could not be reached for comment.

The home has six bedrooms, including a master with two balconies. There are also stained glass windows and a hand-painted coffered ceiling in the dining room.


2134 Ocean Parkway in Gravesend is currently listed for $10.75 million.

2134 Ocean Parkway: Gravesend

Another one of the most expensive homes currently for sale is a single-family house at 2134 Ocean Parkway in Gravesend. The seven-bedroom home is currently asking $10.75 million, down from its initial $14 million price tag.

Listing agent Ryan Serhant, an executive vice president at Nest Seekers International, said it’s unusual to see such a pricey listing actually hit the market. “It’s the first time in recent memory where a house this size [has] come to market in this neighborhood,” Serhant said. “Typically, this area trades very quietly between friends and neighbors.”

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The house boasts a heated driveway, an elevator and two kosher kitchens. There’s also a marble foyer with twin curving stairways. The exterior is somewhere between Mediterranean and Colonial in style, with brick, stucco and an emerald-colored terracotta roof.


8381 Shore Road: Bay Ridge

Shore Road, which overlooks the water, is a sought-after section of Bay Ridge, brokers said.

This five-bedroom freestanding house is currently listed for $4.7 million by Laura Lombardo of Neuhaus Realty, a Staten Island–based firm. The house has an in-ground heated pool and views of the Narrows.

Built in 1991 after the original 1920s-era home was torn down, it’s now in need of substantial updating, however: The home features gray marble floors and a mauve Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom. There’s also a three-story spiral oak staircase with glass etching.

“It has a 1980s look to it, but it was very well built,” said Lombardo. She added that the asking price for the 5,250-square-foot house is appropriate for Bay Ridge, where even tear-downs go for $2 million.

“The going rate is $1,000 per square foot in that area,” she said.


2805 Ocean Pkwy (PH): Brighton Beach

The penthouse at 2805 Ocean Parkway in Brighton Beach was built for developer Benjamin Move, who completed the condo building in 2007 and outfitted the penthouse to his exacting specifications.

It’s currently listed with Elliman’s Shtainer for $4.6 million.

The developer “kept the crème de la crème for himself,” said Shtainer, who focuses primarily on properties in Manhattan, but does deals in South Brooklyn “when there’s something very special.”

The 4,100-square-foot interior has five bedrooms, each with an en suite bath and one with a sauna. The living room, which is lined with elaborate molding, stretches up two stories and is topped with three long dramatic chandeliers. Three balconies, with a combined 2,100 feet of outdoor space, provide water views. And, according to the listing, all of the rooms are soundproof and monitored by video.


Harbor View Terrace: Bay Ridge

This classic brick center-hall Colonial, listed for $4.19 million with Brown Harris Stevens’s Noonan, is just off Shore Road.

According to the listing, it has a white marble foyer and dining room, four bedrooms and two recreation rooms in the basement. There’s also an in-ground heated pool set in a landscaped garden, complete with a small pool house and a detached four-car garage. Noonan could not be reached for comment and the listing does not include a street address.


125 Oceana Drive East (PH2A): Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach is known as a Russian enclave. As such, its housing is attractive to both international buyers seeking investment properties and Eastern European immigrants who want to live in the area, brokers said.

This 3,500-square-foot penthouse in a newly built condo building on the ocean is currently listed for $3.9 million.

The current owner is based in Manhattan and uses the property as a beach get-away, said listing agent Peter DeStefano of Elliman, who lives in Marine Park.

“Every inch of the apartment is imported,” he said. “There’s nothing from the States except for the Sheetrock.”

DeStefano said the study’s “matched mahogany”— all the grains in the wood are aligned — alone cost $250,000.