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June 8th, 2004, 01:10 AM
Flatbush, Brooklyn:

Flatbush: A Richer Mix of Stores for a Once-Rough Area

Published: June 6, 2004

SOME neighborhoods, SoHo most notably, find that their mix of stores changes as wealthier residents replace old-timers and have more desire to buy designer clothes than 60-cent coffees.

Something similar is happening in the Flatbush Avenue section of central Brooklyn, although the shift is still subtle and the residents are not moving out. Rather, as young people move to the neighborhood from Manhattan and from other parts of Brooklyn, and as the immigrants from the Caribbean who live in the area become more affluent, the stores are becoming more vibrant and more varied to meet their needs.

Timothy Guillen, for instance, said he used to sell mainly athletic shoes in his Stride Rite shoe store on Flatbush Avenue. Today, he displays mostly boys' and girls' dress shoes. "We are more family oriented now because there is less crime," he said.

Not long ago, the street was a low-income shopping area with a number of boarded-up storefronts and merchants featuring products priced at less than a dollar. "These guys didn't invest anything in their stores, and they would disappear in the middle of the night, owing the landlord several months rent," said Jack Katz, executive director of the Flatbush Avenue business improvement district.

He said chain stores, including Lane Bryant, Radio Shack, Petland and Ashley Stewart, had moved in recent years into spaces formerly occupied by local retailers.

The growing economic strength of the neighborhood, which is bracketed by the Q subway line on one side and the 2 and 5 on the other, is not only encouraging local retailers to change their offerings, but also attracting national retailers. As a result, commercial rents are increasing, according to real estate executives.

"Eight years ago, I was involved in leasing some of these stores, and Flatbush Avenue had a 10 to 15 percent vacancy rate," said John G. J. Ritter, an executive vice president of Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty, a brokerage firm active in Queens and Brooklyn. At that time, he said, "rental rates were in the high teens" in terms of dollars per square foot annually. "Now," he added, "the local rental rates match those of suburban malls, $30 to $40 a square foot."

It was those rising rents that persuaded Mr. Guillen, a native of the Dominican Republic, to acquire a building and move his store to its current location about four years ago after nearly a decade in the neighborhood. "The rent was getting very high, so I moved here and bought the building," he said. "Now I pay a mortgage, not rent."

Mr. Ritter, who recently brokered the sale of three retail properties in Flatbush totaling 30,000 square feet for $3.5 million, said the neighborhood is experiencing tremendous growth.

On Flatbush Avenue, a business improvement district on the stretch between Cortelyou Road and Parkside Avenue provides security, sanitation and promotion services, and changes are also evident on streets leading out of Flatbush Avenue.

Five blocks away, Nicholas Correra said he had been expanding the selection of wines in his liquor store facing the Newkirk Avenue subway station on the Q line. "I'm selling a lot more good wine than in the past," he said. He said residents who commute to Manhattan are increasingly stopping by to buy a bottle of wine for dinner.

Mr. Correra's store is in Newkirk Plaza, which opened in 1913. The shopping center has recently been improved, with new ironwork fences replacing crumbling concrete walls and new light fixtures and poles for promotional banners.

John Broderick, executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation, an economic development agency, said the city-financed project involved "$1 million in amenities and $2 million to $3 million in construction underneath."

Mr. Broderick said that making shopping areas like Newkirk Plaza and Cortelyou Road more attractive was important to attract the younger people who are moving into the neighborhood.

"The people coming here from Manhattan and Williamsburg are in their 30's, and they are looking to buy," he said. He said that three-story Victorian houses in the area are priced in the $800,000 range and that condos in the six-story apartment buildings that house the majority of residents are rapidly appreciating in price.

"Stores in Flatbush are changing to tap into this new income," Mr. Broderick said. He said the Dunkin' Donuts chain recently invested $500,000 to refurbish a store in Newkirk Plaza. An old barbershop on Cortelyou Road is being converted into a white tablecloth restaurant, and a farmer's market now operates on Saturdays at the nearby Public School 139. "It's like a community meeting on Saturdays," he said.

But the gentrification has gone only so far. During the electrical blackout last summer, several stores on Flatbush Avenue were broken into and looted.

Mr. Katz said that when the business improvement district began organizing in 1986, there was a 30 percent vacancy rate along Flatbush Avenue. Now, he said, there are only three vacancies among the 270 storefronts in the 11-block district.

He said the densely populated area was a natural draw for national retail chains. He said these include Staples and Old Navy as well as fast food chains like McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken. A 40,000-square-foot Modell's sporting goods opened recently on Church Avenue.

"This was a roughhouse neighborhood when I came here seven years ago," said Sol Velelis, the manager of a Cookie's Department Store on Flatbush Avenue. "We would get packs of kids who would take a lot of merchandise. But things have settled down since then."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 10th, 2004, 12:48 PM
Kensington, Brooklyn:


July 10, 2004

It's like Park Slope, except the bookstores aren't there yet. At least that's the argument of the boosters of Kensington, Brooklyn, a little area nestled between Borough Park, Windsor Terrace and Ditmas Park.

The range of housing is staggering in Kensington, and prices are around 30 percent to 40 percent lower than in Park Slope. Now only if it were more convenient.

"You can't walk out your front door and into shops and restaurants," says Betsy Andrews, senior editor at Zagat Surveys. Still, she purchased a 750-square-foot one-bedroom co-op three months ago, in what she calls "a transitional neighborhood," for $167,000. The reason? "Kensington is the nicest and most affordable neighborhood within close proximity to Prospect Park."

A lot of Brooklyn neighborhoods are trying to be "the next Park Slope" (see box), but Kensington's housing mix may actually encourage the income diversity that Slopers cherish. "It's the most eclectic neighborhood in Brooklyn," says John Reinhardt, president and CEO of Fillmore Real Estate. "Kensington is a great mix of properties and residents."

Developed in 1885 after the completion of Ocean Parkway, the neighborhood (originally colonized by Dutch farmers) was named after the west borough of London, at the turn of the century.

It runs from Fort Hamilton Parkway and Caton Avenue to the north, Coney Island Avenue to the east, Foster Avenue to the south and McDonald Avenue to the west.

Now many more New Yorkers are beginning to discover it. "It's a perfect neighborhood for Park Slope refugees and people being priced out of other parts of Brooklyn," says Shannon Reese, senior associate with the Corcoran Group.

Jewelry designer Linda Beigelmacher and her engineer-husband, Manny, purchased a three-story single-family detached home, in move-in condition with basement and finished attic, two and a half years ago for $360K. It is now worth almost $560K.

"We have skylights, stained-glass windows, a garden and a fireplace," says Beigelmacher, who lived in Windsor Terrace for nine years before moving to Kensington. "You can't find a house like this for this price anywhere else."

"The neighborhood is perfect for us," she adds. "There are a lot of kids, and it is lively but also quiet."

As far as rentals are concerned, apartments in Kensington are found in prewar and postwar buildings that are usually five to six stories high. There are rent-stabilized units, some lime- and brownstones, as well as units in private homes.

If you decide to rent, prices for a 400- to 500-square-foot studio range from $750 to $1,000 per month. You can find 600- to 900-square-foot one-bedrooms for $950 to $1,200.

Two-bedrooms range from $1,000 to $1,600 for 750 to 1,200 square feet of space, while 850- to 1,400-square-foot three-bedrooms run $1,500 to $2,100.

Hannah Sohn, who works for a conference company, and her husband, Noah Hidu, a jazz musician, are both owners and landlords. The couple, who lived in Park Slope for three years, bought a one-bedroom co-op in Kensington two years ago.

"It's a safe, cozy and green neighborhood," says Sohn. She and Hidu also own a 550-square-foot studio in Kensington that they rent for $900 a month.

Diane Stein, who works in health education, has lived in Kensington for two years with her boyfriend. "It is a comfortable neighborhood that is ethnically and economically mixed," she says. Stein, who owns a 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom co-op, purchased it two years ago for $135,000. It is now worth $230,000.

"I love living here," she says, "but there are no bookstores in the neighborhood, and the library has no Saturday hours."

Kensington also offers a wide variety of houses. "There are single-family, two-family, detached, attached, semidetached and everything in between," says Fillmore's Reinhardt. "Styles include frames, Victorians, Capes, Queen Annes and row houses, but the most predominant type is brick." Single-family homes can run from $475K to $800K. Two-families can begin as low as $575K and go as high as $875K.

Detached homes are usually on the higher end. And as with any property, condition, original details and uniqueness of style all factor into the price. "The houses range from those needing a lot of work to completely re-done resells," says Warren Lewis Realty associate broker Aaron Isquith. "Many of the properties have yards, driveways, garages and basements, which make them very attractive."

If you're buying in Kensington, studios range from $70K to $100K for 450 to 500 square feet. One-bedrooms begin around $115K and go as high as $180K for 550 to 1,000 square feet. You can find two-bedrooms for $160K to $225K for 850 to 1,400 square feet of space. Three-bedrooms range from $275K to $325K for 1,200 to 1,400 square feet.

The buildings are usually very large. With hardwood floors, plaster-cast moldings, high ceilings and other original details, all of the residences have laundry facilities, while some have doormen, courtyards, balconies and underground parking.

"Along Ocean Parkway you can find luxury apartments," says Marcia J. Miller, broker for Open Options Real Estate.

"We see young couples, singles, professionals, artists, young families and same-sex couples of all ethnicities moving to Kensington," she adds.

Still, the neighborhood hasn't quite developed as quickly as the new residents might like.

"There are a lot of ethnic family-owned restaurants and delis, but not a lot of coffee shops or bars," says Dan Twohig, who, along with his wife, Sheila, purchased a 900-square-foot one-bedroom co-op less than a month ago for $155K.

"It's an up-and-coming neighborhood," notes Sheila. "It will take time, but there will be a turnover in stores and restaurants. The same thing happened in Windsor Terrace five years ago."

"And," adds Dan, "in the meantime we go to Park Slope, which is only five minutes away, for things we can't get here in Kensington.

"It's the best of both worlds."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

July 10th, 2004, 01:05 PM
When I was younger my best friend lived in Kensington. His house was Victorian style with three floors (maybe four?) and four (maybe five?) bedrooms. The living room was gigantic. He lived on a quiet, tree-lined block with other beautiful homes.

July 29th, 2004, 10:37 AM
Red Hook, Brooklyn:


July 29, 2004 -- In 1992, gunshots were a common sound in the Red Hook, Brooklyn, projects and as one neighborhood leader said, "There was no hope."

But when bullets claimed the life of popular school Principal Patrick Daly, residents knew they'd had enough.

Police stepped up their focus on Red Hook — and tenants in many instances worked with them — to save the neighborhood against all odds.

"I think the cops have a lot to be proud of," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "And they are proud of how neighborhoods have turned around."

Our fourth installment about communities transformed by the dramatic decrease in crime takes a closer look at how Red Hook went from a battleground to a neighborhood that is redefining itself.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.



July 29, 2004 -- Who could have predicted that this year, there would be more bodies pulled into Red Hook's art galleries and restaurants than out of its Buttermilk Channel?

But as the neighborhood's gory days fade into Brooklyn's history, the area — once notorious for its booming crack trade — is now more famous for its burgeoning culture.

And amid all the talk of Red Hook as one of New York's next "it" neighborhoods, some have even begun to forget its tawdry past.

"The neighborhood was drug-ridden, crime-ridden . . . There was really no hope," said Earl Hall, 36, a former resident of housing projects. "A lot has changed."

In the 1990s, Red Hook's gritty but picturesque streets were hidden behind sprawling public-housing projects, the second largest in the city, which suffered through daily shootouts and bore the full brunt of the crack epidemic.

"Everybody had an opportunity to get their hands on drugs," said Hall, a self-described former hustler. "Soon, it became territorial and brought an intense rivalry to the streets."

Officer Carlos Quintana, 40, a fifteen-year veteran of the 76th Precinct, put it more succinctly.

"You could hear gunfights every night," he said.

The neighborhood had its darkest hour — and its turning point — on Dec. 17, 1992, when popular school Principal Patrick Daly was killed in the crossfire between rival drug gangs.

"When that happened, Red Hook changed," Quintana said.

More than 100 calls were made to 911 reporting the gunman's location, Quintana said.

And from the next day on, people's attitudes toward law enforcement changed. The community demanded a stronger police presence — and the city delivered.

"When Mr. Daly got killed, the community said enough is enough," Hall said.

The area was flooded with cops; drug dens were raided; and wanted felons were tracked down.

"We just saturated Red Hook," Quintana said. "Manpower — that was the bottom line."

Daly's killers were ultimately brought to justice.

"A lot of the dealers went to jail," said Dorothy Shields, 72, a resident of the Red Hook houses for 50 years.

A multijurisdictional court — containing civil, family and criminal courts — handles cases only from the three surrounding precincts, giving the police closer contact with the justice system. They say it helps ensure harsher penalties for the worst offenders and appropriate community service for the smalltime crooks.

And it's worked.

Overall, crime in the community has declined 60 percent since 1993, and murders plummeted from 12 in 1995 to none in 2003. Robberies and rapes have plunged 64 percent and 33 percent, respectively. And burglaries have taken a 68 percent nosedive since 1993.

Unfortunately, with such lows, there was nowhere to go but up, and Red Hook saw its first murder in well over a year in May. The entire precinct has also seen a small increase in overall crime this year.

But even as Red Hook's crime drops —and richer people move in — the area still wrestles with crippling poverty. It has a 20 percent unemployment rate — twice the city's average — and the median family income in 2000 was less than half the city average, at $18,203.

But the promise of safety is slowly but surely creating some opportunities.

A gourmet Fairway Supermarket is scheduled to open next year, and other chain stores and businesses are eyeing the neighborhood.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.


July 29, 2004 -- Until Arnaud Erhart opened the French restaurant 360 last year, the Statue of Liberty was the closest thing Red Hook had to France.
But now that the neighborhood's crime and drug problems have receded, things have changed.

"I am a longtime resident of the neighborhood and I realized there was a high demand for a simple place to eat," said Erhart, 34, a native of Strasbourg, France.

"If we did something good enough and original enough, Brooklynites would travel. And they do."

Erhart is one of the pioneering entrepreneurs of Red Hook, opening a relatively chic establishment in a neighborhood long ago considered one of Brooklyn's worst.

But as crime dropped, Van Brunt Street became a respectable commercial corridor with several well-known eateries, and more on the way.

"I've seen every single restaurant entrepreneur come to Red Hook in the last year," Erhart said. "Are they all ready to open something down here? I don't think so. A lot of people are still afraid — but of the [sparse] foot traffic."

Erhart came to New York in 1988 to work as a sommelier in Manhattan. But from the moment he first visited friends in Red Hook, he fell in love with its waterfront views and gritty industrial ambiance.

In order to come to Red Hook, though, he had to drop a rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side, so he'll be the first to say he didn't come to Brooklyn to save on rent.

"It actually cost me money to come to Red Hook," he said. "But I'm not in Red Hook for cheap real estate."

He moved to the area in 1994 so as crime plummeted and the early waves of "pioneers" began making their way to the neighborhood, Erhart didn't have to look far to read the writing on the wall.

"Would the business have been sustained back in the late '80s? No, it wouldn't have," he said.

"But neither would any other type of business that deals with the public . . . I'm sure that safety is one of the things [that bring people here]." Patrick Gallahue

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc.

January 14th, 2005, 10:21 AM
Flatbush, Brooklyn:

Rediscovering Flatbush
Attainable Victorian homes and a short commute to Manhattan are just two of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s charms

Catherine Curan is a freelance writer.
January 14, 2005

When Faith Justice told her daughter that their family planned to move to Brooklyn from Manhattan's Upper West Side, 13-year-old Hannah did not want to leave the only neighborhood she'd ever called home.

Then she saw the sprawling Victorian house in Flatbush, with a front porch, a garden and five bedrooms - including one for her to sleep in and one for her trampoline - and Hannah changed her mind.

"When we saw the house, I said, 'Well, I'm in love.' She said, 'Well, I am, too,'" Justice, a writer, recalls.

Last spring, Justice, 52, her husband, Gordon Rothman, 48 and a TV news producer, and Hannah left their cramped five-room apartment for the "mansion" on Stratford Road. At about $800,000, the 3,500-square-foot house was more affordable than six-room apartments the family looked at on the Upper West Side.

Since the move, the former Manhattanites have been adjusting to living the suburban life in the city. Last summer they enjoyed the pleasures of backyard gardening and swimming in their above-ground pool, knowing that when they craved the bustle of Manhattan, they could reach Union Square in half an hour on the Q train.

"We're really happy," Justice says. "It's a very diverse neighborhood, which I enjoy. That was one reason I didn't want to move to the suburbs."

Given the eye-popping prices in Manhattan and other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Park Slope, an increasing number of families that want to own houses yet still live inside the city limits are turning to Victorian Flatbush. The neighborhood, which is just south of Prospect Park, includes three landmark historic districts - Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park and Albemarle-Kenmore Terrace - and is said to contain the largest concentration of Victorian homes in the United States. In the 1980s the area was drug-riddled, but a drop in crime and revitalization efforts by neighborhood associations have inspired new interest. Priced from about $650,000 to $1.5 million, these distinctive turn-of-the-century homes provide buyers with suburban amenities such as spacious yards and garages within a diverse urban community close to Manhattan.

"We've been discovered," says Mary Kay Gallagher, a local broker and a 45-year resident of Victorian Flatbush. "It's family-oriented, with lots of kids. People get what they don't have in Park Slope: parking, driveways, garages. There's space and breathing room."

Driveway, she said

For art director Elizabeth Blatchford, 41, the driveway is one of her favorite features of the $1.177-million home on East 17th Street that she and her husband, Peter, 42, an options trader, recently moved to from Park Slope. Sure, she likes the retro details, including a 7-foot-long claw-footed bathtub and 1902 tiles in one of the bathrooms. She's also happy to have the same commute to work but a quiet house to come home to at night. After paying high garage fees for two cars and dealing with Park Slope's congestion, though, she finds that simply having a place to park means a lot.

"We won't have to pay parking or find space on the street. All of that simple stuff you take for granted. I don't have to double-park to take groceries out of the car. I can just pull into my own driveway," she says. "You can't even believe you're in Brooklyn."

In the past year, demand has risen so much that attorney Jamal Jbara, 39, and his wife, Marlena, 32, a radiologist, thought they might not find a house in Victorian Flatbush. The couple lost several bidding wars for homes priced for more than $900,000. But persistence paid off when the Jbaras drove through Ditmas Park one weekend and saw a "for sale" sign on a house they liked.

This time, the Jbaras offered the winning bid, paying $750,000 for a six-bedroom home on a 50-by-100-foot lot. The couple expects to spend another $200,000 on renovations before moving in. Jbara says he will miss Park Slope's restaurants and schools. After checking out a public school near his new home and seeing average test scores, Jbara said he may send his children to private school instead. His new neighborhood does boast Andries Hudde Junior High School, which offers programs for gifted students, and Midwood High School, which sent 96 percent of the 2003 graduating class to college. And, he believes his family scored a good deal.

A renaissance in the works

"I think this is going to be the next up-and-coming Park Slope," he says. "The neighbors are telling us that younger families, kids who grew up here and left, are returning, or, like us, couldn't afford anything they liked in Park Slope."

New homeowners such as the Jbaras are helping inspire a retail renaissance along the Cortelyou Road shopping strip, setting a course for the Slope-style gentrification they crave. A couple of restaurants and a hip coffee shop have recently opened, and similar retailers are expected to follow suit.

"Cortelyou Road is being revitalized with classier types of stores," says Julie Kestyn, an area resident and a broker at Kestyn Real Estate. "We want it to look more like a little European Village."

Copyright © Newsday, Inc.

Is it worth $4 million?

Catherine Curan
January 14, 2005

"In Boston they ask, 'How much does he know?' In New York, 'How much is he worth?'"

If Mark Twain were making this observation now, he might well add another question often on New Yorkers' lips because of soaring real estate prices: How much is the house worth?

The owner of one Colonial in Victorian Flatbush hopes the answer will be $4 million. Mary Kay Gallagher of Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate is marketing the 20- room mansion, on a 100-by -130-foot lot on tony Albemarle Road. The house looks like a Southern plantation home, with white two-story Ionic columns in front. Inside are two master bedroom suites, a ballroom and a mahogany-paneled library.

Gallagher sold the house to the current owner eight or nine years ago for $800,000. She recently closed her first sale of more than $1 million, but locals are skeptical of the $4-million price tag for 1305 Albemarle Rd. Whatever the price, like many of the homes in this century-old neighborhood, this one needs some work, including a new roof.

"It's a big house and it's a lot to think about," said Gallagher, adding that the buyer "has to be somebody who can handle it."

Copyright © Newsday, Inc.

alex ballard
January 14th, 2005, 04:53 PM
Since Victorian flatbush has been found, what do you think the future for East Faltbush and the rest of Central brooklyn (Rugby, Prospect gardens, Wingate, Farrgut, Flatlands, and the area around Brooklyn College) holds in store?

January 15th, 2005, 12:09 AM
Alex, like everything else its going to take time. But all of Brooklyn is coming back strong and in my opinion a good amount of credit should go to BP Marty Markowitz and Bruce Ratner. Marty is Brooklyn's greatest promoter and Ratner has brought Brooklyn development to the front page. Every developer is taking notice. Its an unbelievable period for Brooklyn. In the 80s everybody was leaving. 20 years later everybody is coming back to Brooklyn (if they can afford it).

January 15th, 2005, 12:52 AM
Since Victorian flatbush has been found, what do you think the future for East Faltbush and the rest of Central brooklyn (Rugby, Prospect gardens, Wingate, Farrgut, Flatlands, and the area around Brooklyn College) holds in store?

I think it's a matter of time before many of the more suburban areas of NYC become more and more popular. It's good to see. This is why it's important to have a number of different neighborhoods and housing stock...to be all things to all people. I love to see this stuff.

alex ballard
January 15th, 2005, 08:46 AM
Alex, like everything else its going to take time. But all of Brooklyn is coming back strong and in my opinion a good amount of credit should go to BP Marty Markowitz and Bruce Ratner. Marty is Brooklyn's greatest promoter and Ratner has brought Brooklyn development to the front page. Every developer is taking notice. Its an unbelievable period for Brooklyn. In the 80s everybody was leaving. 20 years later everybody is coming back to Brooklyn (if they can afford it).

It can take it's time. But those are areas that really seem isolated from the city and in a way had fallen off the real-estate radar during the days of Urban renewal. It would be amazing to see the area around Holy cross Cem and Brooklyn College really come back strong.

January 15th, 2005, 10:58 AM
Hey Alex, One area I know about is the Flatlands /Georgetown/ Canarsie area. There has been a big buildup of condo development in that area. From Seaview Estates (right on the water) to Bergen Gardens to Scott Village. Very big Caribbean immigration in the area in the last decade and I have read that the Asian community is starting to buy there too now. The houses in Canarsie are really nice, I don't like the small houses in Flatlands but I love the new condo developments. Also right next to Starrett City a huge outdoor shopping center - Gateway is doing a ton of business since it was built. Home Depot, Target, Red Lobster, Olive Garden etc Its got it all. Also read Target is shooting for a site right near Brooklyn College. By the way Midwood near Brooklyn College on Bedford Avenue has homes going for 1-2 million dollars. The houses on Bedford from around Avenue U all the way to Brooklyn College are some of the biggest most luxurious homes in Brooklyn. A large and growing Orthodox Jewish community. Lots of good things happening in Brooklyn.

alex ballard
February 25th, 2005, 07:52 PM
Hey Alex, One area I know about is the Flatlands /Georgetown/ Canarsie area. There has been a big buildup of condo development in that area. From Seaview Estates (right on the water) to Bergen Gardens to Scott Village. Very big Caribbean immigration in the area in the last decade and I have read that the Asian community is starting to buy there too now. The houses in Canarsie are really nice, I don't like the small houses in Flatlands but I love the new condo developments. Also right next to Starrett City a huge outdoor shopping center - Gateway is doing a ton of business since it was built. Home Depot, Target, Red Lobster, Olive Garden etc Its got it all. Also read Target is shooting for a site right near Brooklyn College. By the way Midwood near Brooklyn College on Bedford Avenue has homes going for 1-2 million dollars. The houses on Bedford from around Avenue U all the way to Brooklyn College are some of the biggest most luxurious homes in Brooklyn. A large and growing Orthodox Jewish community. Lots of good things happening in Brooklyn.

Are the Irish and Italians still holding ground in Brooklyn? Also, what does Canarsie look like now, I heard it turned getto in the 80's but some have said this poised to become another plosh suburb for immigrants and manhattanites.

alex ballard
April 3rd, 2005, 05:18 PM
Bump. Any new developments? Are the immigrants settling down anywhere? Where is the new middle-class haven?

April 4th, 2005, 08:54 AM
Don't waste our time with useless bumps.

alex ballard
April 4th, 2005, 02:51 PM
Don't waste our time with useless bumps.

You have an attitude becasue you lost on both the Jets and Nets. I'm sorry your so allergic to progress, may I suggest Detroit? You'll love it there, nothing gets done ;).

April 4th, 2005, 03:38 PM
You have an attitude becasue you lost on both the Jets and Nets. I'm sorry your so allergic to progress, may I suggest Detroit? You'll love it there, nothing gets done ;).

No, really, the bumping is annoying. Post something real to start a conversation - if someone had something to say or post they would.

April 4th, 2005, 04:27 PM
What the hell is a bump?

April 4th, 2005, 04:29 PM
What the hell is a bump?

Posting "any new info on this?" etc... to raise the thread to the top of the forum, or bring it into "new posts"

April 4th, 2005, 04:32 PM
Bumping is posting useless remarks. It wastes peoples time reading it.

April 5th, 2005, 01:51 AM
Thanks. Logical, but needed to know for sure.

May 3rd, 2005, 02:56 PM
Greenpoint, Brooklyn:

April 2005

Waterfront projects may put green in Greenpoint

By Dorn Townsend

On a recent sunny weekend afternoon, a small group of bed-headed twenty-somethings waited for a table outside the Greenpoint Coffee House on Franklin Avenue. New arrivals in what used to be the most overlooked and run-down section of the neighborhood, they pointed out some of the new bars and galleries and said they were comforted by the area's budding chic.

"The hardest thing about living in this neighborhood is getting to Manhattan for work," said Eric Marshall, a 29-year-old graphic artist. "But our remoteness works both ways; it means that it's also hard for people to get here, so maybe this area won't go crazy with development like other parts of Brooklyn."

But had this group heard about the proposed rezoning of the adjacent waterfront?

"I hear they're still fighting that one out in court, so it probably won't start for a few years," said Marshall.

Marshall and his friends are part of a continuing influx of new, young residents who have brought this Polish enclave a smattering of bright ethnic restaurants, bars playing alternative rock, and sharply rising rental costs. Last month, the city planning commission approved a plan to rezone a huge swath of the Williamsburg- Greenpoint waterfront, ushering in a transformative new era of development that will affect the neighborhood's last frontier. The plans have been sent to the City Council for review, the final step in the city's formal, seven-month public review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The Council is expected to hold hearings this month.

Plans include a two-mile-long pedestrian esplanade to replace chain-link fences now blocking access to the waterfront. Studded along that landscaped ribbon, 20 condominiums of varying heights will be built. Plans also exist for several playgrounds, retail space at the base of those condos, and water taxi service linking Greenpoint with Midtown.

"The whole landscape of Greenpoint will change," said Tom Le, a Fillmore broker. "This is a very exciting time, and the waterfront development will impact the whole market."

No definitive plans exist, but brokers anticipate that over the next decade between 3,000 and 8,000 new units will be built along the waterfront in Greenpoint. All of this construction will occur in what is now the most desolate pocket of the neighborhood.

Brokers say that the waterfront construction will greatly accelerate developments already changing that no-man's land. In the last two years, several new cafes, bars, galleries, and yoga studios opened along Franklin Avenue, the main artery of that sliver of Greenpoint. Despite the lack of convenient public transit to Manhattan, brokers say that many of their young walk-in clients are looking to rent space in that area.

"The same thing that happened along Bedford 10 years ago is happening along Franklin Avenue right now," said Rosemarie Pawlikowski, a real estate agent for Albero Parkside Realty. "Young people and artists have begun turning those warehouses into loft spaces. That part of Greenpoint is becoming the new Williamsburg."

It is unclear just how much waterfront development will change Greenpoint's real estate market. According to Fillmore, the cost of one- and two-family houses has already risen by 25 percent to 38 percent, depending on whether the home is built with brick or wood.

Rental prices, however, have stabilized. Several years ago the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment was about $1,400, but these days, brokers agree similar apartments are going for $1,200.

"Greenpoint is a very stable neighborhood and the biggest problem has always been the lack of transit directly to Manhattan," said Le. "But what's about to happen to this neighborhood is going to change the whole landscape."

Copyright © 2003-2005 The Real Deal.

May 3rd, 2005, 03:20 PM
Prospect Park South , Brooklyn:

Near Prospect Park, a Touch of Greenwich

Published: May 1, 2005

WHAT do you get when you sell a three-bedroom, 1,500-square-foot Brooklyn Heights co-op for $1 million and buy a seven-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house 10 minutes away in Prospect Park South for $1.025 million?

According to Felicia Kang, who, with her husband, Tom Rosenthal, just made that move, you get a terrific bargain with lots more room - and a serious furniture deficit that has only one short-term solution.

"We just let the kids ride their bikes and scooters around and around," said Ms. Kang, who has three children, Emma, 5, George, 3, and 7-week-old Julia, born right around moving day. "We don't have to worry about them knocking into the piano."

There's also plenty of green space for children outside the family's landmarked Dutch colonial house, which sits with other stately homes along a landscaped median in Prospect Park South, one of Brooklyn's prettiest neighborhoods. Just steps from the 526-acre Prospect Park and served at two stops by the Q and B subway lines, Church Avenue and Beverley Road, the neighborhood is part of what is known as Victorian Flatbush.

But that term doesn't do justice to the mixed bag of grand, sprawling, early 20th century architectural gems that range from Colonial Revival, Tudor, Italian Villa, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts and Greek Revival to a whimsical Japanese-inspired house complete with pagoda-style curlicues along the roofline.

"It is like living under a Christmas tree, this village of neatly arranged houses under a green canopy with a mall going down the center," said Roslyn Huebener, who is a principal in Aguayo & Huebener, a Brooklyn real estate company, and the former owner of the house bought by Ms. Kang and Mr. Rosenthal. "It's hard to believe you are in the city."

The sense of a "Country in the City" was what the developer Dean Alvord set out to create when he purchased 40 acres from the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church in 1892. The streets were given British names, and houses went up on minimum lots of 50 by 100 feet, set back 30 feet from the curb. Early residents included chief executives of Gillette, Sperry Gyroscope and McAllister Brothers, the tugboat fleet.

Two of the streets, Buckingham Road and Albemarle Road, have medians. Lots along them are slightly larger than those of their neighbors; one house, with 21 rooms and a ballroom, is on the market for $4 million. But even with smaller yards and no median, houses on the other dozen or so blocks within this 0.08-square-mile garden spot are no less desirable. Price tags of $1 million have become the norm since breaking that seven-figure barrier in December and prices in what has long been considered a seriously undervalued area are going up at a faster rate than they ever did, according to Nicole Shaw, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group.

"Prices have gone up between 10 percent and 20 percent since January, but it is still a good value," said Ms. Shaw.

Reginald Middleton, an Argyle Road resident, calls his neighborhood the Gold Coast of Victorian Flatbush. He estimates the value of his 6,070-square-foot house, which includes a screening room and koi pond, at $2 million in the current market, up from the $780,000 he paid for it in 2002. But he says that at $380 a square foot, Prospect Park South is a bargain compared with $580 a square foot in downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods and $1,100 a square foot in Manhattan's Chelsea.

"We also have amenities that are unheard of in Brooklyn Heights and we're eight minutes away: large yards, private security and a community feel, and we also now have restaurants and a dry cleaner that delivers," said Mr. Middleton, a real estate investor with two sons. "Weigh everything, and net-net the property is undervalued."

Mary Kay Gallagher, a broker in the area for 35 years, draws another important distinction between Prospect Park South and gentrified row-house Brooklyn. "We have driveways and parking - parking is key," said Mrs. Gallagher, who has lived in the same house on Marlborough Road for almost four decades. "Park Slope has no driveways and no garages, and you have to negotiate to get a parking space."

The one co-op in the area, a red brick 28-unit prewar building at 1409 Albemarle Road, is 95 percent owner-occupied and units seldom come on the market, according to Hal Lehrman, principal broker for Brooklyn Properties.

"We sold a 900-square-foot two-bedroom, one-bath unit in 2002 for $127,000 and I would expect to sell that now for over $300,000," he said. "The views are spectacular."

There is only one rental building, and available apartments are rare. The going rate is $1,100 a month for a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, according to Mrs. Gallagher.

There are 1,500 residents in Prospect Park South, and the median household income is $57,823. It is 35 minutes by subway from Midtown Manhattan. The community as a whole is often loosely referred to as "Ditmas," for the better-known nearby districts of Ditmas Park and Ditmas Park West, two of 10 adjoining enclaves within Victorian Flatbush, each with its own civic association.

Prospect Park South homeowners pay $500 a year for security guards although the crime rate is among the lowest in the 70th Precinct, according to Nathan Thompson, security chair for the Prospect Park South Association. "Most of our issues are on the fringes - around the subway stations," Mr. Thompson said. "We've had a great year, but the reality is you are still in New York."

Like the Kang-Rosenthal clan, most new residents come from other parts of Brooklyn and they are primarily young families drawn by an enthusiastically child-friendly atmosphere. Bruce Williams, a vice president with J. P. Morgan, and his wife, Bridget, owner of Hot Toddie Children's Clothier, a store selling children's clothes, toys and accessories in Fort Greene, moved from Clinton Hill and still can't believe the welcome for their two children, Jett, 4, and Lola, 2. "We hadn't even moved in yet and they were calling to invite us to the Halloween March," said Ms. Williams, who moved in December into a nine-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath Victorian house for which the couple paid $975,000. "The families with children are amazing in the way they reach out."

Ms. Williams also has high praise for the large number of ethnic groups living in the Flatbush community at large. "Stand on the Q train platform and you see everybody from every walk of life, every complexion and every religion," she said. "It's wonderful - you feel like you live in New York."

This year's Victorian Flatbush House Tour on June 12 will be held in tandem with a daylong arts and crafts fair. But children's activities dominate the local calendar, from play dates to pick-up games of volleyball or basketball organized in the Parade Ground a block away by Flatbush Athletics volunteers. There are children's events every Wednesday at Vox Pop, the new neighborhood bookstore/cafe, and an association called the Flatbush Family Network keeps everyone informed.

Schools in the area include Public School 139 on Rugby Road, with prekindergarten through grade 5. Of fourth grade students there, 65.4 percent scored at or above grade level in English while 74.7 percent scored at or above grade level in math. At Public School 217 on Newkirk Avenue, also with prekindergarten through grade 5, 60.7 percent of fourth graders scored at or above grade level in English and 75.6 percent performed at or above grade level in math.

Two middle schools serve the area. At Junior High School 62, the Ditmas School on Cortelyou Road, 21.4 percent of eighth grade students scored at or above grade level in English and 34.7 percent performed at or above grade level in math. At Intermediate School 240, the Andries Hudde School on Nostrand Avenue, 59.9 percent of eighth graders scored at or above grade level in English and 71.1 percent in math.

Most local students go on to Midwood High School on Bedford Avenue. Of students there taking the 2004 SAT reasoning test, the average score was 514 on the verbal test, compared with 444 statewide, and 544 on the math, compared with 472 statewide.

Church Avenue pulses with commercial activity, but the shopping street of choice for most is Cortelyou Road a block away. There is an Associated Supermarket, the Flatbush Food Co-op and a seasonal Greenmarket, which will have 12 to 15 vendors beginning in early June.

Cortelyou Road is getting spruced up with new street lamps and benches, and new businesses moving in might suggest an invitation for the hipster crowd to have second thoughts about Williamsburg. Sander Hicks and his wife, Holly Anderson, own Vox Pop (Motto: "Books, Coffee, Democracy"). There are lines to get a table at Picket Fence, owned by Graham Meyerson, who cooked at the Union Square Cafe.

Interested hipsters may have to wait for space in the neighborhood, just as they wait for tables at Picket Fence. "Nobody is moving," Mrs. Gallagher said. "Why would they?"

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

May 13th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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13 May 2005 | HOW TO (http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/how_to/index.php)
The Non-Expert: Gentrify! Gentrify!

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week Andrew Womack shows how you can fight New York’s soaring real-estate costs when you invade an unfamiliar neighborhood. Making friends will never be so hard.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send your questions via email. The Non-Expert’s Desk handles all subjects and is updated every Friday, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.

Question: Hi! I’m thinking about moving to New York but every time I look at rent prices I’m just blown away by how expensive everything is. I know there are parts of Brooklyn that are good to move to, but even those seem pretty pricey. Any suggestions on new places to live in New York?—Jill A.

Answer: Since 1621, when Dutch traders purchased Manhattan from Native Americans (and ever since which time many agree that it’s “really lost its edge”), patches of land in New York have been in a constant state of gentrification—of being rediscovered, remodeled, and resold as acceptable areas in which to live. In fact, only 30 years ago Soho was uncharted territory, the domain of artists and their drug dealers, and Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke could regularly be spotted having sex in a stairwell. Look at it now! These days, you can’t even afford that stairwell. So to move here on the cheap, you have to find someplace new to people like you but old to people like them, someplace that nobody at New York magazine knows anything about yet. Someplace you can gentrify on your own.

It’s true there are still such parts of New York, parts even real-estate brokers can’t with a straight face qualify as “up-and-coming neighborhoods.” And those areas are exactly the outskirts, the hinterlands, the ridiculously cheap-rent neighborhoods you’re looking for! You want to find a place that makes you, upon emerging from the subway and coming face to face with the locals, recoil in fear. But no worries! You are a pioneer, and everybody loves a pioneer, and you have health insurance.

Here’s how you do it.

Find a Neighborhood

First familiarize yourself with all of New York’s many wondrous neighborhoods. Now immediately scratch those off your list. Accept now that you won’t be living in a desirable area—that is, until you’re done gentrifying it! Also, knowing where the sought-after areas are located will make you privy to the ways New York real-estate brokers redraw neighborhood borders to spiff up their housing ads. For example, according to brokers right now “Williamsburg” reaches all the way north to Long Island City, everything is “ONLY 15 MINS TO MANHATTAN,” and Brooklyn’s “South Park Slope” is in fact the northern tip of Staten Island.

No, brokerages and housing ads won’t find you into the place you’re looking for, because the only places worth advertising are already well-gentrified or close enough. Thus, you’re going to have to go a step further—or rather, a stop further. Take a train, any train, to any desirable area, stay on for four more stops, get out there, and perform the following litmus test.

Do you see anyone between the ages of 18 and 34 with speckles of paint on their clothing?


Do you see any bars, restaurants, or stores that look worth going into?


Was that a tumbleweed that just blew by?

Welcome home.

Rent an Apartment

The best way to find somewhere to live in an ungentrified area is through word of mouth. Since you don’t speak the native language around here (Is it Dutch? Can’t tell), you’ll have to do the next best thing—look for rental signs taped up in windows. Lucky for you, every landlord the world around uses those pre-printed “ROOM FOR RENT” signs you can pick up at the hardware store, so just keep walking up and down the blocks until you spot one. Then knock on the door and play it by ear.

Landlord: [says something in Dutch]

You: Hi! I’m here about the apartment?

Landlord: [looks you over, says something else]

You: Is now a good time?

Landlord: [silent, steps back, folds arms across chest]

You: How does five hundred dollars a month sound?

Landlord: [lets you in, leads you up to your new apartment]

Blend in With the Locals

You may have bought your way into the area, but you won’t be able to buy your way into their hearts. In fact, being a New York gentrifier is a lot like being a nerd in middle school: Everybody around you thinks you’re dressed funny, you can’t even pay people to be your friends (you’ve tried), and you get beat up every time you walk home from the subway.

Thankfully, the area’s homeless aren’t as discriminating. Besides, the locals know to steer clear of them—so by befriending a bum, you get a bodyguard at the same time. But don’t offer your friendship through the expected ply of free alcohol and cigarettes. No, get a bum to be your roommate. But claim the top bunk now, and I cannot stress how important this is.

Then it’ll be just like the movie My Bodyguard, with the bum being the big, tough guy who protects you, and you being the other guy. Lucas or something. Rodney maybe.

Buy Property

Once you’re ready to plant permanent stakes, it’s time to say goodbye to your landlord and your roommate (leave no forwarding address to either, by the way) and consider purchasing your very own home. By now you will have learned your way around enough to know where those guys who stole your iPod usually hang out, so it’s best to not shop in that part of town.

While looking into residential dwellings may sound sweet to your domestic side, keep in mind that you’re not just here for the cheap housing—you’re here for the spoils. Look for empty warehouses and shut-down factories, the kinds of places you’ll eventually build into lofts that you’ll sell in 2025 for a billion dollars a pop to Busta Rhymes’s children.

Keep in mind, though, that there are some types of buildings that are especially well-suited to your dreams of a future—and marketable—loft empire that will attract young financial workers. Such buildings include:

—burned-out plastics factory

—abandoned experimental psych ward

—anything haunted or said to be haunted

—Men’s Wearhouse

Start a Real-Estate Craze

Now that you’re living rich, or at least not rich—yet—but you’re living cheap with lots of floor space, remember this: The neighborhood needs some high-profile attention or it’ll never become the kind of place other people would pay, beg, or provide their parents’ tax returns to live in. So take a grassroots approach, and tell everyone how great your new neighborhood is…whatever it’s called. Helpful tip: If the neighborhood’s old name has an unfortunate history or reputation to, simply add “Heights” or “Hill” to its original name.

Before you know it, your friends will move into the buildings around you, art galleries will open their doors, finally a decent place to get cilantro will show up around the corner, and people will be absolutely flooding over from Manhattan—which you can tell everyone is only 15 minutes away.

http://www.themorningnews.org/images/article_portrait_andrew.gif (http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/andrew_womack/)

Andrew Womack (http://www.andrewwomack.net/) is a co-publisher of The Morning News, and lives in Brooklyn. Click here to read his other stories on TMN (http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/andrew_womack/).

July 7th, 2005, 04:15 PM
This whole thread makes me want to vomit. "HOW TO GENTRIFY?" WTF. Now I know why my neighborhood is going down the tubes. Thanks!

July 7th, 2005, 04:46 PM
Welcome to the boards! I have a feeling that you and I are going to get along just fine, Jennifer.

July 7th, 2005, 05:10 PM
Err... are you messing with me? (I do fully expect that with what I posted).

I just hate seeing my neighborhood become a yuppie hellhole... it's rather depressing. And hoping I don't get kicked out to make room for a trustfunder who gets everything from Mommy and Daddy...

July 7th, 2005, 05:33 PM
Indeed, crack viles and boarded up windows rule...

July 7th, 2005, 05:39 PM
Err... are you messing with me? (I do fully expect that with what I posted).

the morning news "how to" is a joke, but Schadenfrau's not. You'll find more posters that think gentrification is good than not on the board, but you're not alone.

July 7th, 2005, 05:48 PM
Thanks for clarifying, Ryan.

July 7th, 2005, 06:01 PM
Thanks for clarifying, Ryan.

not that you need it...

July 7th, 2005, 06:04 PM
I'll throw a blanket compliment right back at you.

July 7th, 2005, 06:55 PM
Indeed, crack viles and boarded up windows rule...

See that's more along the lines of what I'd *expect* to hear... and of course obnoxiously WRONG.

I would, however, rather see crack vials than another wannabe Park Slope neighborhood with NO flavor.

Thanks to those who didn't judge my comment - I appreciate it.

July 8th, 2005, 12:56 AM
See that's more along the lines of what I'd *expect* to hear... and of course obnoxiously WRONG.

I would, however, rather see crack vials than another wannabe Park Slope neighborhood with NO flavor.

Thanks to those who didn't judge my comment - I appreciate it.

Park Slope checking in here, Jennifer. Why is it that Shadenfrau and I agree on so many issues and you have to pick on my neighborhood from the get go?

The Slope is no "Yuppie Hellhole" and if you'd read up on it you might find that in THIS neighborhood residents actually took action to maintain the socio-economic mix - including but not limited to passing new zoning rules along 4th Ave, creating and supporting a residential zone where long-time lower income residents would be protected from "gentrification" displacement, the creation of the Fifth Avenue Committee (one of the earliest proponents of inclusionary housing and inclusionary housing credits).

Park Slope is rated as the THE most liberal neighborhood in the city and is often called the Berkeley of the East. The neighnorhood voted 98% Democrat and or Working Families Parties in 2004 election with the other 2% going to Green Party and Socialist Candidates. We have managed to block nearly every major sweat labor retailer from our business district and Starbucks fought its way in with only ONE location about three years ago. We have two chain stores: Barnes & Noble and Rite Aid. That is it. We support Mom & Pop operations. This neighborhood has evolved slowly. I'm here for 8 years now and it is still evolving. Fifth Avenue has only tranformed in the last four years or so.

So, don't make me come up there and spank you Jennifer.

July 8th, 2005, 11:15 AM
See that's more along the lines of what I'd *expect* to hear... and of course obnoxiously WRONG.

I would, however, rather see crack vials than another wannabe Park Slope neighborhood with NO flavor.

Thanks to those who didn't judge my comment - I appreciate it.

How am I wrong? And you're a fool to want crime and decay over development and safety. That whole "edgy, urban grit" stuff is simply to try and make a shitty situation seem ok.

Do you live in Brownsville? East NY?

July 8th, 2005, 11:19 AM
A lack of gentrification doesn't necessarily mean "crime and decay", BillyBlanco. There is a balance between a Starbucks and a crack house.

Also, did someone invent a time tunnel back to 1987? That's probably the last time boarded-up crack houses were a pressing issue for the city.

July 8th, 2005, 12:57 PM
Contrary to my personal political beliefs, I think I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to gentrification. The issue seems to have been polarized through overstated "fightin words" like much of our political discourse into an over-simplified issues. Starbucks vs. Crack House. Cities (and neighborhoods) are (and have always been) constantly evolving entities so a complete resistance to change seems a bit self-serving to me (as in, I don't want my neighborhood to change because I don't want my rent to increase). Beating the mindless drum of development at any cost seems no more appealing and is probably even more self-serving (profit, profit, profit).

It's a distraction from talking about what smart development could be in this city, which I think involves more questions than pat answers. How can we promote small, nyc-based businesses and provide mixed income housing? How can the poorest neighborhoods be improved without forcing out long-term populations? How can ethnic neighborhoods be preserved?

July 8th, 2005, 01:10 PM
If the Bronx follows the pattern similar to Brooklyn, you will see more local developers jumping into the mix - rather than the big Manhattan developers. It does make for a more natural feel to the evolution. Also, if there is such truly overwhelming concern for what might become of the area, attend community board meetings. But there a drug infested area can only benefit from improvement and socio-economic strata can be accommodated if they are willing to engage in the process rather than simply (1) giving up or (2) remaining silent.

July 8th, 2005, 02:47 PM
A lack of gentrification doesn't necessarily mean "crime and decay", BillyBlanco. There is a balance between a Starbucks and a crack house.

Also, did someone invent a time tunnel back to 1987? That's probably the last time boarded-up crack houses were a pressing issue for the city.

Well, that is not 100% true. In fact, I'm sure there are still some areas that have some boarded up buildings today. They may not be a "pressing" issue, but it's not gone.

As far as crime and decay, show me a low income area, with only low income residents, that is very well maintained and low in crime. If you can, that would be great and I would stand corrected, to a point.

I'm not saying Starbucks is great. I personally hate Starbucks and chains, etc, and don't think there should be a sushi joint on each block, but people in this city love to romanticize the bad old days...like in Times Square for example. Well, the 70's and 80's and early 90s weren't all that great in a lot of ways.

July 8th, 2005, 03:23 PM
Port Morris has less crime than Williamsburg and is located in what's famously the poorest congressional district in the United States.

I think you're confusing the outward trappings of prosperity with actual progress.

July 8th, 2005, 03:42 PM
We have two chain stores: Barnes & Noble and Rite Aid. That is it.

There's no Duane Reade in Park Slope!?!?!? Unbelievable.

July 8th, 2005, 03:45 PM
There's no Duane Reade in Park Slope!?!?!? Unbelievable.

Duane Reade JUST moved into Bay Ridge. There used to be an A&P there so we lost our grocery store which really sucks. But we already had RiteAid and Eckerd. Most of the neighborhood goes to Lowens, a family owned pharmacy that's been here a long time. And I like that.

There's a rite aid on 69th st and 4th ave, and 64th street and 4th ave. WHY???

July 8th, 2005, 05:58 PM
There's no Duane Reade in Park Slope!?!?!? Unbelievable.

The claim that Park Slope is "Chain-Free" is ridiculous.

There's a Duane Reade right on Flatbush near Seventh Avenue. There's another chain drug store (CVS?) on Seventh Avenue near Methodist Hospital and a third (Rite Aid?) on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Streets. Other Park Slope chains are Citibank, Chase, Staples, NY Sports Club, Whole Foods (coming soon), Dunkin Donuts, Haagen Dazs, McDonalds (2 of them), etc.

July 11th, 2005, 10:55 AM
The claim that Park Slope is "Chain-Free" is ridiculous.

There's a Duane Reade right on Flatbush near Seventh Avenue. There's another chain drug store (CVS?) on Seventh Avenue near Methodist Hospital and a third (Rite Aid?) on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Streets. Other Park Slope chains are Citibank, Chase, Staples, NY Sports Club, Whole Foods (coming soon), Dunkin Donuts, Haagen Dazs, McDonalds (2 of them), etc.

Thank you for clarifying that. Yes, there is a Duane Read on FLATBUSH Avenue not in the middle of Park Slope. The Staples and McDonalds are on FOURTH AVE - an area full of car washes and auto shops - again an area not associated with "Park Slope" living. Whole Foods is actually being built in Gowanus - not Park Slope and I don't consider banks "chain stores".

And while this consistent pattern of simply being contrary has become transparent, let's acknowlegde those three BIGGIES you added to the list: Haagen Daaz, Dunkin Donuts and NYC Sports Club. Oh, yes, we are inundated with chain stores <shudder>.

Other Park Slope residents will understand where I'm coming from. We've been forunate to maintain a largely mom and pop shopping district on the two main commercial arteries: Seventh Ave and Sixth Ave.

Post Note: This is a response to yet another post by ASchwarz which he prefaces with the snide remark of "ridiculous". Keep an eye out for this grating, yet amusing tendency.

June 21st, 2008, 06:37 AM
Streetscapes | Albemarle Road

Brooklyn’s Stately Esplanade

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/22/realestate/22scap-600.jpg Office for Metropolitan History
NO FENCES Albemarle Road in 1909, 10 years after the sale of lots started for “people of intelligence.” More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/realestate/0622-SCAP_index.html)

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&inline=nyt-per)
Published: June 22, 2008

GRANDEST of all the streets in Prospect Park South is Albemarle Road, a broad, esplanaded boulevard of stately neo-Classical, Queen Anne and Colonial style mansions. In fact, for the three blocks from Argyle to Buckingham Roads, Albemarle is one of the grandest residential streets in the whole city, even with some dings and dents.


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/22/realestate/0622-SCAP-B.JPGSlide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/realestate/0622-SCAP_index.html)Boulevard Beautiful (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/realestate/0622-SCAP_index.html)

The visionary of the development was Dean Alvord. He came to Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) from Rochester in 1892, and in the late 1890s bought a large tract south of Prospect Park, laying out streets for what would become his Prospect Park South development, about 10 blocks. He began selling lots in 1899.
His goal was to create a suburb for “people of intelligence and good breeding,” according to his original prospectus, as quoted in the 1975 “History of Prospect Park South,” by Margery Nathanson, Gloria Fischer and Mary Kay Gallagher.

By carefully controlling the design of the houses and the arrangement of the streets, Mr. Alvord sought an environment “where a wife and children, in going to and fro, are not subjected to the annoyance of contact with the undesirable elements of society.”

Mr. Alvord created Albemarle Road as his main boulevard, with a planted strip down the middle and a dozen imposing houses east of Argyle Road, most built from 1899 to 1910. They created a most unusual place and were made grander by his main requirement — that no fences, hedges or plantings extend beyond the house lines, so the front yards combine into a unified majestic sweep.

The most unusual of these dwellings is the one built in 1905 for George E. Gale at 1305 Albemarle, at the northeast corner of Argyle Road, in white clapboard with a colossal two-story Ionic portico. Designed by an architect known only as H. B. Moore, the Gale house has a striking assortment of windows, among them roof dormers with a kind of webbed sash, topped by ebullient broken pediments. On the second floor, there are spider-web-type windows with Gothic-style sashes, and on the rear are leaded glass windows.

Mr. Moore ran copper cresting in the form of anthemion leaves around the top of a bay window on the side of the house, and he put low, curved eyebrow dormers on either side of the third-floor gable. The Gale house is worth a special trip.

Directly across the street in 1905, Mr. Alvord’s regular architect, John J. Petit, did a picturesque house with a corner turret for John S. Eakins, a dye manufacturer. It is less inventive but more expansive than its neighbor, surrounded by a porch the size of a small two-bedroom apartment. The outside has aluminum siding installed by the previous owners just before landmark designation came in 1979. “None of us could persuade them not to,” said Ms. Gallagher, a real estate broker and longtime Prospect Park South stalwart.

But the inside has a straight 50-foot run through the dining, music and sitting rooms — with the woodwork changing in each room from quartered oak to mahogany to painted. The dining room has the original inset tapestry panels, with cabinetwork fitted to the oval plan. Susan Cleary has owned the house for 13 years and moved there from Brooklyn Heights because “it seemed like Westchester (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/westchester/?inline=nyt-geo).” Now her three children are almost out of the house, but “we’ve still got eight bedrooms,” she said.

Mrs. Cleary has the property on the market for $2.35 million; there are interior photographs of the house posted at Ms. Gallagher’s Web site,
marykayg.com/html/0499.html (http://marykayg.com/html/0499.html).

As for the Colonial revival at 1440 Albemarle, at Marlborough Road, the owner, Mary Ballestros, says her family bought it in 1957. It has a huge temple front, along with Doric columns and unusual carving.

But it also has a layer of asphalt siding in gray, green and tan. Configured to look like random stones, the siding will offend the architectural purist, but there is a very human, vernacular charm to this addition. When Ms. Ballestros’s parents bought the house, the exterior had deteriorated and was leaking air; the asphalt siding, at a nominal cost, cured these problems very nicely. Now, she says, the asphalt is beginning to fail, and of course matching material is no longer available.

Ms. Ballestros says she has thought about restoring the original siding, but the cost would be great. Perhaps the asphalt will remain, a mote in the eye of current preservation sensibility.

The street ends with 1510 Albemarle, built in 1900 for Mr. Alvord, again by Mr. Petit, and later owned by Capt. James P. McAllister of the McAllister Brothers tugboat firm. Here Mr. Petit produced a chaste white box with a simple, impressive temple front. Its owner, Albert H. Garner, an investment banker who works in Midtown, said he was attracted to it a decade ago because “I grew up in Tennessee, and there’s no other place in New York so much like home.”

Things are far from perfect on Albemarle Road. The gem of the street, the Gale house, sorely needs paint, and several houses even in the best stretch are battered and decayed. But it is still an imposing streetscape, unlike any other you are likely to see in New York.

E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 9th, 2008, 06:14 AM
Living In | Gravesend, Brooklyn

A Neighborhood Both Insular and Diverse

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/10/realestate/10livi.xlarge1.jpg Kate Glicksberg for The New York Times
WIDE RANGE Homes in the Sephardic area of Gravesend tend to be the largest, with elaborate hedges and porches. Outside of this zone, demand for homes is less intense and the neighborhood’s quiet hominess is more affordable. More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/10/realestate/20080810LIVINGIN_index.html)

By JAKE MOONEY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/jake_mooney/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: August 8, 2008

ITSIK ZEITOUNI, a young man with big ambitions, was living in the Homecrest section of southern Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) early last year, but his thoughts were elsewhere — just a little to the west, in fact, in the adjacent neighborhood of Gravesend. There, the Sephardic Jewish population was in the midst of a population boom that was ratcheting up prices for houses — and empty lots.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/10/realestate/20080810LIVINGIN-B.JPGSlide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/10/realestate/20080810LIVINGIN_index.html)Living in Gravesend, Brooklyn (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/10/realestate/20080810LIVINGIN_index.html)


Mr. Zeitouni, who just turned 30, is a Sephardic Jew and a real estate agent, and the growth was something he wanted a piece of. He even had a place in mind: a two-family house on East Second Street, its owner a “very nice Italian man” who was ready to move to Florida (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/florida/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and spend his time fishing. The only obstacle was the price: a hefty $800,000, which reflected the same upward market forces that Mr. Zeitouni sought to capitalize on.

Enter an aunt, Frida Tarrab. Persuaded by her nephew’s predictions for the neighborhood, she dug into her savings and helped him buy the house. Mr. Zeitouni, who now lives there, has told Ms. Tarrab, who now lives in Israel, that one day she will thank him for the investment advice.

His confidence, he said recently, is based in part on the values of his religious community: People are willing to pay more to live near their relatives — children typically remain with their parents until they are married — and within walking distance of a synagogue. Such is the importance of community and location, he wrote in an e-mail message, that “Sephardic Jews would rather pay a million dollars for a 2,000-square-foot lot in Gravesend than pay $500,000 for a 4,000-square-foot lot elsewhere.”

The story of the Sephardic community, made up largely of people from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, is a familiar one in the history of Gravesend, an area more than a mile and a half square that is one of the oldest settlements in Brooklyn.

Howard Feuer, district manager of Community Board 11, which represents part of the area, says it has always been a place for middle-class immigrants to settle. In the past, most were Italians, and they still have a strong presence in the neighborhood. In recent years, according to Mr. Feuer, there have been growing populations of Chinese, Mexicans and especially Russians. The overall population is about 67,000, according to 2000 census figures.

The cycle continues, he said: “People move out, different people move in, and the housing stock is still pretty good.”

Joe DiFiore, an associate broker at Century 21 Calabrese who grew up in the area, takes a similar view. Only the nationalities have changed, he said. “We grew up, Jewish kids playing with Italian kids and Irish kids,” he recalled (revealing that “Crazy Eddie” Antar, a Syrian-American electronics merchant known for his series of frenetic television commercials, was once a tenant in his mother’s downstairs apartment). The neighborhood nowadays, Mr. DiFiore added, is a “minestrone soup” — a jumbled-up mix of ingredients that somehow fit together.

The insularity of the Sephardim, and the size of some of the houses they have built on the sites of more modest teardowns, have raised eyebrows elsewhere in the neighborhood. But outside the predominantly Sephardic area, in sections where demand is less intense, Gravesend’s quiet hominess is much more moderately priced.

“The beauty is that you can afford to get in at $600,000, and you also have beautiful mansion-type homes that go for $5 million or more,” said Vera Capozucca, a broker at Fillmore.com (http://fillmore.com/). “That’s how diverse this community is.”


The Sephardic area, with the largest houses and most elaborate hedges and porches, is centered on two thoroughfares: Avenue T and Ocean Parkway. The latter, lined with trees and benches, is a popular place for an evening stroll.

To the west, the area north of the main commercial district on Avenue U has row upon row of one- and two-family houses, many of them brick, with covered porches. There are also six- and seven-story brick co-op and condominium buildings, most generally closer to the southern avenues and Ocean Parkway.

Just north of the Coney Island subway train yard, the historic Old Gravesend Cemetery, on Village Road South by Van Sicklen Street, dates back to the 1600s, when the settlement was the only one in Kings County to be English rather than Dutch.


Prices east of McDonald Avenue and north of Avenue U can be unpredictable, Mr. DiFiore said, because of the strong demand among the Sephardim. He recently sold a small house on the east side of the neighborhood, between Avenues U and T, for $1.4 million, he said.
Outside of that area, the average one-family house might cost $500,000 to $700,000, a two-family $650,000 to $850,000.

According to Delton Cheng, Mr. Zeitouni’s boss at Century 21 Homefront, lots 40 or 50 feet wide are the most highly prized in the neighborhood, whether they have houses on them or not. Often, he said, people will buy only to “knock down a house to build a minimansion.”

Single-family houses on relatively rare large lots, being in greater demand, have sold recently for as much as $5.075 million, Mr. Cheng said.

Multifamilies are more common and not as sought-after; at the time of one recent search, he added, 55 two- and three-family houses were on the market, 12 with asking prices over $1 million. “Not too many people are paying right now, $2 million in this market,” Mr. Cheng said.

In the co-op buildings, he added, one-bedrooms are usually about $200,000, two-bedrooms $300,000. The neighborhood, he said, is one of the more expensive in southern Brooklyn.

Rentals are not as common. One-bedrooms typically rent for $1,000 to $1,200 a month (though there are units on the market for as low as $900). Two-bedrooms range from $1,400 to $2,000 or more, for a unit in a new building.


Gravesend is a short bus or train ride from the beach at Coney Island. It has several small parks with handball courts and paved baseball diamonds; McDonald Park, on McDonald Avenue near Avenue T, has three tennis courts.

Avenue U has several Italian specialty stores, including the Bari Pork Store, which describes itself as “King of the Sausage,” and Joe’s of Avenue U, featuring Sicilian foods.


There are five public elementary schools, among them Public School 95 on Van Sicklen Street, which teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. Of fourth graders tested last year, 56 percent scored at or above grade level in English, 75.6 percent in math.

The area has three public middle schools. At Intermediate School 228, which scored a D on its most recent city report card, 55 percent of eighth graders met standards in English, 63.6 in math. At Intermediate School 303, which received an A on the report card, the scores were 60.3 in English and 76.2 in math. Intermediate School 281 got a B from the city; its proficiency scores were 54.1 percent in English and 69.7 percent in math.

At John Dewey High School on Avenue X, which also got a B rating, SAT averages in 2007 were 432 in reading, 482 in math and 426 in writing, versus 441, 462 and 433 citywide.

Among a variety of religious schools in the area are Our Lady of Grace School, on Avenue W, which teaches nursery school through eighth grade, and the Magen David Yeshivah, which includes Isaac Shalom Elementary School on McDonald Avenue and Celia Esses High School on Bay Parkway.


For a neighborhood relatively distant from Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo), Gravesend has good public transportation options. The elevated F train bisects the area along McDonald Avenue; to the west are the N and D trains, both of which run express through much of Brooklyn on the way to Gravesend. Subway commuting time to Midtown is an hour or more.

The Belt Parkway runs along the southern edge of the neighborhood.


The town of Gravesend was founded in 1645 by Lady Deborah Moody, a religious dissenter who designed a street system still in place today near the center of the neighborhood. Brooklyn annexed the community in 1894.

According to the Encyclopedia of New York City (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo), the area was mostly farmland until the 1870s, when three race tracks and the Coney Island resort opened nearby. Around the same time, Ocean Parkway, a thoroughfare designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/frederick_law_olmsted/index.html?inline=nyt-per), was built along the neighborhood’s eastern edge.

Electric rail service arrived at the end of the 19th century, bringing residential development.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 5th, 2008, 02:39 PM
Brooklyn’s Home to the Gentry and the Not-So

Published: October 2, 2008

WITH its sedate, leafy streets, fine old homes and churches, lush gardens and lofty harbor views, Brooklyn Heights feels like a staid patrician neighborhood where time has stood still since the 1800s. But more has gone on there than its quiet streets and house-proud gentry let on. “The myth of the white-gloved ladies is that this was always a genteel neighborhood,” Jim Schmitt, an avid student of local history who has lived in Brooklyn Heights since 1976, said as we walked around there recently. “Absolutely not.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/03/arts/03explor.large4.jpgRuby Washington/The New York Times
Stone work on the exterior of the Brooklyn Historical Society.


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/12/13/arts/cul_EXPLORER_promo.jpgInteractive Feature (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/12/13/arts/WEEKEND_EXPLORER_FEATURE.html)Weekend Explorer (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/12/13/arts/WEEKEND_EXPLORER_FEATURE.html)

There is also a VIDEO (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/arts/03expl.html?pagewanted=1&ref=travel) on this page of the article.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/03/arts/03explor.large2x.jpgRuby Washington/The New York Times
Truman Capote lived in the basement of 70 Willow Street, above. Arthur Miller also lived on Willow for a time.

The Heights, roughly from the Brooklyn Bridge down to Atlantic Avenue and from the riverfront over to Cadman Plaza West and Court Street, has been home to immigrant and itinerant workers, hookers and muggers, artists and eccentrics, a prominent Communist, a comic-book superhero and a famous burlesque queen.

Now, it’s a few minutes from Manhattan by subway, or a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, or by water taxi to Fulton Ferry Landing.

Brooklyn Heights was farmland before Robert Fulton’s regular steam ferry service at that landing made commuting to Manhattan easy in 1814. Soon after, enterprising Heights property owners (remembered today in street names like Pierrepont, Remsen, Hicks and Middagh) began to sell off plots for new homes, advertising the area to Manhattan’s wealthy as “the nearest country retreat.” The oldest houses still standing date from the 1820s, including 24 and 56 Middagh Street and 25 Cranberry Street. Over the following decades well-to-do businessmen and professionals lined the grid of new streets with homes and mansions of brick and stone in all the popular 19th-century styles.

The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, and the advent of subway service in the 1900s, ended the neighborhood’s gilded age of exclusivity. With the docks below it and the Navy Yard to the north, a lot of streets, especially in the north Heights, were given over to rooming houses, storefronts, machine shops and factories. An El rumbled over Fulton Street (now Cadman Plaza West), where trolleys also ran past rows of tenements. Waves of working-class immigrants poured in, with a healthy sprinkling of bohemians.

Many of the old patrician families fled. Their large homes were subdivided into apartments, boarding houses or pocket hotels. The magnificent Herman Behr mansion at 82 Pierrepont Street, for example, has been the Palm Hotel, a bordello and housing for Franciscan monks. Bars and rowdy taverns crowded the streets, prowled by sailors and ruffians from down by the water.

Mr. Schmitt, the superintendent for several buildings in the Heights, has lived at 58 Middagh Street for 32 years. The plain brick structure, now apartments, was built in the 1890s as “a workingman’s boarding house, which is what today is called an S.R.O. hotel,” he explained, standing on the front steps. “It was itinerant dockworkers, ship workers, laborers, factory workers, mostly single men and a good deal of them with criminal records,” he said, which placed the house on the 84th Precinct’s list of troublesome addresses.

Frank Santos, a retired woodworker, has lived in the north Heights all of his 80 years. He was born and raised in a 16-family tenement at 8 Hicks Street, on a block later demolished to make way for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. His father was a cabinetmaker from Spain. Their neighbors were Italian, black, Greek, Jewish, Irish, Chinese. Many worked in nearby factories, including the large Squibb pharmaceutical plant (now with a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower sign); the Brillo factory and Robert Gair box factory in Dumbo; and the Peaks Mason Mints factory at Middagh and Henry Streets.

“My mother used to get up on a chair to light the gas lights in the kitchen,” he recalled. “For the other rooms we used candles. Who the heck was going to go climbing over beds and all that to light the gas?”

The tenement had only cold running water. “In the wintertime you took a bath once a week on Saturday night to go to church on Sunday,” he said. “In the summertime the Fire Department used to bring out these sprinklers. You brought your soap and towel and took a shower right in the street.”

Mr. Santos attended the Assumption Roman Catholic elementary school, which was in the quaint redbrick schoolhouse (originally built as P.S. 8) next door to the Peaks Mason Mints factory. “My mother-in-law used to work at the factory,” he said. “At break time we used to go out in the yard, and they would throw candy down. Mason Mints, Dots, Black Crows.” Both buildings are now residential.

Starting in the first decade of the 20th century the neighborhood also became the world headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They bought numerous properties in the Heights in addition to the Squibb building, including the lavish Hotel Bossert at Montague and Hicks Streets; the Venetian-looking Leverich Towers at Clark and Willow Streets; and the Standish Arms (at 169 Columbia Heights), fictional home of Clark Kent (in Metropolis) and the setting for Willy Loman’s adulterous affair in Arthur Miller (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/arthur_miller/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s “Death of a Salesman.” (Miller lived in several places in the Heights, including 31 Grace Court, which he sold to W. E. B. Du Bois, and 155 Willow Street, with his second wife, Marilyn Monroe (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/marilyn_monroe/index.html?inline=nyt-per).) Recently, the Witnesses have begun to sell some holdings.

In midcentury Truman Capote (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/truman_capote/index.html?inline=nyt-per), who had a basement apartment in the big yellow house at 70 Willow Street, described the decrepit fringe of the neighborhood as an area where “seedy hangouts, beer-sour bars and bitter candy stores mingle among the eroding houses.” The city planner Robert Moses (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/robert_moses/index.html?inline=nyt-per) declared much of Brooklyn Heights a slum in the 1940s and proposed to obliterate it by laying his new Brooklyn- Queens Expressway straight through the middle of it. The Brooklyn Heights Association of homeowners, hanging onto the old elegance in the neighborhood’s core, fought for an ingenious compromise. The expressway was built in two tiers along the cliff facing the water, and its pedestrian esplanade, known as the promenade, opened in 1950 above it. Norman Mailer (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/norman_mailer/index.html?inline=nyt-per), who had a walkup at 142 Columbia Heights until his death in 2007, took in the sweeping views of New York harbor from the promenade.

Moses did lop off a large section of the neighborhood’s northwest corner for the expressway. Mr. Santos was a teenager when the city bought all the buildings on the last blocks of Hicks Street and demolished them. Where his family’s house stood is now a busy on-ramp.

“You just had to get out,” he said. “Everyone scattered. It ruined the neighborhood.”

The last block of Middagh Street was also razed, including No. 7, a house where W. H. Auden (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/wystan_hugh_auden/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Carson McCullers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/carson_mccullers/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Benjamin Britten (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/benjamin_britten/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Paul and Jane Bowles and Gypsy Rose Lee lived together in various combinations in 1940-41. Among their guests were Salvador and Gala Dalí, Lotte Lenya, Aaron Copland (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/aaron_copland/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Leonard Bernstein (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/leonard_bernstein/index.html?inline=nyt-per). They mingled with rough characters from down on the waterfront, including a pimp named Snaggle-Tooth and a barrelhouse piano player called Ginger-Ale. When the group moved out, the novelist Richard Wright (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/richard_wright/index.html?inline=nyt-per) moved in.

Other writers associated with the Heights include Walt Whitman (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/walt_whitman/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Hart Crane, the novelist James Purdy (http://movies.nytimes.com/person/314060/James-Purdy?inline=nyt-per) and horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, who described 169 Clinton Street, where he had an apartment in the 1920s, as “unwholesome” and “furtive.”

Shakespeare (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/william_shakespeare/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Dante’s sculptured heads adorn one of the neighborhood’s most handsome buildings, the 1881 brick and terra cotta home of the Long Island Historical Society, now the Brooklyn Historical Society, at Pierrepont and Clinton Streets. Its architect, George B. Post, incorporated modern steel pillars and suspension techniques he saw being used on the Brooklyn Bridge. But bowing to Victorian tastes, he hid the pillars behind ornate wood veneer, which still adorns the society’s beautiful research library.

Now lined with stroller-mom cafes and lunch-crowd restaurants, nearby Montague Street gives no hint of its wilder side. Bertram D. Wolfe, a founder of the Communist Party of the United States of America, lived at 68 Montague Street in the 1930s. High up in No. 62, the painter and underground filmmaker Marie Menken and her husband, the poet Willard Maas, gave notoriously wild parties attended by Andy Warhol (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/andy_warhol/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Edward Albee (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/edward_albee/index.html?inline=nyt-per). Kenneth Anger (http://movies.nytimes.com/person/79721/Kenneth-Anger?inline=nyt-per) stayed there while making his seminal underground film “Scorpio Rising.” Menken played the mother in Warhol and Paul Morrissey (http://movies.nytimes.com/person/103597/Paul-Morrissey?inline=nyt-per)’s 1966 film “Chelsea Girls.” Albee is said to have used Menken and Maas as his inspirations for the squabbling couple in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/virginia_woolf/index.html?inline=nyt-per)?”

Today Montague Street is home to Joe Coleman, an artist who moved there in 1994 after 20 years in the East Village. A painter known for his meticulously detailed portraits of serial killers and other nightmarish imagery, Mr. Coleman and his wife, Whitney Ward, live in an apartment that he calls the Odditorium. Wax figures of Charles Manson (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/charles_manson/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and the serial killer Richard Speck, John Dillinger’s death mask, a bullet from Jack Ruby’s pistol and a letter from the cannibal Albert Fish share the Ripleyesque space with some of Mr. Coleman’s paintings.

“The East Village that I came to know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Mr. Coleman said. “I like it much better here. In the East Village they’re destroying all the beautiful old buildings. So escaping here seemed comforting.”

From Montague and Court Streets it’s a brief walk up to the broad expanse of Cadman Plaza Park. In the early 1960s, despite local opposition, Robert Moses destroyed several square blocks of old buildings to create the park and line its western edge with high-rises. One of the demolished buildings, which stood near the stop of the A and C subway lines, was the shop where Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” was first printed in 1855.

To ward off further destruction the neighborhood successfully lobbied to be designated the city’s first historic landmark district in 1965. Hundreds of old homes and other buildings were saved, and a process of regentrifying began.

It didn’t happen overnight. The Hotel St. George complex, which at its height dominated the square block between Henry and Hicks Streets and Clark and Pineapple Streets, was originally renowned for its grand ballrooms and a huge salt-water swimming pool. By the 1970s it housed a topless bar called Wild Fyre, and its elderly residents were preyed on by muggers.

“The crime was pretty bad back then,” Mr. Schmitt recalled. “For a long time it was kind of dicey walking around anywhere at night. Now you feel absolutely safe, but before the late ’80s you looked over your shoulder coming home from the subway.”

Mr. Schmitt noted that as far back as the mid-1800s Whitman went to Middagh Street to meet sailors. In the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Schmitt recalled, muggers attacked gay prostitutes who met clients every night at the corner of Middagh and Columbia Heights.

Now children play in the nearby Harry Chapin Playground, named for the songwriter who grew up in the Heights and died in 1981. There’s no brass plaque marking the spot where Auden, Snaggle-Tooth et al. once cavorted just across the street.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 11th, 2008, 04:36 AM
Streetscapes | Tower Buildings in Brooklyn

Architectural Wealth, Built for the Poor

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/10/realestate/12scapes-600.jpg Brooklyn Historical Society (left); Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
AIR OF COMMAND Alfred Tredway White was the developer of the Tower Buildings, which went up in 1879, at Hicks and Baltic Streets in Cobble Hill, to house workingclass tenants.

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 10, 2008

BUILT in 1879 as a group of model tenements, the Tower Buildings, at Hicks and Baltic Streets in Cobble Hill, were rescued in the 1970s by Frank Farella, a local developer who for years kept the Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) complex as a low-rent paradise. Now Mr. Farella has taken on a partner, the Hudson Companies, and their collaboration may bring substantial changes.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/10/realestate/12scapes.1-650.jpgAndrea Mohin/The New York Times
The complex is known as a place with lower rents, but its owner has taken on a partner, and things may soon change.

Alfred Tredway White.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/10/realestate/12scapes.3-650.jpgAndrea Mohin/The New York Times
The developer of the Tower Buildings was Alfred Tredway White, who was born into wealth and who was asked by his Unitarian pastor to investigate the housing of the poor.

Moved by the awful conditions in working-class tenements, in 1877 he finished a nine-building complex, somewhat dour and barrackslike, called the Home Buildings. Two years later, just across the street, Mr. White built a more architecturally pleasing group of nine, fleshing out his ideas for model housing. This second, more imposing group became known as the Tower Buildings because of two picturesque ornamental peaks on either end.

To reduce interior corridors and fire hazards in the Tower project, Mr. White and his architect, William Field & Son, used a system of open stairways.

Compared with the typical sanitary accommodations, Mr. White’s were luxurious: a toilet in each apartment, instead of a bank of outhouses outside. There was also a chute on each floor, in which tenants were supposed to place garbage first burnt in the kitchen stove — although in 1887 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that watermelon rinds were unburnable and had to be put out separately. Mr. White provided hoisting tackle, as the coal box in each living room could hold a quarter ton.

The 76 three- and four-room apartments in the Tower Buildings each rented for $1.50 to $2 a week, and the 1880 census lists tenant occupations like coppersmith, typesetter and tailoress.

There were usually four or five people to an apartment: Edward Monroe, 52, a laborer, lived in one with his three siblings, including George, 47, whose occupation was listed as “paralyzed — never earned a cent.”

Mr. White brought a missionary zeal to housing reform. Selling liquor was prohibited, and in 1876 The New York Times, describing the projects at the outset, said that success would be guaranteed by “a strict moral and police supervision under a faithful janitor.”

Mr. White and Mr. Field made a particular feature of the open iron galleries across the front, which are pierced with decorative designs. Although the rear is plain, it surrounds a broad courtyard.

Mr. White said the Tower enterprise returned 6 percent on his investment, and in 1880 The New York Times reported the Tower Buildings had demonstrated to commercial builders that model tenements could be made to pay. But the real estate industry resisted such reasoning — indeed many disputed its accuracy — and kept to established models.

Little change came to the Tower Buildings until the 1940s, when the White family sold the project, and the 1950s, when the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cut a swath to the west.

In the 1970s. Mr. Farella was a real estate broker. “My fuel oil man told me they were for sale,” he said of the Tower and Home complexes, adding, “In 1975 no one wanted these buildings, with 11 burnt-out apartments.” In addition, one-third of the apartments were vacant. Mr. Farella paid about $450,000 for both projects, and the architects Maitland, Strauss & Behr began a gut renovation, which was not finished until 1986.

Mr. Farella has now taken a private developer, the Hudson Companies, as a partner. David Kramer, a principal, says rents are still low, citing a one-bedroom apartment with “killer views” of New York Harbor and the financial district that costs $1,335 per month. He says the owners are considering a co-op conversion for both complexes.

Unlike much of Cobble Hill, the Tower Buildings are not spiffed up. The exterior staircases give them a charming, but still Dickensian air, and there are broken panes of glass. The exterior brick has been long painted a flat red; you can see the original warm orangey-red, rich in natural variation, on the rear walls. The plantings are a bit ragged; the trash bins, though neat, are kept in the courtyard; and lines of bikes are chained to the railings.

Still, the garden is a welcome relief from the hurricane of the B.Q.E. on the other side, and it is outsize by normal courtyard standards. Anyone can walk in or out the unlocked gates on either side. This gives the complex a comfortable, old-time air. The Tower Buildings are simple, decent places to live, just as Mr. White intended 129 years ago.

E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 1st, 2008, 05:54 AM
Flatbush Journal

Beyond the Gate, an Oasis of Tennis Thrives Once Again

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/11/01/nyregion/01metjournal02-600.jpg Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
A view of the Knickerbocker Field Club in Flatbush from atop a neighboring building. Todd Snyder gave lessons recently.

By KAREEM FAHIM (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/kareem_fahim/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 31, 2008

Past the goat tacos sizzling on a food-stand grill, the man selling $3 watches to gypsy-cab passengers and the line of people waiting for salt fish at the Exquisite Restaurant and Bakery, the sign for the private tennis club is nearly out of sight atop a roll-down metal gate.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/11/01/nyregion/01metjournal01-650.jpgRobert Stolarik for The New York Times
Matches are often punctuated by the roar of the subway and a man in a nearby building who yells out his window.

Many people who live in this part of Flatbush, Brooklyn, have never seen the sign. The shoppers from Church Avenue walk right by, unaware that beyond the gate and around a corner are five green clay tennis courts at the Knickerbocker Field Club (http://www.knickerbockerfieldclub.com/), open on East 18th Street since before the turn of the last century.

It is an oasis in the city and an apparition. Behind apartment blocks, a verandah-like clubhouse for the players sits on a manicured lawn. Subway tracks cut through the property but are underground, meaning that thousands of people who take the Q train every day might never notice the courts.

The Knickerbocker sits between two worlds. On one side are the stately homes of Prospect Park South, where many of the club’s members once lived; on the other side is a thriving neighborhood of with many Caribbean immigrants.

“It’s like a mirage,” said Jimmy Devlin, 63, a furniture reupholsterer whose clients have included the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. In his three years as a member, Mr. Devlin has played with a judge, a doctor, a lawyer and a police officer. He took up tennis in his 50s, but learned fast, winning one of the club singles titles. Mr. Devlin is among the more devoted fans of the club, which is referred to fondly by members as the Knick.

“Sprinkle my ashes on the court,” Mr. Devlin said.

Generations ago, members mingled in the clapboard, Colonial-revival clubhouse with the long porch, a ballroom and a bowling alley.
On a 1909 postcard, the road leading to the club is a leafy cul-de-sac fronted by brick gateposts. After World War I, the mansions were replaced with apartment blocks. For a time, the Knick was a severed appendage, an exclusively white club in an increasingly diverse neighborhood. The club began to integrate in the 1970s, several members said.

By 1988, when the clubhouse was badly damaged by arson, there were only about 60 members. And beginning in 1990, Church Avenue, near the Knickerbocker, was a focal point of racial tension when black residents boycotted two Korean stores.

Today, the Knick is resurgent, said Ray Habib, the club president. Where the old mansion burned, a new open-air clubhouse sits, and there are 144 members and a waiting list for new ones.

While the club still feels like an enclave, the membership is more diverse, and a summer program for children from the surrounding neighborhood is in its fifth year.

On a Saturday morning in October, Dr. Jeremiah Gelles waited for Samir Debs to stretch before their game. Mr. Debs, who plays a few times a week, oversaw the rebuilding of the clubhouse. The men met through the Knick, and Mr. Debs became a patient of Dr. Gelles.

Oasis or not, this is city tennis, with matches punctuated by the intermittent roar of the subway, and the man in a nearby building who occasionally opens his window and starts yelling.

Mr. Debs’s wife, Adrienne, stood on the porch. She grew up nearby, on Caton Avenue, when it was more Irish and Jewish and the Knick was more of a social club, “with Champagne brunches,” she said. Now, the clubhouse has vending machines and a flat-screen television.

Francis Salinas, 66, the manager, had a room in the clubhouse that burned. He has worked at the Knick since 1985, when he moved here from Trinidad. He lives alone in a cramped trailer on the grounds, where the walls are lined with photographs of his family. A collection of horse-betting books sit in a stack near a couch.

In years past, Mr. Salinas cooked Trinidadian dishes for club members.

Every morning, he sweeps, rolls and lines the clay courts. He spends his spare time with his adult grandson, who often visits the club. Mr. Salinas said he planned to keep working, as long as he was “healthy and strong.”

“A lot of people don’t know this place exists,” Mr. Salinas said. His grandson, Clint Lopez, disagreed: They know it exists, he said, but they can’t afford it. But Mr. Habib pointed out that with annual dues of about $600, the club is cheaper than most gyms.

In small ways, a synergy seems to have developed between the club and its surroundings. Ed Haynes, 50, lives in a building next to the Knick. “It keeps the neighborhood lively,” he said. “You can hear the fellows
screaming when they hit a good shot.”

He said that the tennis balls that escape the club are sometimes used in cricket (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/cricket_game/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) matches on the streets outside.

Other residents said they enjoyed the sound of tennis in the morning, the rhythmic thwacking in the backyard.

Amy Pimentel, 24, catches it from her fifth-floor window. On that Saturday morning, elsewhere in her building, someone blasted the Caribbean gospel song “My Jesus I Love You.”

Seen from the apartment buildings of Flatbush, the club was something like a clearing in the woods. “It’s kind of peaceful, actually,” Ms. Pimentel said.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 1st, 2008, 06:02 AM

Hiding in Plain Sight

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/30/nyregion/02dispatches600.jpg Christian Hansen for The New York Times
OperaOggiNY will move into a long overlooked 600 seat auditorium in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

By JAKE MOONEY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/jake_mooney/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 30, 2008

THOMAS LAWRENCE TOSCANO, artistic director of the fledgling OperaOggiNY, lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for 12 years starting in 1993, and has been in nearby Williamsburg since then. Over the years, he became well acquainted with the local churches; he stages performances in churches all the time.

“It’s much easier than trying to get into theaters,” Mr. Toscano, who has long gray hair and a bushy beard, said the other day. “Plus, we don’t have any budget.”

Over the summer, Mr. Toscano was casting around for a space for the company’s latest production, Franco Leoni’s “L’Oracolo,” when his inquiries led him to the Rev. Richard Beuther, the pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/roman_catholic_church/index.html?inline=nyt-org) on South Second Street.

“Father Rick said, ‘You have to come and look at what we have,’ ” Mr. Toscano recalled. The response struck him as strange; he had seen the church many times. What more was there?

When the two men finally met, the pastor led Mr. Toscano not inside the church but around the corner, to the parish’s dormant former school on Berry Street. Mr. Toscano, who had been walking past the building for years, knew that structure, too — at least he thought he did. But when Father Beuther took him up a flight of back stairs, past chipping paint and though a metal fire door, Mr. Toscano could scarcely believe what he saw.

At his feet was a 50-foot-wide stage, tilted forward in the Shakespearean style and topped by an intricately detailed proscenium arch. Stretching out before him was enough space to accommodate 600 people, including a rear balcony filled with hundred-year-old seats. The condition of the space was rough; there were cracks in the ornamental plaster, most of the seats had been removed, and an area under the balcony was walled off with red plywood. But all Mr. Toscano saw was potential.

“I said: ‘This is enormous! This is unbelievable!’ ” Mr. Toscano recalled. “You can’t build a theater like this these days. Who’s got a billion dollars?”

Since the school closed in 2002, the hall, which actually takes up most of the building, though it is practically invisible from the outside, had been used mostly for the church’s annual Christmas pageant.

But the space had a long history. Opened in 1898 and christened McCaddin Memorial Hall, it thrived as a space for political rallies and speeches, but was soon converted to house a school.

As for the hall itself, “I mostly remember playing basketball there,” said Esteban Duran, a local community board member who grew up in the neighborhood and who introduced Mr. Toscano to Father Beuther.

As it happened, the pastor had been thinking about doing something new with the space. After some quick talks with Mr. Toscano, it was settled: “L’Oracolo” would be staged there. As for the future, both sides would keep an open mind.

That was in September, and Mr. Toscano has been busy ever since, researching the hall’s history, patching holes in the stage, putting new bulbs into the chandelier and the footlight systems (both still work) and trying to persuade potential investors that the space can be restored.

The opera, meanwhile, is scheduled to begin its three-day run on Thursday.

Last Wednesday afternoon, as workmen were trundling a rented piano up the stairs, Mr. Toscano was still marveling that the hall, unknown to much of Williamsburg’s cultural community, had been hiding under his nose.

“There’s a phrase in Portuguese: ‘The saint that you live with doesn’t really make miracles,’ ” he said. “Basically, that’s what happened here. They don’t understand what they have. This is not something I’m saying in criticism; it’s human nature.”

What they have, he said, is a hall that is hungry for music.

“You want to hear something incredible?” Mr. Toscano said. He pounded out a chord on the piano and gazed up at the rafters, wide-eyed and grinning, as the sound echoed.

“This is an instrument,” he said later, gesturing to the space around him.

“And that’s what’s amazing about my experience in this theater the last two months. The instrument is coming back to life. Sitting here, the sun goes down, it starts to get dark, and you start to feel the theater. The walls begin to wake up, and it begins to remember what it’s here for.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 27th, 2009, 08:42 AM
Bay Ridge: Bridges, culture merge in fashion on Brooklyn's quiet coast

by Lynne Miller (http://www.nydailynews.com/authors/Lynne%20Miller)


Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is full of contradictions. Quiet and lively, urban yet suburban, all-American but international — it’s all of these things at once that attract residents and visitors from around the city and world to this out-of-the-way waterfront neighborhood.

Walking these streets, it’s easy to see what makes Bay Ridge appealing. The tree-lined residential blocks in this southwestern Brooklyn neighborhood are full of well-maintained one- and two-family homes in a mix of styles. The avenues bustle with commerce, ethnic restaurants and bakeries, live music venues and retail choices that line Third and Fifth Aves.

If you’ve never been to Bay Ridge, you may not know that it’s one of the city’s top shopping areas. Home to New York’s original Century 21 department store, 86th St. also has several specialty chain shops. A community theater, an art gallery, eight-screen movie theater and good public and private schools are all nearby.

But it’s outdoor space that makes the neighborhood special. In the northwest corner, you can see New York Harbor from Owl’s Head Park, a green oasis set on 27 hilly acres with lots of open space for picnics and a playground, skateboarding area and basketball court. Nearby, bike riders, sunbathers and fishermen hang out on a sunny afternoon at the American Veterans Memorial Pier where the Statue of Liberty and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge loom near. Sailboats and barges drift along the water.

Local couples go there to kiss, and it’s a famous spot for many scenes from “Saturday Night Fever,” the John Travolta film that immortalized the local disco scene and enshrined the Bay Ridge of the 1970s as quintessential Brooklyn.

Historically, the community was known centuries ago as Yellow Hook, named for the yellow clay that leached from the shore into the water. Local leaders decided the name sounded sickly — too close to yellow fever — so in 1853, the neighborhood was renamed.

Many Bay *Ridgers stay in the area as they grow up, and as a result it has a high percentage of elderly residents. While Bay Ridge still boasts a heavy concentration of Norwegians, Greeks, Italians and Irish-Americans, newer residents migrating from nearby Sunset Park have roots in Asian, Latin and Middle Eastern countries, as well as Eastern Europe. A large Muslim population calls Bay Ridge home.

“It makes dining interesting,” says Victoria Hofmo, a local preservationist who spent many happy days playing hopscotch and other games on the sidewalks and streets in the 1960s and ’70s. “In the past, you’d see one group come in, in large numbers. Today everybody’s coming in, and not just from other countries, but all over this country.”

At least 12 languages are spoken here, says Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Brooklyn Community Board 10, which includes Bay Ridge.

The different ethnic groups seem to get along. That’s what Manny Saviolakis sees behind the gleaming wood counter at Anopoli Ice Cream Parlor, an old-fashioned Third Ave. restaurant that’s been around for more than 100 years. Saviolakis and his father, Steve, bought it 13 years ago.
“It’s like 100,000 nationalities here,” says Saviolakis, who moved to Bay Ridge when he was 5 years old. “It’s nice seeing people in mixed groups.”

Saviolakis has noticed another group of newcomers moving in — young professionals from Park Slope, Williamsburg and even Manhattan. Coming for a unique housing stock that includes Victorian houses, brick apartment buildings and odd-shaped single-family homes near the water, the newcomers are good for business.

Jason Daniels and his family needed more space, so they left Park Slope and moved to Bay Ridge in 2003. Daniels, his wife, Renee, and their two kids live in a rented duplex. Daniels thinks he’s got the best of both worlds, since he gets to live in a peaceful neighborhood and work in Park Slope, where they both drive to jobs at a health club.

Bay Ridge is a friendly melting pot, says Daniels, who is African-American.

He points to one of his regular stops, a little grocery store on Third Ave. where he and his daughter Eve, 11, have learned a few Arabic phrases from the store clerk.

“It’s very community-oriented,” says Daniels. “Anything you need you can get in Bay Ridge.”

When Catherine Johnson and her family couldn’t afford to live in Park Slope almost three years ago, they sold their co-op and moved to Bay Ridge. Johnson didn’t know much about the area, but its diversity and friendliness took her by surprise. Norwegians, Middle Easteners and Koreans live on her block. Two weeks after moving in, Johnson recalls, a neighbor probably saved her from a parking ticket by reminding her of the alternate-side parking rule.

“It’s an amazing mix of people,” says Johnson, who was walking her dog in Owl’s Head Park one recent morning. “It’s been a good surprise.”
Compared to Park Slope and other trendy areas, housing in Bay Ridge is almost a bargain. One-bedroom apartments in rent-stabilized buildings can be had for $1,200 a month.

There are a handful of doormen buildings on Shore Road, and many people also rent apartments in private homes, though they tend to be larger than one-bedrooms. The rare one-bedroom in a house rents for about $1,300 while two- and three-bedrooms start at about $1,600, says Eva Valenti, a real estate salesperson with Velsor Realty.

You can find Park Slope-style brownstones and limestones on the market for well under $800,000.

It’s the million-dollar homes near the waterfront that make you forget you’re still in Brooklyn. Sprawling Victorians, Southern-style mansions, center-hall Colonials and other large detached homes with front porches, columns, driveways, generous frontage and manicured shrubs line the blocks west of Third Ave.

Built in 1916-17, an Arts and Crafts-style mansion known locally as the “Gingerbread House,” at Narrows Ave. and 83rd St., looks like something out of a fairy tale. Made of boulders and surrounded by a fencepost made from the same rock, the house is set on a huge shady lot full of trees and foliage. It’s a national landmark.

If there’s one thing that could make Bay Ridge better, it’s public transportation. The R train is the only subway line serving the neighborhood and it can take an hour to get from Bay Ridge to midtown Manhattan.

Beckmann from Brooklyn Community Board 10 hears complaints from many residents frustrated by the length of time they spend on the R train and the condition of local stations. Commuters can shave some time by taking the R train north to 59th St. in Sunset Park and transferring to the N, an express train that goes into Manhattan, says Beckmann.

“I love the N,” she says. “It’s a secret jewel.”

Furthermore, there are $5 express buses to the city. A community group is also working on restoring ferry service from 69th St. to lower Manhattan.

Bay Ridge’s neighborly feeling, its convenience and relative affordability will continue to entice New Yorkers from other neighborhoods as well as residents from other states. That’s what Kathleen McCall sees happening.

McCall, a broker at Velsor who lives in the area, is optimistic about the future based on recent sales activity and the number of calls she’s getting from people looking for a place to live.

“To me, Bay Ridge has small-town warmth,” says McCall, who moved from rural Pennsylvania to be near her grandparents who live in the neighborhood. “It’s always had a wonderful family feel.”

http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2009/06/26/2009-06-26_bay_ridge_bridges_culture_meet_in_fashion_on_br ooklyns_.html

October 2nd, 2009, 09:28 PM
Living In | Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Subway Lines Galore, but Who’s Leaving?











AFTER 37 years in their house on Dean Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, Norman and Roselyn Kopit decided last summer that it was finally time for a change of scene.

Their children had moved out, and work had just finished on their living-room ceiling, so the time seemed right. They had bought the house for $43,000; when their broker now priced it at $2.495 million, they smiled.
After the sale, they could have gone somewhere far from the sleepy, tree-canopied streets of their old neighborhood.

Instead they relocated five blocks away. On State Street, an easy distance from all their friends and favorite restaurants, they found a roomy duplex condominium with a kitchen bigger than their old one.

Leaving the area that they had helped bring back from the dead was never really considered.

“Why would I want to move?” asked Ms. Kopit, 65, who used to manage the office at BusinessWeek magazine. “I’ve invested a lot into this neighborhood.”
Their investment, part of the countless hours of community effort to transform Boerum Hill from a place of rooming houses, drugs and prostitution to an elegant, family-friendly enclave, has paid off.

The Kopits’ block of Dean Street was the one described in “The Fortress of Solitude,” Jonathan Lethem’s novel about the area in the 1970s, which described ruined row houses sheltering creepy boarders, and a pervasive feeling of decay.

That Boerum Hill is long gone; today it is clean slate sidewalks, self-conscious cafes and neighbors who do more than merely say hello.
“I love the fact that people just drop in,” said Stephen Antonson, an artist who lives with his wife, Kathleen Hackett, and their two young boys in a house on Pacific Street.

“When you have a life where people just come over and knock on your door, there’s something about that I really, really like.”

The improvements continue. On almost any block in Boerum Hill, you can find a stoop railing being replaced, a garden being dug up, a crew hauling in a new Viking range.

And at the edges of the neighborhood, where zoning allows, developers have put up buildings not always in sync with the local town house vibe.

The neighborhood’s boisterous thoroughfare is Atlantic Avenue; it carries a significant amount of traffic and is home to the Brooklyn House of Detention, whose future has been known to generate cacophonous debate. (Bail bondsmen still do business in the area.)

But save for that noisy artery, the renovation noises and the conversation of neighbors, the streets are largely quiet — a cool calm that has lately attracted a variety of independent boutiques and restaurants.

In the past, the Kopits would have packed the family into the car and driven to Manhattan to find stuff to do.

“Now, we don’t have to drive anywhere to find interesting places,” Ms. Kopit said. “We just start walking.”


Even by brownstone Brooklyn standards, Boerum Hill is small. It has roughly 20,000 people, according to a 2005 neighborhood association study. The exact street boundaries can be a subject of local disagreement, but the surrounding areas are Cobble Hill, downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope and Gowanus.

Nor is it uniformly full of brownstones. Many blocks have unbroken walls of tall red-brick houses with the occasional outlier, like the artist Susan Gardner’s bejeweled facade on Wyckoff Street. In 1973, a small historic district was created; some would like to see it expand.

As for the sometimes fast-paced Atlantic Avenue, it has become an unlikely haven for independent shops and boutiques. Hip retailers have helped create a quirky shopping district, like Jonathan Adler, the home store; Blue Marble, the Hudson Valley ice creamery; and Omala, an active-wear dealer that recently advertised an item called “Zen pants.” Between Third and Fourth Avenues, Atlantic is home to Middle Eastern commerce, at Fertile Crescent Middle Eastern Groceries and Makkah Islamic Books and Clothing.

There is shopping elsewhere, too. Boerum Hill claims a trendy stretch of Smith Street as its own, and small cafes and stores are dotted throughout the neighborhood’s interior, like the restaurant Building on Bond and the Brooklyn Circus boutique. On Fourth Avenue, bars like Cherry Tree and Pacific Standard have sprung up. There are also two Vietnamese sandwich shops.

Just outside the neighborhood are new developments — or at least they are promised, on handsome banners. Dean Street alone has at least five construction projects finished or under way. On State Street, a long row of unadorned new town houses has been occupied for a few years now; a project of six more called Ensemble, at prices reportedly ranging from $3.5 million to $4 million, is being considered. Taller projects have arrived north of Atlantic Avenue as well. On Smith, opposite the House of Detention, the Nu Hotel has opened within a new residential tower, with nightly rates starting above $300.


Those new condominiums don’t come cheap, but they are still inexpensive compared with similar properties in Manhattan. At the “eco-luxury” building Green on Dean, for example, two-bedroom two-bath units with private balconies and 1,150 square feet of space range from $695,000 to $799,000.

The meat and potatoes of Boerum Hill real estate will always be town houses, and while they are still selling, prices have come down.

“Whatever you could sell for $2.3 million at least two years ago, you’d be lucky to get $1.9 million for now,” said Allen Barcelon, a broker at Boerum Hill Realty. At the same time, down payment requirements have gone up, Mr. Barcelon said; 20 to 25 percent is now the norm, versus 10 percent in the boom years. Making purchases these days definitely has its challenges.

But houses are still changing hands. Sue Wolfe and James Crow, brokers at the Corcoran Group, have sold several town houses this year and have another in contract. A one-family house on Dean Street, which hadn’t had any improvements in 20 years and which sold as part of an estate, went for $1.725 million. A two-family house on Wyckoff Street that had been renovated and used by one family sold for $1.5 million.

Co-ops are not plentiful, but can still be found carved out of town houses or occasionally in apartment buildings. In the elevator building at 422 State Street, for example, Mr. Crow and Ms. Wolfe have listed a two-bedroom co-op with one and a half baths for $599,000.

Rental prices here have dipped as of late, but transactions still move quickly, Mr. Barcelon said; studios average $1,300 a month, one-bedrooms $1,900, and two-bedrooms $2,300.


The 35th annual Atlantic Antic, a sort of supersize street fair, takes place Sunday along Atlantic, with 10 stages of free music, lots of food, pony rides, belly dancing and other amusements.

As for more permanent distractions beyond shopping and dining, there are two movie theaters just outside the area in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. Prospect and Fort Greene Parks are a short walk (or bike ride) away.


Of the 478 students at Public School 38 on Pacific Street, 67 percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders met city English standards last year; 86 percent were proficient in math. At the Math and Science Exploratory School, a middle school on Dean Street, scores have improved in recent years, with 97 percent of all students meeting standards on math tests and 90 percent in English.

SAT averages last year at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts, also on Dean Street, were 439 in reading, 438 in math and 435 in writing. Citywide averages were 435, 459 and 432.


Given its size, Boerum Hill is spoiled with choices of public transit into Manhattan. Ten subway lines stop at the Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station at the eastern end of the neighborhood; and six come into the Borough Hall/Court Street station, a few blocks north of State Street. The F and G trains stop at the Bergen Street station, providing another travel option into Midtown (or, via the G, into Queens).


There once was an actual hill called Boerum, used strategically during the Revolutionary War, but it was razed. As Brooklyn grew up, the neighborhood was part of an amalgam simply called South Brooklyn. The population grew after the Atlantic Avenue train tunnel was built in 1844. The area was developed by Charles Hoyt and Russell Nevins; two streets now bear their names. With the Brooklyn Bridge and trolleys came even more newcomers, many of them immigrants.

After World War II, disrepair and squalor seeped in, only to be shaken off by renovation-happy brownstoners — who persevere to this day.


November 12th, 2009, 04:54 AM
Can someone point me to a coded map of Brooklyn neighborhoods, if you happen to know of a good one? I am trying to create an imaginary geography since I haven't been to most of these places -- e.g. Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Greenpoint, Red Hook etc. -- like to know where one ends and the next begins, according to general consensus.


November 12th, 2009, 05:08 AM
Is this (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/neighbor/neigh.shtml) any good, hbcat?

Or if you're prepared to buy a book, Neighborhoods of Brooklyn (http://www.amazon.com/Neighborhoods-Brooklyn-New-York-City/dp/0300103107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258020707&sr=1-1) has very good maps of each neighborhood with details of boundaries.

Edit: This (http://www.brooklyn.com/map.php) map is great!

November 12th, 2009, 08:45 AM
Thanks much, Merry. The first link is a good start. Unfortunately, I get a "403 Forbidden" message when I try to view the second map you recommend. I don't know if my server is blocking it (from www.brooklyn.com) or why this would be so). I'll give it another go from my office tomorrow.

The book looks like a fun read. I will put it on my list.


November 13th, 2009, 08:49 PM
Living In | Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Moved for the Space; Stayed for the Food


Victorian home on Stratford Road




THE house that Michael and Lori Hiller planned to buy in South Park Slope, Brooklyn, was a good size for the neighborhood, and on a pleasant block. But then a problem developed with the building’s certificate of occupancy.

Since Mrs. Hiller had been the bigger fan of Park Slope, it was Mr. Hiller who had more zest for a new search. He found himself smitten by Ditmas Park, a leafy area of Victorian houses, south of Prospect Park. Eventually, he struck gold, with a 4,000-square-foot six-bedroom house with a finished basement, a backyard and a four-car driveway.

The Hillers saw it on a Sunday, made an offer on Tuesday, and were in contract by week’s end. They paid $1.26 million — $10,000 less than they had planned to pay for the house in Park Slope, which was about half the size.

A year and a half later, Mr. Hiller said, they are thrilled, partly for the reasons people have always liked Ditmas Park: the grand Victorians, the trees, the big yards and the suburban atmosphere. “It’s just such a great thing to come home and see your kids outside playing,” he said.

But some of what keeps the Hillers excited about the neighborhood is new. In recent years, a string of popular restaurants have opened on Cortelyou Road, the main business district. These places, among them the Farm on Adderley, Mimi’s Hummus and a pioneering cafe called Vox Pop, have drawn visitors to what Time Out New York calls one of the city’s best neighborhoods for food.

And not only prepared foods, it turns out: the Flatbush Food Co-op, a fixture on Cortelyou, is thriving after its 2008 move into a larger space, and a Sunday farmers’ market is also doing well.

Brokers say that word of mouth has made a difference. “They read about it and they say, ‘Well, where is that neighborhood?’ ” said Mary Kay Gallagher, a broker who specializes in the area’s Victorian houses, and who sold the Hillers their house. “And then they go on the Internet, and they find me.”

Web surfers also find a dedicated blog, ditmaspark.blogspot.com, and an Internet group, the Flatbush Family Network, for area parents.

One result of all the change has been a reinvigorated co-op market, according to Jan Rosenberg, a real estate broker at Brooklyn Hearth Realty.

Stefanie Zadravec, a playwright, moved with her husband, Michael McWatters, a freelance Web designer, to a large two-bedroom on Argyle Road days after giving birth to twins. The giant houses are out of their price range, she said, but are wonderful to look at.

She had lived in Chelsea, in Manhattan, since 1991, but says her family’s new place is bigger than they ever could have afforded there. Also, out on the street, she is constantly running into friends. “They’re the kind of people I had stopped meeting in Manhattan,” Ms. Zadravec said.

Through all the change, residents say, the vibes remain positive. “The older residents of the neighborhood are very excited about the young people who have moved into the neighborhood,” said Alvin M. Berk, the chairman of Community Board 14, which covers the area. “It brings the neighborhood vitality. Everybody loves looking at beautiful babies in a baby carriage.”


Ditmas Park is a relatively narrow landmark district bounded by Dorchester Road to the north, Ocean Avenue to the east, Newkirk Avenue to the south and East 16th Street to the west. Yet when most nonpurists refer to Ditmas Park, they are talking about a wider chunk of Victorian Flatbush — stretching north to Beverley Road, west to Coney Island Avenue and east to Ocean Avenue — that includes the subsections Ditmas Park West, Beverley Square East and Beverley Square West.

What these sections all have in common, besides the loosely applied Ditmas Park name, is Cortelyou Road.

“One of the exciting things for me about Cortelyou developing is that it holds together a lot,” said Ms. Rosenberg, also a founder of the civic group Friends of Cortelyou. “People think of it as the heart of the neighborhood.”

Many of the area’s co-op buildings are concentrated in the blocks immediately south of Cortelyou. The grander houses, mostly single-family, with five or six bedrooms, stretch to the north and south on streets with Anglophile names like Marlborough, Argyle and Westminster. Much of the area was rezoned this summer, Mr. Berk said, to curb out-of-scale construction that had begun to creep up on the area’s western edge near Coney Island Avenue.

In the interior are a few new buildings, but most of the co-op and rental buildings are decades old, some prewar. The blocks full of houses, with their front porches, large yards and driveways, could easily be mistaken for some other, less urban place. Ms. Rosenberg, who has shown the neighborhood to countless newcomers, has heard comparisons to Pittsburgh or Minneapolis.

“What they’re saying is, ‘Gee, it doesn’t really feel like New York,’ ” she said. “And it doesn’t. For a lot of people it feels like home.”


When Ms. Gallagher used to talk about Victorian house prices early this decade, she spoke of the approach to the million-dollar mark. That barrier has long since been leapfrogged, and prices for Victorians are now routinely $900,000 and up, she said.

Still, Aviva Sucher, a broker at Brooklyn Dwellings, says that in the softer economy, there are relative bargains.

“There are houses as low as $800,000,” she said. “We haven’t seen these kinds of numbers in, I’d say, well over 10 years. Right now, there are very well-priced homes for buyers who would not have been able to come into the area.”

For co-ops, Ms. Rosenberg said buyers should expect to pay $250,000 to $320,000 for a one-bedroom — occasionally less. Two-bedrooms, she said, range from around $300,000 to $450,000 for very large units like Ms. Zadravec’s, which also includes an office. There are almost no three-bedroom co-ops, Ms. Rosenberg said, and few condos of any size.

Rentals can be hard to come by. Units in detached houses are priced unpredictably, with some sprawling apartments over $2,000 a month, and tighter attic spaces well below that. In apartment buildings, one-bedrooms rent for around $1,400, while two-bedrooms are in the $1,700 range.


There are two public elementary schools. Public School 139, on Rugby Road just north of Cortelyou, has around 1,100 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. It received an A on its most recent city progress report, with 68.1 percent of students meeting standards in English language arts and 88.8 percent in math. P.S. 217 on Newkirk Avenue also serves prekindergarten through fifth grade, and has around 1,200 students. It, too, got an A on its progress report, with 76.9 percent of students meeting standards in language arts and 94.1 percent in math.

Mr. Berk said both schools had so far been able to accommodate their swelling numbers, although P.S. 217 had to build an annex. Both, he said, have active parents’ associations.

The neighborhood’s middle-schoolers attend Junior High School 62, which has around 1,100 students, on Cortelyou Road in nearby Kensington. The school received an A on its city progress report, with 59.1 percent testing at or above grade level in language arts, and 70.3 percent in math.

A nearby high school, Midwood High, is a few blocks south of the neighborhood at Brooklyn College. The former Erasmus Hall High School, which was broken up into four smaller schools in 1994, is a few blocks north of the neighborhood on Flatbush Avenue.


Neighborhood life is sedate and suburban. The Parade Grounds at the southern tip of Prospect Park are within walking distance, as is the park’s running and cycling loop. At night, the restaurants on Cortelyou — and off, in the case of Pomme de Terre, a newer place on Newkirk Avenue — are popular destinations. Residents trade gossip on just-opened and soon-to-open restaurants and bars, and on Sundays head to the farmers’ market and playground.

It gives Cortelyou Road a “village square feel on Sunday morning,” Mr. Berk said. “People get together and meet each other and buy rutabaga.”


The Q train runs through the middle of the neighborhood, stopping at Beverley Road, Cortelyou Road and Newkirk Avenue. The B train, which runs express through Brooklyn, also stops at Newkirk. The Q becomes an express train once it enters Manhattan, making the trip into Midtown a relatively quick one, considering the distance. If you time the trains right, Mr. Hiller said, you can be there in half an hour.


Ditmas Park, like the rest of Victorian Flatbush, was developed early in the 20th century. In 1908, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City, the Ditmas Park Association was formed, and enacted zoning to preserve the neighborhood. The Ditmas Park Historic District was created in the 1980s.


November 13th, 2009, 09:07 PM
But what are the taxes like...

November 14th, 2009, 03:12 AM
Did you have any luck with that map, hbcat?

Can you see this (http://www.brooklyn.com/map.php?nbhd=3) link, which is of Bedford-Stuyvesant?

The map includes boundaries of the neighborhoods, plus links to photos of various locations marked on the map, and has a basic axonometric view of buildings. A search function includes neighborhoods and specific addresses. There is also a link to display designated landmarks and historic districts (http://www.brooklyn.com/modules.php?name=Landmarks) (a "work in progress").

November 14th, 2009, 06:53 AM
Thanks, yes, Merry. I tried it this morning while in the office and it does work through that connection, but now I am back home and for some reason my residential server isn't allowed to connect (or doesn't allow me to connect) to the Brooklyn.com site, so I cannot see this new feature you mean to show me. I'll look again tomorrow.

There's really a great wealth of info on NY (duh) in this forum. I am grateful for all the knowledge you and others bring here and share.

Cheers again,

November 15th, 2009, 01:30 AM
There is also a link to display designated landmarks and historic districts (http://www.brooklyn.com/modules.php?name=Landmarks) (a "work in progress").

Nice feature. Yes, I can view it easily from my office connection.

I found another Brooklyn neighborhood map (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_neighborhoods_map.png) on Wikipedia, although it doesn't have the interactive features of those at brooklyn.com.

November 21st, 2009, 12:53 AM
Just found this collection of vids, with a variety of stories about Brooklyn and several "Neighborhood Beat" segments.

Have a look:


December 5th, 2009, 06:06 AM
Living In | Midwood, Brooklyn

Where Prosperity Breeds Proximity





A two-family house on Ocean Avenue between Avenues L and M is listed at $939,000 (:eek:)

Avenue K between East 19th Street and Ocean Avenue

Avenue L between East Seventh and East Eighth Streets

Corner of East 15th Street

Yeshiva of Flatbush

Edward R. Murrow High School

More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/12/02/realestate/20091206LIVING_index.html)

MANY blocks in Midwood, with its rows of orderly detached homes and private driveways, give the feeling of a carefully planned suburb — a serene surprise after turning off a thoroughfare like Coney Island Avenue or Ocean Parkway.

But closer inspection reveals that the landscape has, in fact, been altered: on virtually every block, at least one or two homes have been significantly expanded — built up, built out, even built down.

The larger homes blend in as best they can with their smaller neighbors, but their oversized shadows are hard to miss: they are evidence of the wealth and the larger families that a thriving Orthodox Jewish population has brought to Midwood in recent years.

“Midwood has always been Jewish, but it wasn’t always Orthodox,” said David Maryl, a broker at Jacob Gold Realty. “Now for every family that’s moving out, it’s an Orthodox family moving in.”

Brooklyn’s Community Board 14, which covers the eastern half of Midwood, fields several home expansion requests each month from the area, said Alvin M. Berk, the board’s chairman.

He said the board first noted the steady trickle of requests about eight years ago and now handles about 30 a year. “This seems to be a fairly high rate of building expansion,” he said. “But there’s generally no opposition — maybe just some concerns about a proposed enlargement reducing a neighbor’s light and air.” But applicants often make concessions to ease those concerns, he added.

Rather than building a larger home, Bill and Diana Spiegel bought one. They’ve moved about a mile east. “We love the area,” Mr. Spiegel said.

They walk more than a mile each way to attend the synagogue in their old area, because “we have a little separation anxiety,” he said. But on their way, they probably pass more than a dozen synagogues; they will probably switch to one nearby once the weather turns cold. “It seems like there’s a real sense of community here, and they welcome you,” Mr. Spiegel said.

Brokers say that Orthodox families first moved into Midwood about 25 years ago as they were priced out of Borough Park, a better established Orthodox neighborhood to the west. Nowadays, Midwood is “very sought after, because people want to be near family and friends, a yeshiva or a synagogue affiliation,” said Sora David, a broker with Eisberg Lenz Real Estate. Being within walking distance of a synagogue is critical for those who observe Orthodox Jewish laws forbidding driving and other activities on the Sabbath.

There are dozens of synagogues and many yeshivas scattered throughout Midwood. Some Hasidic synagogues, known as shtibls, are in single-family homes where the rabbi might live upstairs and the congregation might meet on the first floor.

Mr. Berk says synagogues are allowed as of right in any residential zone.

But many of them have growing congregations that eventually require more space. He said that the community board had fielded and helped approve many applications for variances to turn houses into larger synagogues.


Midwood lies south of Flatbush and Brooklyn College (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/b/brooklyn_college/index.html?inline=nyt-org), and north of Marine Park. Its eastern and western borders have expanded in recent years, pushing out to McDonald Avenue on the west and Flatbush Avenue on the east. “As people have moved in, they’ve expanded the boundaries,” said Raizy Brisman, the owner of Brisman Realty.

Between Nostrand and Flatbush Avenues, younger Orthodox families first moved into the East 30s about five years ago; prices were lower there than in the East 20s and East 10s, she said. That area used to be considered part of Flatbush or East Flatbush, she said, “but it’s all semantics. It’s called Midwood now, because if you called it East Flatbush, the value for it would be less.”

Most homes sit on 40-by-100-foot lots and were built in the early part of the 20th century. The vast majority are detached single-family homes, but there are some two-families, as well as some semiattached and attached houses. There are also some rental and co-op buildings along parts of Avenue K and Ocean Parkway.

Brokers refer to an exclusive pocket between East Seventh and East Ninth Streets, running from Avenue I to Avenue K, as Midwood Manor. Many of its homes are on larger lots, and “it’s more manicured and very sought after,” said Abraham Steinmetz, the owner of Steinmetz Real Estate. “But there’s very little available there. You’re lucky to see one or two houses available in a year.”

The neighborhoods known as Midwood Park, West Midwood and South Midwood are all actually north of Midwood proper and were developed as parts of Victorian Flatbush.

During the recent building boom, developers tore down some single-family homes along Ocean Avenue and off Ocean Parkway and replaced them with six-unit condominiums. But brokers say that because the condos are primarily made up of one- and two-bedroom apartments, they do not appeal to large Orthodox families and have not sold well, although some units have sold to Russian immigrants.

The area is mostly residential, with a few commercial streets. Yeshivas and synagogues often blend right in — in unassuming converted office buildings or on strictly residential streets.


Brokers say that prices in Midwood have dropped 10 to 15 percent in the last year. Homes tend to sell by word of mouth, and at any given time, there are only about 40 homes on the market.

An attached home on a busy street can sell for $400,000 to $500,000, but detached homes start at $600,000 and run over $2 million, depending on its size. Most houses in the East 20s, considered the oldest part of Midwood, are detached, with three to five bedrooms and private driveways, and sell for over $1 million.

The larger homes in Midwood Manor start at about $2 million and run above $5 million.

Along Ocean Parkway, one-bedroom co-ops sell for less then $200,000, two-bedrooms for about $250,000. On Ocean Avenue, one-bedroom condos sell for about $275,000, two-bedrooms $400,000.


Most Orthodox children attend local yeshivas. The Yeshiva of Flatbush (https://www.flatbush.org/Default.asp) is perhaps the best known, with classes from preschool through high school.

At Public School 193, on Avenue L, known as the Gil Hodges School, 86 percent of fifth-graders met state English standards in 2007-8, and 93 percent met math standards.

At Intermediate School 240, on Nostrand Avenue, 58 percent of eighth graders met English standards, 71 percent met math standards, and 79 percent met science standards.

Edward R. Murrow High School (http://ermurrowhs.schoolwires.com/ermurrowhs/site/default.asp), on Avenue L, emphasizes a college preparatory curriculum and has selective music, art and theater programs for which students must audition. SAT averages there last year were 476 in reading, 507 in math and 481 in writing, versus 435, 459 and 432 citywide.
Midwood High School (http://www.midwoodhighschool.org/home) is north of Midwood, opposite Brooklyn College.


Midwood’s appeal is its quiet residential quality. On school days, yellow buses fill the streets, ferrying children to and from their different yeshivas. Traffic along the shopping strips on Avenues J and M can be downright dangerous, as drivers double-park to get their shopping done. But the streets grow quiet at sundown on Friday, with the start of the Sabbath, and most stores stay shuttered until Sunday.

Avenue J’s commercial strip, between Coney Island Avenue and East 16th Street, is filled with kosher restaurants, delis and bakeries. Di Fara Pizza, at East 15th Street, harks back to Midwood’s more Italian past. It’s known for its $5 slice, handmade with imported ingredients by the pizzeria’s septuagenarian founder, Domenico DeMarco.

Avenue M’s shops run from Ocean Avenue to Ocean Parkway. In addition to kosher pizzerias and kosher and Russian supermarkets, the street has discount stores and chains like Godiva.

Coney Island Avenue, a much wider thoroughfare, has a range from auto repair shops and carwashes to ladies’ wig shops, Judaica stores and kosher restaurants. Among these are Schnitzi, a schnitzel bar; and Carlos and Gabby’s, a Mexican grill. Food bloggers compare Pomegranate, a gleaming new kosher supermarket, to Whole Foods.


The Q and B lines, both of them express, bisect Midwood along East 16th Street, providing a relatively easy 40-minute commute to Midtown.
The F train, which makes many more stops, runs along the western edge of Midwood on McDonald Avenue.


Settled in the mid-1600s, the area was forested and got its name from the Dutch for “middle woods.” Subways arrived in the early 1900s.

Famous residents include Woody Allen, who graduated from Midwood High School; Marisa Tomei, a Murrow High graduate; and Gil Hodges, a first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s and a manager of the Mets.


March 5th, 2010, 09:01 PM
The Little Town That Prices (Almost) Forgot









slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/07/realestate/20100307_livingin.html?ref=realestate#1)

THE Brooklyn waterfront, once upon a time, was seen as a place where artists and artisans lived and worked, basking in cheap rents, old architecture and a sweet sense of isolation. But lately that reality has changed. Market-rate condominium towers and luxury conversions dot the Kings County coastline, their presence telegraphing a need for a higher income bracket.

Yet in Vinegar Hill, a hamlet within New York City if there ever was one, the old ambience is mostly intact. Nudged into a corner of the waterfront that seems, at least in part, forgotten by time, the place is a few blocks long and a few wide. Despite its handful of new developments, it still feels as secluded and unpretentious as in decades past.

“The longer you stay in Vinegar Hill, the harder it is not to know your neighbors,” said Nicholas Evans-Cato, a longtime worker and renter in the area. “If you see someone who hasn’t moved their car for alternate-side-of-the-street parking, you generally know who it is and you ring their doorbell.”

Many locals are, in essence, living above the store. Mr. Evans-Cato, an artist, rents an apartment upstairs from his studio on Hudson Avenue, which he has operated since 1995, and a carpenter friend does the same. A friend who makes furniture lives a short walk from his own work space, as does Adam Meshberg, an architect and president of the local neighborhood association. People like to stick around, it seems, and others are noticing.
“Up to the mid-’90s,” Mr. Meshberg said, “rents were low, and it was very, very, very quiet. Now we’re in 2010, and it’s coming on the radar.”

For the most part, quiet still reigns along the cobblestone streets, save for trucks from the massive Con Edison plant on the waterfront or from the Damascus Bakery, which episodically infuses the area with the singular aroma of baking pita. These are reminders that industry still has a presence, as it did back when the neighborhood was a bedroom community for workers at the Navy Yard next door and in Dumbo’s factories and warehouses.

Of all the issues raised by the waterfront area’s increasing popularity, it is the truck traffic that takes precedence — especially its effects on the cobblestones, said Robert Perris, the district manager of the local Community Board 2. “It shows how much people are invested in the architectural character of the neighborhood,” he said, “as well as how sort of sleepy it is.”

In the last year or so, the Vinegar Hill House on Hudson Avenue, a restaurant that opened in late 2008, has focused a spotlight on the neighborhood. The last place to eat on the street was a diner that closed in the 1970s, Mr. Evans-Cato said. The restaurant’s fare is creative and seasonal — right now, braised wild boar shank and pumpkin ravioli are on offer — and the owners, Sam Buffa and Jean Adamson, are both locals. In addition to approving critics, the place has garnered its share of regulars, happy for a nearby place to dine well.

“We figured that we would be busy enough, but we didn’t expect this,” said Mr. Buffa, who also lives above his business, having vacated a carriage house on the property to make room for storage and office space. “We get people who drive from the Upper West Side. I can’t tell you how many times people just had no clue this was here.”


The neighborhood was named not for any unusual wellspring of vinegar but for a 1798 battle of the Irish Rebellion (one historical theory has it that the name was chosen to attract Irish immigrants). It takes up all of 9 or 10 blocks, and residents most likely number no more than a few hundred.

They have something of a love-hate relationship with their neighbors in Dumbo, appreciating the many services and stores now ensconced next door, but disturbed by increasing traffic, by the shadows of new condo towers and, it must be said, by unwelcome evidence that Dumboites are walking their dogs in Vinegar Hill.

“As Dumbo changes, we change,” said Mr. Meshberg, the neighborhood association head. “The more people moving into Dumbo, the more parking gets screwed up over here.”

Hudson Avenue is the area’s focal point, even with just the one public establishment in the Vinegar Hill House. The road is lined with pre-Civil War row houses. Around the corner on Evans Street, visitors encounter an even older structure: the Commandant’s Mansion, an 1806 estate overlooking the East River from behind an imposing gate. (It remains inhabited today, actually, though not by a commandant.)

Moving west from Hudson Avenue toward Dumbo, sturdy-looking old town houses, with fine examples on both Gold and Front Streets, are interspersed with the occasional warehouse or factory. Vinegar Hill’s new market-rate condo developments include one at 100 Gold Street, next door to the Dorje Ling Buddhist Center, with its bright yellow facade. And on York Street, across from the towers of a public project called the Farragut Houses, further housing construction is in its early stages.

Vinegar Hill may soon have stores to call its own, as the city is seeking a developer for a retail complex in the Navy Yard. The businesses would take the place of Admiral’s Row, a much-loved but decrepit group of row houses; many preservation groups have cried foul.


Buyers expecting Dumbo-like prices may be pleasantly surprised; values generally soften as one heads east from the Manhattan Bridge and south toward the Farragut Houses. A $445,000 studio in Vinegar Hill, for example, might go for $550,000 at the J Condominium a few blocks away in Dumbo, said M. Monica Novo, a senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman.

Prices have come down since 2006 and 2007, but percentages are hard to calculate because of the low inventory of properties. Town houses don’t often come on the market, but when they do they are significantly more affordable than comparable properties in nearby Brooklyn Heights or Fort Greene. Often, they also need work; prices start at about $1.1 million but can reach $2 million for a house in pristine shape, according to Steven Gerber, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group.

“It’s not going to be a Brooklyn Heights number” in price, Mr. Gerber said, “but if it does have a view and it’s nicely done on the inside, that’s not uncommon.”

In terms of new and conversion properties that have sprung up, prices per square foot are staying in the $600 and $700 range, according to David Behin, a partner at the Developers Group. At 100 Gold Street, a 10-unit development, three units are now in contract, and prices for studios, one- and two-bedrooms range from $445,000 to $885,000.

Renters can opt for market-rate buildings like 99 Gold Street, where the Core Group Marketing is listing units from studios to two-bedrooms for $2,650 to $4,900 a month. Older units in town houses are seldom available. When they are, said Mr. Evans-Cato, a longtime renter, one-bedroom units start between $1,000 and $1,500.


Vinegar Hill is home to one school, Public School 307 on York Street. In 2009, 61.2 percent of third, fourth and fifth graders met standards in English, 78.3 percent in mathematics.

Junior high students can be zoned for the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, on Park Avenue in the upper part of Fort Greene near the Navy Yard. In 2009, 62.9 percent of students met standards in math, 54.4 percent in English.

One high school nearby is the Freedom Academy, on Nassau Street close to the Manhattan Bridge, where SAT averages last year were 413 in reading, 388 in math and 408 in writing, versus 480, 500 and 470 statewide.


Outside of warm evenings at the Vinegar Hill House and community meetings of the neighborhood group, the neighborhood seems almost purposefully quiet. But busier areas aren’t far away. Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene all offer plenty of shopping and dining. The growing green spaces of Brooklyn Bridge Park are nearby, and a stroll across one of the bridges is always an option.


Most residences in the neighborhood are no more than a 10-minute walk from the York Street subway station, the first stop into Brooklyn on the F line. The trip to Midtown takes 15 to 20 minutes.


Part of the original Dutch town of Breuckelen, Vinegar Hill was farmland until its purchase in 1784 by the Sands brothers, merchants and traders for whom a local street is named. They called the area Olympia, hoping to attract summer visitors from Manhattan; it was later known as part of Irishtown. The present name wasn’t in the picture until the land was bought by John Jackson, a shipbuilder, who sold part of it to the federal government for use as a navy yard. Vinegar Hill soon grew into a small village of laborers and those who catered to them. (In 1822, nearly a quarter of all residents listed their occupations as tavern proprietors.)


April 5th, 2010, 03:01 AM
i put together a four part walking tour of brooklyn's bedford-stuyvesant neighborhhod last week -- enjoy!



bed-stuy threads --- parts 1-2-3-4:

April 5th, 2010, 05:44 AM
Superb, thanks for posting here Meesa :).

April 9th, 2010, 05:47 AM
Of Captains, Caulkers and Hoop Skirt Makers


Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, about 1950. The view is from Myrtle Avenue to the location of the present Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
The peaked gables of 128-132 Vanderbilt are characteristic of this very unusual street. In the distance is the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Today, the same block of of Vanderbilt goes from glassy 21st century, like No. 122 at left, to front-porch simplicity, at right.

The tiny houses at 141-143 Vanderbilt are from the 1830s

No. 141 Vanderbilt

Drip moldings around windows and pierced verge board detailing at the roofline
are typical of the neo-Gothic style, like that of the houses at Nos. 117 and 119, seen here in a 1940 photo.
Part of No. 121 Vanderbilt is also visible at right.

119 Vanderbilt (center)

Lots of front porches mean lots of columns and lots of capitals, like these Egyptoid ones at No. 102 Vanderbilt

The striking, gable-ended houses at 92-94 Vanderbilt show the variety of later siding on the block, unpopular in the landmarks fraternity

76 Vanderbilt

Federal style detail at 73 Vanderbilt

69 and 71 Vanderbilt

No. 69 is battered by noise and vibrations from the adjacent Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/11/realestate/20100411scapes_ss.html?ref=realestate#1)

THE little 1830s house at the foot of Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn is beyond wrecked — it’s close to wreckage. It’s at the end of one of the most unusual blocks in Fort Greene, from Myrtle Avenue to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a wide downhill boulevard flanked by Greek, Gothic and Italianate houses, an amazing salmagundi of the constructive arts.

The gentle descent begins with the tiny pair of houses at Nos. 141 and 143, certainly from the 1830s or earlier. Their lumpy wooden porches and unruly front plantings, rivaling the houses themselves in size, give the two a piquant touch of New Orleans decay; Blanche DuBois may stumble out the door at any moment.

Jumping across to the even numbers on the west side of the street, a rare triplet of Gothic-style houses from the 1850s, at Nos. 128 to 132, confirms that this block of Vanderbilt is unusual. Although they are altered, early photographs indicate that they had delicate little brackets under the peaked gables.

The standout row-house group on the street, at least in masonry, is the Gothic-style pair at 117 and 119. Built in the 1850s, they have mellow, irregular red brick facades — indeed so irregular that they were probably at first covered with stucco. The drip moldings around the windows and the verge-board — pierced wooden trim — at the cornice line make these a particular pleasure to contemplate. The 1870 census lists the occupant of No. 119 as Thomas Sperry, “Hoop Skirt Manufacturer,” who gave the value of his house as $6,000.

Vanderbilt descends directly to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and census and directory listings are redolent of salt air, with Sandy Hook pilots, sea captains, caulkers and similar occupations; the 1888 Brooklyn city directory finds Henry A. Kloeppel, shipmaster, resident at No. 117.

Vanderbilt is a street of columns and capitals, and the yellowish houses at Nos. 98 and 100 have a joint porch with a Doric portico, probably of the 1850s. One house has fish-scale shingles, the other aluminum siding; it is likely that both were originally clapboarded. No. 102 has some fine capitals, tending toward the Egyptian more than any Classical order.

Two more gable-end houses of Gothic styling survive at 92 and 94 Vanderbilt. No. 92’s decay ventures beyond the charming into the alarming, with its falling-off siding and collapsing front stoop. Photographs from the 1940s indicate that it, too, had intricate verge-board trim, and show a delicate Gothic-style window at the top. It is a pity they are gone.

At the same time, the asbestos-like shingle siding, perhaps from the 1940s, is a tour de force, vertical stripes in maroon, gray and other colors, like a weird 1950s blazer. It would be a tragedy to lose that, too.

In 1854 an ad in The Eagle offered No. 92 for lease with seven rooms, an attic, a “woodhouse,” gas, speaking tubes and “water in kitchen,” all for $200 per year.

The low-stoop brownstones at Nos. 80 to 86 were built in 1878 as an investment by the Pratt family, whose mansions are not far away on Clinton Avenue. If you like the romance of decay, prepare to propose to No. 84. Not only is it delaminating and flaking, but in places its blocks themselves are heaving out of line. Some have been secured with blobs of roofing tar, an endearingly innocent repair.

The sizzling electric blue shingles of No. 76 contrast nicely with the demure Federal-style house across the street at No. 73, built in the 1830s. The sharp-edged floral carving on the wood panels over the doorway of No. 73 is impossibly intricate, and by rights should have rotted out decades ago, but looks sharp enough to open an oyster.

Next door, the little two-story house of around 1850 at 71 Vanderbilt was completely rebuilt in the 1980s and is now a brilliant white, although most of the facade, including the columns, is invented. But the owner who renovated it in the 1980s lovingly kept the worn wooden threshold at the front door, cupped like the marble steps on a Greek temple. Over it walked the guests at a 33rd birthday party for Willis Van Duyne, a ferry master, in 1889. The Eagle reported that the house was “ablaze with lights and gayety.”

The house at the foot of the block, No. 69, looks near collapse, with dingy asbestos-type siding, broken windows and a sagging porch. The house is well known to the Department of Buildings, which ordered it vacated in 2009. The owner’s listed telephone numbers are either disconnected or don’t answer.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has had No. 69 on its endangered list for years. There are only two ways it could get off the list, and right now it’s more likely to go feet first.


April 10th, 2010, 11:04 PM
She’s the One Holding the Keys



By design, there is no “For Sale” sign staked outside the formidable 12-room colonial-style house at 225 Marlborough Road in Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Park South neighborhood. The pale stucco home, built for the long haul in 1922 but lately a bit under the weather, is in need of someone to coddle it. But Mary Kay Gallagher, the woman charged with finding that someone, is not interested in drive-by gentrifiers who might be seduced by its location and curb appeal.

Signs, Ms. Gallagher said, attract attention-wasting voyeurs, not serious buyers. She can discern the difference in a heartbeat. Psychology is a big part of the real estate game.

“A sign is a sign of desperation,” she said simply, definitively.

If Ms. Gallagher, who began referring to some sellers as greedy back in the Gordon Gekko-esque 1980s, cannot say it with authority, she does not say it. Every syllable is a declaration: “I’m honest, and not everybody in this business is.”

Mary Kay Gallagher got into real estate as a kind of civic duty, to help find responsible guardians for the shingled, gabled and columned behemoths in her own backyard. Forty years later, at 90, having become wealthy by selling — and reselling — these homes on what used to be seen as the wrong side of Prospect Park, Ms. Gallagher still envisions the business that way. If the lovely but too often unloved landmark homes of Victorian Flatbush outlive her intact, she can die a happy woman.

Not yet, though. She’s busy making up for last year’s comatose sales.

Despite her age and recent double knee-replacement surgery, Ms. Gallagher remains the heart, soul and boss of the boutique real estate firm that bears her name. She specializes in — detractors say monopolizes — the 2.5 square miles bordered by Prospect Park, Avenue H, Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue, commonly called Ditmas Park (though it is actually 12 microneighborhoods, whose distinctive qualities she will happily expound upon). It is her turf, and she guards it with the bellicose vigilance of a junkyard dog. Julie Kestyn, a longtime competitor with her own eponymous firm, called her an icon.

“Mary Kay was the broker who, in the white-flight days when the neighborhoods all around Brooklyn were going down, helped keep this neighborhood good,” said Ms. Kestyn, who is 66 and lives in Midwood. “I get along with her, but there are people who don’t. She’s tough. I’ve been waiting for her to retire for the last 23 years, but why should she?”

Ms. Gallagher — grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of four — works out of the barn-red, seven-bedroom house at 196 Marlborough that she and her husband bought for $29,500 in 1959. It is a privilege granted decades ago by the state licensing board after she lectured officials on why that made perfect sense: houses like hers on blocks like hers are what she markets, so why waste anybody’s time in an anonymous office on some busy boulevard? She was instructed to post her broker’s plaque in a front window, which is where it remains. She is coy about her commission, but insists it is lower than the going rate of 5 or 6 percent, and she says she always reduces it on sales above $1 million because “enough is enough.”

Some say Ms. Gallagher saved this time capsule, composed of sprawling one-family homes, no two quite alike, from being chopped up into boarding houses or infiltrated by apartment buildings. Others say she unfairly steered minority buyers from the best properties. Ms. Gallagher, a nightly devotee of Bill O’Reilly, is no diplomat, and sure, her best friends (most of them dead) were white. And yes, she tends to grill prospective owners like a one-woman co-op board.

“But I sell to blacks, to Asians, to Republicans; I sell to Jewish people, even though I would make a bad Jew because they have too many rules,” Ms. Gallagher said. “I don’t think I’m racist. I don’t say I’m such a good Catholic, either, but I know I’m not a bad one.”

The stucco at 225 Marlborough was the first house she ever sold, in 1970, for $59,000, to a doctor who wanted to walk to work from his own Victorian-style home down the block. He ripped out the kitchen, turned the elegant first floor into an office suite and the second into an in-law apartment. Forty years later, after his death, his family — naturally — retained Mary Kay Gallagher. Asking price: $890,000 (reduced to $850,000).

“I want to sell it to someone who restores it back to a one-family home,” she said after an open house that failed to net an offer. “But what I want, I don’t always get. Buyers these days don’t want to do any renovating. Especially if both the husband and wife have jobs. Who has time to sit around waiting for the contractor? They want things to be perfect, even in an old house.”

Ms. Gallagher, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, one of five children of a leather salesman, got into real estate quite unintentionally at age 50. She was married with six children, that big house to keep up, and a hard-won tennis membership in the hitherto WASP-only Knickerbocker Club. But she was civic-minded. And the antithesis of a shrinking violet.

As suburbia beckoned many of the middle-class white families that had populated the Flatbush area, the minority population surged to 20 percent in 1970 from 2 percent in 1960 (today, it is 58 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian), and blockbusting by brokers wanting to repurpose the area became a viable threat. Once the so-called Old Guard moved out, what mattered to her was replacing them with owners who cared enough and could afford to maintain their properties and preserve the neighborhood’s aesthetic. In 1970, Elliot Miller, then president of the Prospect Park South Civic Association, convinced Ms. Gallagher that she had the chops to recruit people like herself and her husband, Jack, who ran his family’s funeral home business on nearby Church Avenue. He told her to regard it as a community service. She did, and does.

“I don’t sell houses, I show them,” she said. “I push, but I’m not pushy. I push up the neighborhood. I don’t pull those real estate agent stunts. I live here. I care who moves in, because what happens to these houses matters to me.”
She never imagined it would make her a millionaire. In 2004 she became the first to sell a home in Victorian Flatbush for seven figures — a yellow palace on 17th Street that went for $1.17 million. Her most expensive listing ever was the Tara look-alike on Albemarle Road for $4.2 million in 2005 — she said she was relieved when it failed to sell. “It was a ridiculous price,” she admitted. “I knew people were saying, ‘What’s she been smoking?’ ”

In 2007, her best year, her company grossed more than $1 million.

Ms. Gallagher was one of the ringleaders pushing for Prospect Park South’s landmark designation, which it gained in 1979, the first of five of the area’s microneighborhoods to do so. Vinyl siding and bricked-over facades, along with the invasion of corporate real estate firms that delved deeper into Brooklyn in sync with rising property values, are the bane of her existence. When This Old House magazine ranked Ditmas Park among the top dozen places to buy an oldie in the United States, it seemed almost a tribute to her life’s work.

“Corcoran and those other ones who come over here from Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope are a thorn in my side, but I still have the best houses,” she said. “Most people who want to buy or sell a house in this neighborhood know enough to come see me. I am a resource. No one knows this neighborhood like I do.”

She is, as her granddaughter and heir apparent, Alexandra Reddish, observed, “essentially a brand.”

“This is her whole life,” noted Ms. Reddish, 30. “It’s not just one big transaction.”

A handful of young people eager to trade the convenience of brownstone Brooklyn for the space and grace of Victorian Flatbush were on the forlorn doorstep of 225 Marlborough by 1 p.m. on a recent Sunday for the open house. A few brought their checkbooks.

“Hello, I’m Mary Kay,” Ms. Gallagher hollered into the expansive foyer. She wore an ancient cardigan, baggy corduroys and sensible shoes. On bad-knee days like this one, she is the downstairs docent while grandchildren act as tour guides of the upper floors.

Though the original sale helped secure her a broker’s license, she was never totally happy about it. Undoing the changes made by the doctor and restoring the home’s original integrity will, she said, be daunting and expensive. “Here, take a brochure and a map,” she commanded all who walked in, generous with both handouts and opinions on the home’s untapped potential. “You’re going to have to use your imagination on this first floor, but take down these Sheetrock walls, put in a kitchen, and look at the space you’ve got. Oak parquet. Original moldings. A fireplace!”

Heads nodded, and a bunch of imaginations proceeded to engage in renovation pipe dreams, apparently undaunted by the asking price or a backyard that cozies up to subway tracks. “There is a little bit of noise from the back,” she acknowledged. Later, she explained, “I don’t want to kill the sale, but you have to be honest with people about what they’re getting into.”

It reminded Ms. Gallagher of the young man who showed up with a magnet and a marble to see a century-old house: “I don’t remember what the magnet was for, but he told me he brought the marble to test the floors: if it rolled at all, it meant the house was flawed.” Ms. Gallagher told the young man it was idiotic to think that houses don’t settle a bit in 100 years. Occasionally it can be worth losing a buyer.

In 2009, Ms. Gallagher’s firm sold seven homes, the fewest of any year since she began. She has sold two so far in 2010 — 694 East 17th Street, for $1.075 million; 1409 Glenwood Road for $925,000 — plus a co-op apartment, and has contracts signed on two more houses and another apartment. The market, she said, is “coming up.”

The first open house of the year, on Valentine’s Day, was at 722 Argyle Road, a vacant spring-green Victorian-style home listed for $995,000. Ms. Gallagher stood guard in blue baseball cap, vintage camel’s hair coat and beat-up leather gloves: the heat would not work, even for her.

But she plowed on, apologizing to visitors with an indignant shrug toward the balky boiler in the basement and extolling the virtues of the place: “So much breathing room! And a turret!” She got two offers that day and recently sent it into contract for $910,000.

Her listings are posted on her handsome, modest Web site — she says she created the first Brooklyn real estate site, in the late 1990s — and elsewhere online. But she said she relied as much on word of mouth, which is how she found her own house half a century ago: by chatting up a local homeowner after becoming disenchanted with the (male) real estate agent showing her around. She maintains that men make lousy real estate brokers because they do not pay attention to their clients’ wish lists, which in her case specified a driveway (she kept getting parking tickets in Prospect-Leffert Gardens), a serious front porch and closet space for a family of eight.

Ms. Gallagher faithfully backs her blue 2005 Mercedes E320 into that driveway, a maneuver that inspires equal parts awe and incredulity among her neighbors, many of whom bought their homes from her.

“We were wandering through the neighborhood checking out the houses and we ran into an elderly couple who asked if we were looking to buy a home,” said Amy Glosser, who with her husband, Janno Lieber, bought a seven-bedroom home three doors down from Ms. Gallagher’s in 2000. “When we told them we were, they said, ‘Then you must see Mary Kay Gallagher: she’s the mayor of the neighborhood.’

“Mary Kay is like old wine, full of contrasts; she’s wonderfully direct and charming at the same time,” added Ms. Glosser, a 44-year-old mother of three. “But she was the only one selling houses here in the ’70s and ’80s, when people couldn’t bail out fast enough. The old-timers all attribute the stability of this neighborhood to her.”

Inside Ms. Gallagher’s home are two computers and two land lines. There are phones in every room — yes, including the three and a half bathrooms. Ms. Gallagher gripes about being available 24/7 for “Nervous Nellie” buyers and sellers, but said that her only real regret about her career is that it forced her and her husband to give up Jets season tickets: she has always worked Sundays.

Her concession to the chronological reality of being 90 is a motorized chair that whisks her upstairs. Her children insisted she have it installed after her knee replacements last year. For Christmas, she bought herself a 50-inch plasma television to watch sports.

“The oldest thing in this house is me,” she said, settling into a recliner (the house itself was built in 1903). “I never used to tell people how old I was because I thought it might hurt the business. Nobody believes I’m 90, anyway.”

She has lived here alone since her husband died of a heart attack in 2001, and said she would leave feet-first: “You’d never get me into a condo, and anyway, my family would die if I ever sold this house.” She estimates it could sell for $1.2 million — the 1960s kitchen and baths could use some updating.

Ms. Gallagher’s first intended successor, her daughter Eileen Cullen, worked alongside her for 10 years before her death from breast cancer in 2005.

“We really worked well together, and after she died, I thought, ‘Oh, this is it for the business; I can’t handle it alone,’ ” she said. “But Alexandra picked it up right away; she’ll be Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate someday. Or she can call it whatever she wants.”

Ms. Reddish said she did not plan a name change. “In the first place, my grandmother is going to live forever. And in the second place, they didn’t change the name Corcoran, did they?”


July 23rd, 2010, 09:02 PM
Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn


slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/07/25/realestate/20100725liv_ss.html?ref=realestate)


Sterling Street

Adjacent to Prospect Park

Maple Street

Rogers Avenue

Sterling Street

KIMBERLEE AULETTA grew up in Midtown, and for a long time Manhattan was where she imagined she would stay. Despite family roots in Brooklyn, where her father had grown up, she had never really considered moving there.

But time brought a few epiphanies. The first came in a late 1990s winter, when friends who had moved to Brooklyn invited her to a Christmas party. It was at their house in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, on Maple Street, which has as many trees as the name implies. Ms. Auletta, now 40, was in her 20s. As she recalled recently, “I just couldn’t believe that they owned a house.”

She later moved to Park Slope, that quintessential first step from Manhattan, and got married. But she never quite forgot the house, where her friends still lived. Last year Ms. Auletta — having, apparently after another epiphany, left a job at her father’s public relations company and graduated from a theological seminary — gave birth to her first child. Soon after that, she and her family finally joined her friends in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, buying a single-family brick house on Rutland Street in the neighborhood’s historic district.

The advantages, she said, are obvious: a location adjacent to Prospect Park, attractive tree-lined blocks of houses and prewar apartment buildings, and the sense of community that comes from living in a place where the scale is small, turnover is low and neighbors greet one another on the sidewalk.

The neighborhood is not cheap. Ms. Auletta would not disclose what she paid, but real estate records show that similar houses in the historic district, generally the most expensive, sell for around $1 million. Still, residents say that for an area so close to the park, they own a lot for their money.

“We bought a whole brownstone for the price of a one-bedroom in Park Slope,” said Carrie McLaren, who has owned a two-family house on Hawthorne Street for almost five years, and blogs at hawthornestreet.com. “And,” she added, “we have rental income, because we have a tenant.”

Hakim Edwards, an associate broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman and a resident, says a long history of homeownership — some of the area’s African-American and Caribbean families have lived there since the 1960s — creates a pleasant sense of familiarity.
“You know most of your neighbors, you see them every day, you talk to them,” he said. “It’s been like that for years. It’s probably one of the friendlier neighborhoods that you’ll find.”

Ms. Auletta said residents’ tendency to stay put was a big part of the area’s appeal. Her family is no exception: She and her husband, Eric Landau, who works for the Prospect Park Alliance, are expecting their second child. Their son, Beckett, is 14 months old. And she likes the way residents respond to shared challenges.

“It’s a very, very strong community where there are active block associations, active neighborhood associations,” Ms. Auletta said. “Where you really feel that people’s involvement makes a real difference.”


Pearl R. Miles is district manager of Community Board 9, which covers the 11-block-long, 5-block-wide area. She describes it as predominantly residential, with most of the roughly 30,000 residents leaving to go to work. The largest nearby employers, she said, are in the complex of hospitals just east of the area, Kings County Hospital Center, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Kingsboro Psychiatric Center among them.

The main commercial strip is Flatbush Avenue — a relatively leafy stretch of that thoroughfare, but one that many residents still wish had more to offer. Mr. Edwards said commercial rents there had climbed too high for most small businesses to afford. Ms. McLaren said the strip had been hurt by unresponsive absentee landlords, and by the lack of a business improvement district — a group that promotes the well-being of a commercial district in exchange for fees from business owners.

Apart from Flatbush, retail corridors are Nostrand Avenue, typically busy only around the subway stations, and Rogers Avenue, which can feel desolate even at midday.

The greenest blocks in the neighborhood are closer to Flatbush. Most of the historic district is in an enclave called Lefferts Manor, an early development between Flatbush and Rogers Avenues where restrictive covenants require most houses to remain single-family dwellings.

Even so, there are plenty of apartment and co-op buildings — many along Flatbush Avenue, but some sharing blocks with detached houses on streets like Lefferts Avenue and Lincoln Road. A number of the buildings along Ocean Avenue, facing the park, are prewar rentals and co-ops. New construction is rare in the area, but some condominiums have been built around its fringes recently, including a 30-unit building at 2114 Bedford Avenue, just over the southern boundary.

One project now going up is in a busy section. A company called Park Tower secured permits in June to build a 24-story, 88-unit building next to the Prospect Park subway stop at 510 Flatbush Avenue. Just downstairs, in a building surrounded by the project’s L-shaped site, is K-Dog & Dunebuggy, a coffee shop that is a hub for new residents.


Alyssa Morris, a vice president of the Corcoran Group who is Ms. Auletta’s neighbor on Rutland Street, says prices for single-family houses range widely, from around $700,000 up to $1.3 million. Two-family houses, she said, cost around $900,000 — more if they are in the historic district, and less if they are smaller or need more work.
Mr. Edwards says that because the neighborhood is small and stock is relatively limited, price ranges vary based on subtle factors.

“If you’re on Maple between Bedford and Rogers,” he said, “you’re paying a different amount than if you’re on Rutland between Bedford and Rogers. It all depends on the block, it depends on the architecture, and it also depends on the quality of the renovations you’ve done.”

For condos and co-ops, Ms. Morris said, two-bedrooms range from just over $300,000 to $450,000, depending on size. A check of Craigslist showed one-bedroom rentals between $1,200 and $1,400 a month, and two-bedrooms at $1,500 to $1,700.


On the western border, Prospect Park — at 585 acres, according to the Park Alliance — is the largest attraction nearby, with its lake, ice-skating rink and zoo near three large entrances on Parkside Avenue, Lincoln Road and Empire Boulevard. The park’s Audubon Center, near the Lincoln Road entrance, features exhibits dedicated to wildlife preservation and nature education. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is just northwest of the neighborhood, adjacent to the park, with an Empire Boulevard entrance.


The B and Q trains stop on Flatbush Avenue, both at the Prospect Park stop, in the northwestern corner, and at the Parkside Avenue stop, to the southwest. The Nos. 2 and 5 trains run under Nostrand Avenue, to the east, stopping at Sterling and Winthrop Streets. The Q, 2 and 5 trains all typically run express when they enter Manhattan. Finally, the Prospect Park stop is home to a shuttle line that connects to the 2 and 5, and to the C train at Franklin Avenue. The trip to Midtown takes roughly 40 minutes.


Elementary students are zoned to attend one of five public schools, all of which received A’s on their most recent city progress reports: Public Schools 91, 92, 161, 375 and 397.

Some middle school students are zoned for Ebbets Field Middle School, where 40.1 percent tested proficient in English last year, 70.8 percent in math. Others attend either Middle School 61, on Empire Boulevard, or No. 2 on Parkside Avenue. At No. 61, 70.4 percent were proficient in English and 69.4 percent in math. At No. 2 the numbers were 50.7 percent in English and 56.8 in math.

The nearest public high school is Medgar Evers College Preparatory School, on Carroll Street in Crown Heights. It scored an A on its most recent progress report, with SAT averages of 457 in reading, 474 in math and 449 in writing. State averages were 435, 432 and 439.

The Lefferts Gardens Charter School, which will teach kindergarten through fifth grade in an environmental science program, will begin operating at Public School 92 in September, admitting children from all over the city.


The land that is now Prospect-Lefferts Gardens was farmland before residential construction began there in the 1890s, continuing into the 1930s. The historic district, which includes Lefferts Manor and a few blocks to the northeast along Lefferts Avenue and Sterling Street, was designated in 1979.

As for Lefferts, the name originates with a 17th-century Dutch settler, Leffert Pietersen van Haughwout, whose family retained the land for centuries. One descendant, Peter Lefferts, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Another, James Lefferts, sold the land to develop row houses. The name was officially conferred on the neighborhood in 1969.


July 31st, 2010, 02:42 AM
It wasn't clear exactly where in Brooklyn is is (anyone?).

Not very good for the building probably, but it looks lovely.



July 31st, 2010, 08:54 AM
Caption says Sunset Park waterfront. This is probably in the vicinity of the Bush Terminal warehouses. My pops worked there back in the day.

August 1st, 2010, 07:09 AM
Here 'tis (large image):

Brooklyn Army Terminal Warehouse, 58th Street (http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/infrastructure/sunset_park_waterfront/2008-07-10_13-45-22.jpg)

Very handsome building.

Brooklyn Army Terminal

The Brooklyn Army Supply Base (also known as the Brooklyn Military Ocean Terminal) was built in 1917-1918. It one of seven such facilities created to handle increased overseas shipping demand during the first World War when the limitations of the existing commercial facilities quickly became obvious. Bush Terminal owner Irving T. Bush made initial studies for the base based on both his own experience with his facility and a municipal plan from 1906 that had never been realized. Quartermaster General George W. Goethals had overall responsibility for construction...Lots of pics of Sunset Park (http://www.michaelminn.net/newyork/infrastructure/sunset_park_waterfront/)

September 3rd, 2010, 10:36 PM
Sea Gate, Brooklyn



A view of the southern shore beaches. Sea Gate has a wide range of home styles,
though its numerous Mediterranean-type houses, with curvy roofs and red tile,
help to heighten the community’s seaside feel.


FOR New Yorkers who don’t make it out to the far western edge of Coney Island too often, Sea Gate might be more familiar as the skinny thumb of land that appears below window seats during some takeoffs from Kennedy International Airport.

But getting into the neighborhood by land is another story. True to its name, Sea Gate is a gated community, surrounded by beaches. Although this type of secure enclave may be unusual in an urban setting like New York City, its 832 homes seem no less exclusive than their suburban counterparts. Drivers will have a hard time getting past the checkpoints at the 90-acre community’s only two entrances, on Surf and Neptune Avenues, without the sticker given to residents.

Mark Koganov, a builder, enjoyed a sneak peek in the mid-1990s when delivering lumber for a construction project. On jobs around the region, like in Connecticut, he had come across gated communities, “but it seemed kind of weird there was one here,” he said.

Surprise soon gave way to amazement as Mr. Koganov found 19th-century mansions nestled by modest brick midcentury styles on streets that seemed much calmer than Midwood, Brooklyn, where he was renting a two-bedroom. And a few years later, when it came time to buy, that first impression tipped the scales toward Sea Gate over Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay.

Today, Mr. Koganov, 46, and his family live in part of a two-family house, with five bedrooms and two full and two half baths, that cost $400,000 in 2002, though he put in an additional $70,000 for new windows, doors and a deck. The other unit belongs to Mr. Koganov’s mother, Sofia.

It is not uncommon for multiple generations to live under one roof in Sea Gate, where families stick around for decades. Renee Levinson, for instance, moved into an apartment in her parents’ house in 1963, after getting married, and has lived within a few blocks of that address ever since.

And today, Ms. Levinson, 68, plays host to her own son, David, in a red-brick 1920 house with 2,000 square feet of space. Like many properties it seems to have been constructed for a single family but was subsequently divided up, which means decades of renters have left rooms worse for wear.

Ms. Levinson even rented out the home for 17 years after buying it in 1983 for $80,000, so when it came time to relocate there herself, in 2000, she had to invest $100,000 to redo the bathrooms, replace all 32 windows and paint the walls. Recently, she said, it was appraised at $475,000.

While homes may be improving with age, what hasn’t changed is the serenity that comes, perhaps, with a carefully controlled environment. “I still don’t feel like I’m New York,” she said, “because if somebody talks outside, it’s like they’re disturbing us.”


With a nearly continuous ring of sand around Sea Gate’s perimeter, the beach is never far away, though it’s far wider in some places than others.

A jetty built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1995 at West 37th Street to replenish Coney Island’s shoreline actually pulled sand away from the southern edge of Sea Gate.

Yet some of that sand wound up on the neighborhood’s northern shore, creating a series of rippling dunes where waves once splashed against seawalls.

A popular place to view that shore is “Lindy Park,” named for Charles Lindbergh. Ships can also be seen hauling checkerboard stacks of containers under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Most beachgoers who want to swim, though, head to the end of Beach 42nd Street, where residents can pay for a pass to get access to a shore with a pair of concrete former gun mounts from World War II.

The seaside feel in Sea Gate is heightened by a number of Mediterranean-style homes, whose curvy roofs recall Spanish missions. One whose deep eaves are topped with bright red tiles stands at Lyme and Highland Avenues, while the rounded dormers a few steps away recall the profile of the Alamo.

Other exuberant historic styles include Queen Annes, like the one with a turret and ample shingles on the property of the 75-foot Coney Island Lighthouse. It was the former home of Frank Schubert, the country’s last civilian lighthouse keeper, who died in 2003.

While rentals abound, there’s just one true apartment building, at Sea Gate and Poplar Avenues. And condominiums were nonexistent until a few years ago.

Once a stopover for sailing aristocrats like Astors and Vanderbilts, Sea Gate has seen its ethnic makeup shift over the years.

Mr. Koganov, who emigrated from Azerbaijan in 1993, is part of a wave of ethnic Russians that has moved to the neighborhood, according to the Sea Gate Association, which owns the neighborhood’s public spaces. Other residents are from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine, according to the 2000 census.


In late August, there were 13 properties for sale, from a $349,000 two-bedroom condo to a $1.5 million two-family house. Brokers say the number is actually high, because turnover is so rare and inventory low.

Similarly, the first six months of 2010 were also busy, with four sales at an average of $580,000 and seven contracts pending, according to Rich Schulhoff, the chief executive of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors, using data from the Brooklyn New York Multiple Listing Service.

At that pace, 2010 will surpass 2009, when five homes sold for an average of $484,000, and even the boom year of 2007, when seven homes sold at an average of $528,085, according to the data.

What gives some buyers pause is that homeowners must pay annual dues to the Sea Gate Association to cover security, street maintenance and park upkeep, which are 13 percent of assessed home value and comparable to one’s property tax bill.

But that “double tax” should be weighed against prices, which are lower than in comparable areas like Mill Basin, said Natalia Tandler, a broker with Fillmore Real Estate. Indeed, from January through June, 21 homes sold there for an average of $761,047, the listing data shows, which makes Sea Gate about 25 percent cheaper.

Plus, “Sea Gate was never a commercial area like other places, so there was no garbage dumped that can lead to health problems,” Ms. Tandler said. “We’re ecologically clean.”


There are no stores “in the gate,” as locals refer to it, just a few food vendor trucks, like the yellow-and-white one with ice cream on a recent morning near the beach entrance.

Another, with an American flag draped over its hood, sold sausage and pepper sandwiches ($6.50) from a parking lot behind the Nova Gymnastics Center, where young girls played foosball.

The Sea Gate Beach Club, whose striped beachside cabanas cost $4,995 a season if shared between two families, has 2,000 members, but most of them are from elsewhere. The club, whose members have use of special magnetized gate keys, closes for the summer season this weekend.


The closest elementary school is Public School 188, where 33 percent of fourth-graders this year met standards on the English state exams, while 53 percent did in math.
At top-performing Intermediate School 239, meanwhile, 84 percent of eighth-graders met standards in English and 95 percent did so in math.

At Abraham Lincoln High School, which enrolled 2,533 students last year, the graduation rate is about average, at 61 percent in 2009, which was up from 50 percent in 2005.

On last year’s SATs, students averaged 432 in math, 411 in reading and 401 in writing, versus 502, 485 and 478 statewide.


The nearest subway stop, which offers D, F, Q and N trains, is about a mile and a half away, though the B36 and B74 buses deliver commuters there from the neighborhood’s gates.

There’s also the X28 express bus to Midtown Manhattan from Neptune. On weekday mornings, five buses leave from 6 to 8:01 a.m. for a 1-hour-and-20-minute trip, for $5.50.


Once known as Norton’s Point for the owner of a casino where the lighthouse stands today, the neighborhood was developed in 1892 by Alrick Man, according to Charles Denson, the author of “Coney Island: Lost and Found” (Ten Speed Press, 2004).
But a seedy image may have persisted, as a 1917 brochure to lure buyers promised that patrols kept out “peddlers, beggars, picnickers, hurdy-gurdies and other jarring factors,” the book says.


September 24th, 2010, 07:29 AM
The Williamsburg Special: From hipster haven to hotspot, this nabe is an NYC real estate draw

BY Jason Sheftell


Forget the hipster stigma, housing crisis, lack of schools and stunted condominium projects. For style, culture, food, music and livability, Williamsburg might be the best neighborhood in the United States, surpassing the East Village, West Village and Silver Lake in Los Angeles as the place to build a young, creative life.

If Williamsburg plays its cards right, and local business, real estate and political leaders think strategically about growth, parts of it could exceed Melrose Ave. and South Beach in defining cool for the fashion, design and young celebrity set, who have slowly marked their territory with stealth rentals, new boutiques and condo purchases.

First, let's stop talking about it as one neighborhood. It's six, with areas as distinct from each other as the upper East Side is from Tribeca. Williamsburg is so huge that if you picked it up and placed it over lower Manhattan, it would stretch from Houston St. to the tip of the island.

Ethnically, it's as diverse as any place in the city, with 80-year-old Italians who have lived there all their lives, multiple Latino nationalities, trendy twentysomethings, growing families, high-tech gearheads and artists and musicians sticking it out as once-desolate streets radically change every six months. Around here, though, the old guard doesn't mind newcomers who bring vitality, youth, energy and style to wide streets that overflow with sunshine due to the mostly low-scale architecture.


Something worked here. It might have been a rezoning program that emphasized taller buildings on the waterfront and highly trafficked streets, while protecting the three-story residential neighborhoods inland. It could be the affordable rental prices that appealed to young adults moving to New York for the first time from cities as close as Philadelphia and as far as Sao Paulo, Brazil. It might have been cheap retail that drew new restaurants like Fette Sau to an old garage on Metropolitan Ave. or Brooklyn Bowl to an old warehouse on Wythe Ave.

It might have been all of the above, but developers and residents are as high on these streets as anywhere else in the city right now.

"There is no doubt that Williamsburg is and will continue to be the hottest neighborhood for the 25- to 35-year- old demographic for the next 10 years," says Jeff Levine, CEO of Douglaston Development, builder of the Edge, the 1,000-plus unit, mixed-use complex on the waterfront. "For fashion, arts, entertainment and now for home buying, there is no finer place in New York. It has it all and it can only get better."

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October 9th, 2010, 02:57 AM
Borough Park, Brooklyn


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/10/10/realestate/10liv-map/10liv-map-popup-v2.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

The view down New Utrecht Ave with the D train running overhead

The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States


slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/10/10/realestate/20101010liv_ss.html?ref=realestate#1)

IN late September, during the final days of the weeklong holiday of Sukkot, young boys in white shirts and black hats could often be seen lining the streets of Borough Park, a large neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. Standing behind folding card tables arrayed with long, thin willow branches to be waved in synagogue, they called out in Yiddish, hoping to attract customers from among the crowds of shoppers who exited, bags in hand, the kosher markets of 13th Avenue.

The neighborhood is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the United States — “the Jewish capital of the United States” and a “kosher utopia,” according to David G. Greenfield, who lives and works in Borough Park, in addition to representing it in the City Council.

Religious tradition and ritual touch nearly every aspect of neighborhood life. During Sukkot, sidewalks and apartment balconies sprouted sukkahs, the traditional wooden booths commemorating the structures that ancient Israelites lived in after their exodus from Egypt.

Borough Park’s commercial strips, 13th and 16th Avenues, are lined with independently owned businesses, many of them religious-themed. The few chain stores — Rite Aid, Duane Reade, the Children’s Place — are closed on Saturdays in observance of the Jewish Sabbath.

Although Orthodox Jews make up the majority of Borough Park’s residents, other groups are represented. Residents like Amy Sicignano, who was brought up amid the neighborhood’s considerable Italian and Irish populations, have ended up acquiring an appreciation of Orthodox rituals.

Ms. Sicignano, 63, has a childhood memory of her parents’ being asked to turn on the lights in Orthodox neighbors’ houses on Saturdays. The reason for such requests — the Orthodox rule prohibiting the operation of anything mechanical or electrical on the Sabbath — remained a mystery to her until adulthood, when she gained familiarity with Orthodox traditions and holidays through a job in a neighborhood flower shop.
“Living in Borough Park is living in another world, really,” she said.

Borough Park (sometimes written Boro Park) is about 200 blocks in area, and has a population of more than 100,000, census figures show. The abundance of children, and strollers, is a striking feature of street life — a reflection of the Hasidic tradition of raising large families. And the 711-bed Maimonides Medical Center, which abuts Borough Park, is said to deliver more babies than any other hospital in New York State, according to Eileen Tynion, a spokeswoman. In 2009, 7,704 babies were delivered; Ms. Tynion said projections for 2010 exceeded 8,000.

In addition to its abundance of independent stores, Borough Park demonstrates its self-sufficiency through a variety of all-volunteer service groups. In September four members of Shomrim, a volunteer security patrol, were wounded by gunfire in a confrontation — an unsettling anomaly in this generally low-crime neighborhood, residents and officials say.

There is also Chaveirim, a free service much like AAA, for residents who find themselves with a flat tire or locked out of their houses. Aron Kohn, Chaveirim’s founder and director, said its hot line received about 150 calls a day.


Bounded by Fort Hamilton Parkway to the west, 60th Street to the south, McDonald Avenue and Bay Parkway to the east, and McDonald Avenue to the north, the neighborhood is home to more than 300 religious institutions, according to Councilman Greenfield. Most are Jewish: yeshivas and synagogues abound, some of them huge, their exteriors bearing Hebrew signage, others smaller and less noticeable.

But there are also exceptions, like St. Frances de Chantal, a Roman Catholic Church on 58th Street, delivering Masses in English and Polish; a statue of Pope John Paul II stands out front.

“There are four houses of worship on my block,” said Mendel Zilberberg, a lawyer who lives with his wife, Zissie, and children, 9 and 10, in a six-bedroom house on 55th Street. Mr. Zilberberg is involved with several area schools and social organizations, as well as his synagogue, across the street from his home.

“In a community like this, which is really set up to help its fellow man,” he said, “you cannot simply be on the receiving end.”

The typically large family size is reflected in the housing. Although there are some detached single-family homes, they are far outnumbered by large brick multifamilies. (In recent years, these have spread beyond the neighborhood’s southern boundary on 60th Street.) With space at a premium, three- and four-story homes are common, and many are built out nearly to the sidewalk. “Every square inch is being utilized here,” Mr. Greenfield said. In neighboring Bensonhurst, the contrast is evident: there is simply more space between houses, many of which have front yards and landscaping — rarities in Borough Park.

In 1968, after moving out of her childhood home on 51st Street, Ms. Sicignano moved five blocks away into her current house, a five-bedroom two-bath single-family previously occupied by relatives.

Ms. Sicignano, whose husband died eight years ago, put her house on the market in May, at $849,000. The thought of leaving Borough Park pains her, she said, but she would like to be closer to her son and his family on Long Island.

Jack Favaloro, who grew up in the area and owned an electronics repair store on 11th Avenue, remembered a street of detached and semidetached houses. “It’s like day and night,” he said. “Now it’s wall-to-wall brick houses, three and four stories high.”

Mr. Favaloro, who is in his late 50s, now lives in Staten Island. A few months ago he learned of the Facebook group “Old Boro Park Brooklyn,” and visits the site two or three times a week, to chat about the area and view photos posted by other former residents.

Karol Joswick, the assistant district manager of Community Board 12, described affordable housing as a perennial concern. In August, the City Planning Commission approved a proposal for the construction of about 68 units of affordable housing on the site of a former elevated subway line in the north of the neighborhood. The plan awaits the City Council’s review.

Other changes are afoot. An application has been filed with the Department of City Planning for the conversion of Maple Lanes, a bowling alley, into 116 residential units and a synagogue, a department spokeswoman said.


Brokers and residents say Borough Park prices are largely recession-proof. Since observant Jews must live within walking distance of their synagogues, demand is high. Detached single-family houses and semidetached multifamily houses routinely fetch more than $1 million, said Charles Fabbella, an agent with Ben Bay Realty Company of Bay Ridge, though smaller apartments in the $300,000 to $400,000 range can be found. The average list price in the neighborhood is $773,000, Mr. Fabbella said, adding that about 20 properties are currently listed. Homes average 30 to 45 days on the market; last year, he said, the selling process would often last more than six months.

In recent years, Asian-Americans have been buying homes in the neighborhood, brokers say. Still, the majority remain Orthodox Jews, in large part because children tend to settle close to their parents, said Joseph Devito, an agent for Fillmore Realty.


There are dozens of shops and restaurants on the commercial thoroughfares of 13th and 16th Avenues: schnitzel bars; the fast-food restaurant Kosher Delight; hat and wig shops; men’s and ladies’ clothing stores; maternity shops. Eichler’s, a “Judaica superstore,” is stocked with music, children’s books, clothing, and framed photographs of prominent rabbis. Toys include the Jewish Viewer, a viewfinder with slides showing scenes from Jewish history.

The Living Torah Museum, on 41st Street, exhibits ancient artifacts.

The Brooklyn Public Library branch is on 43rd Street at 13th Avenue.


In addition to the wealth of yeshivas and religious schools, public elementary schools include Public School 164 Caesar Rodney, on 14th Avenue, serving prekindergarten through Grade 5. Last year 52.5 percent of fourth-graders met standards in English, 78.3 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

Among the closest public middle schools is Junior High School 223 the Montauk, on 16th Avenue, serving Grades 6 through 8. Last year, 35.9 percent of eighth-graders met standards in English, 53 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, on 20th Avenue, serves Grades 9 through 12. SAT averages in 2009 were 390 in reading, 489 in math and 387 in writing, versus 434, 458 and 432 citywide.


Borough Park is served by the F and D trains; it is about 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan. Bus lines include the 16, which runs along 13th and 14th Avenues, and the 11, which runs along 49th and 50th Streets.


The neighborhood’s first synagogue was built in 1904, and the construction of the elevated New Utrecht Avenue train line — now the D — fueled the area’s growth after World War I.


October 29th, 2010, 10:04 PM
Red hot Red Hook: Out-of-the-way Brooklyn nabe is a draw all on its own

BY Jason Sheftell

A look at a peaceful corner of Pioneer St in Red Hook, Brooklyn.


SEE: Van Brunt St., Fairway, art galleries and shops, the waterfront and old houses on Coffey St. and Pioneer St. Also: Red Hook Park & Atlantic Basin.
EAT: The Good Fork, 391 Van Brunt St. & Red Hook Lobster Pound, 284 Van Brunt St.
BUY: Erie Basin, Folk art and 19th-century jewelry, 388 Van Brunt St.
TRANSIT: A/C/F to Jay St. and transfer to the B61 bus or F/G to Smith St. and walk or transfer to the B61. Water Taxi runs from Wall St. Pier 19 to Ikea; free on weekends, $5 weekdays.

Conservative real estate speculators and house hunters used to think of Red Hook as too out of the way, too hard to get to and too raw for any serious cash commitment.
That's changing quickly, as this little hamlet jutting into the harbor like Brooklyn's big toe offers the closest thing to small-town, almost affordable, living anywhere in the five boroughs.

As the New York City waterfronts continue to explode and thrive as the best places to live in town, Red Hook can only get better.

Spending time here is like being in a Nantucket fishing village. It's on the water, close enough to almost touch Governors Island. People ride bikes all over normally empty streets, and four garden centers keep it more green than other combination industrial and residential areas.

Baked is just one of the many shops along the ever-changing Van Brunt Street.

Small restaurants and boutiques selling hand-made jewelry and bizarre antiques, such as 17th-century elementary-school desks, pop up around corners. Painted signs on warehouse walls point to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies, a local shop.

Cruise boats that dock nearby are in constant motion, and the ferry to Ikea from Wall St. maneuvers the seashore like a pesky bumblebee. The B61 bus ambles along quiet streets, running from downtown Brooklyn to Prospect Park with stops in Cobble Hill, Park Slope and Windsor Terrace.

A look inside the Mercado, the outdoor food station where you can get authentic Mexican food.

Small city parks adjoin antique radio towers, giant satellite dishes and boat-repair shops. One house still has a wooden, thick-wired pulley above a second-floor window. It was once used to hoist bushels of produce to a storage space above the ground-floor office. All this makes for strange-but-true urban eye candy.

On the waterfront, the Fairway market is next door to one-story art galleries and workspaces. Lofts above Fairway have large windows opening on New York Harbor. Huge, with 18-foor ceilings, these spaces start at $3,500, available from the O'Connell Organization, a family-owned development group that brought Fairway to the area.

The path behind the Fairway Supermarket is lined with benches for waterfront relaxing. (page 2)

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November 2nd, 2010, 12:42 PM
Red Hook might be the best neighborhood to live in if you want to be in NYC but never go into the city.

December 6th, 2010, 06:10 AM
Where Prices Are Practical, and Cuisines Colorful






slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/12/05/realestate/20101205_liv_ss.html?ref=realestate#1)

IN August, Debra Kayman bought her first home, a two-family on Ashford Street in Cypress Hills, in the East New York section of Brooklyn. She came to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago in 1985, living in East Flatbush with family until her move to Cypress Hills in 1988. There she rented a succession of apartments, including one on Arlington Avenue near the stately Arlington branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, built a century ago by the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

Ms. Kayman’s house, which consists of a four-bedroom owner unit and a two-bedroom rental, cost $424,831; she lives there with her fiancé and her 13-year-old daughter, and works in Fort Greene as an education assistant for the New York City Board of Education.

She has never considered leaving Cypress Hills, despite East New York’s reputation for crime — a reputation reinforced last month when the Police Department identified the precinct that includes East New York as one of three with the biggest increase in robberies.

Ms. Kayman says she has never felt unsafe. On the contrary, she enjoys browsing the specialty shops along Fulton Street, with their foods and merchandise evoking the richness of distant countries whose immigrants make up much of the community: Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana.

Over the years, various efforts and changes have helped Cypress Hills vanquish much of the blight and danger Ms. Kayman alluded to. But the specter of that past still lingers, especially among longtime residents and activists, who are only now beginning to see a return on their investment.

“When we go back two decades ago,” said Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, a lifelong resident whose district includes Cypress Hills, “there were issues in regard to public safety, the infrastructure was crumbling. But we have solidly turned that around, and there is a vibrant new feeling out here in this area. It’s no longer a community of last resort. It’s a community of choice.”

Among the agents of change is the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, founded in 1983. It is responsible for more than 300 units of affordable housing, and has 200 more units now in progress, said Michelle Neugebauer, the corporation’s executive director.
Ms. Kayman is one who has benefited. Her home would have cost an additional $140,000 without subsidies from the city and the local group.

It also works with merchants to improve the retail corridor along Fulton Street, and collaborated with the city Department of Education to create a new school, Public School 89 Cypress Hills, which opened in September and serves students through Grade 8.

“It’s always been a first-homeownership kind of place,” said Bishop David Benke, an activist who since 1974 has been the pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on Highland Place. “A lot of people come here wanting to push their kids through school, people who want the best for their families. They’re first- or second-generation immigrants, and the young-adult crowd that follows is usually very dedicated to family.”

His more than 30 years in Cypress Hills have provided glimpses of this ethic from a previous era — German and Irish immigrants who once, he says, operated an abundance of ice cream shops in the neighborhood — as well as among the currently dominant Latinos.

Lance Wenceslao, 65, who was born and raised in the area in a Catholic family, said the Cypress Hills of his youth, “quiet and bare,” had become “a far more vibrant Hispanic neighborhood.” Mr. Wenceslao retired to Georgia in 2002, but only recently put his house on the market; his grown children lived in it after he moved. The colonial, on Barbey Street, is listed at $400,000.


Occupying a little more than a square mile, and wedged just south of the mass of cemeteries that separates Brooklyn and Queens, Cypress Hills is home to more than 40,000 people. Although neighborhood contours are often a subject of contention, its boundaries are described by the Encyclopedia of New York City and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation as the Queens border to the north, Atlantic Avenue to the south, Pennsylvania Avenue to the west and Eldert Lane to the east.

From the vantage point of Jamaica Avenue, the expanse of cemeteries to the north, with Queens on its far side, offers views of mausoleums, headstones and markers, along with huge brick arches and abandoned buildings.

As Bishop Benke put it, “Our neighbors to the north are very quiet.”

Fulton Street is a mix of barber and beauty shops, bodegas and storefront churches beneath the rusted yellow elevated tracks of the J and Z trains. Latino restaurants proliferate as one moves eastward: takeout joints; sprawling seafood places advertising Saturday-night karaoke; Salvadoran pupuserías, where men gather over a lunchtime Presidente beer to the soundtrack of unwatched Univision soap operas. Eventually, the tracks diverge from Fulton Street and begin a northward curve, giving riders a close-up of the cornices of otherwise anonymous buildings.

“We’re starting to see a lot of redevelopment of our commercial strips, making it more exciting and viable for the next generation of homeowners,” said Assemblyman Towns, noting that Cypress Hills was not yet a “Starbucks community.” (While residents elsewhere might wish for fewer Starbucks outlets, Mr. Towns implied that if one arrived, it would be a key marker of progress; he noted with pride that the local Dunkin’ Donuts offers WiFi.)

The development corporation occupies several storefronts along Fulton Street, and has helped bring in businesses like a day care center and a sporting goods store.

In January, Javier N. Solis opened a new franchise of Los Taxes, a tax preparation company with a mostly Hispanic clientele, in one of the development corporation’s Fulton Street buildings. Mr. Solis, who lives in Queens and has worked in Cypress Hills for about 15 years, recalled more dangerous days.

“I had the cellphone number for a D.A. in the narcotics division,” he said, adding that in the 1990s he would alert the official to suspicious activity.

To speak to residents and business owners is to hear stories of progress made, work yet to be done and protectiveness of the community’s image.

“We had to work to better the neighborhood,” said Wilson Pińa, who owns a travel agency, the Atlas Travel Group, as well as the Highland Driving School. He cited the variety of restaurants, affordable shopping and convenient transportation as reasons people are increasingly willing to stay. “This is not a bad neighborhood,” he said. “This is a good neighborhood.”

“It’s such a diverse area, in terms of housing types,” said Raymond Parasmo, a broker with Fillmore Real Estate. In the southern portion, blocks are lined with attached houses; as one travels north, the land inclines and detached houses become more common, including large ones near Highland Park, bordered by metal fences or brick walls.

Single-family houses are priced from $275,000 to $350,000, brokers say, and two-families start around $400,000. Houses tend to linger four to six months, as they did last year, said Cirilo Rodriguez, a broker with Charles Rutenberg Realty. Recent buyers have been from the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

Rentals are scarce, said Lassaad Messai of Best Way Home Realty. Some can be found in multifamily homes, one-bedroom units for about $1,000 and two-bedrooms for about $1,250.

Mark Kerr, an agent with Fillmore Real Estate, said prices in Cypress Hills and surrounding areas were down 15 to 20 percent over the last year or so.


The J and Z trains serve Cypress Hills; commuting to Midtown Manhattan takes about 50 minutes. Area buses include the 56, along Jamaica Avenue, and the 24, along Atlantic Avenue.


The Arlington branch of the Brooklyn Public Library went up in 1907, one of the original libraries built by Carnegie. The split-level building has various wooden staircases leading to reading rooms, one of which has a nonfunctioning brick fireplace.

The 141-acre Highland Park has tennis courts and a synthetic turf field for football and soccer that opened in 2009.


Elementary schools in the general area include Public School 108 Sal Abbracciamento, through Grade 5. Last year 39.1 percent of fourth graders met standards in English and 66.4 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

Junior High School 302 Rafael Cordero teaches Grades 6 through 8. Nineteen percent of eighth graders met standards in English, 18.5 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

Franklin K. Lane High School, on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, serves Grades 9 through 12. SAT averages last year were 353 in reading, 379 in math and 341 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


About 380,000 people are interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery, according to “Cypress Hills Cemetery,” by Stephen C. Duer and Allan B. Smith, published in September. Among them are Mae West and Jackie Robinson.


December 14th, 2010, 05:30 AM
How it's changed!

Park Slope Plane Crash | The Neighborhood in 1960


Park Slope Plane Crash | Were You There? (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/park-slope-plane-crash-were-you-there/) Emily S. Rueb

Park Slope Plane Crash | A Collision in the Clouds (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/park-slope-plane-crash-the-lede-all/) James Barron

The Boy Who Survived a 1960 Midair Crash (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/the-boy-who-survived-a-1960-midair-crash/) Libby Nelson

Park Slope Plane Crash | How it Happened (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/park-slope-plane-crash-how-it-happened/) Patrick McGeehan

Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times Sterling Place, just west of Seventh Avenue, in 1961.

Edwardianand Victorian row houses were scarred with peeling paint, broken windows and missing stoop stones. Scavengers pilfered abandoned or burned-out homes for radiators and brass pipes to sell as scrap metal. Residents called a group of rat-infested buildings on Prospect Park West a “serious blight” and a breeding place for “prostitution, crime, vice, narcotics and immorality.”

In 1960, The New York Times called Park Slope a neighborhood “in transition (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/cityroom/201012_CRASH_ARTICLES/transition.pdf).” (pdf) But residents who were there, or had grown up with the Tigers and the Garfield Boys, the roaming teen gangs described in Pete Hamill’s memoir “A Drinking Life,” might say that the newspaper’s description was generous.

“It was a neighborhood seriously in trouble,” said the former State Assemblyman Joe Ferris, who also served as the president of the Park Slope Civic Council. One of the worst areas, Mr. Ferris said, was a stretch of row houses on St. John’s Place that looked as if it had been bombed with heavy artillery.

That was the Park Slope where a mortally damaged jet came to rest on Dec. 16, 1960, after hitting another passenger plane over Staten Island. It was a place both similar to and remarkably different than today’s neighborhood of restored brownstones; indeed, to those who lived there 50 years ago, the Park Slope of today is nothing short of a miracle.

Back then, one wary store owner, a florist on Flatbush Avenue, kept a can of lye behind the counter to protect herself in the event of a robbery.

The predominantly Irish and Italian middle-class residents were feeling the squeeze of a countrywide economic downturn. Banks had red-lined the area, citing underground streams and a lack of off-street parking as reasons not to lend. The Federal Housing Administration was not backing mortgages in the whole borough, which meant that even middle-class couples looking to buy could not get financing. Lured by the promise of a cheap house with a yard for their children and a driveway for their car, many families migrated to Long Island. Many of the managers at Dime Bank, the Williamsburg Savings Bank and others lived out there, too.

“Brooklyn was, in their mind, the land of crime, gangs and arson,” Mr. Ferris said.

Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times Sterling Place near Seventh Avenue after the plane fell, 1961.

Speculators — also called “blockbusters” — were eager to buy up single-family homes and chop them into smaller units for rent. Some buildings were divided into as many as eight units, with parents and children packed into half a floor. Shaken residents who were afraid of changes in the neighborhood were coaxed, or even scared, into selling their homes by agents who ominously suggested they should get out before things got even worse.

“There was still a great deal of racism in our society and it was an easy card to play, particularly with some of the older people here who had never had any experience with integration,” said Bill Jesinkey, a former school teacher who was active in several neighborhood groups that worked closely with the civic council. “The idea that there wouldn’t be all white families on the block was a completely new idea.”

According to the Department of City Planning, 93.4 percent of the population was white. The median family income was $5,782 ($43,457 in 2010 dollars), which was slightly lower than the Brooklyn average. And only 18 percent of residents owned their homes, compared with about 33% in 2000.

Construction workers, teachers and secretaries worshiped beside the white-collar accountants, lawyers and judges who also lived there. Churches kept their doors open, even on weekdays, and Sunday services were so crowded that latecomers were relegated to the stoop. They organized dances and acted as facilitators for the neighborhood.

Tom Miskel, who grew up on Eighth Street near Seventh Avenue, recalled how priests at St. Francis Xavier engaged teenage troublemakers, in particular, ones that were setting fire to dry pine trees after their owners had thrown them out after Christmas, with activities like community service and fund-raisers for the church.

Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times. Seventh Avenue looking toward Sterling Place in 1961.

But there were perhaps even more bars than churches in the neighborhood, particularly along Seventh Avenue. Louis Poggioli, born in northern Italy, served a middle-aged clientele for 24 years at his tavern, James’s, on Seventh Avenue. He recalled pouring drinks for Hugh L. Carey, who was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1960 and later became governor, at 2 a.m. Mr. Poggioli did not allow babies in his bar. He did not even like serving the younger folk.

“They don’t spend money,” he explained.

When the plane came down, cartwheeling up Sterling Place, destroying a church and several buildings, it was a psychological blow to the community. “You shook your head,” Mr. Ferris said.

Residents of that Park Slope who are still alive today winced at a sub-headline that appeared in The New York Times on Dec. 17 (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/cityroom/201012_CRASH_ARTICLES/transition.pdf):

“Sterling Place, An Area of Run-Down Houses, Ripped Asunder by Crashing Plane.”


January 14th, 2011, 07:02 PM
Clinton Hill: Brooklyn neighborhood blooms in a residential and retail awakening

It can be compared to the Harlem *Renaissance of the 1920s. Right now, before our very eyes, Clinton Hill is undergoing an explosion of culture, arts, retail, food and neighborhood improvement that in 50 years may be considered one of the most important community-inspired growth periods since legendary activist Jane Jacobs saved the West Village and SoHo in the 1960s.

Call it the Clinton Hill Revival, where a combination of factors — namely people and persistence — have come together to catapult this once-checkered area into one of the most attractive, affordable and interesting urban neighborhoods in the United States. For young families, historic house hunters, artists, foodies or people who just love the city (and not merely the clean streets of Park Ave., hipster heaven of Williamsburg or soccer-mom den of Park Slope), Clinton Hill delivers the top block-by-block living experience in New York.

Here's the how, who and why that make this Central Brooklyn enclave a magical, spiritual and affordable place to live.

The streets: Some resemble tiny corners of Paris. Others feel like Fifth Ave. circa 1910, or paintings of New Orleans in 1850. Some are pure Brooklyn, with brownstones built with cornices, stoops and window sills that repeat in architectural symmetry for what seem like miles. Others look almost Amish. You can turn the corner and run into an urban barn.

There are mews, mansions, townhouses, carriage houses, clapboard wooden homes with front porches set off by center stairwells and columns, warehouse loft buildings and Greek Revival apartment complexes in the middle of blocks. An old pharmacy with original fixtures is now a classic Italian restaurant named Vino e Olio, where the menu changes daily. Even decayed wrought iron gates, eroding with time, add a rustic, simple charm.
Brownstones, some rehabs, are on the market for $745,000. One-bedrooms in apartment houses built in the 1940s for the upper middle class can be had for $1,300.

Two-bedrooms cost less than $1,600, with three-bedrooms available below $3,000.
Then there are the mansions. Huge mansions, built by the Pratts, who founded and funded the country's leading art school, and industrial giants. They lend the feel of regal London or peaceful Vienna.

"The area always had a fancy feel," says Brian Merlis, a photo archivist who just came out with a book, "Brooklyn's Clinton Hill and Wallabout." "It was a getaway for the rich in the 1830s, who built villas through the 1870s, when it was discovered by the industrialists who built the mansions you see there today. One nice thing, after the African-American migration of the 1940s, the local population couldn't afford to make many changes to the homes, which is why the architectural integrity remains. The faces may have changed, but the structures never did."

2 (http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2011/01/14/2011-01-14_clinton_hill_brooklyn_neighborhood_blooms_in_a_ residential_and_retail_awakening.html?page=1)3 (http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2011/01/14/2011-01-14_clinton_hill_brooklyn_neighborhood_blooms_in_a_ residential_and_retail_awakening.html?page=2)4 (http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2011/01/14/2011-01-14_clinton_hill_brooklyn_neighborhood_blooms_in_a_ residential_and_retail_awakening.html?page=3) 5 (http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2011/01/14/2011-01-14_clinton_hill_brooklyn_neighborhood_blooms_in_a_ residential_and_retail_awakening.html?page=4)

A mansion on Clinton Ave., 1922

Rose and Sculpture Garden at Pratt Institute

275 Clinton Ave

Carriage houses, like this one at 266 Waverly Ave., are common in Clinton Hill also

305 Washington Ave.

81 Vanderbilt Ave


http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2011/01/14/2011-01-14_clinton_hill_brooklyn_neighborhood_blooms_in_a_ residential_and_retail_awakening.html

January 20th, 2011, 05:17 PM

January 21st, 2011, 06:44 PM
New Cityscape, in Search of Green Space


The entrance to Root Hill, a coffeehouses on Fourth Avenue


THE bad news first: Walking down the northern stretch of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, you will still have to squint very hard to see it as the borough’s version of Park Avenue in Manhattan. That comparison, which boosters have been making in recent years as the corridor has come to life, is still aspirational — especially so against the backdrop of taxi depots and gas stations that still make up much of the streetscape.

The good news: Fourth Avenue has better skyline views and easier-to-reach subway stations than the object of its envy in Manhattan, as well as a growing string of bars and cafes. In any case, supporters mainly invoke Park Avenue because of Fourth Avenue’s width and medians — though trees are scarce. In truth, the corridor is hard to compare even to the adjacent neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Gowanus and Park Slope. The avenue has developed its own character — and that, some of its hundreds of new residents say, is just fine.

Its defining event, so far, was a rezoning that allowed construction of buildings up to 12 stories tall, in exchange for capping heights in the rest of Park Slope. Developers responded with a string of tall residential projects, roughly bounded by Atlantic Avenue to the north and the Prospect Expressway to the south. Some opened quickly; others were delayed by the economy. Now, people in the area say, enough new residents have arrived to make Fourth Avenue feel like a changed place.

Michael Cairl, the president of the Park Slope Civic Council, called the avenue his neighborhood’s next frontier, though it is generally considered Park Slope’s western border.

“Things are changing in small ways and in big ways,” Mr. Cairl said. “We’re looking at how we might introduce more trees to the street. We’re very encouraged at how many businesses, primarily restaurants and bars, are choosing to open on Fourth Avenue. Clearly there’s a demand, and a real Fourth Avenue community is emerging.”

Two new members of that community, as of August, are Charlotte Yan Whitney and her husband, Mark, who bought a one-bedroom condominium in the Argyle Park Slope, a 60-unit building at 251 Seventh Street, on the Gowanus side of the avenue.

The couple, who moved from the East Village, looked elsewhere in Brooklyn, Ms. Whitney, 32, said. What brought them to Fourth Avenue, she said, was convenience — to her husband’s computer-programming job in Gowanus, and to the subway that runs under Fourth Avenue and stops at Ninth Street, getting her to work in Lower Manhattan in just over 20 minutes.

The traffic outside their window, and the vibrations from the R train under the avenue, can be distracting, she said. But Park Slope’s restaurants, on Fifth Avenue, are a short walk away, and Prospect Park is easily reachable on warm weekends. The couple paid around $400,000, Ms. Whitney said, and they may soon be looking again, as she is expecting a baby in February.

“That would be the only thing to maybe have us move,” she said. “But as long as my husband’s job is in this area, and we’re along some good subways, we probably won’t move far.”

They are optimistic, too, she said, that new residents will further enliven the area. Besides established buildings like the Novo Park Slope, at Fifth Street, and the Crest, at Second Street, newcomers include 500 Fourth Avenue, with 156 units, and 560 Carroll Street, with 44.

Joseph DiFiore, a broker with Awaye Realty in Carroll Gardens, said that with each new building the avenue’s popularity had grown. “They’re hard to get started, it’s hard to sell to the first people,” he said. “But all of a sudden, once people see other people living there, it’s pop-pop-pop, like popcorn.”


The avenue, Mr. Cairl said, has several distinct sections. The part from Pacific to Union Street has the busiest nightlife; from Union to Third Street, there are larger old buildings and former industrial properties; and south of Third Street, the adjoining blocks form a quiet zone of row houses.

He said community groups were making progress. At Sackett Street, the city Department of Environmental Protection is in talks about setting aside part of a large empty lot it owns for community uses like a garden. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with financial help from the borough president’s office, is moving toward reopening a long-shut second entrance to the subway station at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street. That would save hundreds of commuters from having to cross the busy avenue each day.

Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, which represents the area, said the board had a longstanding budget request for improvements to the medians, including plantings and protective bollards.

Improvements to the drainage system will be slower in coming, he said. Being near the bottom of the hill that gives Park Slope its name, Fourth Avenue has tended to flood in heavy rains. At Carroll Street, the owners of the Root Hill Café installed concrete flood barriers after a storm brought water several feet deep. A new city drainage plan is in the works, Mr. Hammerman said; but it’s probably years away.

Finally, he cited efforts to overcome one failure of the avenue’s rezoning: At the time, developers were not required to build ground-floor retail space, which he said had left some new buildings with troublesome dead zones out front.

Difficulties aside, agents at newer buildings say they are seeing strong demand, in part because condos are rare in the overall area. Karen Smith of Prudential Douglas Elliman, the sales director at 500 Fourth Avenue, said the building was more than half sold, with Upper West Side buyers drawn by the proximity to Prospect Park. At 560 Carroll, which started selling in December, Deborah Rieders of the Corcoran Group said she had a long waiting list; many are drawn to the expansive view of Manhattan beyond low-rise Gowanus.

“It’s not like living right on top of the park, as far as your curb appeal is concerned,” Ms. Rieders said. But she added that even if “center Slope is more beautiful, in terms of its tree-lined-ness,” Fourth Avenue’s transportation “has always been a pretty big draw.”


At the two new buildings, and for the remaining units in the Argyle, prices for one-bedrooms range from just over $400,000 to more than $600,000. Two-bedrooms list for $700,000 to $900,000; three-bedrooms, depending on the building, approach or exceed $1 million.

Ms. Rieders says prices per square foot at 560 Carroll range from $550 to $950, depending on floor, size, layout and view. In any building, views west, toward Manhattan, cost more.

Rentals are available, too, both new and old. At 126 Fourth Avenue, a rental near Baltic Street, two-bedrooms have gone for $2,500 to $3,000 a month, one-bedrooms for closer to $2,000. Units on Craigslist can come a bit cheaper: a recent scan showed one-bedrooms on the avenue at $1,700 and up.


The northern stretch of Fourth Avenue passes through several school districts; the side of the street also dictates the school zone. Among primary schools on the avenue is Public School 124, between 13th and 14th Streets, where last year 48.1 percent met state standards in English, 57.9 percent in math. Middle schools include No. 447, on Dean Street between Third and Fourth, where 74.1 percent met standards in English, 83.8 percent in math. The Brooklyn High School of the Artsshares a building with the middle school. SAT averages last year were 416 in reading, 417 in math and 425 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


In addition to the dozens of nightlife options nearby on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, there are more attractions than ever in Gowanus. The Bell House, a concert site on Seventh Street between Second and Third Avenues, has a new neighbor, the nightclub Ultraviolet. On Fourth Avenue itself, destinations include Café 474 and Root Hill for coffee, the Rock Shop for live music, and the Fourth Avenue Pub and Mission Dolores — in a converted auto-repair shop — for drinks.

Green space is in short supply, though Washington Park, between Third and Fourth Streets, has handball courts and a new artificial turf field, and Prospect Park is not a bad walk uphill, for the motivated. One day a year in November, Fourth Avenue offers some of the liveliest viewing spots in town for the New York City Marathon.


The R train runs locally. The N, the express train on the same line, stops at Pacific Street before continuing on to Sunset Park. The F and G trains also serve the area.
The avenue is wide and inviting for drivers, though rush-hour traffic can be slow. The Prospect Expressway offers quick access to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is not far to the west.


Fourth Avenue has been a street, in one form or another, since Brooklyn was founded. The area near the present-day Washington Park was pivotal in the aftermath of the Revolutionary Battle of Brooklyn; just over a century later, the Brooklyn Dodgers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/b/brooklyn_dodgers/index.html?inline=nyt-org) played some of their earliest games on the same land.


March 11th, 2011, 09:55 PM
You’ll Notice There’s a Bridge




71st Street


Shore Road

Third Avenue, Verrazano Narrow Bridge in background


Owls Head Park

76th Street

90th Street

Colonial Road

THE Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is inescapable in Bay Ridge, its lofty silhouette a constant presence on block after block.

It would be understandable for someone like Susan Brown, a lifetime resident, to feel ambivalent about the bridge, since she recalls all the big changes that its construction in the 1950s occasioned for her family and friends.

Workers building the stretch of freeway leading up to it demolished a swath of homes near Seventh Avenue, which forced some of her grade-school classmates to move away for good. On top of that, construction on the Staten Island side of the Verrazano, which is still one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, resulted in the destruction of a beloved family vacation bungalow. She remembers the abrupt end of a ritual that used to take place regularly on the 69th Street Pier as her family waited for a ferry to take their car over: Her father would give her a box of Cracker Jack, with instructions not to open the box until the boat was under way.

Yet the girdling of Bay Ridge with that new road was one of several changes that ended up knitting the community closer together, she says, giving it a stronger sense of place. Not to mention the dazzle of the bridge on the horizon, added Ms. Brown, who lives in a three-bedroom limestone row house that cost $46,800 in 1969 but that she estimates might bring $850,000 today.

Indeed, when she drives home at night after taking in baseball games on Coney Island, she says, “you see the Verrazano all lit up like some kind of jeweled necklace.”

Tony Manero, the character played by John Travolta in the Bay Ridge-based 1970s hit “Saturday Night Fever,” may have dreamed of ditching his movie home for Manhattan. But Ms. Brown, who has more or less lived her life within a five-block area, has plenty of company in her devotion to Bay Ridge, according to brokers, local officials and residents themselves. Many maintain a fierce loyalty to their address.

Not that new faces never turn up. Many are from elsewhere in Brooklyn, longing for the types of tidy two-story row houses that are found in Park Slope but unwilling to pay its steep prices.

Among the newcomers is Tiffany Hamilton, who teaches American history at a public high school in Bensonhurst. Last January she and her husband, Loni Berman, who were renting a one-bedroom near Ms. Hamilton’s school, paid $620,000 for a two-story row house like Ms. Brown’s.

Ms. Hamilton’s house, which has three stained-glass windows, would have cost more than $1 million in Park Slope, she said. It had been in the same family for two generations, and its interiors were severely dated, with dropped ceilings and paneling. The couple spent $100,000 on renovations, she said.

Beyond the architecture, they are enamored of the nightlife. Before, in Ms. Hamilton’s corner of Bensonhurst, there was “only one bar; it was really scary.” Nor did Kensington, where she also looked, seem to have many sites for socializing. And she might have a point. Bay Ridge has 113 places to grab a drink, according to state figures for the 11209 ZIP code, which covers most of Bay Ridge, while Kensington, in 11218, has 34.

A favorite is a Welsh bar, the Longbow Pub and Pantry, which shows soccer matches.

Like the neighborhood, she says, it’s lively but never too much so. “It’s great because you can go out and have fun with your friends one night,” she said. “But you can also just go out with your husband and family for a walk, too.”


Shaped like a guitar pick, Bay Ridge covers three square miles next to New York Harbor, with a population of about 80,000, according to census figures. In the middle of the last century there were many Scandinavian immigrants in the mix; in 1969, the city renamed part of the Belt Parkway “Leif Ericson Drive” to honor Norse heritage.

Today the area has roughly equal numbers of residents with Italian and Irish ancestry, according to census surveys conducted from 2005 to 2009. Also, the surveys indicate, 9 percent describe their background as Arabic.

The neighborhood has mostly absorbed Fort Hamilton — the area around the Army base south of 86th Street, which is Bay Ridge’s busiest commercial strip — while at the same time becoming distinct from places like Sunset Park. Highways including the Belt have helped engender some of these changes.

The landscape of mostly single-family homes has a pleasing uniformity about it, enhanced especially by the row houses whose alternating round and squared-off bays, topped by colorful cornices, create an eye-catching tableau along 73rd Street.

Other row houses have mostly flat facades, as on a different block of 73rd (across from Flagg Court, a full-block complex that is now a co-op). Those patches of stylistic sameness have much to do with the way Bay Ridge was developed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Which is not to imply a lack of variety, exemplified in the standalone colonials on Ridge Boulevard, and in the homes at the end of a cul-de-sac on 76th Street, the site of a steeply gabled chateau. Other dead-end streets, including Bay Cliff and Wogan Terraces, are filled with Tudors, evoking suburbia.

Co-ops are numerous, many with courtly names and Art Deco flourishes, like the brown-brick-striped Grately Hall, on Fourth Avenue. There is also a scattering of condominiums.
A new one, the 22-unit Pier Pointe, crowns the corner of Shore Road and 69th Street, a vantage point for views of the Statue of Liberty. A one-bedroom there is listed for $349,000.

New condos would probably have been more plentiful if zoning hadn’t been tightened in the late 1970s, after the arrival of the Towers of Bay Ridge, two hulking Mitchell-Lama apartments.

And in 2005, again to battle development, Bay Ridge strictly limited the amount of square footage that builders could squeeze onto lots. As a result, many neighborhood sidewalks remain bathed in light.


A recent look found 28 single-family homes for sale, at an average of $1.06 million, ranging from a simple two-bedroom, with views of the Verrazano’s cables, to a six-bedroom 1910 colonial on an elegant block, for $3.5 million.

The 27 co-ops on the market range from $99,000 to $209,000; other properties for sale include a handful of condos and multifamily houses, brokers say.

Bay Ridge never really had a fallow period in the 1970s, like other parts of Brooklyn, brokers say, because there was never an exodus of families.

Similarly, they add, demand has remained strong through the slump of the last few years. Last year, 76 single-family homes sold, at an average of $812,000; at the peak, in 2007, 99 sold, at an average of $841,000, city data show.

Another factor in the area’s price stability is the buoyancy of the market next door in Sunset Park, said Michael J. Davis, an associate broker with RE/MAX Metro and a lifelong Bay Ridge resident. “I personally can’t ever see myself leaving,” he said.


The wooden pier of Ms. Brown’s childhood is now made of concrete, but it still beckons at the end of 69th Street, to which a well-paved bike path also connects. From the pier, people fish and gawk at enormous anchored freighters.

Century 21, the predecessor of the popular Lower Manhattan discount store, still draws crowds on 86th. And Arabic restaurants, which acknowledge the area’s burgeoning Lebanese and Egyptian populations, are tucked along lower Fifth Avenue, in the 70s.


Public School 185, which runs through fifth grade, is an option. Of fourth graders last year, 83 percent met standards in math, 72 percent in reading.

Intermediate School 259 has 1,400 students. Of eighth graders last year, 73 percent met standards in math, 49 percent in reading.

Fort Hamilton High School has a 71 percent graduation rate, which tops the city average of 63 percent. SAT averages last year were 486 in math, 416 in reading and 409 in writing, versus 462, 439 and 434 citywide.

The area also has numerous parochial and private options.


The R train underneath Fourth Avenue gets commuters to Midtown in about 45 minutes. A number of interborough bus lines serve Bay Ridge, including the B63, the B64 and the B70. The x27 express bus, which runs along Shore Road, takes about half an hour to reach Lower Manhattan.

For budgetary reasons, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided last summer to curtail weekend service on this line and altogether eliminate the x38, which went to the East Side of Manhattan. Since then a substitute line, the x27b, has been added, but many riders say their commute time is twice as long, because the x27b takes a more circuitous route.


The federal government, worried after the War of 1812 that European nations might invade, built Fort Hamilton at the mouth of New York Harbor in 1831. It remains the city’s only active military base, though the people buzzing around tend to be with the Army Corps of Engineers, or recruiters.


March 15th, 2011, 08:33 AM
Ditmas Park Keeps Getting Rediscovered


Cortelyou Road

Brooklyn's Ditmas Park has seen a wave of new residents arrive in recent years, with newcomers drawn by the area's burgeoning food scene, picturesque homes and bucolic suburban qualities. Large free-standing homes with driveways, garages and even pools offer more space for a fraction of the price seen in Park Slope or other parts of Brownstone Brooklyn.

The new arrivals are just the latest generation to appreciate Ditmas Park, said Hal Lehrman, a broker and who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. "It's not a renaissance," Mr. Lehrman said. "People seem to keep rediscovering the neighborhood, but it's been there."

There are only a few retail and entertainment options in Ditmas Park since the area is still primarily residential. But Cortelyou Road, one of the main drags in the neighborhood, has basic necessities like grocery stories and pharmacies and a number of new restaurants.

Ditmas Part sits south of Prospect Park and just north of Midwood, Brooklyn. The neighborhood derives its name from the Van Ditmarsen family, one of the early Dutch farming families who settled in the area in the late 17th century.

Suburban development in the area began to take off at the start of the 20th century, thanks to transportation improvements connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge and the construction of Prospect Park.

Around that time, developers began building free-standing, two-story houses with attics.

The facades of the houses commonly used shingles and clapboard and some also use brick. While there are some co-ops in the area and a handful of new condos, the houses are still the most sought-after properties in the neighborhood.


No two houses are quite alike, Mr. Lehrman said. On Westminster Road, there is a five-bedroom, 3˝-bathroom home on the market for $1.299 million. The three-story Victorian home built in 1904 still has many original details, like the woodwork and stained-glass windows. It also has a free-standing garage and a pool.

In Ditmas Park's historic district, there is a five-bedroom, 2˝-bathroom house for sale at $1.299 million. Some of the original details in the home include a wood-burning fireplace, window benches and coffered ceilings. There is also a covered driveway and a garage.

Of the 92 residences currently listed for sale on real-estate site StreetEasy.com, the median asking price is $452,500, or $373 a square foot. In neighboring Kensington, it is $297 a square foot, and in Park Slope, it is $667, according to StreetEasy. The big homes in Ditmas Park, however, often start at around $1 million.

The area's co-ops also offer inexpensive housing options. On Newkirk Avenue, there is a one-bedroom unit in a building constructed around the 1950s for sale at $275,000 and listed by Mr. Lehrman. The unit has a renovated kitchen, oak floors and a separate office. The building has laundry room, bike storage and a garden.

Near the boarder of Midwood and Ditmas park, there is a new condo development on Ocean Avenue called the Waterfalls on Ocean. About 40% of the 64 units in the building are sold and residents can move in beginning in about 60 days, said Andrew Booth of Corcoran Group.

Westminster Road

The condos have been drawing a mix of people in search of starter apartments and other residents in the neighborhood looking to downsize, Mr. Booth said.

The facility has a private playground, a lounge area for hosting parties, a fitness center and parking. Each unit has private outdoor space, oak floors and granite and stainless steel in the kitchen. All the one-bedrooms are sold. Two-bedrooms start at $379,000 and three-bedrooms at $410,000.

Schools: Ditmas Park schools are in District 22. Schools in the area include P.S. 139 Alexine A. Fenty, P.S. 245 and P.S. 217 Colonel David Marcus School. Brooklyn College Academy, a middle and high school, and Brooklyn Dreams Charter School are also in the area.

In 2010, 60.1% of District 22 students in grades three through eight received a proficient score on the math exam, and 49.6 % of students received a proficient score on the English Language Arts exam. In 2006, the results were 66.4% for math and 60.5% for reading.

Private schools in the area include Brooklyn Seventh Day Adventist School (nursery school to eighth grade), Elemental Arts Montessori and Cortelyou Early Childhood Centers.

A Manhattan-bound B train approaches Cortelyou Road station.

Parks: The nearest park is Prospect Park, the second largest in the city at 585 acres. In its early days, the area was the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, one of the first major skirmishes during the Revolutionary War.

Landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux of Central Park fame designed the diamond-shaped green space in 1866.

The neighborhood is close to the southern section of the park, which has a 60-acre lake with a big population of largemouth bass available for catch-and-release fishing. When it gets warm, there are also electric boat tours.

Prospect Park's Parade Ground is also close and features a football field, baseball fields, a soccer field and basketball and volleyball courts.

Entertainment: At nearby Brooklyn College there is the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, which features dance, music and theater. During the summer, Prospect Park also hosts the "Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival," which has concerts, films and dance performances.

Shopping: While primarily a residential neighborhood, basic retail options are available in Ditmas Park like hardware stores and pharmacies. For groceries, there is the Flatbush Food Coop. On Campus Road near Brooklyn College, there is the independent book store Shakespeare & Co. And at Sycamore, a bar and floral shop, you can both pick up a bouquet and have a drink.

Dining: In recent years, Ditmas Park has developed a reputation for food. The Farm on Adderley is a popular brunch destination.
Mimi's Hummus serves Mediterranean food, Café Madeline is coffee shop with breakfast and lunch options and Ox Cart Tavern serves new American fare. Try a glass of wine at the Castello Plan.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703597804576194454258465030.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEFTTopStories

April 15th, 2011, 07:35 AM
Tucked Between Past and Future in Brooklyn


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/04/17/realestate/17liv-map/17liv-map-popup.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif
Sterling Place between Washington and Underhill Avenues

On Prospect Park at 1 Grand Army Plaza, a Richard Meier-designed building finished in 2008

535 Dean Street

418 St. John's Place

ON the north side of Prospect Heights in northwestern Brooklyn, construction workers are busy building the Barclays Center, the future home of the New Jersey Nets.

On the neighborhood’s south side sit several of the borough’s most venerable cultural institutions and attractions.

And in between is an evolving neighborhood that is also a blend of the old and the young, the established and the newcomers.

When Honey Moon Ubarde and her husband were moving to New York from San Francisco in 2007, they knew they needed space. They had lived in Manhattan before, but now with two young girls and several pets, they set their sights on Brooklyn. They ended up in Prospect Heights, buying a town house for about $1.3 million.

Some friends questioned the location, Ms. Ubarde, 34, said, but she had no doubts. “We were surprised that more people hadn’t moved here,” she said, “that more people didn’t see everything that’s around this location.”

Her home is just a few blocks from some of Brooklyn’s most heavily trafficked destinations, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park.

Brokers and residents say that in the last decade there have been many families of new arrivals sharing Ms. Ubarde’s response to the area.

As Michael Ettelson, an agent for Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, put it, Prospect Heights “went from a neighborhood many people hadn’t heard of to a place that a lot of people want to be.”

Stephen Shames, who runs L.E.A.D. Uganda, a nonprofit education program, arrived in 1997, having paid about $180,000 for a three-bedroom co-op. He has since made friends with his neighbors, many of whom have lived in the area for more than 30 years, he said. “It’s just the kind of place where you stop and chat with people,” he said, “where people on the street say hello.”

When Mr. Shames first arrived, he recalled, drug dealers could be seen roaming street corners. But those days, he said, “are long gone.”

Major crimes in the 77th Precinct, which includes Prospect Heights, have dropped more than 80 percent in the last 20 years, according to data from the police, and more than 40 percent in the last decade.

Another big change is the Atlantic Yards development, Bruce C. Ratner’s 22-acre residential and commercial project, which includes the Barclays Center and has many vocal critics. So far, several brokers said, the project has not substantially affected real estate prices. The arena is scheduled to open in September 2012.

Atlantic Yards, Mr. Ettelson said, was a bigger concern among prospective buyers four or five years ago, when all people had to go on about the development was drawings and the like. Now, he said, “they see a stadium going up, and people are not necessarily positive about it, but they feel more confident.”

Because of the project, the community decided to organize and formed the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. In 2009, the residents and the group led a successful effort to designate a large section of the neighborhood, about 850 buildings in total, as a historic district.

But Gib Veconi, the council’s treasurer, says the group still has its focus on Atlantic Yards, including the development’s plans for affordable housing. “We’re just trying to ensure that we’re delivered all of the expected benefits,” Mr. Veconi said.


In New York a neighborhood’s boundaries often creep outward as it becomes a more desirable location. Prospect Heights’ boundaries are no exception, especially on its east side. Still, its traditional boundary line is Washington Avenue to the east, Eastern Parkway to the south, Flatbush Avenue to the west and Atlantic Avenue to the north.

The half-square-mile neighborhood has about 18,000 residents, with blacks and whites making up the vast majority, according to recent census figures. (Hispanics make up a much smaller part of the population.)

The housing is also quite mixed. Rows of brownstones can be found in the northwestern part of the neighborhood, among other spots, while larger apartment buildings line some streets on the southern border. Town houses and apartment buildings of different sizes are interspersed throughout the rest.

The most prominent new residential development is On Prospect Park, on the Heights’ southwestern corner, at 1 Grand Army Plaza, a Richard Meier-designed building finished in 2008. Its glass-covered facade stands in stark contrast to many of the neighboring prewar buildings. For buyers who can afford the $1 million-plus price tags, the building offers amenities more commonly found in a Manhattan luxury building, including a lounge and a children’s playroom.

Cheryl Nielsen-Saaf, who is in charge of sales for the building, said they had been sluggish at first because the opening took place just as the real estate market cooled. But business has picked up in recent months, she said, adding that the building was now about 70 percent sold.

The primary commercial strips, on Vanderbilt and Washington Avenues, have experienced an infusion of business in recent years. Among the new shops is 1 of a Find, a vintage clothing store owned by Ms. Ubarde.

“Even just a few years ago not much business happened here,” she said. “But now everyone is out on the streets.”


The price of housing varies quite widely, in large part because of the many housing options. One-bedroom condos, for example, can be found for $325,000, while brownstones easily eclipse $1.5 million. A recent search found eight single-family homes for sale and about 80 two-bedroom condominiums; the range was $430,000 to $2 million.

Brokers say that the area did not suffer as much as other parts of the city during the recent downturn. That was especially true for single-family brownstones, which are consistently in demand because there is a small supply.

Mr. Ettelson of Elliman said that although prices in Prospect Heights had dropped slightly on condos and co-ops, the biggest difference during the downturn had been fewer homes on the market and fewer prospective buyers. Traffic has picked up considerably in the last six months, he said.

One-bedroom apartments command as much as $1,800 in rent, said Mia Bize Bailey, the owner of Space Realty, an agency in the neighborhood. Rent for a two-bedroom can run as high as $2,500.


There are, of course, the big-name cultural spots. But the neighborhood also has less-well-known options, including the half-acre Underhill Playground, an appealing meeting place for children and their parents.

New restaurants and cuisines have popped up in recent years, including Cheryl’s Global Soul, on Underhill Avenue. But the lines for brunch on Saturday are still longest at Tom’s Restaurant.


Public School 9 serves students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. Last year, 54 percent of fourth graders met standards in math, 53 percent in reading.
Intermediate School 340 has about 275 students; last year 65 percent of its eighth graders met standards in math, and 56 percent in reading. The city’s Department of Education has proposed phasing out Middle School 571 by June 2013 because of poor performance.

Brooklyn High School of the Arts, the first academic arts school in Brooklyn, is just to the west of the neighborhood. It has an 81 percent graduation rate, which compares favorably with the 63 percent average citywide. SAT averages were 417 in math, 416 in reading and 425 in writing, versus 462, 439 and 434 citywide.


The area has subway stops leading in practically every direction. At its northwest corner the Atlantic Avenue station offers access to the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, R and Q subway lines, as well as the Atlantic Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road. Getting to Midtown Manhattan from there takes roughly half an hour.

The A and C lines are slightly north of the neighborhood, and the S line is a couple of blocks east. Some stops for the 2, 3, 4, B and Q trains are found along the western and southern borders. Several buses serve the area as well.


The composer Aaron Copland was born in Brooklyn in 1900 and grew up at 630 Washington Avenue, near Atlantic Avenue, according to “Aaron Copland: a Reader: Selected Writings, 1923-1972” (Routledge). He and his family lived above a dry-goods store that they ran, and he attended what is now Brooklyn Academy High School.


May 21st, 2011, 02:18 AM
Calm and Clamor, in Equal Measure


slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/22/realestate/20110522liv_ss.html?ref=realestate)




Sheepshead Bay Road





ON a sunny day, with a cool breeze blowing off the water and people sitting at sidewalk tables sipping tea from small glasses, Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, could almost be in Istanbul — or even in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Which may explain why so many Turkish and Ukrainian immigrants have made themselves at home among the swirl of ethnicities in this rambling neighborhood at the city’s southern edge.

A few blocks inland, though, the atmosphere is strictly Brooklyn: blocks of low-rise brick row houses, interspersed with six- and seven-story apartment buildings and larger houses on larger lots. It is, people who live there say, a hospitable place to raise a family and stay for decades, though it is both livelier and more crowded than it used to be.

Tom Scalese, the corresponding secretary of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association and a resident for most of his 74 years, raised four children in a Queen Anne house on East 21st Street. Today, he said, parking is sometimes a problem, and he lamented that there were fewer fishing boats docked in the bay that gives the neighborhood its name. But there are still several vessels offering morning-trippers the chance to catch fluke, blackfish, striped bass, porgies and more.

Now, Mr. Scalese said of the waterfront, “it’s a party-time place,” with as many boats dedicated to scenic New York Harbor cruises or offering their services for weddings, parties and corporate events.

Either way, he added, “this is a water town. The breeze from the ocean is a real winner, it’s great. It’s always warmer here in the winter, cooler in the summer.”

Ned Berke, the editor of the local news blog Sheepshead Bites, saw the neighborhood as appealing for being quieter and less dense than areas closer to Manhattan — but with more varied housing, and more shopping and dining options — than nearby residential neighborhoods like Mill Basin and Bergen Beach.

“In sum,” Mr. Berke wrote in an e-mail, “it’s one of the best places families can choose to live in NYCwithout the hectic vibe of dense neighborhoods, or the sluggish disconnect of solely residential pockets.”

The housing balance, some residents say, began to tip a little in the middle of the last decade with the arrival of higher-rise condominium development, especially near Emmons Avenue, along the water. Complaints about the condos, Mr. Berke said, tend to focus on the strain that they put on parking, and on city services like trash pickup.

Another issue, said Theresa Scavo, the chairwoman of Community Board 15, which represents the area, is that as a result of the economic downturn, many of the buildings have had trouble attracting residents, others have failed to deliver on promised amenities like pools or even a marina, and still others never got off the ground.

In some cases, Ms. Scavo said, developers are stuck: having paid a premium for their lots, they can’t lower prices sufficiently on unsold units.

“The buildings look beautiful, really beautiful,” she said. “Except when you look at them at night, you realize there are no lights on in them.”

Even worse is the fate of sites like the one at Avenue Z and East 15th Street. There, Ms. Scavo said, a developer paid millions for a lot to build a condo tower, and plans fizzled.
“Since 2004 it’s sitting as an empty piece of property with a chain-link fence around it,” she said. “It’s a chain-link fence, weeds and garbage.”

In most of the neighborhood, though, life is untroubled and residents’ complaints are mild, Ms. Scavo said.

Summarizing what she described as the local disposition, she added: “ ‘As long as I go out to dinner, I can find a parking spot, that’s fine.’ That’s it. Their wish list is very limited.”


The busiest commercial strip — livelier than Emmons Avenue — is Sheepshead Bay Road near the subway.

In all, according to census figures, roughly 80,000 people live in the two-square-mile area bounded by Ocean Parkway to the west, Knapp Street to the east, Avenue U to the north and the bay to the south. About three-quarters are white; a large minority are Asian.

One- and two-family houses predominate at the western end, toward Ocean Parkway, and there are more co-op and condominium buildings near the middle, near Ocean Avenue. To the east of Ocean Avenue is a lower-density area of attached and semidetached houses.

Delton Cheng, an agent at Century 21 Homefront, says members of various ethnic groups cluster in different parts of the neighborhood. For example, he said, Chinese immigrants in general prefer to be close to the subway, while Russian immigrants look for properties within walking distance of the water.

In general, residents said, the varied ethnic and religious populations coexist peacefully, though a vocal subset has been protesting the construction of a mosque on Voorhies Avenue, and someone recently vandalized a fence there with references to Osama Bin Laden. The lot has been the site of protests, and this month a judge denied a local group’s efforts to stop the mosque.

An element more reflective of the neighborhood’s attitude toward newcomers, some residents say, is Emmons Avenue’s row of restaurants — among them Masal, for Turkish fare; Yiasou Estiatorio for Greek food; and Randazzo’s Clam Bar, a venerable Italian-American seafood house.

One of those newcomers, Stephanie Walker, who moved into a cottage near the water in 2010, cited the restaurants and ethnic grocery stores as one of the area’s main draws, along with the easy commute it provides to her job as chief librarian at Brooklyn College.
She said she and her husband, John, “thought we were going to have to move out to Long Island or Staten Island, and we didn’t have to.”


Josephine Liascas, an associate broker and a vice president of Fillmore Real Estate, says one-family houses in good condition can sell for $500,000 to $575,000, and two-family houses start around $600,000. Mr. Cheng, of Century 21, says two-families can reach $900,000.

Realtor.com tallies 180 single- and multifamily houses for sale, as well as 274 condo, co-op and town-house units. In the real estate boom, Mr. Cheng said, condos sold for over $500 a square foot. Now prices are $400 to $450 a foot, which translates to $350,000 for a typical one-bedroom, $450,000 for a two-bedroom and $600,000 for a three-bedroom. Ms. Walker said she and her husband, who had been living in Midwood, had benefited from the weakened market. They paid $339,000 for their house, which neighbors said would have cost $500,000 a few years earlier.

Rentals are generally around $1,200 a month for one-bedrooms and around $1,600 for two-bedrooms.


Wealthy Manhattan Beach, with its small beach of the same name, is across a footbridge from Emmons Avenue, and the beaches at Coney Island and Brighton Beach are just to the west. A small park along East 24th Street has a busy playground and handball courts. And, of course, there is the bay.

“You can walk,” Ms. Liascas said. “There’s something to look at. There are beautiful swans in that water, and people just like to see that — peace and tranquillity.”


The B and Q stop at Gravesend Neck and Sheepshead Bay Roads, and Avenue U. In good times, the B runs express through Brooklyn, with half-hour rides to Midtown. But station repairs elsewhere on the line have rendered it local until at least fall.

The Belt Parkway runs parallel to Emmons Avenue near the southern edge of the area. Bus routes to the middle of Brooklyn and beyond run along Nostrand and Coney Island Avenues, and an express bus runs to Manhattan.


Public School 52, which serves more than 700 students through Grade 5, earned a B on its most recent progress report, with 46.1 percent of tested students proficient in English, 66.6 percent in math. Public School 254, on Avenue Y, got an A, with 72.6 percent proficient in English and 90.6 percent in math.

Public School 209 serves more than 600 students through eighth grade. It got a C on its progress report, with 49.5 percent proficient in English, 68.4 percent in math. Public School 206, also through eighth grade, got an A, with 71.8 percent proficient in English, 85.2 percent in math.

One middle school, Junior High School 14 on Batchelder Street, got a C on its report, with 24.5 percent proficient in English, 31.4 percent in math. Sheepshead Bay High School has more than 2,000 students, and got a C. SAT averages last year were 380 in reading, 416 in math and 380 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


The area was once the site of a Canarsee Indian village, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It first drew seaside visitors in the years after the Civil War, and in the early 20th century was home to a horse racing track.

In the 1930s, the city made efforts to revitalize the area around the bay, widening Emmons Avenue and restoring buildings. The Brooklyn Eagle described the results, at the time, as “clean, tidy and practically odorless.”


May 23rd, 2011, 06:31 PM
Those might be the most unflattering photos of Sheepshead Bay I've ever seen.

October 26th, 2011, 06:59 AM
In Brooklyn, a Quaint Block and a Symbol of Blight

Values of properties on Warren Street in Boerum Hill seem to maintain value even though
they share the block with two housing projects.

Warren Street between Bond and Nevins offers many of the things well-off buyers seek in Brownstone Brooklyn: a pastoral, leafy feel; long rows of 19th-century town houses; proximity to transportation and charming little restaurants; young families on the block.

But the block also has something that those buyers have traditionally seemed to avoid: two large public housing projects that stand tall at either end, to many New Yorkers enduring symbols of danger, social dysfunction and blight. The map showing the neighborhood on the Web site of the Boerum Hill Association — a group dedicated to preserving and enhancing “the unique qualities of our neighborhood” — includes Warren Street but runs up and around to Wyckoff at points to cut the projects out.

And as one commenter on the blog Brownstoner, responding to an item about price cuts at a condominium development on the block, wrote in 2008: “This might as well be part of the projects. Worst possible location. I would not move my family there.”

Yet, this being Brooklyn — which GQ recently named the “coolest city on the planet,” despite its being a borough — the presence of the Gowanus Houses, a 1,134-unit development on the west end of the block, and Wyckoff Gardens, 528 apartments on the east end, does not seem to put much of a damper on values. Properties on the block, which do not turn over frequently, may sit awhile before selling, but on a per-square-foot basis, buyers no longer seem to be getting deep discounts.

At the condo development, for instance, sales fell from a high of $588 per square foot in 2008 to a low of $305 per square foot in 2009, but rose to $639 per square foot last year for a four-bedroom apartment that went into contract at $1.15 million, according to Streeteasy.com. On a stretch of Bergen Street two blocks away, farther from the projects, sales prices for single- and multifamily homes generally ranged from a low of $374 per square foot in 2007 to $694 this year, having reached a high of $1,079 at the end of last year, for a fully renovated single-family town house that retained many of its original details, according to available data from Streeteasy.

Now, a local property owner, John Grant, who developed the Grant Mews, an 18-unit condo complex completed in 1990, is looking to take advantage of the rise in values and retire. He has listed a four-family town house at 486 Warren with exposed brick, wood-burning fireplaces and an annual rent roll of $87,600 for $2.5 million, or $658 per square foot — about $35 less than two multifamily houses that sold this year on Bergen Street. There is also a 2,400-square-foot duplex at the Grant Mews on the market for $1.7 million, or $708 per square foot.

Joan Joseph-Alexander, who is marketing the town house through her company Ambassador Realty, said she arrived at the price after looking at sales in the ZIP code and factoring in the appeal of living within walking distance of the Barclays Center, the arena under construction at Atlantic Yards, but shielded from the traffic and noise it is expected to bring.

“We were down; now we are up,” Ms. Joseph-Alexander said of the Brooklyn market as she waited on Sunday for prospective buyers at an open house. (They never showed up.)

She added that the influx of a professional class had increased the police presence in the area. “When the market is down, the projects are a factor,” she said. “When it is up, the projects aren’t a factor.”

A recent study from the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University suggests this is true, finding that higher-income households, particularly renters and first-time homebuyers, are more likely to move into relatively low-income neighborhoods in cities where house values are climbing rapidly. Another study from the center found that federally subsidized housing in New York did not typically depress values within a roughly four-block radius.

“In New York City I think we’ve seen upward pressure on property values in a much broader variety of neighborhoods than we had 20 years ago, including many neighborhoods that are abutting and surrounding public housing,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, co-director of the center and a co-author of both papers. She named Chelsea, Boerum Hill and Red Hook as among the many neighborhoods with large public housing developments and “very, very high property values.”

On Warren Street, that juxtaposition has some of the longtime residents concerned.

“I bought this house for $17,000 in 1972,” said Charlie Soule, a retired administrator with the Education Department, shaking her head in disbelief at the $2.5 million asking price for 486 Warren. Back then, she said, the block felt safer because she knew all her neighbors — something that is no longer true. “I feel like I’ve sort of outlived my time on the block,” she said.

Mike Rodriguez, who grew up in the house a few doors down and still lives there with his family, had a similar take.

“You got too much ‘ippity’ folks around here,” he said. “They’re uppity, but I call them ‘ippity,’ ” he added, laughing and brushing his hand under his chin. “They look at you like you don’t belong here.”

Residents say that they do not worry so much about the presence of public housing as about what they see as a lack of police enforcement in driving away drug traffic. Dealers hang out at the corner of Bond, where a 16-year-old girl was shot to death last year, said Steven Turner Hart, a writer who has lived on the block since 1998. At Nevins, an abandoned building plays frequent host to crack addicts, he said.

Still, he loves it there. “I have learned a lot from my neighbors about the ebb and flow and invisible current of this neighborhood,” he said, referring to how it has evolved over the years.

Then too, he added, there was the sense of connection he found when his first wife died in 2009 after a long bout with cancer. They barely left the house, he said, and he thought the block had forgotten about them.

“But that wasn’t true at all: they were quite cognizant” of his situation, he said. “People are not nosy but they are friendly and very helpful and good hearted.”
He paused, and laughed, adding, “Except for when they’re shooting at you.”


November 19th, 2011, 10:19 PM
Accessible, From All 4 Corners of the World



Houses facing the Seth Low Playground, on the southeastern border, typify Bensonhurst's
residential stock: built of brick, and for more than one family.


THERE are still places where 18th Avenue, as it runs through Bensonhurst, looks like the Italian-American stronghold that it once was. Spaced at intervals along the street, also known as Cristoforo Colombo Boulevard, are businesses like Gino’s Focacceria, the Bari Pork Store, S.A.S. Italian Records and the Villabate Alba bakery.

But just as in Little Italy across the East River, Italian-Americans are now in the minority. Even the Feast of Santa Rosalia, a summertime tradition honoring the patron saint of Sicily, which has been held on the avenue for decades, was canceled this year, for the first time in memory. Destination restaurants in today’s Bensonhurst include Spicy Bampa, a Szechuan restaurant two blocks from Gino’s where the Chinese-Americans who have come to dominate the area flock to a fiery hot pot buffet.

On a recent afternoon Larry Cricchio, the sales manager at Re/Max Metro, a real estate office on 18th Avenue, flipped through a box of files for his recent residential sales in the neighborhood. Nearly every buyer, he said, was a family of Asian origin.

Not that other ethnicities don’t have a presence in this sprawling neighborhood in the southwestern part of Brooklyn, covering roughly one and a half square miles from 14th Avenue to Bay Parkway and 65th to 86th Street, said Marnee Elias-Pavia, the district manager of Community Board 11, which represents the area. The population today, she said, also includes Russians, Poles, and immigrants from Latin America and the Middle East. And notably, in a spot known in the 1980s for racial tension, Ms. Elias-Pavia says the changes haven’t really made waves.

“We all live together peacefully and respecting one another,” she said, “and we’ve come a long way.”

Broadly speaking, according to Mr. Cricchio, the 18th Avenue area is popular with Asians, while the neighborhood’s northern blocks, adjacent to Borough Park, are prized by Orthodox Jews, and the southern blocks, closer to the ocean and the Bath Beach area, are a draw for Russians.

Devon Palmer, who rents an apartment on 65th Street between 16th and 17th Avenues with his wife, Agnes, sees the area’s appeal as universal: ample public transportation, low crime, solid schools and enough businesses to make shopping and going out convenient. The Palmers pay $1,000 a month for their one-bedroom apartment, but they are looking for a house nearby and hoping to pay $600,000 to $650,000.

Mr. Palmer, a personal trainer who travels to meet clients, values the accessibility of the D and N trains, the Belt Parkway and the Gowanus Expressway. And when he is at home, he said, he feels a sense of security.

“I can leave my doors open, or leave my laundry in the dryer, and come back and it’s there,” he said. “The trust within the neighborhood is there.”

Mr. Palmer, who is originally from the Caribbean, said he appreciated the area’s increasing diversity, and also timeless pleasures like driving to a park on Gravesend Bay, going for a walk and enjoying the sea breeze.

John Intoci, an associate broker at Fillmore Real Estate who has lived in Bensonhurst for about 30 years, says that a tranquil pace of life — along with wide streets and low buildings with ample space for light to pour in — has always been the big draw to Bensonhurst.

Beyond that, he said, the area’s new residents have added something of their own. “There’s more flair, more flavors,” he said, adding, “It’s really getting cosmopolitan, I believe.”


Housing stock in Bensonhurst is eclectic, but relatively consistent in scale. Though most buildings are two or three stories tall, some are detached and others are not. Many are brick; some have driveways.

City government changed the zoning on about 120 blocks at the neighborhood’s eastern edge in 2005, and on a swath of Dyker Heights, adjacent to Bensonhurst on 14th Avenue, in 2007. In both cases, the intent was to control new development that many residents found to be out of context.

“What we were seeing was developers buying parcels of one- and two-family homes, knocking them down and building larger buildings,” Ms. Elias-Pavia said. The new zoning did stem overdevelopment, she said, though the Department of City Planning has resisted calls for even greater changes in other parts of the district.

Mr. Cricchio of Re/Max said the slower economy of recent years had played a big part in stopping new development.

“When the market changed,” he said, “a lot of the builders were stuck with units that they built and were priced too high, and that they couldn’t sell. Everything was going crazy around here from 2004 and 2005 all the way up to 2008.”

The buildings remain and units are now selling, he added, but at sharply reduced prices. In general, though, Mr. Cricchio said the neighborhood had not been hit as hard by the downturn as other parts of the city, in part because of steady demand from the area’s newer ethnic populations.


Joe Azar, a vice president of Citi Habitats, says that two- and three-family houses predominate, and that even a one-family house will often include a small rental unit with a separate entrance. Multifamily houses with parking typically cost $650,000 to $900,000, he said, though a handful do sell for more than $1 million.

As of mid-November, according to data from Brooklyn’s Multiple Listing Service, there were around 50 one-, two- and three-family houses for sale.

One-family houses, Mr. Azar said, average $550,000 to $600,000 — more if they come with parking. Detached houses also typically have higher asking prices than attached ones, brokers said, and houses on larger lots, of 40 by 100 feet, also sell for a premium.

One-bedroom rentals found on Craigslist run $1,000 to $1,200 a month, two-bedrooms as much as $1,400.


Besides 18th Avenue, the other strip with stores and restaurants is 86th Street, the southern boundary.

Seth Low Playground (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sethlowplayground/highlights/12584), at the corner of Bay Parkway and Avenue P, has swings and basketball and handball courts. Bensonhurst Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bensonhurstpark) — actually just outside the neighborhood’s traditional boundaries — is on 17.5 acres straddling the Belt Parkway next to Gravesend Bay. It has sports fields, a senior center and a promenade with a view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The Dyker Beach Golf Course, where city residents can play at a reduced rate, is just outside the neighborhood at 14th Avenue and 86th Street.


The N train runs east and west across the area just above 64th Street, stopping at 62nd Street, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue and Bay Parkway. The elevated D train, which follows New Utrecht Avenue and then 86th Street, cuts diagonally from the northwest corner of the neighborhood to the southeast.

Residents say the train ride to Manhattan generally takes 50 minutes or less using express trains, but track work can increase that time considerably. Ms. Elias-Pavia says major work on the D line — a total rehabilitation of the Bay Parkway station and improvements at seven other stations — has slowed service for well over a year. It is expected to be finished in the spring.

“It’s problematic now and we complain about it,” she said, “and we’re undergoing a terrible amount of inconveniences. But at the end of the day there’s going to be improvements in the line.”


Public elementary schools include No. 204 on 15th Avenue, where 70.9 percent tested at or above grade level in English, and 80.3 percent in math. At No. 186, on 19th Avenue, 56.4 percent met standards in English, 71.1 percent in math. The percentages at No. 128, on 84th Street, were 40.6 in English and 67.3 in math. At No. 205, on 20th Avenue, they were 53.5 and 73.6. And at No. 247, on 21st Avenue, they were 77.7 and 91.6.

Public middle schools include Junior High School 227, on 16th Avenue, where 29.3 percent met standards in English on recent tests, 66.6 percent in math.

At the Brooklyn Studio Secondary School, which serves students in Grades 6 through 12, 47.8 percent of tested middle-school students were proficient in English, 76.5 percent in math. In 2010, SAT averages were 426 in reading, 419 in math and 418 in writing, versus 437, 460 and 432 citywide.

At New Utrecht High School, on 80th Street, averages were 409 in reading, 471 in math and 407 in writing, and at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, just north of the neighborhood on 20th Avenue, they were 387, 492 and 377.


The area was developed beginning in the 1880s by James Lynch, who bought land from the Benson family. According to the Encyclopedia of New York City, the population grew sharply after 1915, with the Fourth Avenue subway. Italians and Jews leaving the Lower East Side came to dominate the area in the early 20th century, and waves of immigrants from Naples and Sicily arrived after World War II, Chinese and Russians in the 1980s.

Racial tensions between black and white residents came to a head in 1989 when Yusef Hawkins, a black teenager, was killed by a gang of white youths.


December 24th, 2011, 04:25 AM
A Low-Slung District With a Very High Perch




slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/12/20/realestate/20111225livinginsunsetpar.html?ref=realestate)

JON PAUL LUPO grew up not far away in Marine Park, but thinking back, he figures the most interaction he had with Sunset Park in those days was driving past it on the Gowanus Expressway. For his wife, Melanie, the area was even less familiar — she is from South Dakota.

Early this year, though, after more than a decade away from New York, Mr. Lupo took a job as the communications director for Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president. Seeking a place to live, the couple toured Brooklyn’s talked-about neighborhoods — there are more than there were in Mr. Lupo’s youth — and, on a summer afternoon, found themselves atop the hill in Sunset Park (the park itself, that is). They were on one of the highest points in Brooklyn, with a view across New York Harbor that captures the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
“It was something that I had never seen before in my years in Brooklyn,” Mr. Lupo, 33, said. “It sounds a little cheesy, but we fell in love with that spot.”

Beyond the park, they found thriving retails strips on Fifth and Eighth Avenues, with Fifth dominated by Latin American businesses and restaurants and Eighth at the heart of Brooklyn’s version of Chinatown. They found friendly neighbors, young families and express subway service. And, though Sunset Park has become known for brick, brownstone and limestone town houses, they also found many affordable co-ops near the park. Mr. Lupo would not say how much the couple paid for their three-bedroom apartment, but similar places typically sell for less than $350,000.

Exact boundaries are a matter for debate, but the Department of Housing Preservation and Development says the neighborhood lies between Eighth Avenue and New York Harbor, covering 1.5 square miles and stretching from 64th Street to 24th Street past Green-Wood Cemetery. Census data indicate that the 126,000 or so residents, on average, are less affluent than in surrounding Park Slope, Bay Ridge and Borough Park.

Jeremy Laufer, the district manager of Community Board 7, which represents the area, said Sunset Park had had to fight for attention from local government, and for its share of improvements. Lately, some have begun to arrive — for instance, a long-promised high school, which opened in 2009; streetscape improvements on a 10-block stretch of Fifth Avenue, which was recently completed; and a waterfront park, which is still under construction.

The waterfront, where the Bush Terminal and the Brooklyn Army Terminal fueled early population growth a century ago, remains an important source of jobs in what is still a working-class neighborhood, Mr. Laufer said. Those facilities have been revitalized in recent years by offices, and biotechnology and light manufacturing businesses. An automobile importing business is scheduled to arrive within months, bringing about 350 more jobs, he said.

Housing remains relatively inexpensive. Marcin Wolynski, a 27-year-old finance worker who moved here in October after years in nonprofit jobs across the Northeast, paid $129,000 for a one-bedroom co-op near the park. He was drawn, he said, by Sunset Park’s convenience and affordability, as well as its Chinese food. Mr. Wolynski, whose parents immigrated from Poland before he was born, called the area “a pretty serious melting pot.”

His agent, Peter Bracichowicz of the Corcoran Group, who also sold the Lupos their place, says he considers Sunset Park the most affordable neighborhood, per square foot, in Brooklyn.
“Even though,” he added, “the prices tripled from 12 years ago.”


The park that caught the Lupos’ attention is bounded by 41st and 44th Streets, and Fifth and Seventh Avenues. About 30 co-op buildings, many built in the early 20th century by Finnish immigrants, surround the park between 39th and 47th Streets.

But town houses are the dominant element of the housing stock. On many of the blocks between Fourth and Sixth Avenues, that means solid rows of well-preserved brownstones. Elsewhere, the buildings have brick or limestone facades, or vinyl or aluminum siding.

One thing they all have in common is that they are low to the ground: three-story houses far outnumber taller ones. Almost all of the neighborhood has been rezoned with the intention of keeping them that way, Mr. Laufer said.

A 2009 rezoning of 128 blocks limited height on side streets and allowed larger buildings on Fourth Avenue. Mr. Laufer says Community Board 7, with neighboring Community Board 12, is lobbying for limitations on Eighth Avenue, too. And the board and the borough president have convened task forces to ensure that construction on Fourth Avenue is pedestrian-friendly.

One subsection where relatively tall new condo buildings did take root, to an extent, is Greenwood Heights, an imprecisely defined stretch at Sunset Park’s northern end, between Fourth Avenue and Green-Wood Cemetery. The area, a generally low-rise stretch of frame houses and industrial buildings, was rezoned in 2005. That, Mr. Laufer said, resulted in part from the fact that taller buildings had begun to appear there, and around Sunset Park, after similar height restrictions were placed on Bay Ridge and Park Slope.

Since then, he added, “whether it was the rezoning or the downturn in the economy, we haven’t seen that kind of development since.”


Lara Nangle, an associate broker at Citi Habitats who lives in the area, says town houses in decent condition sell for $700,000 to $800,000. They tend to be set up as two-family buildings — either as duplexes or with rental garden apartments on the ground floor, she said.

There are some condominiums in the middle of the neighborhood, mostly near Eighth Avenue, but she said new construction was rare, adding, “Here, there are no vacant lots, just row after row of town houses, pretty much.”

The Finnish co-op buildings, one of which the Encyclopedia of New York City cites as the first nonprofit cooperative in the United States, are still relatively inexpensive, Mr. Bracichowicz said. One-bedrooms of 550 square feet cost less than $200,000; two-bedrooms of 750 square feet run under $300,000. Maintenance tends to be low, in part because the managing boards carry little debt, and also because many buildings don’t have amenities like elevators.

A few, Mr. Bracichowicz said, maintain century-old rules against buying units with bank financing. Their prices are 10 percent to 20 percent lower.

Rentals posted on Craigslist tend to cost $1,000 to $1,200 a month for one-bedroom units, and $1,200 to $1,500 for two-bedrooms.


The N and R trains run under Fourth Avenue, with the R, a local train, stopping at 25th, 36th, 45th, 53rd and 59th Streets. The N, an express, stops at 36th and 59th Streets. Eastern stretches of the neighborhood are closer to the D, which parallels New Utrecht Avenue.

Mr. Lupo, whose mother lives in New Jersey, says the Gowanus Expressway, which runs above Third Avenue, is a handy link to area highways.


The recreation center in Sunset Park has an outdoor Olympic-size pool, built in 1936 under the Works Progress Administration; lap swimming and children’s swim classes are available in warm weather. The center also has yoga classes and table tennis. Even on a recent overcast afternoon, the area around the pool was busy with people playing volleyball, handball and dominoes, and practicing ballroom dancing.

Restaurants draw food tourists: to Eighth Avenue for dim sum, Vietnamese sandwiches and Asian groceries; to Fifth for tacos and tortas.

Melody Lanes, a bowling alley on 37th Street, has leagues, tournaments and birthday party packages.


Primary schools near the middle of the neighborhood include Public School 169, on Seventh Avenue, which received a C on its most recent city report card, with 39.2 percent of tested students demonstrating proficiency in English, 61.9 percent in math. At Public School 1, on 47th Street, 45.4 percent were proficient in English, 63.8 in math. At No. 94, on Sixth Avenue, the percentages were 43.1 in English and 64.4 in math.

Sunset Park’s middle schools include Intermediate School 136, on Fourth Avenue, where 15.2 percent were proficient in English and 22 percent in math; at Sunset Park Prep, also on Fourth, percentages were 38.3 and 72.3.

Lillian L. Rashkis High School, on 37th Street, has about 350 students in Grades 9 through 12. Sunset Park High School, which opened in 2009 on 35th Street, was planned since the 1960s and repeatedly delayed because of financing problems, Mr. Laufer said.

“There was a chance we were going to lose this one, but the community fought back and we got it,” he said.


The Bush Terminal, founded by the industrialist Irving T. Bush in the 1890s, eventually grew to cover 200 acres. The nearby Brooklyn Army Terminal, designed by Cass Gilbert and opened in 1918, employed more than 56,000 during World War II, according to its Web site. It handled transportation for more than 3 million troops and shipment of 37 million tons of military supplies.


December 24th, 2011, 04:43 AM
Bergen Beach: Connected, but Still Remote


Bergen Beach, a small, residential enclave along the shoreline of Jamaica Bay in southeast Brooklyn, was once an island off the coast of Canarsie, a larger neighborhood now across the narrow Paerdegat Basin.

Tree-lined Royce Street in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn.

Though Bergen Beach was connected to the mainland with landfill around a century ago, it still retains some of its isolated feel. Its tree-lined streets and semi-attached houses on relatively large lots seem a long way from Manhattan; and in fact, the neighborhood's lack of subway service makes for a long trip for those who do commute.

"It's just away from the commotion of everything. If you want a quiet lifestyle, this is the neighborhood," says Jason Sciulara of Bergen Basin Realty. "It's a suburban lifestyle for Brooklyn homeowners, which is tough to find."

Mr. Sciulara says nearly everyone drives in Bergen Beach, where many houses have driveways or garages, parking is plentiful, there are no alternate-side regulations and the Belt Parkway runs beside the neighborhood. To reach Manhattan, commuters may take the BM1 express bus from nearby Mill Basin, which travels to Midtown in just under an hour, or drive or ride a local bus to the B or Q train.

Brokers say many of the area's residents are local business owners or professionals who work in Brooklyn, and many buyers either grew up in the neighborhood or nearby.


For single-family homes, prices range from around $400,000 for a small three-bedroom semi-attached house, to upward of $1 million for new or renovated houses with four or five bedrooms, luxury appliances and in-ground pools, brokers say.

Of the 13 closings in the third quarter, according to StreetEasy.com, the median sales price was $458,000, a 1.8% increase from the same period in 2010 and a nearly 16% drop from 2008. The median price for third-quarter closings in all of Brooklyn was $470,000, the StreetEasy data show.

Efforts to turn the area into a resort community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were eventually abandoned, though residents still enjoy their proximity to Jamaica Bay. Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area abuts Bergen Beach, and a horse stable, the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, is situated alongside coastal riding trails.

Jamaica Bay Riding Academy, which features coastal riding trails.

The past decade has seen a building boom, with the construction of hundreds of new houses. Former empty lots, particularly in the northeast part of the neighborhood, have since been transformed into new single-family homes or small condominium buildings, and brokers say many of the existing ranch-style houses have undergone renovations and additions.

But the increase in housing and residents hasn't altered the character of this quiet area, where most businesses remain confined to a few small strips and there are a handful of restaurants.
Neighboring Mill Basin, an affluent community featuring many large waterfront estates with private boat slips, offers a few more amenities.

"You think you're living in the country, but you're living in Brooklyn," says Arlene Peldman, of Talk of the Town Realty Corp. "The streets are very pretty here."

Parks: The 77-acre McGuire Fields, at Avenue Y and Bergen Avenue between Avenue V and the Belt Parkway, offers five baseball fields, a football field, roller hockey rink, beach volleyball court and tennis courts, and is also home to the John Malone Community Center. The neighborhood abuts part of the U.S. National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area, which offers beach access, trails and wildlife viewing. The nearly 800-acre Marine Park, the largest park in Brooklyn, is also nearby.

View Interactive (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577114802575137094.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection#)

http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/images/OB-RD734_OpHous_D_20111223221605.jpg (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577114802575137094.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection#)

Schools: Bergen Beach is part of District 22, where 85.9% of students met or exceeded state standards on math exams in 2009, compared with 66.4% in 2006. In English Language Arts, 75.8% of students met or exceeded standards in 2009, compared with 60.5% four years earlier.

Local schools include P.S. 312, an elementary school with 857 students that received a C grade on its city progress report for the 2010-11 year; and J.H.S. 78 Roy H. Mann with 1,126 students that also received a C. A city Department of Education environmental study center, next door to P.S. 312, has science programs and several plant and wildlife exhibits.

Area private schools include the St. Bernard School, a Roman Catholic school with prekindergarten through eighth-grade classes.

Dining: There are few restaurants in Bergen Beach, though residents can find a slightly larger selection in neighboring Mill Basin. Local options include the Bergen Beach Cafe, on Avenue U; Gourmet Grill, on Avenue N; La Villa Pizzeria, on Avenue U; and Pinocchio's Restaurant, an Italian spot on Avenue N.

Shopping: The neighborhood includes two shopping centers for basic items and groceries. Nearby is the Kings Plaza shopping center, at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U, with more than 150 stores and restaurants including Macy's, Sears, Best Buy and H&M. Box-store shopping, including Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, can be found in the Gateway center in East New York.

Entertainment: The Jamaica Bay Riding Academy is situated along the Belt Parkway. Strike 10 Lanes, a bowling alley, is on Strickland Avenue. A multiplex movie theater is in Sheepshead Bay.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577114802575137094.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection

January 21st, 2012, 12:49 AM
Where History Meets Industry



Amy Lawday with her son, Oscar, 3, outside their home on Clinton Avenue in Wallabout.


More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/01/22/realestate/20120122-LIVING.html)

SLO PING down from Myrtle Avenue to the walled fortress of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Industrial Park, and bisected by the rumbling equator of the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the two-block-wide semi-industrial neighborhood of Wallabout would seem to have some unenviable physical challenges. It lacks subways, and although it shares a name with nearby Wallabout Bay, its residents are cut off by the Navy Yard from the tantalizingly close waterfront. But for all of the neighborhood’s isolation and industrial grit, and perhaps because of these characteristics, many of its residents describe it with immense pride and fondness.

“To live there, you’re a little bit of a risk taker and an adventurer, because you’re off the grid a little bit,” said Gary Hattem, a chairman of the Historic Wallabout Association, who since 1976 has lived on Vanderbilt Avenue in an Italianate 1850s row house with a wooden porch. “And there’s more of a romantic quality to living there, because the houses are a bit more random.”

Among outsiders, the area has typically been viewed as simply the northern fringe of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. But Wallabout has been coming into its own of late, attracting developers and preservation agencies alike. The Wallabout distinction, local preservationists say, is intended to summon up an awareness of the area as something more than just a poorer version of its neighbors. Its history and streetscape are certainly textured. Its name can be traced to the 17th century, when a group of Walloons, French-speaking Protestants from what is now Belgium, settled along the nearby bay, which came to be called “Waal-bogt,” or “bend in the harbor.”

The Navy Yard dates to 1801, and the Wallabout Market operated north of Flushing Avenue from the 1880s until it was gobbled up by the Navy Yard in World War II. The Historic Wallabout Association, a preservation group, defines the neighborhood as the 22 blocks between Classon and Carlton Avenues from Flushing Avenue to Myrtle.

Some blocks are mixed-use, but buildings south of the B. Q. E. are generally residential, while those north of it are industrial. Some industrial buildings are honeycombed with artists’ studios. Wallabout contains the largest concentration of pre-Civil War wood-frame houses in the city, many with early porches and cornices. This was a big draw for Dina Rosenbloom, a marketing executive. Last year she and her husband, Brice, paid $1.3 million for a two-family 1850s house in the new city historic district on Vanderbilt Avenue. As with many old Wallabout houses, its wood facade had been covered with vinyl siding. But it retained plenty of charm. “It doesn’t feel like you’re in Brooklyn when you walk in,” Ms. Rosenbloom said. “You feel transported to an old wood-frame house in a country town.” The four-bedroom house had been widened to 25 feet by the enclosure of a side walkway, so that an internal bathroom wall is the former exterior of the house, complete with antique wooden siding. “It’s unique, not cookie cutter,” she said. Although the city bestowed landmark protection on only one block of Wallabout last year, a wider area between Myrtle and Park Avenues was placed on the state and federal historic registers. These designations could bring tax credits to owners like the Rosenblooms if they restored their facade.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND The area has long been populated by members of the working and creative classes, joined recently by professionals. The nearby Pratt Institute has brought in artistic types like Jim Morehand, an interior designer turned massage therapist who graduated from Pratt in 1993 and shares a Vanderbilt Avenue row house with Dave Polazzo, a retired teacher. The couple host a salon, Parlor Jazz, out of the house. Census data covering Wallabout, as well as one block to its east and three to its west, showed that the estimated 7,613 residents in 2009 were 43 percent African-American, 35 percent Hispanic and 17 percent white. The proportion of whites rose 6 percent from 2000, as the share of blacks shrank by about the same amount.

Mr. Morehand, who is of mixed heritage but says he is perceived as black, said he had sensed resentment among black renters toward white newcomers, “but there haven’t been any neighborhood conflicts that I’ve seen.”

The area is home to many gay and biracial couples. “We wanted to raise a family in a place where the child sees the differences in people,” said Luan Cox, an Internet entrepreneur who in 2009, along with her partner, Eliane Bugod, paid $654,000 for a condo unit in a town house north of the B. Q. E. Navy Green, a 458-unit housing complex, is rising on the site of a former naval prison on Clermont and Flushing Avenues. It will include 4 apartment buildings and 23 town houses, with three-quarters of the units for low- and middle-income tenants. Residents began moving into the first completed building last month.

A “supportive housing” building that includes 59 units for the homeless is to open in the spring. For decades Wallabout was so bereft of high-quality shops that residents “dreamed of buying a head of lettuce” nearby, said Mr. Hattem, a board member of Myrtle Avenue’s local development corporation. But all that has changed, largely because of Pratt and the Navy Yard. In recent years Myrtle’s bulletproof-glass liquor store has been joined by organic groceries like Greene-Ville Garden and restaurants like Putnam’s Pub and Cooker. A pedestrian plaza is in the works. And last year Pratt opened a building on Myrtle Avenue, deepening its commitment to a strip once nicknamed Murder Avenue. “I remember running gun battles down Myrtle, probably in ’02 or ’03,” said an officer with the 88th Precinct, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“But that doesn’t happen anymore,” he added, describing crime as minimal on Myrtle and in Wallabout generally. “It does feel like the area is primed,” said Adam Friedman, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, “but we want to make sure the development doesn’t lead to displacement.” He said that Pratt graduate students would begin a land-use study this semester as a first step toward the possible creation of an “innovation corridor” between Pratt and the Navy Yard. The success of the Navy Yard, with 275 businesses employing 6,000, among them 695 from Wallabout and surrounding blocks, has helped rejuvenate Washington Avenue. Steiner Studios, doubling its space within the yard, is remaking a building to house the Brooklyn College Graduate School of Cinema. As Wallabout continues to heat up, the future seems very much up for grabs. “North of the B. Q. E., I think there will be enormous, exponentially increasing pressure to convert more and more of that to residential,” said Andrew Kimball, the president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“Certainly Pratt and the Navy Yard are aligned in wanting to make sure there’s a balance kept between residential and industrial.”


Doug Bowen, a resident and senior vice president of CORE real estate, said the average house price last year was $975,000 or $395 per square foot, virtually unchanged from 2010. Andrea Yarrington, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said houses took an average of 136 days to sell, versus 347 in 2010. Ms. Yarrington added that 15 condos sold in 2011, for an average of $452 per square foot. A search on Streeteasy.com showed four co-ops, three condos and three town houses on the market.


Washington Avenue has Il Porto, an Italian restaurant, as well as a gourmet grocery, a Cuban restaurant and an art gallery. J. J.’s Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge, a stalwart of seediness, closed in 2010; its new owner plans to lease to a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway. Fort Greene Park is a short walk. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at Building 92, a museum devoted to the yard’s previous occupants and current tenants, opened late last year. It will soon house an employment center.


Public School 46 on Clermont Avenue received an A on its most recent city progress report. No. 157, on Kent Avenue, earned a B. Middle School 113 on Adelphi Street in Fort Greene teaches Grades 6 through 8. It scored a D. Nearby public high schools include the selective Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, where SAT averages last year were 583, 659, and 579, versus 436, 460, and 431 citywide.


The closest train is the G, which runs along Lafayette Avenue in Clinton Hill, stopping at the Classon Avenue and Clinton-Washington Avenues stations. Buses take under 20 minutes to stops a short walk from the 2,3,4, 5, N and R trains at Court Street-Borough Hall. Some residents take the B62 from Park Avenue; others catch the B57 on Flushing. The B54 runs along Myrtle to the A, C, F and R trains at Jay Street/MetroTech. The B69 bus travels Vanderbilt and reaches the A and C trains at High Street within 10 minutes; residents grumble about infrequent service.


Walt Whitman completed “Leaves of Grass” while living at 99 Ryerson Street, according to “Brooklyn’s Historic Clinton Hill and Wallabout,” by Brian Merlis.


February 3rd, 2012, 11:44 PM
Secret Is Out in Prospect Lefferts Gardens


The stunning architecture and easy access to Prospect Park have always been the main draws for newcomers to Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn. The neighborhood offers some of the city's best examples of turn-of-the-century architecture at a fraction of the price for homes in Park Slope on the other side of Prospect Park.

The Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival and Neo-Federal style homes in the historic district are highly coveted properties with homeowners who often have lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. Residents say the long-term homeownership makes the community a tightknit group that takes pride in preserving its historic homes.

"People can't believe the architecture in that neighborhood and how nice it is," said Keith Mack of Corcoran Group, who has lived in the area since 1998. "The secret is out."

Ocean Avenue along Prospect Park in Brooklyn's Prospect Lefferts Gardens.

The neighborhood has historically been home to one of the city's largest West Indian populations. They began moving to Prospect Lefferts Gardens in the 1950s and 1960s. In recent years, the neighborhood had increasingly attracted more young people seeking affordable condos and apartments as well as the older homes, said Bill Sheppard of Brown Harris Stevens, who has lived in the neighborhood for 24 years.

"It's drawing a big segment of younger people priced out of other locations," Mr. Sheppard said. "It's your classic New York melting pot."

The historic homes in the neighborhood date back to about the 1890s. In 1893, James Lefferts, a descendant of Dutch settlers, divided up his family farm into 600 building lots. That area now makes up the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District.


Building restrictions were enacted at the time so that the homes would develop in a uniform way, and houses were given deed covenants that permitted only single-family homes. Those restrictions remain today, and they have prevented homes in the area from being separated into individual apartments.

The median asking price for Prospect Lefferts Gardens homes, condos and co-ops is $374,500, or $470 a square foot, according to real-estate site StreetEasy.com. In Park Slope to the west, it is $686 a square foot, and in Crown Heights to the north, it is $397, according to StreetEasy.

Less than a dozen single-family homes a year in the historic district are put on the market, brokers say. Prices range from the low $900,000s to around $1.5 million, said Lee Solomon of Brown Harris Stevens.

Ms. Solomon recently sold a three-story limestone townhouse with six bedrooms and three bathrooms that had an asking price of $1.695 million. The home, built in 1901, has a wraparound, rear garden, and most of the home's original woodwork has been preserved.

In Park Slope, similar homes are sold in the range of $3 million to $4 million, she said. "People are just blown away by the space that they can afford over there," according to Ms. Solomon.

There were some condo developments in the area that have been build in recent years, but most have sold out. Now condo inventory in the neighborhood is very tight. There is, however, a new condo development at 185 Ocean Ave. that faces the park. Current asking prices range from $299,000 to $575,000.

Prospect Lefferts Gardens has easy access to express train stops. The neighborhood is serviced by the 2, 5, B and Q trains as well as the shuttle to Prospect Park.

Parks: Prospect Lefferts Gardens is near the southeastern portion of Prospect Park. It is close to the park's lake and also the Parade Ground, which has baseball fields, a football field, a soccer field and basketball and volleyball courts.

Schools: Prospect Lefferts Gardens public schools are in District 17. They include primary school Adrian Hegeman and middle schools Parkside Preparatory Academy and Gladstone Atwell. Also in the area is Lefferts Gardens Charter School.

In 2011, 47.1% of District 2 students in grades three through eight received a proficient score on the math exam, and 37% of students received a proficient score on the English exam. In 2006, the results were 43% for math and 39.8% for English.

Private schools nearby include St. Gregory the Great in neighboring Crown Heights. That school runs from nursery through middle school. Also in Prospect Lefferts Gardens is the Lefferts Gardens Montessori School.

Restaurants: Caribbean restaurants in Prospect Lefferts Gardens including Culpeppers and De Hot Pot serve food from all over the West Indies. Gino's Trattoria on Flatbush Avenue serves Italian fare.

Shopping: Flatbush Avenue is the neighborhood's main thoroughfare and has basic shops including grocery stores, hardware stores and pharmacies. There are also independent stores like Monk's Trunk, a vintage and children's clothing store.

Entertainment: The Wollman Ice Skating Rink at Prospect Park is under construction, but is scheduled to be ready in time for next winter. Also nearby to Prospect Lefferts Gardens is the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203711104577201001944228524.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection

July 8th, 2012, 04:59 AM
Ups and Downs Now Confined Mostly to Rides


Brad Vest/The New York Times


MERMAID AVENUE, the main commercial street through Coney Island’s largest residential section, stretches two dozen blocks west from the faded, raucous amusement park district, past telltale evidence of the area’s varied past.

There are brick tenement buildings with storefronts that, in the mid-20th century, housed the bakeries, butcher shops and luncheonettes that were staples of a thriving neighborhood. There are empty lots remaining from Coney Island’s worst years, in the 1960s and ’70s, when much of the neighborhood drifted away or went up in smoke. And there are tidy one-family houses, white with red awnings — block upon block of them, built beginning in the 1980s by a community development organization seeking to fill the emptiness.

Today’s Coney Island, according to residents, officials and real estate brokers, is in yet another phase: safer and more stable than at its low point, populated largely by middle-class homeowners, yet still without the full complement of infrastructure that such a community needs. At the same time residents are holding their breath for a long-planned but recently delayed reinvention of the amusement district, along with construction of thousands of housing units near the boardwalk. The city government approved plans in 2009, though the timetable for those undertakings is unclear.

Over the course of this metamorphosis, waves of Chinese and Russian immigrants have been moving to the residential blocks. Charles Denson, a Coney Island native who runs the nonprofit Coney Island History Project (http://www.coneyislandhistory.org/) and wrote “Coney Island: Lost and Found,” said the more active Mermaid Avenue had begun to remind him of the district during his childhood.

Mom-and-pop stores “have brought fresh produce back, and fresh bread, and it’s really nice to see that,” said Mr. Denson, who until last year rented an apartment on Stillwell Avenue, but who now splits his time between California and Sea Gate (http://www.seagateny.com/), a gated community west of Coney Island. “It’s just amazing to be able to walk around and feel safe in the neighborhood, and friendly.”

Eddie Mark, a Department of Transportation sign painter and the chairman of Community Board 13, which represents the area, lives in one of the nearly 1,000 row houses that the Astella Development Corporation built in the 1980s and ’90s. The three-bedroom house, for which Mr. Mark, now 47, paid about $110,000 in 1995, is worth about $300,000, he said. Buyers like himself “were all working-class citizens, and basically wanted the American dream, wanted to own their own house.”

As Gamal Hasan, a broker at Century 21 Block and Lot Real Estate, put it: “These are the houses that really changed the area. They brought in working families.”

Some buildings have changed hands in recent years, Mr. Hasan said, but many original buyers remain in place. Mermaid Avenue’s commercial corridor is still in a state of transition, he added, citing the persistent uncertainty over Coney Island’s development.

The higher rate of homeownership has improved the look and stability of the neighborhood, but even so, “a lot of people are just sitting back and waiting. They’re not putting too much money into their properties because they’re not sure what’s coming in.”

Charles Reichenthal, the community board’s district manager, sees residents’ fortunes as inextricably tied to the thrill rides and midways that made the area famous. With the fate of local businesses, and local jobs, tied to tourism, he said, “what’s good for the amusement area is good for the community at large.”

The amusement area, for its part, still has empty and underused properties. Bought in recent years by Thor Equities, a developer, they have been cleared and in many cases kept vacant, although some have had part-time tenants like flea markets or petting zoos.

Still, Mr. Reichenthal said, the allure of the ocean is strong. “People are coming. The crowds are large, and this is only the beginning of the season.”


For most of its length Coney Island is only three blocks wide: Mermaid Avenue runs horizontally down the middle, with Neptune Avenue to its north and Surf Avenue to its south. Sea Gate is at the western border, and Brighton Beach is to the east. The area covers roughly one mile, with a population of about 45,000.

Several high-rise New York City Housing Authority developments, dating to the 1950s and housing thousands, stand near the western end. High-rises including the Trump Village co-op complex — near Ocean Parkway to the east, in an area bordering Brighton Beach known as West Brighton — are privately owned and more expensive.

Peter Bacarella, the owner of Brooklyn’s Scenic View Real Estate, says that although West Brighton is by many definitions part of Coney Island, numerous residents of Russian extraction have spilled over from Brighton Beach and identify more closely with that community. A three-year-old building he has been marketing at 3080 West First Street has been selling briskly, he said, adding that the appeal was the same as in Brighton Beach: “The Russians love the water.”

Mr. Bacarella, who once worked as a parking lot attendant across Surf Avenue from the remains of the old Steeplechase Park during the 1970s, said Coney Island’s western end had improved since that era. “Drugs, prostitution, no rides — it was horrible,” was how he remembered it.

Still, the eastern side, with its demand for housing near Brighton Beach, is higher-end, he said, adding: “All in all, I think Coney Island’s revitalizing. I think it’s going to be at least 10 years down the line.”

Mr. Reichenthal cited challenges: water and sewer lines are in need of work; parking is difficult, as is getting out of the area by car when the amusement district is in full swing. Still, he said, there are signs of progress: Y.M.C.A. is scheduled to open a facility on Surf Avenue at West 29th Street in 2013, replacing one that closed years ago.


Single-family houses tend to be small, Mr. Hasan said. Most of those built by Astella have three or four bedrooms and two or two and a half baths. Many have private driveways, but newer houses lack basements.

Such houses often cost less than $400,000, he added. In the last six months, the median sale price for single-family houses in the 11224 ZIP code was $420,000, and that includes pricier Sea Gate properties. He also said a handful of two-family houses had sold recently in the $400,000-to-$500,000 range. Delton Cheng, the owner of Century 21 Homefront, says prices on multifamilies can reach $550,000 to $600,000.

One-bedroom rentals on Craigslist go for as little as $1,200 a month. For $1,750, one- and two-bedrooms can be found near Brighton Beach, or four-bedrooms west of the amusement district.


The Stillwell Avenue subway station lies at the end of the D, F, Q and N lines. The N runs express through part of Brooklyn. The Q also stops at Ocean Parkway and the F at Neptune Avenue. Both stop at West Eighth Street. A typical subway ride to Midtown takes about an hour. The Belt Parkway, with connections to the Gowanus Expressway, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and eastern Long Island, passes just north of the neighborhood.


Coney Island’s rides and boardwalk draw tourists from around the world, and in the summertime are busy even on weekdays. Mr. Reichenthal said one of the goals of the Coney Island Development Corporation, which was formed by the city in 2003 and of which he is a board member, was to foster year-round activity in the entertainment district. An increasing number of restaurants are remaining open year-round, he said, and neighborhood renovation plans call for some indoor attractions.

Kaiser Park, on 26 acres at Neptune Avenue and Coney Island Creek, has recently restored basketball and handball courts, a running track, sports fields and playgrounds — and a view of the Verrazano. The new Y.M.C.A. is to have two pools, one Olympic-size.


The westernmost end of the neighborhood is zoned for Public School 188 on Neptune Avenue — one of various elementary options. To the east is No. 329, on West 30th Street, or No. 288, on West 25th, which also serves the middle school grades.

Middle schools include Mark Twain Intermediate School 239 for the Gifted and Talented on Neptune Avenue, which got an A on its city report card, with 92.1 percent deemed proficient in English, 95.4 percent in math.

For Grades 9 through 12, one option is the Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies on West Avenue, where SAT averages last year were 389 in reading, 406 in math and 383 in writing, versus 436, 460 and 431 citywide.


“Coney” is a name for the wild rabbits that once predominated in the area, according to The Encyclopedia of New York City — which also says the first roller coaster arrived here in 1884. Interest in the amusement district declined after World War II, and Steeplechase Park and its parachute jump closed in 1964.


July 8th, 2012, 10:15 AM
“Coney” is a name for the wild rabbits that once predominated in the area, according to The Encyclopedia of New York CityEastern Cottontails.

Still there, around the Coney Island Creek. They are wary and remain hidden, but you can spot them on the trails at GNRA Fort Tilden, Breezy Point, or Jamaica Bay.

August 19th, 2012, 01:26 AM
The Art of Hiding in Plain Sight


Christopher Gregory/The New York Times
Gerritsen Beach, a boating-and-fishing enclave east of Sheepshead Bay,
belongs to the same city as Midtown East, just visible beyond the sandbar.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/08/19/realestate/20120819-LIVINGIN.html)

GEORGE R. BROADHEAD, a retired newspaper executive and Marine Corps veteran, has lived in Beverly Hills and Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Greenwich, Conn., among many other places. The place he is choosing to spend his retirement, though, is the place where he grew up: Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.

That doesn’t mean Mr. Broadhead, who is the president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association, is trying to make the place sound too charming.

“Whenever I run a meeting,” he said, “there are a couple of people who always shout out, during some point in the meeting, ‘We don’t want people to know about Gerritsen Beach!’ ”

In truth, even among people who know and love this secluded neighborhood on Brooklyn’s southern shore, it is not without its issues. Residents do prize its quiet and off-the-grid seclusion, a result of geography — it is on a peninsula east of Sheepshead Bay, flanked by Shell Bank Creek, Plumb Beach Channel and Marine Park. On the other hand, streets are narrow and prone to flooding in bad weather; access to the rest of the city is difficult; and houses, many of them former seasonal bungalows, are squeezed in cheek by jowl.

Then there is the creek. “It’s dirty, it’s smelly, it needs a lot of work,” said Theresa Scavo, the chairwoman of Community Board 15, which represents the area. “Years of neglect.”

But none of that is enough, Ms. Scavo hastened to add, to drive the neighborhood’s longtime partisans away. “Are you kidding?” she said. “They would never live anywhere else.”

The allure, residents and real estate agents said, lies in living among friends and multigenerational families, with a private beach, easy access to boating and parkland, and the security of knowing one’s neighbors.

“The majority of people looking to buy in the Beach are actually from the Beach,” said Janet Graves, an agent at Tracey Real Estate and a third-generation neighborhood resident. She also said there was a pool of buyers among those who “have relatives here.”

Doreen Garson, the owner of Doreen Greenwood Real Estate and another lifelong resident, says outsiders don’t usually pass through the neighborhood, because there is access only at one end and because its retail strip, on Gerritsen Avenue, is understated. In cases when a person stumbles on the area and expresses an interest, she said, “I’ll tell them: ‘You have to like kids and dogs. It’s a family-oriented neighborhood and it’s very quaint.’ Some people like to be where all the action is. This is not the area for them.”

Residents say the area’s property values remained relatively steady during the recent years’ real estate downturn. Many buyers, Ms. Graves said, are second-generation residents who buy their parents’ or a neighbor’s house and are willing to spend money to make improvements.

The insularity may indeed be daunting for outsiders, but if you’re an insider there’s a high level of comfort. It is evident in the way residents lay unofficial claim to the parking spaces in front of their houses, or the way drivers, unable to fit down narrow two-way streets, will pull off to the side, let a neighbor pass, and then wave.

Mr. Broadhead, who has fond memories of barefoot summers growing up in the neighborhood, remembers when, half a century ago, streets were unpaved and the adjacent parkland held stables and a tomato farm. He is not alone.

“Down here, they would say you’re new to the neighborhood if you lived here 30 years,” he said. Hipsterization, he added, is unlikely: “I can’t imagine anyone who would rather live in the Village or Park Slope or anywhere else deciding, ‘Oh, I’d rather live in Gerritsen Beach.’ ”

That is fine with most residents, he said, adding, “I say, let ’em think it’s a shantytown.”


Gerritsen Avenue, which runs along the eastern edge of the 0.25-square-mile neighborhood, has a pizza place, a bagel store, a couple of bars, a public library and a few churches. There are also some attached houses, and a one-story office building that is being expanded, with two new stories of condominiums on top. The work is a matter of some local controversy, Mr. Broadhead said. There is a general resistance to any new construction that isn’t strictly low-rise.

Most of the 5,200 or so residents (about 95 percent are white) live west of Gerritsen, in two grids of streets divided by a canal. Many streets are one-way, and all eventually dead-end into the water. Even most two-way streets are narrow enough that cars can park only on one side. Ms. Scavo says the streetscape breeds neighborly familiarity.

“It’s very, very tight,” she said. “It’s not like you’re going to have a neighbor and you’re not going to bump into the guy.”

Roads are in need of repair, she said, but there is not enough government money available do all the work. But Ms. Garson, who is also assistant chief of the neighborhood’s volunteer fire department, said that flooding, while severe during large generational storms, is also relatively rare.

“Most people love the water, love to live on the water,” she said, “but every once in a while, something happens.”

Lots in the neighborhood are relatively compact — mostly 40 by 45 feet in the older section, south of the canal, and 34 by 52 feet in the newer section to the north, Ms. Garson said, adding that waterfront lots measure 24 by 70 feet. But some residents have built bigger houses, she added, by combining two or as many as four lots, as a means of including yards, garages or driveways.

One of her sons, Ms. Garson said, bought a small bungalow in 2004 for about $250,000 and raised it up, adding in a basement, then building a second floor on top a few years later. It is now worth closer to $500,000, she said.


Ms. Garson says the most affordable houses are small bungalows, often with around 800 square feet and two bedrooms; they sell around $240,000. The next step up, she said, are houses of roughly the same size but with finished basements, selling around $350,000.

She estimates that the neighborhood has about 1,700 houses, and that 40 to 50 are on the market — more than usual, in a lingering effect of the downturn.

Sale prices climb to $600,000 or higher for houses on the water, or on double lots, especially the rebuilt ones.

Ms. Graves said rental rates — typically for apartments within detached houses — run $1,000 a month or so for one-bedrooms, and $1,400 or $1,500 a month for two-bedrooms.


Kiddie Beach, at the end of Lois Avenue by the southern tip, is owned by the property owners’ association, and accessible to owners or renters who are members. There is also a small beach, ringed with grass, at the end of Gerritsen Avenue on the edge of Marine Park. The spot has become popular with fishers and personal watercrafters. The latter, Mr. Broadhead said, have become a concern for residents.

Marine Park also has sports fields, bocce courts and a golf course.

The Gerritsen Beach Fire Department was founded in 1922, originally because the area was too far away from the nearest city fire departments. It is believed to be among the last volunteer departments in Brooklyn.


Elementary age students attend Public School 277, on Gerritsen Avenue, which received a C on its most recent city report card. On state tests in 2011, 73.7 percent of students scored at or above grade level in English, while 83.4 percent were proficient in math.

Middle school students are zoned to attend Junior High School 278 on Stuart Street in Marine Park. The school received a D on its report card, with 43 percent of tested students proficient in English, 47.6 percent in math.

Nearby secondary schools include Sheepshead Bay High School, on Avenue X, where in 2011 SAT averages were 390 in reading, 408 in math and 381 in writing. Citywide averages during the same period were 436, 460 and 431.


Two city bus lines run down Gerritsen Avenue: the BM4, an express bus stopping in downtown and Midtown Manhattan, and the B31, which connects to the B and Q trains at Kings Highway. All told, the trip to Manhattan can take over an hour, though Mr. Broadhead says it can be as short as 45 minutes for those who know what they are doing. Still, he added, recent reductions in bus service have made the journey more treacherous, especially late at night, when the bus no longer runs.

The Belt Parkway passes within sight of the neighborhood, though the nearest on-ramp is a short drive away.


The place is named after Wolphert Gerretse, a settler who helped found the New Netherlands colony in the 1600s. A developer called Realty Associates bought the land in the early 1920s, developing houses over the ensuing decade. The St. James Lutheran Church was founded on Gerritsen Avenue in 1924. In recent years, the neighborhood has been used occasionally for movie shoots; in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” it served as a stand-in for the Boston waterfront.


December 14th, 2012, 09:01 PM
When Is a Neighborhood a Sandwich?


Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Pedestrians at 18th Avenue and 62nd Street in Mapleton.



MAPLETON is on New York City’s street closures map. You’ll also find houses in Mapleton on real estate sites like Trulia and Streeteasy. There’s a Mapleton branch of the public library and a Mapleton public school, along with a bowling alley and a Kiwanis Club. But just where the heck is Mapleton, Brooklyn?

If the borough’s history is one of neighborhoods buffeting one another with each new wave of immigration, Mapleton, which is at least a century old, appears to have gotten the squeeze. Years ago, Italians claimed the southern portion for Bensonhurst, while Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish families have pushed the borders of Borough Park to include the northern section.
And most recently, Chinese immigrants overflowing from Sunset Park and other areas are settling in the southwestern portion.

“I’m a Kiwanian, and we actually have a Mapleton club,” said Michael E. Napolitano, an associate broker with Re/Max Metro who lives nearby in the Bath Beach section of Bensonhurst. “But they don’t even meet in Mapleton. I guess the name is pretty old, and over the years the name has been diluted and nobody really uses it anymore.”

Even if that’s so, Mapleton is a community apart from the two rather homogenous ones sandwiching it, said David G. Greenfield, who is a resident.

“Mapleton is sort of like the melting pot in the middle,” added Mr. Greenfield, a city councilman. “On a typical block, you’ll probably find several Hasidic families, several Italian-American families and several Asian-American families. They all get along very well.”

So what makes up Mapleton today? The Web site (http://schools.nycenet.edu/region7/ps48/) for the Mapleton School indicates that Mapleton constitutes the approximately 60 blocks that stretch from 16th Avenue on the west to Dahill Road on the east, and from 57th Street on the north to 65th Street on the south. On the Internet, sites like Google Maps show Mapleton as a triangle generally in that same area, except its peak stretches up to the intersection of 18th and McDonald Avenues. According to 2010 census data, Mapleton has about 27,000 people.

Some people see the northern boundary of Washington Cemetery, a predominantly Jewish cemetery that is one of the largest in Brooklyn, as the northern limit of Mapleton. And because of the Mapleton School and the Mapleton branch (http://www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/locations/mapleton) of the Brooklyn Public Library, which are both in the 60th Street area, the name rings bells with many locals who otherwise would not describe themselves as living there.

Often called Borough Park north of 60th Street and Bensonhurst south of 60th, the area is almost completely residential, with small retail shops and restaurants on some avenues, particularly in the Bensonhurst portion.

There have been setbacks since the 2008 housing crash. One Hasidic resident, who asked not to be identified, said that he had bought his three-bedroom two-bath home six years ago for $725,000 — and that its value had depreciated at least 35 percent.

But with everything he needs around him, the resident said, he probably wouldn’t have moved anyway. “It’s a community,” he said. “Everything you need for an Orthodox Jewish life is in the neighborhood. The schools for the boys, for the girls. The stores, kosher restaurants, everything. My parents, my wife’s parents, my brothers, my sisters, my uncles — I see them every day.”


When Mapleton was developed as Mapleton Park, beginning around 1910, homes were built of brick with large porches on 30-by-100-foot lots cut out of farmland. The area was one of the “choicest home communities” in that part of Brooklyn, according to an article in The New York Times from 1914.

Nowadays, Mapleton consists primarily of one- and two-family attached and semiattached homes of brick or clapboard, many about a century old. A substantial number still have small porches or stoops, or even a bit of lawn. On Mapleton’s fringes are some small four- and six-family apartment buildings, Mr. Napolitano said.

Eighteenth Avenue between 57th and 65th Streets is full of small shops, an increasing number of them serving the Asian residents moving in. One of the oldest businesses, 62-year-old J & V Pizzeria, belongs to Italian immigrants — a reflection of a bygone era. The owner, Vito Conigliaro, originally from the Sicilian city of Palermo, speaks English and Spanish to get by, in addition to his native Italian, though he doesn’t know Mandarin or Cantonese.

“There’s a lot of Hispanic people here,” he said, kneading thick ropes of dough. “When you work with Hispanic people you learn the language. Now, 45 percent of the area is owned by Asians.”
Mr. Conigliaro’s pizzeria is surrounded by Asian grocers, bakeries and restaurants, though there’s still an Italian pork store across the street. Two blocks east, on 20th Avenue, the mix of businesses is even more diverse, reflecting Mapleton as a melting pot, with signs in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, Korean and English.

“Today,” declares the Public School 48 The Mapleton School site, “our population is a mixture of Italian, Jewish, Asian, Pakistan, Polish, Latino and Arab families.”

North of 60th Street, the neighborhood tends to be quieter, encompassing Washington Cemetery and the 6.4-acre Gravesend Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/gravesendpark); there are fewer businesses, and most have signs in Hebrew. There are glatt kosher restaurants, kosher wine shops, a big kosher supermarket called Goldberg’s Grocery Glatt Meat, and even kosher pizzerias.


Home prices fell about 10 percent in the recession, but the neighborhood has remained healthy with the large numbers of Chinese immigrants moving into its southern portion, as well as the rapidly growing population of Hasidic residents to the north.

“I know it’s a pretty hot neighborhood right now, and a lot of people are coming in and buying,” said Joseph Giordano, an agent with Coldwell Banker Reliable.

On Trulia.com there are 99 sale listings in Mapleton; Brooklyn’s Multiple Listing Service doesn’t have a separate category for the area.

The average sale price for a two-family home is about $660,000; a single-family home would sell for about $600,000, Mr. Giordano said. According to Mr. Napolitano, small four-family buildings are selling around $1 million.

Mike Daus, an agent with Charles Rutenberg, says that studios rent for $700 to $900 a month, one-bedrooms for $1,000 to $1,200, and two-bedrooms for up to $1,600.


Residents like the easy commute to Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo). “It’s convenient to the subways, and there’s lots of transportation,” said Sister Elizabeth Schroeder, who has lived in the neighborhood at the St. Athanasius Convent for 17 years.

The N and the F subways make several stops here, making Midtown Manhattan and even parts of Queens (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/queens/?inline=nyt-geo) accessible along with Coney Island. The ride into Midtown typically takes 45 to 55 minutes. There are several local bus lines, including the B9, B6, B8 and B11.


From 1916 to at least 1920, Mapleton had a baseball field at 62nd Street and 20th Avenue, called Mapleton Oval or simply Mapleton Park. There are no signs of it today. Athletic activity has shifted northwest to Gravesend Park, which has a playground, ball fields and basketball courts, and offerings like bocce and tennis.

By the end of 2013, the playground will be greatly expanded, said Wolf Sender, the district manager of Community Board 12, which encompasses the northern part of Mapleton. About $15 million has been earmarked for the park, which is on 18th Avenue between 56th and 58th Streets.

“The area now has got a lot of children, the Mapleton area,” Mr. Sender said. “There’s a lot of large families. Hasidic families on the average are 5 to 10 children.”

The Mapleton library branch, at 60th Street and 17th Avenue, is a popular outpost of the library system. Mapleton also has as its namesake the bowling alley Maple Lanes, on 60th Street near 16th Avenue — but not for long. The bowling alley is to be demolished to make way for more three-family homes, Councilman Greenfield said.


While some Catholic boys in Brooklyn travel long distances to go to Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, some Catholic girls do the same to go to Bishop Kearney High School at 60th Street and Bay Parkway in Mapleton, Mr. Napolitano said.

Among the public primary options, the Mapleton School serves about 620 students from prekindergarten through fifth grade. It got a B on its most recent city progress report, with 60 percent of tested students showing mastery in English, 79.5 in math, versus 47 and 60 citywide. A public secondary option is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School at 20th Avenue near 59th Street, where SAT averages in 2011 were 382 in reading, 485 in math and 382 in writing, versus 436, 460 and 431 citywide.


Mapleton, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, along with Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton and Dyker Heights, all used to be part of a Dutch village known as New Utrecht, said Ron Schweiger, the Brooklyn borough historian.


February 23rd, 2013, 01:17 AM
Assets Many, Listings Few


Michael Nagle for The New York Times
Residential blocks in Bath Beach, like this one on Bay 20th Street, are often lined with red-brick
row houses and open to wide vistas of Gravesend Bay.

https://www.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif https://www.nytimes.com/images/2013/02/24/nyregion/24living-map/24living-map-popup.png

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/02/24/realestate/20130224-LIVING.html)

At St. Finbar Roman Catholic Church, the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant presides over a flock that spans an old and new Bath Beach.

He leads a Sunday morning Mass in English and Italian for parishioners, many of them Italian-Americans who have lived in this South Brooklyn neighborhood for decades. The afternoon Mass is celebrated in Spanish for more recent arrivals, many from Guatemala and Mexico.

Bath Beach is a neighborhood of melding communities, a long-ago beach resort along Gravesend Bay that became an Italian-American area and is now increasingly home to Chinese-American families and recent Latino immigrants.

As the ethnicities begin to blend, Father Gelfant said, some Hispanic families are attending special children’s Masses in English, forgoing the Spanish versions later in the day. He views this as a result of the Spanish speakers’ increasing comfort level with the language.

He said parishioners had begun a fund-raising drive for the commission of a statue of Archangel St. Michael — the patron saint of the cathedral in the Guatemalan town of Totonicapán, where many parishioners came from — to be erected on church grounds. The effort was another sign that the Guatemalan community is growing roots here. “It will be a very large statue,” he said.

As for the growing Chinese population, it is drawn to Bath Beach — a neat rectangle of about a square mile sandwiched between Bensonhurst and Gravesend Bay — by its larger homes, good schools and subway access.

Eric Chan, a broker who owns Exit Realty Best in Bath Beach, says about 90 percent of the people he meets who are looking to buy in Bath Beach are of Chinese or Asian heritage. He pointed out the growing number of restaurants and markets on 86th Street, the main shopping area, that cater to Chinese residents.

According to 2010 census data that the city government sorted by neighborhood, 55 percent of Bath Beach’s 29,931 residents were white, 30 percent were Asian and 13 percent Hispanic. The Asian and Hispanic populations had both grown by nearly 70 percent since the 2000 census, the numbers showed.

Mr. Chan says some Chinese buyers already own single-family homes in Bath Beach and are looking for places to accommodate multiple generations as their children marry and have families.

Others are coming from Sunset Park in search of a quieter Brooklyn neighborhood, and still others are second-generation Chinese-Americans from Chinatown in Manhattan who want more space for their children and elderly parents. The neighborhood’s multifamily houses are especially sought after, Mr. Chan said.

Kathy Samaris, a broker at Pecoraro Realty in Bath Beach who has lived in the area her whole life, said she welcomed the changes in demographics. She described many of the Italian-Americans who remain in Bath Beach as elderly people whose children had long since moved on to Long Island, New Jersey or Staten Island to start families of their own. The recent arrivals bring new life to the area. “It’s so nice to see the young children,” Ms. Samaris said.

What You’ll Find

According to Brooklyn Community Board 11 (http://www.brooklyncb11.org/index.php), Bath Beach is defined by Gravesend Bay to the south, 86th Street to the north, 14th Avenue to the west and Bay Parkway to the east. Some brokers lump Bath Beach together with Bensonhurst, its neighbor to the north.

Although the Belt Parkway, built in the late 1930s by Robert Moses, precludes direct access to the water, its presence at the bottom of Bath Beach imparts a distinctive quality. Residential streets run north to south from 86th Street to the parkway, and many blocks open up to wide vistas of Gravesend Bay.

The most prevalent house style is the squared-off red-brick row house, often with a small front yard and a porch with an awning. There are also various multifamilies with two to four units, both wood-frame and brick. Among new options are midsize brick co-ops of as many as six units.

The area also has rentals. Along the Belt Parkway, for instance, is the 32-building campus of Shore Haven, built in 1949 by Fred Trump, Donald J. Trump’s father. Immigrants from Mexico and Central America live in some of the rentals closer to Bath Avenue, where Guatemalan shops are popping up.

What You’ll Pay

Anthony Mussolino, an associate broker at Ben Bay Realty, says one-family houses start around $500,000 and go higher depending on size and parking. Multifamilies begin at $650,000 and can reach $1 million, he said.

A search of Bath Beach properties on Trulia.com turned up 85 listings ranging from $199,000, for a one-bedroom one-bath co-op in a three-story brick building, to $1.1 million for a two-family with six bedrooms, four baths and a pool.

Mr. Mussolino, like other local brokers, said housing prices had dipped slightly during the economic downturn but were now back at pre-2007 levels. Tight inventory and a high demand have kept the prices strong, he said.

“The one- and two-family houses cater to young professionals as well as families with children,” he said, extolling the attributes of homes close to the city with parking, a backyard and the added convenience of the Belt Parkway.

What to Do

Residents are well situated to take part in outdoor activities. The Belt Parkway Promenade, with 4.3 miles of waterfront walkway, is ideal for jogging, walking or in-line skating. The promenade offers spectacular views of the bay and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Residents can access the promenade via a footbridge over the highway near 17th Street, or by following Bay Parkway until it dead-ends at the water. Bensonhurst Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bensonhurstpark/), at Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway, has playgrounds and basketball courts. Dyker Beach Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/DykerBeachPark), which runs along Bath Beach’s western border, has tennis courts, one of Brooklyn’s two public golf courses (the other is in Marine Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/marinepark)), baseball fields and the CityPark Junior Golf Center (http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/sports/junior-golf-center/).

Residents do most of their shopping on 86th Street, which has boutiques as well as chain retailers like the Gap and Marshalls. Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center, on the bay off Bay Parkway, was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy. Some stores, including Kohl’s, remain closed.

The Commute

In addition to easy access to the Belt Parkway — a conduit to the Verrazano, Staten Island and New Jersey in one direction and the parkways of Long Island in the other — residents have good public transportation options. The D train runs on elevated tracks along 86th Street. Commuters heading to Rockefeller Center in Midtown from the Bay Parkway station have a 45-minute ride during rush hour. There are also two express buses, the X28 and X38. The trip to Lower Manhattan takes about 45 minutes.

The Schools

Mr. Mussolino cited the public elementary schools as a particular attraction. They include Public School 229 (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/20/K229/default.htm) on Benson Avenue, which runs through Grade 8; P. S. 163 (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/20/K163/default.htm) on Bay 14th Street, also through Grade 8; and P. S. 101 The Verrazano (http://www.ps101verrazano.com/), on Benson Avenue, which stops after Grade 5. At the most sought after, P. S. 229 (http://www.ps229.org/), 82 percent of third graders last year met standards in English and 85 percent in math, versus 49 and 57 percent citywide. For high school, most students travel outside the neighborhood. SAT averages last year at the New Utrecht High School (http://www.newutrechthighschoolnyc.com/) in Dyker Heights, which has about 3,200 students, were 416 in reading, 485 in math and 413 in writing, versus 496, 514 and 488 citywide.

The History

Named after the English spa town of Bath, the area started life as a waterside resort. Historical accounts describe yacht clubs and villas lining the bay, and a popular restaurant, Captain’s Pier. There was even an amusement park, Ulmer Park, created by the Ulmer Brewery, with rides and a dance hall. It closed in 1899 as Coney Island gained a following.


March 8th, 2013, 09:53 PM
Brooklyn’s New Gentrification Frontiers

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/03/10/realestate/10JUMP1_SPAN/jump-1-articleLarge.jpgDave Sanders for The New York Times
Those priced out of Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg and Park Slope have begun house hunting deeper in Brooklyn, including, clockwise from upper left, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Sunset Park and Ditmas Park.

By MICHELLE HIGGINS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/michelle_higgins/index.html)
Published: March 8, 2013

Enlarge This Image (http://javascript<strong></strong>:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2013/03/10/realestate/10JUMP5.html','10JUMP5_html','width=458,height=630 ,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,resizable=yes'))
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Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Town houses in the historic district in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, top, sell for well over $1 million. A renovated studio co-op in a prewar elevator building on Winthrop Street is a little less pricey, at $105,000. Barbara Brown-Allen(718) 780-8181; elliman.com

The subway commute to Manhattan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo) is longer, and organic markets and stylish boutiques are fewer. But those are the trade-offs as the search for more affordable real estate in Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) pushes deeper into neighborhoods that for some New Yorkers still evoke images of burned-out buildings, riots and poverty. Many Brooklynites, priced out of Williamsburg, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, are heading farther in. They are turning to neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Crown Heights, Bushwick and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, bringing a willingness and an ability to pay more for housing than the waves of residents who came before them.
“What many clients have told me is that they like the old Brooklyn vibe of these up-and-coming areas,” said Kristen Larkin, an agent with TOWN Residential. “They like the sense of community, friendliness of the neighbors, and the mom-and-pop shops that come along with it.”

Brokers and developers say the cross-Brooklyn migration has picked up in recent years, as recent college graduates, artists and families, mostly white, seek new affordable neighborhoods. The median real estate price for Boerum Hill ($675,000), Carroll Gardens ($677,500) and Cobble Hill ($750,000), once viewed as out-of-the-way destinations for renters and homeowners unable to afford Manhattan, now rivals those in the northern reaches of the Upper East and West Sides and parts of Lower Manhattan, according to Streeteasy.com (http://streeteasy.com/).
Park Slope reached a new median high of $670,500 last year. The median price in 2012 in prime sections of Williamsburg, including its waterfront, was $765,000, which outpaced even Manhattan destinations like the Gramercy Park area, where the median was $725,000 for the same period.
Housing prices in neighborhoods deeper inside Brooklyn are even competing with or surpassing real estate in solidly middle-class areas of Westchester County, Long Island (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/longisland/?inline=nyt-geo) and northern New Jersey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newjersey/?inline=nyt-geo), according to Trulia.com (http://trulia.com/).

Sunset Park
Stretching along New York Harbor between Greenwood Heights to the north and Bay Ridge to the south, Sunset Park has long been a magnet for working-class immigrants. Once almost exclusively Scandinavian, the area is now home to large Chinese and Hispanic communities.
Its lovely hillside park offers striking Manhattan views and has a recreation complex with a gym and an Olympic-size outdoor pool. The local Chinatown is larger than Manhattan’s, and express D subway line trains make the eastern area a bit more accessible than neighborhoods reliant on the F and other sluggish trains. Last year the median sale price was $280,000, according to Streeteasy.
A new green space, Bush Terminal Piers Park, is scheduled to open this summer along the waterfront between 43rd and 51st Streets, offering softball and soccer fields, tidal ponds, walking paths and a wooded area. Other stretches of the industrial waterfront are being refashioned to attract artists and artisanal food manufacturers. Last month the chocolatier Jacques Torres announced that he was opening a factory, designed with tourist viewing in mind, in a 40,000-square-foot space in the Brooklyn Army Terminal (http://www.bklynarmyterminal.com/). In 2000, the opening of Jacques Torres Chocolate (http://www.mrchocolate.com/news/about/locations/dumbo/) in Dumbo was among the clearest signals of the gentrification that was to come.
Erika Storella, a literary agent, and her husband, Daniel Heidkamp, a painter, were living in Greenpoint when they began hanging out at a friend’s art studio on the industrial waterfront in Sunset Park a couple of years ago. “We were drawn in by the sense of fresh creative energy in this neighborhood, as well as the beautiful park, the city views, and the historical details of the Finnish Co-ops,” she said, referring to some of the first co-ops in the city, on 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
In January of last year, the couple, who now have a 6-month-old son, bought a two-bedroom co-op a half a block from Sunset Park for less than $300,000. The listing agent was Peter Bracichowicz, a Corcoran broker who specializes in the area. Mr. Heidkamp also moved his painting studio to Sunset Park from Greenpoint.
Ms. Storella’s commute to Midtown has doubled, to about an hour each way, and she pines for a good wine store. But there are benefits: “We appreciate the natural beauty of the neighborhood,” she said. “We walk through the park almost every day with our son. We eat a lot of dumplings and burritos, and there is a new organic/local restaurant that we frequent called Café Zona Sur (http://www.cafezonasur.com/).”

Ditmas Park/ Kensington
A decade ago, buyers drawn to Ditmas Park’s Victorians, complete with front porches, backyards and driveways, would have found 99-cent shops and vacant storefronts lining Cortelyou Road, the main business strip. Today Cortelyou has a number of popular restaurants, bars, cafes and shops catering to an evolving clientele. A recent addition, Brooklyn Industries, the hipster outfitter, opened its 16th clothing store at the corner of Cortelyou and Marlborough in December. That’s a good distance from Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, where the first shop opened in 2001.
Ditmas Park’s increasing gentrification is helping attract and retain families who might previously have gone to the suburbs. “There’s more holding them here now,” said Jan Rosenberg, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years and is a founder of Brooklyn Hearth Realty. “It’s more of a neighborhood.”
Younger families who bought one- or two-bedrooms and had another child are now selling those apartments and buying the next step up, she said. Sometimes that might be a grand Victorian, but more often it’s a smaller home nearby in Kensington, a diverse neighborhood of Orthodox Jews and immigrants from Pakistan, the Darfur region of Sudan, and Poland, among many other places.

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March 23rd, 2013, 03:21 AM
Between the Drink and the B.Q.E.


https://www.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif https://www.nytimes.com/images/2013/03/24/realestate/24livingMAP/24livingMAP-popup.png

Daniel Krieger for The New York Times
The Columbia Waterfront District, a sliver of blocks west of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway,
draws gay couples and is popular with young families. Scooter Bottega sits at 65 Union Street.


Daniel Krieger for The New York Times
A four-bedroom two-bath condo with water views, listed at $1.695 million.



Daniel Krieger for The New York Times
A two-bedroom one-bath condo with a shared barbecue area, listed at $555,000.



Daniel Krieger for The New York Times
A studio with a shared roof deck with Manhattan views, listed at $410,000

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/03/19/realestate/20130324_Living.html)

A cynic might call this Mosesville. Ever since the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel were built in the 1940s, courtesy of the powerful city planner Robert Moses, the semi-industrial strip of South Brooklyn now called the Columbia Street Waterfront District has been a skinny, scruffy island of a neighborhood cut off from adjacent areas.

In recent years, however, the roaring traffic trench of the expressway has been losing its force as a psychological barrier between the up-and-coming Columbia Street district and the more affluent residential neighborhoods to its east, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.

“It’s not a problem getting people to cross the B.Q.E. anymore,” said Frank Manzione, an associate broker at Realty Collective who has sold real estate in the area for decades. “Years ago, people would say: ‘Frank, I can’t even buy a pair of nylons. Frank, I can’t even buy a greeting card,’ ” he said. “That’s probably still true here, but it’s not a problem because people don’t care about that as much as they value the seclusion and the distinctiveness of the neighborhood.”

Elliott Arkin, a sculptor, was one of those who swore they would never move west of the B.Q.E. But in 2004, while living in Cobble Hill, he found himself looking across the highway from the window of his condominium on Degraw and Hicks Streets, pondering the value to be found in the Columbia district. With his daughter nearing kindergarten age, he was also enticed by the highly regarded Public School 29.

In 2005, he and his wife, Deborah Wingert, a dance teacher, paid $900,000 for a “dumpy building” on the southwest corner of Hicks and Union Streets, a two-story structure facing the highway. The building had three commercial spaces on the ground floor, one vacant and the other two leased by a florist and a chimney sweep.

The rental income made the equation work. “I basically have the New York dream of owning a place, and the rent pays my mortgage,” Mr. Arkin said.

He and Ms. Wingert spent $100,000 renovating the upstairs two-bedroom unit in a loft style and adding a glass sculpture studio. The rumble of passing trucks can be felt, but Mr. Arkin is at peace. “I literally only moved two blocks,” he said, “and I don’t see it as any different in terms of inconvenience. I still go to Court Street and Smith Street as I did before.” For shopping he walks to Met Food on Henry Street, traversing one of the few streets that cross the B.Q.E., or drives to Trader Joe’s in Cobble Hill or to Fairway in Red Hook.

The uncrowded, low-rise character of the district gives some blocks the feeling of an urban small town. Mr. Arkin and his family eat regularly at Petite Crevette, the catch-of-the-day restaurant that rents space downstairs from them. Next door, Mr. Arkin runs a vest-pocket gallery, through whose window a sculptor has been seen at work on a statue of St. Salvatore for an owner of the Famous House of Pizza and Calzone around the corner.

“It’s got a more relaxed vibe than Carroll Gardens,” said Frank Galeano, who sells real estate out of the Union Street row house, west of the B.Q.E., where he grew up in the 1970s and ’80s. “You talk to your neighbor, and you might have a beer standing in front of your house.”

What You’ll Find

The district is one of Brooklyn’s smallest neighborhoods, about 22 blocks between the B.Q.E. and the waterfront, from Atlantic Avenue to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly the Brooklyn-Battery). Sixty percent of its 3,616 residents are white and 23 percent Hispanic, census figures show; African-Americans and Asians each account for 7 percent. The area is popular with gay couples and has also been drawing young families.

The tantalizing proximity to the water, from which it is cut off by working piers, is both its allure and its frustration. Much of Columbia Street offers views of the Manhattan skyline behind a foreground of cargo containers and cranes, which by night are spangled with lights. (The Pier 6 Playground in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at the foot of Atlantic Avenue, is a short trip on Columbia Street’s bike or pedestrian paths.)

But access to the water is blocked within the district by the active Red Hook Container Terminal and by Pier 7, which is leased by a beverage distributor. “If you live in that neighborhood, you cannot get to the waterfront,” said Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6. “You are landlocked. It’s frustrating, and it’s a lost opportunity.”

Stronger connections between the Columbia district and publicly accessible stretches of the Brooklyn waterfront are in the works. The bike and footpaths on Columbia and Degraw Streets, part of an envisioned 14-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, are to be extended south along Van Brunt Street to Hamilton Avenue after city roadway reconstruction, five years behind schedule, is completed. Additionally, the transportation committee of Community Board 6 last month approved a further extension of the greenway south through Red Hook to Louis Valentino Jr. Park, known for its Statue of Liberty views.

The nonprofit Brooklyn Greenway Initiative has also worked with the Regional Plan Association, an advocacy group, to develop conceptual plans for a two-acre park between Columbia and the piers. The property is not yet under Parks Department control.

What You’ll Pay

New condos are popping up, joining hundred-year-old row houses, converted industrial buildings and multifamily urban-renewal town houses built in the ’80s and later.

Sale prices, stuck for years at $500 a square foot, have been rising. Urban-renewal town houses are selling for $600 to $700 a square foot, Mr. Manzione said, adding that new condos were bringing $800 to $900. Two-bedroom condos in a converted house at 118 President Street recently sold for $800,000 to $1.1 million.

At 107 Union Street, Marshall Sohne, a developer, is building an energy-efficient “passive house” with an elevator, Manhattan views, and a garage equipped with an electric car (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/e/electric_vehicles/index.html?&inline=nyt-classifier) hookup.

Passive houses use highly effective insulation and airtight construction to minimize energy demand.

Mixed-use row houses with retail space on the ground floor had been selling around $1.2 million, Mr. Galeano said, but when the next one comes on the market he expects it to go for nearly $2 million, given rising condo prices.

Two-bedrooms in row houses typically rent around $2,500 a month, he said. Rentals in new buildings like 295 Columbia can cost over $3,000.
A search on Streeteasy.com found just six properties for sale, and nine for rent.

What to Do

Good, comfortable restaurants are close at hand. The Thai hot spot Pok Pok NY has lines down the block. Alma, which has Mexican fare, offers a grittily picturesque view of the piers and Manhattan. The Jalopy Theater and School of Music is a vibrant hangout offering banjo and ukulele lessons.

The Commute

The Columbia district has no subway. To the east, the F and G trains run along Smith Street, with station entrances at Carroll, President and Bergen Streets. Lower Manhattan is a 20-minute trip on the F, with a change to the A; Midtown is a half-hour ride. The B61 bus plies Columbia Street, reaching Downtown Brooklyn in about 15 minutes.

The Schools

Parts of the district are zoned for two popular public elementary schools, P. S. 29 on Henry Street and P. S. 58 on Smith. P.S. 29 got a B for student performance on a recent city progress report; P. S. 58 scored an A.

Nearby middle schools include No. 447 in Boerum Hill, which got an A on its progress report. Public high schools include the South Brooklyn Community High School in Red Hook, where SAT averages last year were 430 in reading, 416 in math, and 425 in writing, versus 434, 461, and 430 citywide.

The History

In the 1840s, when nearby Bergen Hill, “a popular resort for sport and mischief,” was cut down by 130 feet to bring it to the grade of Court Street, the material removed was used to fill in Columbia Street, according to an 1896 Brooklyn Daily Eagle article.


March 31st, 2013, 11:55 PM
B44 Select Bus Service is being built along Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Here is construction at Emmons Ave & Nostrand Ave in Sheepshead Bay:



April 13th, 2013, 09:33 PM
Ditmas Park

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Coney Island

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Brighton Beach

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April 13th, 2013, 11:32 PM
Great photos as always, Nexis, especially those Russian mob-financed mid-block mid-rises in Brighton between Neptune and BB Avenue

April 14th, 2013, 11:09 AM
WOW! Awesome photos, Nexis :).

Ditmas Park is out of this world.

April 14th, 2013, 04:44 PM
That was a fantastic photo tour of the Brighton Beach / Coney Island areas: I enjoyed it too. We should all chip in to buy you a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka for all your kind effort .....HeHe

April 14th, 2013, 05:35 PM
Thanks i'm not done will Brooklyn yet or Queens or the Bronx , I will explore and photograph a few more neighborhoods...
Brooklyn : Bay Ridge , Dyker Heights , Ocean Parkway
Queens : Elmhurst , Rego Park , Murray Hill , Whitestone
The Bronx : Pelham Bay , Woodlawn , City Island , Orchard Beach

April 19th, 2013, 06:07 PM
Bay Ridge - Brooklyn

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084 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128248/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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086 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128214/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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091 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031355/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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094 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128158/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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095 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031001/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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096 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031311/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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097 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031299/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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098 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031293/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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099 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128106/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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100 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128102/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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101 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128086/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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102 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662031257/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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103 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128066/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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104 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128056/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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105 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8663128062/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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106 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8662030995/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

Next Photo Thread : Newark's Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom's , Downtown Newark & The Ironbound

April 19th, 2013, 11:46 PM
Thanks again, Nexus, excellent :).

The cherry blossoms are gorgeous.

BTW, what is that bridge with the amazing bas-relief friezes in post #99 (couldn't find it :o)?

April 20th, 2013, 01:23 AM
Thanks again, Nexus, excellent :).

The cherry blossoms are gorgeous.

BTW, what is that bridge with the amazing bas-relief friezes in post #99 (couldn't find it :o)?

The Good Ole Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which can be seen in various sections of Bay Ridge along with the World Trade Center.....

April 29th, 2013, 03:57 PM
What a switch.

Brooklyn real estate boom: Home prices so hot buyers returning to Manhattan

The median price of a Brooklyn home in the first quarter rose 14.4% to $515,000, the highest price reached since the second quarter of 2008, says report.

By Phyllis Furman (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Phyllis Furman) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, April 11, 2013, 10:20 AM

Edwine Seymour

“Brooklyn is essentially standing on its own,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, which compiles reports for Douglas Elliman.
Brooklyn home prices are getting so high, buyers are heading back to Manhattan.
The median price of a Brooklyn home in the first quarter rose 14.4% to $515,000, the highest price reached since the second quarter of 2008, according to a report from Douglas Elliman.
RELATED: GOWANUS-PARK SLOPE BORDER IS GOING UP (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/gowanus-article-1.1294669)
“We have incredible demand and very limited supply,” said Michael Guerra, Douglas Elliman’s managing director, Brooklyn.
“I was just talking to a buyer who is reshifting her search back to the upper West Side. She said, ‘I am not seeing a discount,’ ” in Brooklyn.
RELATED: BK POPULATION BOOM ABOUT BED-STUY AND BABIES (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/bk-population-boom-bed-stuy-babies-article-1.1294424)
Brooklyn’s prices are being pushed up by a sharp decline in inventory, which fell 45% in the quarter to a five-year low.
With demand strong, prices are up in almost every part of the borough.
RELATED: ONE BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK SEES SERIOUS ACTION (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/brooklyn-bridge-park-sees-serious-action-article-1.1301770)
“We are seeing it at every price point,” Guerra said. “We are breaking records in Bed-Stuy. We are breaking records in Flatbush.”
North Brooklyn, which includes the swanky condos of Williamsburg, saw prices jump by 30% in the quarter to $691,000. But sales fell sharply — by 45%.
Median prices also surged in affluent Northwest Brooklyn, rising 24% to $695,000.
But east Brooklyn, which has been an epicenter of the city’s foreclosure crisis, also rallied, with prices increasing by 5.2% to $390,000.

“Brooklyn is essentially standing on its own,” said Jonathan Miller, CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, which compiles reports for Douglas Elliman. “It’s become more of a destination.”
Brooklyn rents are also on a tear. The average rent in the borough in March reached $2,971, an 11.5% increase when compared with March 2012, Douglas Elliman said.
A separate report from Citi Habitats showed rents in Manhattan in the first quarter were up compared with the same period a year ago, but fell when compared with the previous quarter.
Manhattan’s vacancy rate widened to 1.41%, compared to 1.22% during the first quarter of 2012, and 1.38% in the previous quarter.
At the same time, landlord concessions, while still few and far between, increased.
“All of these facts were great news for tenants,” Citi Habitats president Gary Malin told the Daily News.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/brooklyn-real-estate-boom-home-prices-hot-buyers-returning-manhattan-article-1.1313588#ixzz2Rsrh1frD

May 1st, 2013, 07:20 AM
A NORC, Up Close and Personal


Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Much of the housing in Fort Hamilton is prewar, and residents tend to stick around so faithfully
that prices wobbled only a little after the 2008 crash.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/05/05/realestate/20130505-LIVING.html)


Fort Hamilton, the square-mile-size southern half of Bay Ridge, which takes its name from the local Army garrison, is not a place that people tend to leave. Judging from the numbers, this magnetism has effectively turned it into a “NORC,” or naturally occurring retirement community.

Almost a third of the 28,500 or so residents are over 55, according to 2010 census data. That compares with only a quarter in the city as a whole. Those 55 to 64 constituted the fastest-growing group by far from 2000 to 2010; their numbers increased by 25 percent.

Josephine Beckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10, which covers Fort Hamilton, says she frequently goes with her father-in-law to the well-attended Fort Hamilton Senior Recreation Center. “You have seniors living immediately in the area who are learning how to use a computer, taking dance classes, going to work out,” Ms. Beckmann said. “They have a big social network and dances every week. It’s a fun place to go.”

Fort Hamilton even has some of the flavor of a Florida retirement community, with high-rise apartment buildings lining Shore Road, which fronts the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and New York Bay.

Many of these buildings are prewar, and many of the houses, too, were built decades ago. The real estate market, known for its constancy, barely stumbled during the financial crisis, brokers said.

“It stayed stable because of the convenience of where we’re located,” said Joseph Madaio, the managing broker of Re/Max Metro, who grew up and works locally.

Settled starting in the 19th century by Norwegians, followed in the 20th by immigrants from Ireland and Italy, the area has in recent years grown more diverse, with arrivals from Greece, Egypt, Lebanon and China, along with other Mideastern and Asian countries, residents say.

Doris Cruz, a 30-year Fort Hamilton resident of Norwegian descent living on 99th Street, says that two families on her block have been in the same home for three generations, or about 75 years. Others have lived there for 40 or more years.

Fort Hamilton “is a neighborhood where people age in place,” Ms. Cruz said. “There are some very established families on my block, and I think that’s typical.”

Not that there aren’t younger people moving in — primarily to take advantage of Fort Hamilton’s relatively reasonable house prices and convenient Manhattan commuting options, Mr. Madaio said.

Stephen Nesbit, a 33-year-old law student and program coordinator for a graduate school on the Upper East Side, commutes daily and searched in the area for an apartment “because it’s affordable housing, tree-lined streets, a very safe neighborhood,” he said. “And the people are very friendly here.”

Mr. Nesbit grew up in Bay Ridge, frequently accompanying his father to business meetings in the Fort Hamilton area. In particular, he remembers the neighborhood’s parks, along with the Civil War memorial, a massive cannon surrounded by cannonballs. The area is frequently used as a site for weddings.

“Those things are nice landmarks,” Mr. Nesbit said. “This is part of Brooklyn that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to exist if you weren’t familiar with the borough.”

What You’ll Find

Boundaries can often be a subject of contention, but a well-accepted definition of Fort Hamilton has it stretching from the Narrows north to the main commercial strip at 86th Street, and from New York Bay east to Seventh Avenue, which runs south to the fort.

Described as one of the oldest continuously garrisoned federal forts in the country, United States Army Garrison Fort Hamilton is a neighborhood icon, along with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Since the terror attacks of 2001, however, it has reduced its community involvement for security reasons. “They used to have concerts, and many more events that were open to the public,” Ms. Cruz said. “But since 9/11, it’s really declined.”

The area’s low-slung character and leafy environs have had extra protection since a 2005 rezoning. The housing stock is mostly one-, two- and three-family attached and detached homes; the tallest structures are six-story apartment complexes along Shore Road, and here and there along Third and Fourth Avenues.

New development has been limited, although there are new condominiums at 9917 Shore Road and 346 93rd Street, among others, Mr. Madaio said.

What You’ll Pay

Home prices are cheaper than in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. A recent Zillow.com search turned up 210 market-rate properties for sale in Fort Hamilton.

“A brownstone in Park Slope could be $1.8 million or $2 million,” Mr. Madaio said. “You can get something nice over here for around $1 million, so it’s much more affordable.”

In general, single-family homes in Fort Hamilton start in the high $600,000s, while detached houses on Shore Road can go for several million dollars, Mr. Madaio said.

New one-and two-bedroom condos start in the upper $500,000s; three-bedrooms can cost over $1 million. There are many more co-op apartments in Fort Hamilton than condos, and they tend to be cheaper — some are even less than half the price, depending on the area, Mr. Madaio said.

Rentals are also a relative bargain. One-bedrooms rent for $1,100 to $1,300 a month; two-bedrooms for $1,250 to $1,850; and three-bedrooms for $1,600 to $2,400, according to Andrei Hippix, a sales agent with Rapid Realty.

(Mr. Nesbit, the law student who had hunted a rental in the area, ended up in a large one-bedroom a few blocks away in Dyker Heights, which has similar property values. He pays $1,200 a month.)

The Commute

Most residents complain that the R train into Manhattan, with stops at Bay Ridge-95th Street and 86th Street, is sluggish and packed during rush hours. Others skip the train, opting for the many express buses into Manhattan, like the X27, X37, X28 and X38. The former normally takes about 50 minutes, the latter about an hour.

What to Do

The Harbor Defense Museum (http://www.harbordefensemuseum.com/), within the fort at 230 Sheridan Avenue, displays its history but is closed for renovations until sometime in the summer.

Security is tight at the museum and throughout the fort complex, said Bruce Hill, a public affairs specialist there.

The Community Club at the fort has a swimming pool. Although memberships are available mostly to service members, military retirees and some federal employees, unaffiliated residents can get guest memberships if sponsored by eligible members.

The water is a recreational focus for many. A bike path runs along Shore Road, and fishing is popular, with access at Fourth Avenue and 101st Street near John Paul Jones Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/johnpauljonespark/). Its 5 acres are devoted to historic memorials, but the nearby 8.6-acre John J. Carty Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/johnjcartypark/history)has basketball, tennis courts and a playground, along with the senior center.

The Schools

Public School/Intermediate School 104 the Fort Hamilton School, which runs through Grade 8, got a B on its latest city progress report, with 68 percent of students showing mastery in English and 83 percent in math, versus 47 and 60 citywide.

SAT averages at Fort Hamilton High School last year were 417 in reading, 478 in math and 411 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

There are several dozen private and parochial schools within three miles of Fort Hamilton, several of them within the neighborhood. Among these are Fontbonne Hall Academy, a girls’ high school, and the St. Patrick School.

The History

St. John’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1834, soon thereafter became known unofficially as the Church of the Generals, said the Rev. David Sibley, the priest in charge. Capt. Robert E. Lee (the future general) served on the governing board of the parish, and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, a Confederate general in the Civil War, was baptized there.


May 19th, 2013, 09:43 AM
Midwood - Brooklyn

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7292/8746980834_1d031fde98_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980834/)
014 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980834/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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015 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981956/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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016 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858717/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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017 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980826/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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019 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981910/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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021 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980820/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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022 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981902/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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023 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981952/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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024 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981886/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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025 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981882/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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027 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981844/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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028 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858597/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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029 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981850/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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030 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858571/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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031 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980798/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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032 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858563/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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033 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858549/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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034 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981794/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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035 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981790/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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036 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981772/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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038 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858511/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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040 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981754/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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042 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981746/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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043 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981738/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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044 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858469/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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045 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745857499/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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046 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981722/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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047 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981720/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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048 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981686/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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049 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981678/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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051 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981666/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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053 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745857483/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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055 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858395/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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056 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981642/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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057 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981630/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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058 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858361/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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059 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858357/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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060 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745857467/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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061 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746980722/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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062 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8745858349/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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063 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981606/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

June 29th, 2013, 12:52 PM
Boerum Hill

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2859/9160577894_27d6528753_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577894/)
028 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577894/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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029 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160576366/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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030 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577884/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7419/9160577756_865b6b27f5_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577756/)
032 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577756/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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033 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352881/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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034 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158351461/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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036 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158351451/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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037 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352803/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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038 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352797/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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039 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577590/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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040 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352747/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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043 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158351401/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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044 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577422/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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045 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160576242/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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047 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9160577354/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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048 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352459/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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050 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9158352397/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

June 30th, 2013, 03:21 AM
Obviously a hot day. Could someone please give those hydrangeas (#110 043) a drink :).

It's nice to see that people seem to take pride in their (mostly) tiny front gardens.

Love the white tulips in #109.

Very interesting building on the left in #109 13. (029). What is it?

June 30th, 2013, 03:59 AM
Obviously a hot day. Could someone please give those hydrangeas (#110 043) a drink :).

It's nice to see that people seem to take pride in their (mostly) tiny front gardens.

Love the white tulips in #109.

Very interesting building on the left in #109 13. (029). What is it?

It has been humid with afternoon storms , so all the plants have been getting their thirst quenched. Its been like this for 7 days and will continue for another 8-10. The unstable atmosphere makes going to the beach or long trips a gamble. As for the Gardens , it seems more and more Urban Neighborhoods are creating them in their tiny front yards or common areas. Its a nice touch to each area. As for the building in 29 , which I need to label... That is the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williamsburgh_Savings_Bank_Tower

July 2nd, 2013, 10:14 AM
^ Not that one :), this one:

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7297/8746981850_104b474fe3_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981850/)
029 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981850/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

July 2nd, 2013, 11:40 AM
^ Not that one :), this one:

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7297/8746981850_104b474fe3_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981850/)
029 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/8746981850/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

That is a Synagogue

July 4th, 2013, 10:06 AM
Clinton Hill: All the Requisites, Plus Great Bones


Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
A row of period town houses lines Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/07/07/realestate/20130707-LIVING.html)

Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
278 Clinton Avenue

https://www.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif https://www.nytimes.com/images/2013/07/07/realestate/07-living-in-map/07-living-in-map-popup-v2.png

Steve Mona and Elaine Page liked their rental loft in Dumbo just fine, but they wanted to live in a place that felt more like a neighborhood. Mr. Mona, a garrulous Brooklyn-born retired police lieutenant, wanted a stoop where he could chat up passers-by. Ms. Page, an English human-resources executive, wanted a “high street,” the very British term for a town’s main street, where you can get everything you need in a single stroll.

The pedestrian-friendly Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill, sandwiched between Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant, satisfied them both. Last month the couple, who will be married in September, moved into a brownstone duplex on Clinton Avenue, for which they pay $5,100 a month. Mr. Mona and his goldendoodle, Bisquit, like the deep front yard, while Ms. Page has found her high street just up the block on Myrtle Avenue.

Not so long ago, the notion of Myrtle as an attraction would have seemed preposterous. In the 1980s the street was nicknamed Murder Avenue, and as late as the mid-1990s one in four storefronts were shuttered. Now crime is much reduced and the section of Myrtle from Flatbush to Classon Avenue, which includes a stretch in Fort Greene, has a retail vacancy rate of only 5 percent, said Michael Blaise Backer, the executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. Three quarters of the 160 businesses are owned by women or minorities, Mr. Backer said. Ninety-five percent are locally owned, and the strip has a social, mom-and-pop vibe.

“There’s a dry-cleaners right there, tons of takeout places and restaurants, and a few small groceries,” Mr. Mona said. “Elaine found a yoga studio and a nail salon, and she comes home every evening with her arms full of bags and a smile on her face.”

Myrtle owes much of its resurgence to Pratt Institute, whose campus occupies 25 acres in Clinton Hill, mainly south of Willoughby Avenue. In 2011, Pratt opened a $54 million academic and administrative building on Myrtle and Grand Avenues. The ground floor is occupied by Utrecht Art Supplies and Khim’s Millennium Market, whose arrival helped address a shortage of fresh food. Far from presenting a fortress wall to Myrtle, the red masonry facade has a three-story window through which student art can be seen.

“We wanted the building to be invitational to the neighborhood,” said Dr. Thomas F. Schutte, Pratt’s president, who is also the chairman of the nonprofit Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (http://www.brooklynartscouncil.org/directory/17204). “And it was received with great pleasure that we called the building Myrtle Hall, because it showed we embraced the neighborhood.”

Further transformation is imminent. Just west of Myrtle Hall, demolition has begun on a two-block strip of buildings that housed a post office, a supermarket and shops. The Silverstone Property Group plans two buildings, seven and eight stories tall, with 240 rentals, 20 percent of them below market rate. The development will include retail space, occupied in part by an expanded supermarket.

Ground is also to be broken by next year on a $6 million public plaza on a strip of Myrtle from Hall Street to Emerson Place, with 25,000 added feet for people and performances.

What You’ll Find

Clinton Hill — 350 acres bounded by Flushing Avenue on the north and Atlantic on the south, between Vanderbilt and Classon Avenues — is known for ethnic and architectural diversity. A 2007-2011 census survey of that area plus a few adjoining blocks estimated that 26,969 people resided there. Thirty-nine percent were black, 36 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic and 6 percent Asian.

“It’s kind of a gentle mix of people,” said Doug Bowen, an executive vice president of CORE real estate, and a resident since 1999. “And there’s a lot of pride in the residents, both homeownership pride and neighborhood pride. Even renters show up to the neighborhood association meetings.”

Much of the area south of Willoughby lies within a historic district. In the 1870s, some of Brooklyn’s wealthiest citizens began building mansions on Washington and Clinton Avenues. The latter is flanked by such monumental structures as the Italianate villa of Charles Pratt, a partner of John D. Rockefeller, and the mansions of three of his sons. Two of these houses are occupied by St. Joseph’s College; a third is home to Dr. Schutte of Pratt. Another structure, a red-brick and limestone castle at No. 278, is listed by the Corcoran Group at $5.85 million. Described in a city landmarks report as “surely the most eccentric house in the historic district,” it has been subdivided into six units.Elsewhere in Clinton Hill are small frame houses, apartment buildings, shiny condos, and chocolaty rows of period brownstones, some well maintained, others weary and neglected. On Washington, just north of Underwood Park, the stately red-brick 1851 Brooklyn Society for the Relief of Respectable Aged Indigent Females is a condo conversion.

Although few indigent females or males, however respectable, can afford Clinton Hill these days, the neighborhood is still within reach of some buyers priced out of areas like Cobble Hill and Fort Greene. Among these newcomers are Tim Dockery, a lawyer, and his mother, Meliora, a semiretired corporate trainer, who bought town houses on opposite sides of Classon Avenue last year. Mr. Dockery’s girlfriend, Sabiola Turner, was expecting the couple’s second child, and Ms. Dockery wanted to be nearby to help out.

“There are so many different kinds of bars and restaurants,” said Ms. Dockery, who paid $1.8 million for her house. “The area is just exploding with life.”

What You’ll Pay

Tight inventory is elevating prices. Town house sales have ranged from $900,000 to $3 million in the last year, said Mr. Bowen of CORE, with “the large majority” from $1.9 million to $2.5 million. New condos or conversions like 91 Grand are selling for $725 to $750 a square foot, he added.

Brownstone condo conversions are common, with two-bedroom floor-through units selling for $750,000 to $800,000 and duplexes with outdoor space costing $1.2 million, said Pamela R. Young, a senior associate at Corcoran.

Prices for renovated one-bedrooms in the Clinton Hill Co-ops (http://clintonhillcoops.com/), 12 mostly high-rise buildings dating to the 1940s, have reached $420,000 or thereabouts, said Roberta Axelrod, the director of co-op sales for Time Equities.

A search on Streeteasy.com found 62 residential properties for sale and 114 for rent; most two-bedroom rentals ranged from $1,595 to $3,500 a month.

What to Do

The Free Marketplace, featuring local artisan goods, live music, and family activities, will hold events on July 28 on Waverly and Fulton, and on Aug. 11 at Putnam Triangle, a public plaza. Also at Putnam Triangle, instructors from Mark Morris Dance Center and Cumbe teach free dance classes at 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays in July.

Come September, busy working people will be able to pick up specialty prepared foods at Peck’s, a new shop on Myrtle run by their neighbor Theo Peck, whose family co-owned the legendary Lower East Side restaurant Ratner’s.

The Schools

Options include Public School 56, on Gates Avenue, which teaches through fifth grade and got a B in student performance in a recent city progress report. Middle School 113, on Adelphi Street in neighboring Fort Greene, earned a C.

SAT averages last year at the Benjamin Banneker Academy, a high school on Clinton Avenue, were 471 in reading, 472 in math and 448 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The Commute

The G train runs along Lafayette Avenue. The A and C stop at the Washington-Clinton station. Buses include the B38, along DeKalb, and the B54 along Myrtle.

The History

In his 1944 book “The City of Brooklyn 1861-1898: A Political History,” Harold Coffin Syrett noted that the area’s “position was not unlike that of the Heights; but its elegant residences were fewer in number and their owners slightly further removed from the traditions of genteel respectability.”


July 5th, 2013, 02:24 AM
That is a Synagogue

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks Nexis.

July 27th, 2013, 02:44 PM

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7299/9371897389_0891c34c73_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897389/)
001 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897389/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7388/9371897285_75072f0f1c_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897285/)
003 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897285/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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005 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897307/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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009 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371897027/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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016 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371896763/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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026 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9371896459/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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027 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9374671072/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

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028 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42178139@N06/9374670976/) by Nexis4Jersey09 (http://www.flickr.com/people/42178139@N06/), on Flickr

August 29th, 2013, 11:37 AM
Dumbo, Brooklyn: How Noir Looks When It’s Polished


Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Dumbo’s postindustrial landscape remains a strong presence, though today it is bookended by
amenities like Brooklyn Bridge Park, at right.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/08/28/realestate/28livingmap/28livingmap-popup.png

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/09/01/realestate/20130901_LIVING.html)

Neighborhood lore, at least as related by an oft-cited local history, has it that “Dumbo,” an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was coined in the late 1970s by a few artists hoping that an odd name would deter development.

So much for that effort (detailed on DumboNYC.com (http://dumbonyc.com/blog/2007/05/21/how-dumbo-got-its-name/)). Over the last 15 years, residential development has swept from west to east through this tiny Brooklyn loft district anchored by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, an enclave of about 25 blocks that once manufactured everything from boxes to Brillo pads.

Now the noirish late-19th- and early 20th-century warehouses originally populated by several dozen artists have been joined by waterfront condominiums and rental buildings that are home to almost 3,000 residents — and the pace of development has not slowed.

Even a decade ago, Dumbo was not a place for the faint of heart. Ted Moncreiff, a resident, said he remembered having to protect his son, a toddler at the time, from treacherous conditions along Front Street. “There used to be these deep wells along the sides of the buildings,” he said. “And honestly, it was like Baby Jessica in the well — if anybody fell in, there was no getting you out.”
These holes have since been covered and the rough edges smoothed. The area, no longer rugged, has become almost quaint, with old train tracks in uneven Belgian-block streets. And whatever one thinks of its name, Dumbo has become one of the toniest parts of Brooklyn.

“It’s a much more physically pulled-together and beautiful place to live,” Mr. Moncreiff said. “It also feels more — ‘suburban’ isn’t the right word — but there’s only so many strollers before you are no longer officially an urban pioneer.”

It’s also much pricier. Records show that in 2003, Mr. Moncreiff paid $850,000 for a two-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath condo at 30 Main Street, and that in 2011, he sold it for almost $1.6 million. The unit is now listed at $1.825 million. Mr. Moncreiff lives at 192 Water Street, and declined to reveal the purchase price there.

Residents say few artists live here now, but the area continues to attract a creative, if more entrepreneurial, class. And a concentration of Internet and technology firms has led the city to designate the area as one leg of a Brooklyn “Tech Triangle.”

That creative energy lends vibrancy to a neighborhood that now has enough of its own amenities to rival neighboring Brooklyn Heights. Dumbo is smaller and has the feel of a village, where people get to know one another, residents say.

“Dumbo happens to be a very sticky neighborhood, insofar as people stay here,” said Jared Della Valle, who has lived in the area for over a decade. “People move from building to building; they upgrade their apartments each time; and their kids stay in the same schools.”

The area has long been a magnet for film crews and fashion photographers, attracted by its bridges, views and postindustrial landscape. But residents say Dumbo has also become a tourist destination.

“Which is wild,” said Deborah Brener Zolan, a resident and an agent with Brown Harris Stevens, “because it’s not a big neighborhood at all, and to see a tourist bus come through is pretty remarkable.”

What You’ll Find

There is little quibbling about boundaries for Dumbo, which is typically seen as the roughly 25 blocks circumscribed by the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Bridge Street.

It was more than three decades ago that David C. Walentas, the founder of the Two Trees Management Company and a major figure in the residential remaking of Dumbo, bought a hefty chunk of the neighborhood for $12 million. He began the first condo conversions of manufacturing buildings, starting with the Clock Tower building at 1 Main Street, in the late 1990s.

Most recently, Two Trees has converted some of the area’s older buildings, 25 and 30 Washington Street, into rentals, and is laying the foundation for a 17-story rental tower, called the Dock Street project, said Jed Walentas, David’s son, who handles daily operations.

The area west of the Manhattan Bridge, known as “prime Dumbo” among real estate mavens, is mostly developed; residents say that the grittier area east of the bridge is undergoing development. Recent projects of note have included the rental building 220 Water Street and smaller condo buildings like 185 Plymouth and 192 Water. The area has even attracted behemoths like Toll Brothers, which has developed condos at 205 Water.

What You’ll Pay

Inventory is very tight: only about 17 to 20 homes are on the market, at some of the highest prices in Brooklyn, said Terrence Le Ray, a Dumbo specialist with Halstead Property.
Since apartments here are typically spacious conversions, they’re often compared in prices per square foot, he said. For a standard condominium, the range per square foot is $950 to $1,000, but over all, units can cost as little as $850 a square foot, or as much as $1,400, Ms. Brener Zolan said.

“The $1,200- and $1,400-a-square-foot apartments are going to be in the buildings on the water with the views and the 13-foot ceilings,” she said.

A view of Manhattan’s landmarks and the two bridges may run a buyer an additional $100 per square foot, Mr. Le Ray said. Also, because units with more than two bedrooms are rare, they typically get a premium, he said.

Dumbo has more rentals than ever before. According to Ms. Brener Zolan, one-bedrooms range from about $3,000 to $3,200 a month, though units with home offices can rent for as much as $5,000. Two-bedrooms generally command $4,500 to $6,500 a month; three-bedrooms cost $7,000 and up.

What to Do

The relatively recent development of Brooklyn Bridge Park, particularly the Main Street and Empire-Fulton Ferry sections, which are in Dumbo, has added an attraction to the neighborhood. The park has lots of activities, one of them the popular Smorgasburg, a food market offered by the Brooklyn Flea in the park’s Tobacco Warehouse on summer Sundays.

Dumbo has art galleries and boutiques, restaurants and cafes. A new restaurant serving American cuisine — Atrium, at 15 Main Street — has so far been a hit.

Supermarkets are small and pricey, consisting of Foragers at 56 Adams Street and Peas & Pickles at 55 Washington. (The nearest large alternatives are Trader Joe’s, in the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill area, and Fairway in Red Hook.)

The Commute

The F train has a stop on the edge of Dumbo at York Street, while the A, C, 2 and 3 lines require about a 10-minute walk. The commute via subway into Midtown takes 20 to 25 minutes, but many people also cycle (there are Citi Bike racks throughout Dumbo) or take the East River Ferry or the New York Water Taxi.

The Schools

Dumbo proper has no public schools, though it is zoned for Public School 8 Robert Fulton in Brooklyn Heights, which is popular with many Dumbo parents and also houses a middle school. It got a B on its most recent progress report; 80.1 percent of tested students showed mastery in English, 82.7 in math, versus 47 and 60 citywide.

Two popular private schools in Brooklyn Heights are the Packer Collegiate Institute and St. Ann’s School, which both run through Grade 12. Teens from Dumbo typically attend public high schools all over the city.

It will be at least two years before Dumbo acquires its first public school: a 300-seat middle school, scheduled to open either in 2015 or 2016 as part of the Dock Street project.

The History

The area that eventually became Dumbo often used to be referred to as Two Bridges, defined as it is by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. In 2007, the Landmarks Preservation Commission included almost the entire neighborhood in what it designated the Dumbo Historic District.


September 7th, 2013, 01:15 AM
Tracing the History of Flatbush Through One of Its Schools

by Lisa Santoro

[Via the Brooklyn Public Library.]

With the beginning of a new school year, it seems fitting for Curbed Classics to feature a historic school building—Flatbush's Erasmus Hall High School at 899-925 Flatbush Avenue. The building's style and design are impressive. It possesses cathedral-like sentimentality and its adornment—owls (representing wisdom), gargoyles, wrought-iron lanterns, and stunning stained glass, some of which was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=5430#more-5430) in the 1910s. But there's more to the building than its facade. It contains layers of history that tell the story of Flatbush's growth and development, its subsequent decline, and now its remarkable resurgence.

[Via the Brooklyn Public Library.]

If you peek past the iron fence covering the school's main entrance, you will see a decaying wooden clapboard schoolhouse that seems a bit out of place. This is actually the building that started it all—the original Erasmus Hall Academy, the oldest secondary school in the state. The two-and-a-half-story building (which throughout its tenure would have wings added and subsequently removed) was built in 1786 by the townspeople of Flatbush on land donated by the Flatbush Dutch Reformed Church (http://www.flatbushchurch.org/about-us/history-of-the-church), located just across the street. The school's benefactors were prominent men of the time, their names still memorialized throughout the area—John Vanderbilt, Alexander Hamilton, Jacob Lefferts, John Jay, and Aaron Burr. The school was named after Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), a Dutch scholar, humanist and teacher. The school opened a year later, in 1787, under the leadership of Dr. and Reverend John H. Livingston and soon became a moral and educational force in the community. But despite growth in the early 1800s—female students were accepted in 1801 and in 1803 Erasmus incorporated the village school of Flatbush—the school was unable to compete for enrollment with the city's new public school system. Dwindling enrollment numbers due to the high cost of tuition led the benefactors to support converting Erasmus Hall Academy into a public high school in 1896, under the name Erasmus Hall High School.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/erasmus3-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/erasmus3.jpg)
[Erasmus Hall High School, via the NYPL.]

Given the increase in enrollment once the school went public, expansion was essential. Charles B.J. Snyder, the Superintendent of School Buildings who designed and constructed over 170 New York City public schools during his tenure, drew up plans in 1904 for a series of buildings (to be built on an as-needed basis) around a grassy quadrangle, using the original wooden schoolhouse as the centerpiece of the courtyard. This was a practical design, as the fortress-like perimeter buildings screened out the noise and congestion of the busy thoroughfares around the complex.

The buildings were designed in Snyder's trademark collegiate Gothic style and were meant to evoke the buildings of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The school was constructed in four phases, in 1905-1906, 1909-1900, 1924-1925 and 1939-1940, with the two later buildings supervised by Superintendents William Gompert and Eric Kebbon. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report describes the complex as such: "its buff brick facades have limestone and terra cotta trim and feature central entrance towers with oriel windows and crenellated parapets, Tudor-arched entrances, label moldings and large window groupings." Although later buildings are designed in a less ornamental manner (due to changes in style and most likely less ample funds), they still relate to the older buildings and together create a cohesive and striking campus.

[Via the Brooklyn Public Library.]

The first new section, the multi-leveled three and four-story Flatbush Building, was opened in September 1906 and consisted of the entrance tower, classrooms, teachers' rooms, offices, laboratories, an auditorium, and a library. The cornerstone of the building contained such mementos as a course of study for 1906; a bible, flag, Erasmus Hall High School seal, pin, photograph, song, history, a copy of the Erasmian for 1906; copies of the school plan and other items. The second phase, the Church Avenue Wing, was opened in 1911 and included three buildings with 31 classrooms, laboratories, study hall, and rooms for music, drawing, physics, and shop classes. The completion of this wing increased capacity by approximately 1,450 more students.

During the 1920s school enrollment continued to rise due to immigration, the enforcement of a compulsory education law, and, most simply, more parents' desire to send their children to school.

So the third phase of construction, the Bedford Avenue addition, was approved in 1924. The building is much less ornamented than its fellows and featured a central tower with an arched passageway into the courtyard (a counterpart to the tower along Flatbush Avenue) as well as new classrooms, gymnasiums and a large swimming pool. Although advocacy for the fourth addition occurred in 1929, it was not built until a decade later, in 1939-1940. This addition was to be a five-story building on the south side of the lot connecting the Bedford Avenue building with the auditorium near Flatbush Avenue that would house classrooms, art and homemaking rooms, a girls' gymnasium and a large library. However, in order to make this addition possible, the original 1786 wooden schoolhouse was moved and several of its wings demolished. The Works Progress Administration had already begun a thorough restoration of the building, but it wasn't completed until after World War II, when it was restored and relocated to its current site.

The rest of the school has also been altered from its original formation. Due to years of poor academic performance, the school, with an alumni list that includes Barbra Streisand, Clive Davis, Mae West, Barbara Stanwyck, Neil Diamond, Eli Wallach, Bobby Fischer, has been divided into five smaller high schools to form the Erasmus Hall Educational Campus. The exteriors of the buildings have remained unaltered, so the campus design is still intact. In 2003, the school's buildings were officially granted city landmark designation.

The original Erasmus Hall Academy, which today houses a museum and administrative offices, sits at the center of the campus and serves as the heart of the school. After years of neglect and decay, the building has recently received various preservation grants for restoration. Perhaps with the continued resurgence of the area and other restorations taking place in the neighborhood, such as the nearby Loew's Kings Theatre (http://www.nycedc.com/project/loews-kings-theatre), and the celebration and preservation of various private homes within "Victorian Flatbush", the original schoolhouse, which started it all, could be restored to its former glory and serve as a reminder of the area's early beginnings.

Further Reading:

LPC Report: Erasmus Hall (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/ehall.pdf) [NYC.gov; PDF]
Erasmus Hall Academy is Falling Apart (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/nyregion/thecity/01eras.html?_r=0) [NYT]
The Brilliance of East Flatbush: Erasmus Hall (http://untappedcities.com/2012/05/18/the-brilliance-of-east-flatbush-erasmus-hall/) [Untapped]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/09/05/tracing_the_history_of_flatbush_through_one_of_its _schools.php#more

October 13th, 2013, 04:23 AM
In Canarsie, a Coalition of the Tried-and-True


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/10/13/realestate/20131013-LIVING-slide-9ZAQ/20131013-LIVING-slide-9ZAQ-articleLarge.jpg (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/10/13/realestate/20131013-LIVING.html)
Bryan Thomas for The New York Times
This southern Brooklyn neighborhood is still recovering from the twin blows of the mortgage crisis and Hurricane Sandy.

(click on photo to go to slide show)

To walk or drive around Canarsie, a quiet suburblike peninsula on Brooklyn’s south shore, you might not immediately guess at the recent struggles its residents have endured. The streets are relatively clean, the rows of one- and two-family homes often well maintained, the living-room-carpet-size lawns conscientiously mowed.

But Canarsie, a middle-class neighborhood that is home to many city and health care workers, has weathered two waves of misfortune in six years. A year ago this month, still struggling to regain its footing from the blows of the mortgage crisis, it was flooded in some areas by Hurricane Sandy. In the course of a day, Canarsie suddenly had underwater basements to go along with its underwater mortgages.

“The water came up from Jamaica Bay, came over the Canarsie Pier (http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/capi.html), and rushed right down the streets and into the houses,” said Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association, whose basement on 93rd Street filled to a depth of 41 inches. To make matters more challenging, many residents’ losses were not covered by insurance.

“The mortgage crisis is only getting worse in Canarsie, and it’s been exacerbated by Sandy,” said Angella Davidson, who manages the foreclosure prevention program of the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services of East Flatbush. “People who already were struggling to pay their mortgage are now falling further behind, because they’re using money that should be earmarked for their mortgage to replace boilers and Sheetrock. And Sandy has forced people who were not in foreclosure to face potential foreclosure.”

As of June, more than 10 percent of one- to four-unit properties were in foreclosure in the 11236 ZIP code, the bulk of which is in Canarsie, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Still, nonprofit groups like Neighborhood Housing have helped keep some in their homes, often by renegotiating loan terms.

What Canarsie has going for it as it tries to recover, brokers say, is an established reputation. “It’s not a poor neighborhood, and it’s not a forgotten neighborhood,” said Paul Schwartz, an associate broker at Fillmore Real Estate. “Certainly it’s not the suburbs, but it’s a real solid, well-known, well-liked New York neighborhood whose residents are beyond loyal.”

One such loyalist is Monya Jackson, who teaches surgical technicians how to assist in the operating room. In 1998, in part to stay close to her mother, who lives nearby in East Flatbush, Ms. Jackson paid $143,000 for a two-family house on East 94th near Flatlands Avenue.

“I love Canarsie because it’s so diverse,” she said. “I’m African-American, but there’s a synagogue on the corner, and I’ve got Jewish neighbors, and there’s a pastor down the block. Everyone is very attentive to each other.”

Two years ago Ms. Jackson and her husband, Kenroy, planned to move because their daughter, who has cerebral palsy, was getting too heavy to carry upstairs. Their neighbors, a fond bunch, talked them out of it. Now, she said, her family must finally move on. And she knows just where she will relocate: Canarsie.

“It really feels like a neighborhood in the classic sense,” she said, “and my mom and I feel really safe here.”

What You’ll Find

Canarsie is bounded on three sides by water: Jamaica Bay, and Fresh Creek and Paerdegat Basins. Along its Paerdegat shore are arrayed yacht clubs, an athletic club and the nonprofit Sebago Canoe Club (http://www.sebagocanoeclub.org/). The pleasant adjacent blocks, known as the Paerdegats, are lined with orderly rows of attached red-brick homes, many of them two-families.

The greenest section is within Seaview Village, from around East 98th to 108th Street, south of Avenue L. The houses from East 105th to 108th are mostly detached and tend to have the largest backyards and the most suburban ambience, said Jean-Paul Ho, the broker-owner of Brooklyn Real Property. Seaview Estates, a five-building gated condominium with a swimming pool and a tennis court, is on 108th at the neighborhood’s southern edge. Large houses built in the 1910s and 1920s can be found above Flatlands Avenue. Many were subdivided during the Depression, Mr. Ho said.

Rockaway Parkway is a bustling commercial corridor lined with Jamaican bakeries, jerk chicken shops, cellphone stores and a few shuttered storefronts. The Canarsie Plaza mall on Avenue D has a BJ’s wholesale club, a Planet Fitness and a PetSmart. Next door, the Brooklyn Terminal Market (http://www.brooklynterminalmarketonline.com/default.aspx?pageid=1) sells plants, fruit and West Indian produce like sugar cane.

Canarsie’s population has changed over the years. Home in the 1960s and 1970s primarily to middle-class whites, it has since drawn many people of Caribbean heritage. Some 80 percent of its 83,693 residents are black, according to census figures, while Hispanics account for 8 percent, whites for 6 and Asians for 3.

What You’ll Pay

Houses are mostly one- and two-families, attached, semidetached and detached, said Mr. Schwartz of Fillmore Real Estate. Mr. Schwartz said one-families were selling for an average of $350,000 or so, a tick above last year but still down from 2007, when the average was $400,000. As for two-families, he said, “We have smaller ones to monster ones, ranging from the low 400s to about $600,000.” In 2007 the range was $450,000 to $725,000.

Mr. Ho says one popular type of two-family is the 1960s-era “Waxman split-level,” a three-bedroom unit over a one-bedroom rental with a separate entrance. These are selling for around $550,000, he said, up a bit from last year’s range of $500,000 to $525,000.

Properties typically sell in 60 to 120 days. “Canarsie has not recovered much from the mortgage crisis,” Mr. Ho said, “but you can feel it in the volume of transactions. Nothing was selling last year, but now the activity is there.” A search on Streeteasy.com found 129 properties for sale and 6 for rent. One-bedroom rentals were listed around $1,200 a month.

What to Do

Canarsie Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/canarsiepark/), 132 acres by the waterfront, has been handsomely redone in recent years. Improvements include a fitness trail with exercise stations; a cricket field where the Mayor’s Cup Cricket Tournament finals have been held; and a snazzy $2.13 million skate park, where skateboarders from all over the city gather to shoot videos for YouTube. The second of two playgrounds is also under construction.

Canarsie Pier, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is a lively gathering spot where the sounds of stereos and gulls mix with the jingle from a Mister Softee truck.

Fishermen catch fluke and bluefish while families picnic or set forth on ranger-led paddle trips to the nearby island of Canarsie Pol.

The Schools

Three public elementary schools in Canarsie scored B’s on their most recent city progress reports: Public School 115 on East 92nd Street; No. 272 on Seaview Avenue; and No. 276 on East 83rd Street. P.S. 114, on Remsen Avenue, got a D.

Of two public middle schools, Intermediate School 211 on East 100th got an A while I.S. 68 on East 82nd got a C.

At the High School for Medical Professions on Rockaway Parkway, SAT averages in 2012 were 386 in reading, 380 in math, and 393 in writing, versus 434, 461, and 430 citywide.

The Commute

Many Canarsiens board the L, the area’s only subway, at its terminus at Rockaway Parkway, near the northern edge of the neighborhood. Some residents take the BM2 express bus, which reaches Lower Manhattan in about an hour. The Belt Parkway hugs the southern edge of Canarsie. Drive times are about 45 minutes to Downtown Brooklyn and an hour to Lower Manhattan.

The History

In the 1950s and 1960s Canarsie became both more populated and less soggy, as marshes were filled in to provide land for houses and apartment complexes, according to the Encyclopedia of New York.


October 30th, 2013, 07:21 AM
Year old article, but map still relevant.

Mapping Brooklyn's Spiky Gentrification

Richard Florida
Jan 02, 2013

That Brooklyn houses one of New York City's hottest real estate markets is old news. But a look at some new data shows how uneven and concentrated the borough's transformation is. A number of Brooklyn neighborhoods have seen their residential property values appreciate at an incredible clip. According to PropertyShark's real estate blog:

Home prices per square foot are up 174 percent in Williamsburg, from $269 per square foot in 2004 to $736 in 2012. As happened in Manhattan’s SoHo decades ago, those that gave Williamsburg its éclat are at risk of being priced out of their very own stomping grounds.

Residential values in Prospects Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood of beautiful limestone and brownstone single family houses near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the old Ebbets Field have risen 63 percent, from $235 to $382 per square foot during the period, despite a lack of restaurants, bars, shops, and music venues that Williamsburg is famous for.

Sandwiched in between Carroll Gardens to the west and Park Slope to its east, property values in gritty Gowanus have gone up more than 50 percent, despite its notoriously polluted canal.


None of this is particularly surprising. Brooklyn's Park Slope bested Manhattan's Lower East Side for the crown of New York's "most livable" neighborhood in a 2010 ranking by Nate Silver for New York magazine. Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens/Gowanus, and Prospect Heights all numbered among the top 10. As the map shows, most of the neighborhoods that have seen substantial increases in property values are directly across the river from lower Manhattan, or near Prospect Park, the only exception being Coney Island to the far south.

But what the map also shows is how localized this gentrification turns out to be. Despite Brooklyn's image as an uber-gentrified, artisanally-over-the-top hipster-ville, the reality is that more than half of Brooklyn's neighborhoods have actually seen their property values grow much more modestly or even slide.


When you look to the east towards Brownsville, Canarsie, and East Flatbush — where millions of Brooklyn's residents live — property values have declined by double digits. The three neighborhoods that have seen the biggest declines are Cypress Hills, East Flatbush, and Flatbush. When you look to the traditional working class and middle class neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Midwood, the appreciation is much more modest, in the single digits.

I have often noted that the world is getting spikier, as economic activity concentrates in certain locations. It happens within cities too — even within boroughs, as some neighborhoods experience stunning growth, and others continue to languish. The map shows how uneven and spiky urban transformation is and how divided our cities remain — a subject I will be writing much more about in the New Year.

Copyright 2013 The Atlantic Monthly Group

December 8th, 2013, 03:16 AM
^ Very interesting.

Windsor Terrace: Less Way Station, More Destination


Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Brick rowhouses like these on Seeley Street are in great demand; they can sell for about half
as much as they would in neighboring Park Slope.

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Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
1658 10th Avenue - A five-bedroom five-bath two-family rowhouse (http://www.halstead.com/sale/ny/brooklyn/windsor-terrace/1658-tenth-avenue/townhouse/9273248) with bay windows, listed at $1.849 million.

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For decades the curved, somewhat comma-like shape of Windsor Terrace, in central Brooklyn, seemed almost to symbolize its role: a kind of geographic pause between larger flanking neighborhoods. Squeezed between Park Slope and the various parts of the Flatbush area, and linking them in the process, Windsor Terrace never really achieved the stature of its bigger-name peers.

But after years of sprucing up its parks and adding stylish restaurants, while aggressively protecting its porch-fronted rowhouses from out-of-scale development, the area has become a top-choice destination. Period. Brick rowhouses are the most sought-after, along with wood-frame townhouses, and in the heart of the neighborhood a lack of through streets keeps things quiet.

Longtime residents, who at times have labored to explain to out-of-towners where they live, express their amazement at the transformation.

“Fortunately we bought when we did, otherwise we would never be able to afford this place now,” said Geraldine Cassone, 53, who has spent nearly her entire life in Windsor Terrace. In 1992, Ms. Cassone, a retired special-education administrator, paid $172,000 for a Queen Anne that has multiple porches and a backyard view of Prospect Park.

Though as a “handyman special” it needed a great deal of work — new windows, a roof and a kitchen, among other things — it could sell today for nearly $2 million, Ms. Cassone said, basing her estimate on recent area sales. She shares the home with her husband, Paul, and their two children.

Beyond being a successful investment, Windsor Terrace is appealing for its neighborliness; residents look out for one another at all hours of the day. Offering an example of this interconnectedness, Ms. Cassone described recently logging on, for the first time, to a blog dedicated to local goings-on, only to learn that her dog, Princess, whom she had seen in the yard moments earlier — and who is distinctive in having lost one of her legs — was on the loose. “I thought my husband was playing a joke on me,” she said.

And on the Facebook page dedicated to Dari Litchman’s building not long ago, “My neighbor was like: ‘Who has dried cranberries I can borrow? I will return them tomorrow.’ ” Ms. Litchman lives in a two-bedroom prewar co-op for which her husband, Jonathan Dahan, paid around $100,000 in 2001. The place could sell for about five times that today, said Ms. Litchman, who works as a real estate agent.

A grassroots group of which Ms. Litchman is the lead organizer, Friends of Greenwood Playground (http://friendsofgreenwoodplayground.org/), has worked for nearly a decade to improve a triangular public space adjacent to the Prospect Expressway, turning it into a social hub for parents and children in the process. And this month the group is turning its sights outward, asking residents to donate toys, child car seats and strollers for infants living in poverty in Brooklyn, she said.

When Ms. Litchman moved here a decade ago from Canarsie, people would scratch their heads when she gave the neighborhood’s name. Now, “everybody knows somebody who lives here,” she concluded. “It’s definitely gained respect.”

What You’ll Find

The neighborhood of about 20,000 people is sandwiched on about half a square mile between Green-Wood Cemetery (http://www.green-wood.com/) and Prospect Park (http://www.prospectpark.org/), whose leafy grounds lend a countrified air. Many define the other borders as Prospect Park West and Caton Avenue.

It may be compact, but it doesn’t feel cramped. Stop signs, instead of lights, give many blocks a small-town vibe, which is reinforced by an abundance of American flags. On Howard Place, which is a block long, columned porches and stained-glass windows grace century-old homes. Many homes along Windsor Place have bay windows, both rounded and faceted; they look out over London plane trees, whose thick old roots have dislodged sidewalks in some places. Temple Court has clapboard Italianates, with cornices painted blue, green and purple. And facing the often-jammed Prospect Expressway, which tore up much of the neighborhood when built in the 1950s, a well-kept Second Empire had marigolds in its window boxes.

Though tall co-ops face Prospect Park, Windsor Terrace has been kept mostly low-slung. In the early 1990s, residents persuaded the city to rezone a section to prevent a developer from putting up a 22-story condo on Prospect Park Southwest. The final version, called Windsor Tower, clocks in at 10. In 2009 the city similarly down-zoned a nearby area once known for its horse stables.

Not that there aren’t apartment buildings. A seven-story rental from the Hudson Companies with 73 units is to open in 2015, said David Kramer, a firm principal. There is also a condo at 279 Prospect Park West, between 17th and 18th Streets, in a former paint factory, which was used as a stand-in for a bank in the 1970s heist movie “Dog Day Afternoon,” according to historical accounts.

Crime rates have plummeted since the 1980s, though statistics have lately been troubling. In 2012 there were two murders in the 72nd precinct, which also includes Sunset Park and Greenwood Heights, but there had been five this year as of late last month, according to police data. There were 177 robberies in 2012, 203 so far in 2013. Cellphone thefts have accounted for some of the crime, said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 7.

What You’ll Pay
Late last month 15 properties were on the market, including co-ops, condos, townhouses and multifamilies, according to Streeteasy.

At the high end was a three-story corner building, dating to the 1920s, with two apartments upstairs and retail space on the ground floor, at $2.3 million. The least expensive offering was a studio in the Park Vanderbilt, a postwar co-op, at $255,000.

With so few properties trading hands, it can be tough to draw meaningful conclusions from sales data, though prices have steadily improved since the recession, brokers said. But rowhouses can trade for half as much as they would in Park Slope, which is slightly closer to Manhattan and which many still consider more desirable, brokers say.

What to Do

Windsor Terrace has beefed up its retail offerings in recent years, particularly along Fort Hamilton Parkway, where coffee shops, yoga studios and vegetarian restaurants have popped up.

New bars like Double Windsor, known for its craft beers, have also energized Prospect Park West, the main shopping area. Yet a retro look persists: The motorized horse outside Windsor Shoes costs a quarter a ride.

A Key Food on Prospect Avenue, one of the few places to buy groceries, recently closed to make way for a Walgreens pharmacy, upsetting many residents. Fighting back under the slogan “green beans not Walgreens,” they got Walgreens to create space for a small outpost of the store under its roof; that opens next spring.

The Schools

Many students attend Public School 130, the Parkside School, which runs through Grade 5, with a diverse student body of 590. On 2013 state exams, 38 percent of third-graders met standards in math, 34 percent in English.

Middle School 88 in Park Slope, which enrolls 1,100, got an A on its most recent city report card.

Brooklyn College Academy nearby has one of its two buildings on Coney Island Avenue; the other, for juniors and seniors, is at Brooklyn College. SAT averages in 2012 were 456 in reading, 456 in math and 440 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The Commute

The F and G trains stop at the edges of the neighborhood, at 15th Street-Prospect Park and at Fort Hamilton Parkway. The F reaches Midtown in about 40 minutes.

The History

William M. Calder built and sold 700 homes in the area from 1902 to 1919, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. He originated “the style of architecture known as the two-family house,” according to a New York Times article from 1922 (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F30D16F83A5D14738DDDAB0A94D8415B828EF1D3).


December 29th, 2013, 06:17 AM
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn: A Neighborhood for All Seasons


(http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/12/29/realestate/20131229-DYKER.html)Saul Metnick for The New York Times
Living in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn: A stable, relatively affordable enclave in a borough that has grown almost too popular for its own good.

Slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/12/29/realestate/20131229-DYKER.html)

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Saul Metnick for The New York Times
8225 Seventh Avenue: A three-bedroom one-and-a-half-bath single-family with a garage, listed at $769,000.

Dyker Heights, a middle-class, largely Italian-American neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn, bears signs throughout the year of a place that people deeply care for.

In warm-weather months, blocks throw parties — the kind featuring three-legged races and barbecues. In tiny front yards that might have been paved over elsewhere, bushes are neatly trimmed to keep their corkscrew shapes.

And neighbors, who often live a shared driveway away, never seem to make too much of a racket, according to residents, who appreciate the quiet.

But come December, Dyker Heights — 55,000 residents over one and a half square miles — takes its pride of place to a new and electrifying level. Known as “Dyker Lights,” it’s a vivid tribute to the season, in which yards are filled with a universe of bulbs, garlands, and more than a few life-size “Nutcracker”-style soldiers.

There are now 250 homes that have decked their halls, and porches and porticoes, too, said James Bonavita, the owner of B & R Christmas Decorators, which was first hired to assist in the displays in 1991 and did 60 properties this year.

They include Jerry D’Onofrio’s dormered brick colonial on 12th Avenue, which has a nativity scene on one side of the front walk and a cellophane pond with penguins on the other.

“It can sometimes get a little hectic to turn into your driveway,” with all the cars and tour buses crawling down streets, said Mr. D’Onofrio, who lives with his parents and works at a nearby screen-printing company. “But I think it’s good to give back to the community.”

Amie Manto, a grade-school computer teacher, knows the spectacle well. She spent some of her childhood in Dyker Heights. And even after moving to Greenwood Heights, where she rents a two-bedroom, she has regularly come home for the holidays to gawk at it.

Soon, she won’t have to travel so far. Last summer Ms. Manto and her husband, Anthony, bought an early-20th-century rowhouse in Dyker Heights with three bedrooms and a claw-foot tub. The property, which cost $495,000, needed new electrical wiring, plumbing and windows; the renovation is just winding down.

Though the lights can be almost blinding to visitors, the Mantos are very clearsighted about the neighborhood’s virtues. It remains a stable, relatively affordable enclave in a borough that has grown almost too popular for its own good, Ms. Manto said. And although Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn and even Bay Ridge next door have become way too pricey for the non-six-figure-salary set, it is her opinion that “when you work for the city, you should be able to live in the city.”

She left a job as a TV ad buyer after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to pursue her dream of teaching. Her husband, following a similar path at that time, became a New York City police officer.

The fact that Dyker Heights is not just another part of hipster Brooklyn makes it all the better, she added. In such areas, cocktail lounges and artisanal boutiques are usually the signal that gentrification lurks just around the corner. “I would say that kind of thing isn’t happening over here,” Ms. Manto said, before catching herself. “I mean, at least not yet.”

What You’ll Find

Hugging Gravesend Bay, Dyker Heights almost matches the 11228 ZIP code in area, according to residents and officials.

To the west, its borders are Fort Hamilton Parkway and the Gowanus Expressway; to the east, 16th Avenue, though some put that area, which increasingly has an Asian presence, in Bensonhurst. At the north is Bay Ridge Avenue, which locals call 69th Street — though others put the boundary farther out, at 65th Street.

“Prime Dyker,” as brokers call it, is closest to Dyker Beach Golf Course, a public facility that dates in part to the late 1890s, when development began in earnest.

Perched on the slight ridge responsible for the “Heights” part of the name, these homes, which often evoke the Mediterranean, typically sit on roomy, tree-shaded lots measuring 80 by 100 feet. Even in the summer, they can seem lavishly decorated; a waterfall gurgles at a home at 11th Avenue and 83rd Street, surrounded by white goddess-like figures.
Few of the mansions that went up at the turn of the last century have survived, though one at 1135 84th Street, a 1901 Tudor-esque confection with half-timbered gables, earned a spot on the state and national historic registers.

Single-family homes are more prevalent than in Bensonhurst, brokers say. Rowhouses here might not be as fancy as those in adjacent Bay Ridge, but Dyker doesn’t have Bay Ridge’s bulky apartment buildings, either. The tallest structures on the horizon seem to be church steeples.

South of 86th Street, a microneighborhood that some refer to as Dyker Park has a mix of postwar two-family co-ops and larger standalone homes. Condos are tucked in complexes of half a dozen units, as on 14th Avenue.

What You’ll Pay

In mid-December there were 19 properties for sale — condos and co-ops as well as single- and multifamily homes — at an average of $956,300, according to Streeteasy.

A three-family Victorian with a two-car garage and a pool was the priciest, at $1.5 million. A one-bedroom co-op, in a two-unit building in Dyker Park, was the most affordable, at $225,000.

Over recent years, prices have climbed. Through mid-December, 78 single-family homes had sold, at a median of $714,100, according to House N Key Realty, a local firm.

In 2012 there were such 81 sales, at a median of $654,400. And in 2009, after the recession had hit, 46 sold, at a median of $619,000.

As for two- and three-families, 105 have sold this year, at a median of $780,000; 11 condos have sold, at a median of $523,000.

Dyker Heights used to be “too far from Downtown Brooklyn,” said Janine Acquafredda, an associate broker with House N Key, “but more people are open to it now.” The area’s popularity stems at least in part from the higher prices in places like Park Slope, she added.

What to Do

There are commercial streets, like 13th Avenue and 86th Street, but they don’t offer much in the way of nightlife; people head to Third Avenue in Bay Ridge if they want to grab drinks.

Some stores have loyal followings, like La Bella Marketplace, which sells homemade soups and fresh mozzarella. Chains like Rite Aid and Outback Steakhouse can be found on 86th.

The golf course doubles as a park; a walk around the perimeter takes about 45 minutes for Ms. Manto, who for years has made it part of her regimen.

The Schools

Public, private and parochial options exist, both in Dyker Heights and just outside. One is Public School 229, in Dyker Park, which was an elementary school until a few years ago, but now also offers Grades 6 through 8.

The school, which enrolls about 1,100, got an A on its most recent city report card. On state exams last year, 56 percent of third-graders met standards in English, 71 percent in math, versus 28 percent and 33 percent citywide.

One public high school, New Utrecht, enrolls 3,300 and also got an A from the city. SAT averages in 2012 were 402 in reading, 471 in math and 399 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The Commute

The area is a bit starved for convenient subway service; only a single line, the D, cuts through one corner, with a stop at 71st Street; a trip to Manhattan from there takes around 45 minutes. Just beyond the boundary are a handful of other D and N stops.

The x28 express bus gets to Lower Manhattan in about 30 minutes; the x38 gets to Midtown Manhattan in about 50 minutes. Many residents park on the street and drive to work.

The History

Joe Rollino, a strongman whose tall-tale-like exploits reportedly include once lifting 485 pounds with his teeth, lived on 14th Avenue for years. In 2010, at 104, he was felled by a minivan (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/nyregion/12ironman.html) on Bay Ridge Parkway. A corner of his old street, at the parkway, is named for him today.


February 8th, 2014, 03:41 AM
Affordability in Kensington, Brooklyn


There are many apartment buildings in the neighborhood, and more are being added, like one here on Ocean
Parkway near Church Avenue. Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

Deirdre Lehn became aware of Kensington’s neighborliness as soon as she attended an open house. “We went to the open houses, and all the neighbors would come by, and folks were chatting with us and inviting us to come by for coffee,” Ms. Lehn said. “These were, like, people we didn’t know.”

That sales pitch, however spontaneous, worked. Just over a year ago, Ms. Lehn and her family, former Cobble Hill residents, bought a two-family Victorian in northern Kensington, where similar homes sell for $850,000 to $900,000.
Ms. Lehn says there were two reasons for the move. First, the family was being priced out of Cobble Hill; and second, Kensington seemed the kind of community where they could “lay down roots” — a place where people hung out on their front porches and got to know one another.

With roughly 53,000 residents over about 107 square blocks, densely populated Kensington is known for its diversity; it is home to immigrants from more than 15 countries, and more than 20 languages are spoken, according to census data. The neighborhood has one of the city’s largest Bengali communities and significant populations of Russian, Mexican, Pakistani, Ukrainian, Haitian and Polish immigrants. There is also an enclave of Hasidic Jews.

Beyond its immigrants, Kensington has an increasing number of young professionals, many of them unable to afford Brooklyn neighborhoods closer to Manhattan, like Park Slope and Windsor Terrace.

Wholesale gentrification, however, is unlikely, said Liam McCarthy, a broker who founded the agency JMKBK. “This is very much a dynamic neighborhood, as opposed to rich people coming in and pushing everyone out,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition to be in the neighborhood.”

The competition comes in part from farther-out Brooklyn. Kensington, historically a working-class area, is a landing place for people moving from places like Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, Mr. McCarthy said.

“Kensington is the last affordable neighborhood before you get to Windsor Terrace and Park Slope if you’re trying to move closer to the city,” he added.

Even so, longtime residents have noticed changes, both in home prices and population. Amara Mahmood, who has lived in Kensington since the age of 2 and now makes a home there with her husband and two young children, says she no longer sees many stay-at-home mothers or large families, especially in the pricier northern part of Kensington, which is closer to Prospect Park (http://www.prospectpark.org/) and Windsor Terrace.

“I find that the parents are older — than me, at least,” Ms. Mahmood said. “I’m not 30 yet, and a lot of the parents I meet are in their late 30s.”

In her opinion, one thing Kensington lacks is a community space where children can play indoors — though she isn’t sure her neighbors have the same priorities. “I feel like I’m in a minority when it comes to looking for a community space,” she said. “Other people are really looking for coffee shops and bookstores — they want Park Slope-type amenities in this area.”

What You’ll Find

Around the turn of the last century, Kensington was named after the borough in West London, and some of its housing seems to reflect that association. Detached and semidetached wood-frame Victorian homes, usually on 30-by-100-foot lots, flank its tree-lined streets, along with the occasional brick or limestone rowhouse.

“In the northwest corner near Chester Avenue and Story Street, you have a lot of beautiful brick housing,” said Jasmina Nikolov, an agent with RealLifeNYC.com, “and some people say it’s reminiscent of London streets.” Many houses on these quaint side streets are two- and three-families, although Ocean Parkway has 20-story prewar co-ops and rentals. The neighborhood also has its share of six-story postwar apartments, Ms. Nikolov said.

What You’ll Pay

A share of the housing along Ocean Parkway is rent-stabilized, but pricing for other apartments and homes has gone up in recent years. As an example of this, brokers pointed to a brick single-family home at 158 East Eighth Street near Prospect Park that sold for $680,000 in early 2011 and appreciated by 40 percent by last summer, selling for $949,000.

In late January, there were about 17 homes on the market, said Mary LaRosa Lederer, the broker and owner of brooklyn-real. Single-families tend to sell for $750,000 to $950,000, multifamilies from $850,000 to $1.2 million, she said. A home at 241 East Third Street that sold for $1.05 million was the highest-priced single-family to sell in the last year, Ms. LaRosa Lederer said.

Among co-ops and condominiums, studios sell for $130,000 to $150,000; one-bedrooms for $250,000 to $300,000; two-bedrooms for $400,000 to $450,000; and three-bedrooms for $575,000 to $650,000, she said.

There are plentiful rental apartments, available in multifamilies and in high-rises, Ms. Nikolov said. Studios and one-bedrooms in multifamilies are renting for about $1,500 a month; two-bedrooms for about $2,000; and the rare three-bedrooms for at least $2,500. In the high-rises, rents can vary widely. One-bedrooms start at $1,200 a month, but they can range up to $2,200, Mr. McCarthy said.

The Commute

Most people make the 45-minute commute to Midtown on the F train, which runs along McDonald Avenue; for drivers, the trip via Ocean Parkway can take as little as 25 minutes, if traffic cooperates. The G train also originates at Church Avenue, bound for other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The BM3 and the BM4, both express buses, arrive in Midtown in half an hour.

What to Do
Looking for your vodka in a bottle shaped like a Kalashnikov? Kensington’s got it. Addicted to South Asian sweets, like jalebi or gulab jamun? You can get those, too. Not to mention reasonably priced sari or salwar kameez, along with delicious mango ice cream, Argentinian-style glatt kosher steaks or parts for your model train. Visiting the myriad stores that line Church, Ditmas and 18th Avenues is a pastime in the neighborhood. “I’m on Church Avenue at least once a day,” Ms. Mahmood said.

Two popular businesses are Brooklyn Banya, a Russian-Turkish bath house, where the party organizers Gemini & Scorpio have been holding hipster events of late; and Buzz-A-Rama, billed as the last slot-car racing tracks in the city. Despite the influx of Park Slopers, the amenities of gentrification have been slow to follow, though the first wine bar, Church Cafe, is anticipated soon.

There is also Prospect Park, and cycling is on offer along the Ocean Parkway bike path to Coney Island. The Kensington Stables (http://www.kensingtonstables.com/) are nearby, as are shopping and restaurant rows on Church Avenue, Cortelyou Road and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

The Schools

Kensington is zoned for three school districts, but the priciest part of the neighborhood is north of Beverly Road in District 15, which includes Park Slope. “I see prices going up, especially for homes in District 15,” Ms. LaRosa Lederer said.

Public School 130 the Parkside School, which runs through Grade 5, got a B on its most recent city report card. On state exams last year, 33.7 percent of tested third-graders met standards in English, 37.5 percent in math, versus 28 percent and 33 percent citywide.

A charter school called Brooklyn Prospect recently opened on Fort Hamilton Parkway for Grades 6 through 10, and eventually Grades 11 and 12 will be added, Ms. LaRosa Lederer said.

The History

Developers who began building homes on farmland in Flatbush in the late-19th century were the ones who named the area. Building got underway in earnest during the 1920s, attracting Irish and Italian immigrants. By the early 1980s, Kensington was starting to draw the variety of immigrants that would make it the melting pot it is today.


April 18th, 2014, 03:43 AM
South Williamsburg: Catching Up to the North Side


Slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/realestate/south-williamsburg-catching-up-to-the-north-side.html?hp&_r=1&gwh=14D0A4AF049876A1FACB9318CDC2EDD0&gwt=pay#slideshow/100000002825783/100000002825784)

Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

New Yorkers love to debate about which is better. The Nets or the Knicks? This restaurant or that one? Subways or cabs?

Or, among some residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn: North or South?

For years, many residents of the northern side of the neighborhood, or above the dividing line of Grand Street, argued that their half was more desirable, mostly because the highly populated neighborhood had a lot more going on.

But those on the southern side, or below Grand Street, would counter that they wouldn’t trade the peace and quiet of their emptier industrial blocks for the world.

Now, however, as the south side ambitiously adds shops, parks and sleek, shimmering apartment buildings — and in the process, begins to resemble its neighbor to the north — any turf battle might be moot. “We’re like how north side was five years ago,” said Jean Chae, who makes organic toys for pets and has been a resident here for seven years. “We’ve changed tremendously, but it’s for the better.”

Ms. Chae moved to a rental in a three-family house in Greenpoint from Manhattan in 2007. But she had to take care of chores like dragging garbage cans to the curb, which, after years of living in full-service buildings, shocked her enough to want to move. She headed for South Williamsburg, and what she found instead was a type of housing that has only grown in popularity since: a new doorman high-rise, courtesy of Schaefer Landing, a condominium complex on the East River that opened about a decade ago.

tuyvesantWith hardwood floors and stainless-steel appliances, and an in-unit washer and dryer, the two-bedroom two-bath apartment also offered cinematic views of Manhattan’s skyline. She rented there at first, but then in 2010 was able to buy a different unit in the building for $750,000 in a short sale. Ms. Chae recently put that apartment on the market for $1.38 million; she said its open houses have been busy.

But she’s not going far: She signed a contract to buy a three-bedroom in the same tower, for $1.47 million. In fact, Ms. Chae likes her building — and her evolving neighborhood — so much that she persuaded her parents to trade their Sutton Place co-op for a unit in the same complex.

For decades, South Williamsburg struggled with poverty and crime, said Isaac Abraham, who heads the Federation of Tenants Council of Williamsburg, a housing advocacy group with 5,000 families as members. Today, the demand for affordable units is far outstripping supply, said Mr. Abraham, who for more than 30 years has lived in a two-bedroom rental in Roberto Clemente Plaza, a 1970s Mitchell-Lama complex. He recalls the days of the 1980s, when the neighborhood was tainted by drug dealing, prostitution and burning cars.

Some changes are tough to swallow, like the bike lanes that crisscross the neighborhood, making it too hard to drive. And with thousands more apartments planned — the $1.5 billion Domino Sugar redevelopment on Kent Avenue, by the Williamsburg Bridge, recently received a key go-ahead from the city — car traffic is likely to increase, he said.
“The city needs to do a better job with infrastructure,” he said, adding that increased bus service might help.

What You’ll Find
There is general agreement that Grand Street forms the northern border of the neighborhood and Union Avenue the eastern one, with the East River as the western edge, but the southern edge is in dispute. Longtime residents put the southern border at Flushing Avenue, reflecting a time when the neighborhood was largely populated by Hasidic Jews and Hispanics, groups that still thrive today. But in the last decade or so, brokers and developers have tended to define the neighborhood more narrowly, stopping at Division Avenue, creating a border within which much of the new construction has gone up and where many of the new young residents have moved.

A two-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath condo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.elliman.com/new-york-city/the-gretsch-building-60-broadway-unit-7f-brooklyn-xmqixec&quot;) with&nbsp; 13-foot ceilings, listed at $1,599,500.

The factories and warehouses that dominated this area for more than a century have often been creatively repurposed, but an industrial flavor remains.

For instance, the Smith Gray building, where men’s wear was manufactured in the early 1900, added condos in the early 2000s. One of South Williamsburg’s first conversion projects, its six-story cast-iron facade still looms prominently at Broadway and Bedford Avenue. Close on its heels was the makeover of the nearby Gretsch, a condo at 60 Broadway, where guitars and other musical instruments were once produced.

About 90 percent of the housing stock is rental, according to census data. Newer rentals include 424 Bedford Avenue, formerly known as Zazza, a 20-story, 66-unit high-rise with market-rate units; and 15 Dunham Place, a 14-story, 160-unit tower with market-rate and affordable apartments.

But ownership opportunities are growing. A huge new project, Oosten (http://www.theoosten.com/), is rising from the full-block site of a former Schaefer beer plant at Wythe Avenue and South Eighth Street. It will deliver 216 condos by 2016.

What You’ll Pay

In a low-inventory market, there aren’t a lot of properties for sale; many are in a handful of buildings.

Just 16 co-ops, condos and townhouses were listed for sale in early April, at an average list price of $1.78 million, according to Streeteasy.com.

A triplex condo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/listings/display/3168243&quot;) with one bedroom, an office and a mezzanine, listed at $1,249,000.

At the high end was a combined apartment at the Gretsch, with six bedrooms, six baths and eye-catching stonework, for $6.5 million. At the low end was a two-bedroom condo at Schaefer Landing at $975,000.

In 2009, 61 condos sold, at an average price of $543,716, according to Streeteasy, and in 2013, 122 sold, at an average of $941,183.

For now, the south side still trades at a discount from the north side, by about 15 percent, brokers say — $1,000 a square foot versus nearly $1,200 — but parity is expected in a few years.
Rents, meanwhile, are on the high side in new buildings. One-bedrooms at 424 Bedford, for instance, start at $3,000 a month. South Fourth Street, which opened this year, listed a one-bedroom at $4,200 in early April.

What to Do

Residents are buzzing about Urban Market of Williamsburg (http://urbanmarketwilliamsburg.com/), which opened on Broadway and Kent in December; it brings a long-awaited grocery to the area.

Restaurants to make an impression include Motorino, a popular pizzeria, which opened a location at 139 Broadway last year after its original East Williamsburg branch was condemned and razed.

It joins Peter Luger Steakhouse, at 178 Broadway — once the only game around — as well as such standbys as Diner, and Marlow & Sons, at the corner of Berry Street.

A two-bedroom two-bath condo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.greatjonesrealty.com/listing-details.php?lid=115&quot;) in Schaefer Landing, listed at $1,100,000.

Residents can also now kick back on chairs in a newly formed pedestrian plaza on Broadway, which affords views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the dazzling dome of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

The Schools

A zoned public elementary option is Public School 84, which focuses on visual arts. It got a C on its recent city report card. Junior High School 050, at 183 South Third Street, is in the neighborhood; it was recently given a B on its report card.

The nearby Brooklyn Latin School, which opened in 2006 and teaches Grades 9 through 12, emphasizes the classics for 500 students; it requires an entrance exam, and shirts and ties are a must. It received a B on its report card. On the 2013 SAT exams, students averaged 584 on the reading section, 604 math and 577 writing, versus 437, 463 and 433 citywide.

The Commute

The elevated J, M and Z trains stop at Marcy Avenue; the J and M at Hewes Street. The financial district can be reached in 15 minutes, though Midtown takes longer. Ferries also run to Manhattan throughout the day from a dock in front of Schaefer Landing.

The History

Before the Williamsburg Bridge was completed in 1903, ushering in the first sustained wave of Manhattan transplants, the area was reached by ferry. A smokestack at Grand Ferry Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/grandferrypark/) was salvaged from a molasses plant where Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, founded nearby in 1849, came up with a way to mass-produce penicillin.


July 6th, 2014, 01:51 AM
Ridgewood's Radioactive Superfund Site Worries Neighbors

July 3, 2014, by Nathan Kensinger

New York City's newest Superfund site is located on a quiet one-block section of Irving Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens. All photos by Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/).

On May 8, the Environmental Protection Agency officially designated (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/05/08/ridgewood_nycs_most_radioactive_place_now_superfun d_site.php) New York City's newest Superfund site, located on an nondescript industrial block of Irving Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens.

Formerly the home of the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, the site has been quietly irradiating the neighborhood for decades, leading The New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/sandbox/projects/radioactive-nyc/) to call it "The Most Radioactive Place in New York City." The EPA is now beginning the initial steps in what will likely be a lengthy cleanup process. "Just from looking at it, you would never know this is a Superfund site," said Thomas Mongelli, the Remedial Project Manager of the site, but the pollution is still there, in the form of gamma radiation emanating from thorium sludge discarded over 60 years ago. "It's in the soil, underground, in the sewers," said Mongelli. "They just dumped it down the sewers, because that's what you did with waste at that time."

The cleanup of Wolff-Alport may take up to a decade, resulting in a much improved environment for the neighborhood, but business owners and nearby residents are currently expressing trepidation about the Superfund designation. "It scares the shit out of me," said James McCormick, who lives in a recently converted warehouse a few hundred feet from the site. "But I don't know what to do about it… Is it bad? Should I be living here?" McCormick moved to the area a year and half ago, and estimates that 50 to 60 people now live in his building on Moffat Street, which is located on one of the sewer lines that thorium was dumped into. However, the EPA believes that people outside of the official Superfund area are not in any immediate danger.

"Radiation is a scary concept. You can't see it, you can't smell it," said Thomas Mongelli. "You hear 'radiation' and you get scared, but there's no real impact to the outside community. It sounds a lot more worrying than it is."

For businesses located within the Superfund site, which include a bodega, an ice company, and a car repair shop, the cleanup process has already had a negative impact. "From the day they came over here, we are losing business," said Hilda Rodriguez, whose husband owns the Primo Auto Body shop on Irving Avenue. "I had a lot of people before, but now they are not coming."

Fear of radiation has kept many customers away, despite an immense protective shield that the EPA laid down in the repair shop's driveway and garage. Its layers of steel and lead have not been able to assuage Hilda's own fears. "I don't want to stay here. I want to leave," she said, fighting back tears. "Sometimes I cry. I have a lot of depression."

At least one business in the neighborhood is already planning to relocate. "We're just going to shut this plant down. I don't have a date yet," said Nelson Rivera, the Distribution Manager for Arctic Glacier, an ice producing company which owns several properties in and near the Wolff-Alport Superfund site. The company's main ice plant in Brooklyn is located across the street from the Superfund, and a constant stream of trucks drives along Irving Avenue to pick up fresh made ice. "We push around 200 tons of ice from here," said Rivera, but the changing neighborhood and the radioactivity are two factors that led to the decision to shut down. "To us, it's more a fear of what is actually happening. What they are not telling you. We're standing on a layer of lead."

As the cleanup progresses over the coming years, and Ridgewood and Bushwick continue to grow in popularity as residential destinations, this area will no doubt undergo a larger transformation. A new residential building is already going up less than a block away from the Wolff-Alport site, while an empty lot across the street has been slated for residential development. "Everything is on the table at this point," said Mongelli, contemplating the cleanup process. "I can't even say roughly how long it will take."

The railroad spur that delivered monazite sands from the Belgian Congo to Wolff-Alport is now unused and is part of the Superfund site.
"This is where they would unload the raw material," said Mongelli.

The paved-over tracks of the spur continue across Cooper Avenue and into residential Ridgewood.
An active freight line still runs through in the neighborhood, on aboveground tracks.

Before the area along Irving Avenue was designated as a Superfund site, a shield of lead and steel was laid
over the main area of gamma radiation by the EPA. "The shielding worked pretty well," said Mongelli.
"It's mainly the onsite workers we are concerned about."

Across the street on Irving Avenue, plans have been made to turn this empty lot into new Bushwick residences,
according to Mongelli. The borderline between Brooklyn and Queens runs down the middle of the street.

The quiet streets along the Bushwick/Ridgewood borderline may soon change, as the Superfund process
continues and as new residents continue to move in. "We'll be doing some more sampling in the next few months,"
said Mongelli. "There's not much going on at the site right now."

Ridgewood, NYC's Most Radioactive Place, Now Superfund Site (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/05/08/ridgewood_nycs_most_radioactive_place_now_superfun d_site.php) [Curbed]
Nathan Kensinger (http://kensinger.blogspot.com/) [Official]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/07/03/ridgewoods_radioactive_superfund_site_worries_neig hbors.php

September 25th, 2014, 03:15 AM
Fort Greene, Brooklyn: A Neighborhood With Many Faces


Jake Naughton for The New York Times

Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/realestate/fort-greene-brooklyn-a-neighborhood-with-many-faces.html#slideshow/100000003133118/100000003133134)

Amid New York’s variegated urban landscape, Fort Greene has been known since the 19th century for its low-rise human habitat: intimately scaled, tree-lined blocks of brownstones, brick rowhouses and occasional frame houses. But a lofty new habitat is emerging on the neighborhood’s western edge, as a forest of mixed-use towers rises in the Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) Cultural District around the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s (http://www.bam.org/) Peter Jay Sharp Building on Lafayette Avenue. Incorporating more than 1,200 new apartments into a kind of high-rise Lincoln Center, the district will be home in the next few years to more than 400,000 square feet of cultural space, including performance, rehearsal and studio facilities.

“The idea was always concentrating great culture together in a small area to spur economic development and provide the people of this area with great cultural options,” said Andrew Kalish, the director of cultural development for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (http://downtownbrooklyn.com/), a public-private local development corporation.

A two-family French Second Empire-style brownstone (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://corenyc.com/274-vanderbilt-avenue&quot;) with a garden, listed at $2,695,000
Jake Naughton for The New York Times

Across Ashland Place from BAM’s Sharp building and the BAM Fisher building, which opened in 2012, work has begun on a 32-story tower designed for Two Trees Management (http://twotreesny.com/) by Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos (http://www.ten-arquitectos.com/). The development will be made up of more than 300 apartments (20 percent below market), a public plaza along Lafayette, retail and 50,000 square feet of city-owned space for organizations like BAM, the Brooklyn Public Library (http://www.bklynlibrary.org/) and 651 Arts (http://www.651arts.org/), a group dedicated to the performing arts of the African diaspora.

Up the street on Ashland, the Theater for a New Audience (http://www.tfana.org/) last year opened a glass-fronted jewel box of a theater, called the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. It will soon be flanked by two much larger neighbors. To the north, the Gotham Organization (http://www.gothamorganization.com/) has begun excavation for a 52-story mixed-use tower with 586 apartments, roughly half below market rate. To the south, a 10-story mixed-use building will replace a parking lot.

Several new high-rises are expected nearby, including an Autograph Collection hotel, one of Marriott’s brand of upscale, independently operated properties, on Rockwell Place. The hotel will join 66 Rockwell (http://66rockwell.com/site/index.php), a 42-story mixed-income tower that began leasing units this year; two-bedrooms with Chrysler Building (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/chrysler_building/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) views are listed at $4,267 a month.

Closer to earth, and farther east, Theo Peck is living a more typical Fort Greene life with his wife, Ingrid, and their small son. In 2011, the family moved into an aluminum-sided rowhouse on Clermont Avenue, where they pay $3,000 monthly for a duplex “with a really scary basement with friends in low places.” Their neighbors include a photographer, a video editor and a pastry chef, whom Mr. Peck hired for his prepared-food shop on nearby Myrtle Avenue, called Peck’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/pecks-new-york).

“The cultural district is amazing,” Mr. Peck said. He takes in plays at BAM and has attended a panel on artisanal food at BRIC House (http://bricartsmedia.org/), an arts and media center on Fulton Street. In October, his wife and son attend the Annual Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest in Fort Greene Park. “It’s a very mixed neighborhood,” Mr. Peck said. “There’s a little bit of everybody and a little bit of everything.”

What You’ll Find

Sandwiched between Clinton Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, with which it shares an ambiguous border, Fort Greene is bounded by the Brooklyn Navy Yard (http://brooklynnavyyard.org/) to the north and Atlantic Avenue to the south.

The traditional socioeconomic divide of the neighborhood is Fort Greene Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-greene-park), a gem designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. To the south are leafy streets lined with brownstones, some of them expensively restored former rooming houses. To the north are public housing developments.

African-Americans have been an integral part of Fort Greene’s multiracial tapestry since the 19th century, and by the 1970s most of the area’s homes were owned by middle-income blacks, many of whom had bought them during the white exodus for the suburbs in the ’50s and ’60s. A predominantly black creative community flourished. In the 1990s and early 2000s, however, as home prices rose, many black homeowners reached retirement age and sold their houses, said Deb Howard, a 40-year resident and the executive director of the Pratt Area Community Council (http://pacc.publishpath.com/), a nonprofit community development corporation. In turn, low-income tenants were forced out, as new buyers had bought at higher prices with mortgages that could not be supported by the old rents.

All of this turnover was compounded by predatory home-repair loans to the elderly, which precipitated a wave of foreclosures, Ms. Howard said. “Eighty to 85 percent of the housing has changed hands since the ’80s,” she added. “But it’s really just in the last 12 years that there’s been such a dramatic upswing in the market.”

A one-bedroom one-bath condo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://corenyc.com/159-carlton-avenue-3a.html&quot;) in a converted stable, listed at $1,150,000.
Credit Jake Naughton for The New York Times

A five-year census survey completed in 2012 estimated that 42 percent of the area’s 26,982 residents were black, 27 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent Asian, according to an analysis of the data performed by Susan Weber-Stoger, a researcher in the sociology department at Queens College. The proportion of whites rose 13 percent since 2000, census data show, while the share of blacks shrunk 15 percent. Median household income in 2012 dollars rose to $56,436 from $44,987.

Pamela Young, an agent with the Corcoran Group who lived in Fort Greene for a decade and still works there, said that talk of tension over gentrification was overblown. “I’ve seen more tension between drivers and bikers than I’ve seen between longtime residents and new arrivals,” said Ms. Young, who is African-American. “It’s more a sense of wistful nostalgia. It’s not a feeling of people wanting to throw bottles at each other.”

What You’ll Pay

Buyers are descending from Manhattan and abroad in droves, and “when a townhouse comes to market, it’s like throwing corn to pigeons,” said Ms. Young of Corcoran. The average townhouse price in the last year was $2,043,153, according to Doug Bowen, a broker at CORE, while co-ops averaged $628 a square foot. Duplex two-bedroom condos in brownstones sell from $850,000 to $1.2 million, Ms. Young said; two-bedroom condos in new buildings range from $650,000 to $1.5 million. A recent search on Streeteasy.com found 52 properties for sale and 143 for rent; one-bedroom rentals ranged from $1,750 to $3,500 per month.

What to Do

An 1,100-square-foot, three-bedroom co-op (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/Listings/Display/2591353&quot;) with one and a half baths, listed at $595,000.
Jake Naughton for The New York Times

DeKalb Avenue is a genuine restaurant row, with diverse fare offered by the likes of Madiba Restaurant, (http://www.yelp.com/biz/madiba-restaurant-brooklyn) inspired by informal dining halls in South African townships, and Colonia Verde (http://coloniaverdenyc.com/), with its Sunday pig roasts. The strip has become so “of-the-moment” that on a recent afternoon, shoots were underway simultaneously for both an Abercrombie & Fitch ad and an MTV drama called “Eye Candy.”

On Saturdays from April through November, the schoolyard of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School hosts Brooklyn Flea (http://brooklynflea.com/), a vibrantly eclectic vintage bazaar and food destination.

The Schools

Public school options include the Academy of Arts and Letters on Adelphi Street (http://www.uaaal.org/), which teaches kindergarten through eighth grade and received a B on its most recent city progress report.

The Brooklyn Technical High School (http://www.bths.edu/) on Fort Greene Place is one of eight city schools that require prospective students to take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test. Average SAT scores in 2013 at Brooklyn Tech were 591 in reading, 659 in math and 582 in writing, versus 437, 463 and 433 citywide.

The Commute

Among the trains serving the neighborhood either full- or part-time, the B, Q, D, N, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains stop at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station. The Q runs full-time to DeKalb Avenue. Farther east, the C train stops part-time at Lafayette Avenue.

The History

During the Revolutionary War, 11,500 Americans died in British prison ships anchored in nearby Wallabout Bay. Their bones are entombed in Fort Greene Park, beneath a soaring Doric column.


November 16th, 2014, 09:55 AM
Brooklyn’s Sleepy Enclave, Vinegar Hill, Awakens

NOV. 12, 2014

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/16/realestate/brooklyns-sleepy-enclave-vinegar-hill-awakens.html?ref=nyregion#slideshow/100000003228060/100000003228974)

The Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) waterfront enclave of Vinegar Hill is a tiny carpet remnant of a neighborhood, a rough-edged but charmingly idiosyncratic swatch of land largely cut off from the city around it. At its northern fringe is the dystopian sprawl of a colossal Con Edison substation that separates residents from the tantalizingly close East River. To the east is the fenced 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard (http://brooklynnavyyard.org/) industrial park. To the south is a mountain range of public housing and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

But nestled within these gritty urban boundaries, interspersed with warehouses and industrial buildings, are some of the city’s most beguiling scraps of streetscape. Most evocative is Hudson Avenue, which has been put on the map in recent years by Vinegar Hill House (http://vinegarhillhouse.com/), the acclaimed restaurant that opened there in 2008. Flanking the sloping Belgian-block street are rows of diminutive pre-Civil War brick and frame houses with quaint ground-floor storefronts. Vinegar Hill House winks with candlelight by night, and a couple of other street-level spaces house art galleries and offices, but most of the storefronts are curtained residences, lending the street at all hours a drowsy, lost-in-time atmosphere.

69 GOLD STREET A three-bedroom two-bath townhouse (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.elliman.com/new-york-city/69-gold-street-brooklyn-lkhtfxn&quot;), with an adjacent one-bedroom unit, listed at $3.4 million.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

“It’s a little jewel,” said Dale Nichols, a furniture conservator who in 2005 bought a clapboard house on Hudson for $1 million “with eyes wide open that it needed everything, which all those houses do.”

Mr. Nichols and his wife, Jennifer Goldberg, rent the storefront, a former 19th-century grocery, to the owners of Vinegar Hill House, who have transformed it into an airy event space called Hillside (http://www.yelp.com/biz/hillside-brooklyn), where a dinner series takes place. Mr. Nichols walks to work at a restoration studio he rents near the Commandant’s House (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/realestate/25scap.html?_r=0), a striking Federal-style mansion built around 1806 that overlooks the Navy Yard.

Residents say a smattering of new apartment buildings has made area streets feel safer, and foot traffic is likely to increase further. At 80 Hudson, a 76,700-square-foot warehouse is on the leasing market for potential development as offices or for other commercial uses, possibly with ground-floor retail.

A few blocks west, large-scale development is underway. On Bridge Street, considered by many the border between boomtown Dumbo and sleepy-hamlet Vinegar Hill, a pair of old freight rails runs across the Belgian-block street and right into the lobby of the Kirkman Lofts (http://kirkmanlofts.com/), a soap factory converted to condominiums in 2011. The impression is of Dumbo’s industrial chic and general fabulousness racing eastward, almost literally. Next door to Kirkman, a new brick residential building is rising at 47 Bridge. Known as Waterbridge 47 (http://www.waterbridge47.com/), it is planned as a swanky 25-unit condo, complete with a wine-tasting room.

So is Vinegar Hill going balsamic? Will it resemble Dumbo before long?

“Some buildings are being converted to commercial, and that will add people during the day, but at night it’s like this sleepy little dimly lit industrial town,” said David J. Maundrell III (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/realestate/commercial/david-j-maundrell-iii.html), a Dumbo resident and the president of aptsandlofts.com (http://aptsandlofts.com), which is marketing Waterbridge 47. “Dumbo transformed because of Brooklyn Bridge Park (http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/) and the tourists,” he added, “but Vinegar Hill will remain more of a neighborhood than a tourist attraction.”

What You’ll Find

The portion of Vinegar Hill not occupied by Con Edison is only about nine or 10 blocks in size, but the three sections of its historic district (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/VINEGAR_HILL_HISTORIC_DISTRICT.pdf), generally between Plymouth and Front Streets, make up one of Brooklyn’s oldest residential neighborhoods. Front Street features a handsome row of three-story Greek Revival brick houses built from 1830 to 1855, as well as an Italianate 1850s former fire house, adapted as housing.

79 BRIDGE STREET, #5F A two-bedroom, 1,426-square-foot condo (http://www.elliman.com/new-york-city/79-bridge-street-5f-brooklyn-qnnxyan) with two baths and a terrace, listed at $2,125,000.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Another row of antebellum Greek Revival brick houses runs south along Gold Street from Water Street. Adam Meshberg, an architect, bought the one on the corner, 69 Gold, along with its adjacent 1920s brick garage, for $1.295 million in 2006. Though the house was a derelict eyesore with holes in the floors and an outside wall that bulged out six inches, Mr. Meshberg had a vision for it.

Using a 1938 tax photo for reference, he restored the exterior and performed a gut renovation on the interior. With permission from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, he added three north-facing windows to provide Manhattan-skyline views. Together with the garage, renovated as a potential rental property, the house is on the market with an asking price of $3.4 million, down from $4.3 million in June.

The house was a liquor store before Prohibition, and the basement had a peculiar Belgian-block spiral staircase and bricked-up windows that Mr. Meshberg believes are evidence of its use as a speakeasy during Prohibition. Such a high-spirited past would certainly be in keeping with the neighborhood’s historic character, for as far back as 1822, a city directory identified almost a quarter of the heads of household in Vinegar Hill as tavern proprietors. The occupations of today’s residents — who number around 580, according to a 2008-2012 census survey — are more diverse. Beginning in the 1970s, many artists and artisans moved in, and in recent years, rising rents have predictably chased off some of those creative types and brought in more professionals.

What You’ll Pay

100 GOLD STREET, #PHB A two-bedroom penthouse condo (http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/Listings/Display/3371967) with one and a half baths and a roof deck, listed at $1.3 million.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Condos and rental buildings have been popping up outside the historic district, with inventory so scarce that apartments tend to trade fast. The 10 condo units of 102 Gold (http://ironwoodbrooklyn.com/) sold out in three months last year for $700 to $850 per square foot, said Christine Blackburn, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group. The average condo price now is $800 per square foot, she added, “but I can see a time when it will be a very exclusive, very expensive enclave matching prices with Brooklyn Heights.”

Prices have indeed been climbing. At the Kirkman Lofts (http://kirkmanlofts.com/), condo prices rose to $750 from $600 a square foot between 2011 and 2012, said Roberta Benzilio, the executive vice president of Halstead Property Development Marketing. In July, one of those units resold for $1,300 a square foot, she added.

Houses in Vinegar Hill rarely change hands, which makes the market tricky to gauge. Last year, a house at 328 Plymouth Street, directly opposite the Con Edison plant, sold for $910,000, city records show. The $3.4 million asking price of Mr. Meshberg’s renovated house at 69 Gold works out to about $1,100 per square foot, and a townhouse on Bridge Street sold this year for above $1,300 per square foot. A recent search of Streeteasy.com found three properties for sale and eight for rent, with one-bedroom rentals listed between $2,100 and $4,095 per month.

The build-out of nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park has been a great boon. St. Ann’s Warehouse (http://www.stannswarehouse.org/index.php), which hosts avant-garde performances, is on Jay Street and will move into the redeveloped Tobacco Warehouse in the park next year.

Hillside teams up with nacho chefs from El Gato Nacho (http://elgatonacho.com/) for a football-watching gathering on Sundays and Mondays. On Dec. 13 and 14, Hillside, along with Fox Fodder Farm (http://www.foxfodderfarm.com/about/), a floral and garden design studio, will host a Christmas crafts market, one of a regular series of markets featuring the work of women.

The Schools

The neighborhood’s sole elementary school is Public School 307 (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/13/K307/default.htm) on York Street, although some students are zoned for P.S. 8 (https://ps8brooklyn.org/) in Brooklyn Heights. Both schools received C’s on their most recent city progress reports. Satellite West Middle School (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/13/K313/default.htm), also on York Street, scored a B.

The Commute

The seclusion of Vinegar Hill is a double-edged sword, as only one train, the F, stops nearby, at York Street in Dumbo, a five- or 10-minute walk. The ride to Midtown takes about 20 minutes.

The History

John Jackson, a ship builder, named Vinegar Hill after a 1798 Anglo-Irish battle. Jackson ran a shipyard at the foot of Hudson Avenue and built houses nearby for his workers. His sale of land for use as the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the early 1800s sparked further growth in the area.


January 22nd, 2015, 10:02 PM
Park Slope, Brooklyn, a Neighborhood to Grow Into

JAN. 21, 2015

The Grand Army Plaza farmers’ market off Prospect Park is open year-round and draws many visitors to the area.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

Kate and Kabir Singh have come a long way since moving to Park Slope, Brooklyn, from Greenwich Village a decade ago, hopscotching from home to home to home, but despite their nomadic tendencies they’ve traveled a grand total of five and a half blocks in that time.

Introduced to the leafy, house-proud neighborhood when Ms. Singh began teaching at a local school, the couple were enticed into putting down roots by the proximity of Prospect Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/prospect-park), the strong reputation of Public School 321 (http://ps321.org/) and the alluring rows of well-maintained period brownstones. And as with so many Manhattan transplants, their attachment to the neighborhood has grown along with their family.

“Once people cross the pond to Park Slope, they’re here forever,” said Jackie Lew, an associate broker with Halstead Property, who has raised her own children there. “Their lifestyle changes and they don’t want to live anywhere else.”

Nesting was on their minds when Ms. Singh and her husband, who works in finance, moved into their first apartment in the area, a two-bedroom co-op in a walk-up on First Street. Two years and one daughter later, they traded up to a $1.85 million three-bedroom duplex in a limestone co-op across the street, which they bought from friends who were also moving within the neighborhood. Finally, in 2011, after the birth of two sons, they bought a $2 million limestone house on Union Street near Grand Army Plaza (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/grand-army-plaza/history).

LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park opened last winter after a $74 million restoration.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

The LeFrak Center at Lakeside (http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/) in Prospect Park opened last winter after a $74 million restoration. Credit Alan Chin for The New York Times By then, Ms. Singh said, the family’s lives had become happily entwined with Park Slope.

“It’s got a real small-town feel,” she said. “On my walk to school with the kids, I know so many people from all different parts of my life: people I know as a teacher, small vendors, real estate people and the parents of my children’s friends.” But if, as some residents say, Park Slope has a “Sesame Street” atmosphere, the area’s rents have risen high enough to push out many mom-and-pop shop owners of Mr. Hooper’s (http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/theshow/cast/additional_cast) ilk. Seventh Avenue abounds with banks and with real estate offices that have windows full of pricey listings reflecting the neighborhood back on itself. On Union Street, the Tea Lounge (http://ny.eater.com/2014/12/11/7378705/park-slopes-beloved-tea-lounge-to-close-saturday-thanks-to-mooching), a popular bourgeois-bohemian hangout, recently shuttered.

Nevertheless, even as parts of Park Slope are increasingly buffed to a high polish, the area still offers a variety of experience. After living much of the last six decades in the North Slope townhouse her seamstress mother had bought in 1949, Lorraine Leong, a health care administrator, decamped to the southwestern fringe of the neighborhood in 2012, paying $693,000 for a two-bedroom condominium on 12th Street and Fourth Avenue, a thoroughfare where blocky residential buildings have sprung up since a 2003 rezoning. Her son, a “foodie” who lives upstairs, keeps her informed, she said, about “all the great restaurants opening up” on Fifth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue.

“Fourth and Fifth Avenues have that diverse mix that Brooklyn always had, and it’s very appealing to me,” said Ms. Leong, who is of Chinese descent. “There are Italians and Latinos still around, and a guy on my corner sells tacos from a little stand for a dollar. You don’t want to lose that.”

What You’ll Find

A principal draw of Park Slope has always been the rolling meadows and sinuous paths of Prospect Park, a masterpiece designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. The neighborhood, home to about 60,000, stretches west from the park to the rumbling river of traffic known as Fourth Avenue, and south from Flatbush Avenue. There is no unanimity on the southern boundary. Many longtime residents define it as 15th Street; others say the vicinity of the Prospect Expressway.

763 CARROLL STREET A two-family townhouse (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/Listings/Display/3372823&quot;) with nine bedrooms
and three and a half baths, listed at $3,950,000.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

Spurred in part by the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, a Gold Coast of ornate townhouses and mansions arose around Plaza Street and Prospect Park West. Some of these were later replaced by fine prewar apartment houses, but others survive. On Prospect Park West, a Romanesque Revival limestone mansion houses the Poly Prep Lower School (http://www.polyprep.org/lowerschool); next door, a neo-Jacobean mansion built for a Bon Ami cleansing powder magnate is now home to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture (http://www.bsec.org/). At 105 Eighth Avenue, the neoclassical Tracy Mansion (http://www.halstead.com/sale/ny/brooklyn/park-slope/105-eighth-avenue/townhouse/3539390), which served for years as a Montessori school, is on the market for $13 million.

With a few exceptions, houses generally become less grand as one heads south from about Third Street or west down the hill from the park. In the South Slope, the blocks south of Ninth Street, frame houses are common, and residents tend to be a notch or two less affluent, census data show.

What You’ll Pay

Big money is pouring in. A seven-bedroom limestone-and-brick townhouse at 45 Montgomery Place recently sold for $10,775,000, a neighborhood record, while median single-family townhouse prices rose 26 percent over all last year to $2,755,000, according to sales data provided by the Corcoran Group. Tight inventory means houses typically sell within 30 days, at or above asking price, said Jessica Buchman, an associate broker at Corcoran. “A quarter of our deals are all cash,” she added. “The wealth is staggering.”

One-bedroom co-ops fetched an average price of $776 per square foot, up 8 percent from 2013, the Corcoran data showed, while the average for one-bedroom condos was $883, up 15 percent. Two-bedroom co-ops sold for an average of $930 per square foot, up 16 percent; two-bedroom condos were $961, up 15 percent. A mid-January search on StreetEasy.com found 16 houses and 52 apartments for sale.

Development continues apace on Fourth Avenue. At 278 Sixth, a 12-story rental building that opened in October, 45 of 63 units have been leased, said Joe Cruz, the project’s exclusive broker. Available one-bedrooms are listed at $3,000 per month, a typical price for a new building; two-bedrooms are $3,900, in the middle of the range for a new building.

708 DEGRAW STREET, #2 A three-bedroom two-bath
condo (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.halstead.com/sale/ny/brooklyn/park-slope/708-degraw-street/condo/10197422&quot;) with 1,008 square feet, listed at $1,250,000
Alan Chin for The New York Times

What to Do

Every spring, hundreds of diminutive baseball players parade with Norman Rockwell wholesomeness down Seventh Avenue en route to Prospect Park, where they play games organized by the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Also in the park, the two-rink skating complex of the LeFrak Center at Lakeside (http://lakesidebrooklyn.com/), which opened last winter after a $74 million restoration, is thronged with ice skaters in cold months and roller skaters in warm.

Seventh Avenue in the South Slope, with favorites like Talde (http://taldebrooklyn.com/), and Fifth Avenue, with the can’t-get-in-the-door mainstay Al di Lŕ, both have active restaurant scenes. For organic-food lovers unexcited about working the shifts required of members of the Park Slope Food Co-op (http://www.foodcoop.com/), the arrival of Whole Foods on Third Avenue and Third Street in neighboring Gowanus has been a boon. Farmers’ markets in Grand Army Plaza and by the renovated Washington Park thrive as well
462 SIXTH STREET, #4C A studio (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.corcoran.com/nyc/Listings/Display/3355712&quot;) with one bath and a
renovated kitchen in an 18-unit co-op, listed at $319,000.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

The Schools

Public School 321, a well-regarded elementary school on Seventh Avenue, is a major attraction. Last year, 78 percent of students met state standards on the state English test, and 80 percent on the math test, versus 30 and 39 percent citywide. The Berkeley Carroll School, a private institution for prekindergarten through 12th grade, has its lower school on Carroll Street and middle and high schools on Lincoln Place.

The Commute

The North Slope is well served by subway lines, including the 2, 3, B and Q, which make stops on Flatbush and reach Midtown Manhattan in about a half-hour. Nine trains stop at Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center, including the D, N, 4 and 5. The R train serves stations along Fourth Avenue. Center and South Slope residents can catch the F and G on Fourth Avenue, Seventh Avenue and 15th Street-Prospect Park.

The History

Washington Park was home to a forerunner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, which used the Old Stone House of Gowanus, a 17th-century structure, as their clubhouse in the late 19th century. A reconstruction of the house stands in the park today.


March 12th, 2015, 01:15 AM
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn: Urban Energy, Brownstone Charm

MARCH 11, 2015

Alan Chin for The New York Times

Slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/realestate/boerum-hill-brooklyn-urban-energy-brownstone-charm.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0#slideshow/100000003562395/100000003562396)

Boerum Hill, a comfortable, brick-and-brownstone neighborhood just south of Downtown Brooklyn, has long been a popular hunting ground for Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) buyers looking to bag one of the area’s coveted 19th-century townhouses. In 2005, less than an hour after a section of a ceiling collapsed onto a child’s bed (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/nyregion/thecity/27ceil.html?_r=0) during an open house at a Bergen Street townhouse, offers began rolling in, setting off a bidding war that concluded with a $1.68 million sale (the asking price was $1.595 million).

Today, that purchase price seems quaintly low, and with so few neighborhood houses coming to market, developers have hit on a simple solution: They’re building new ones, a trend that would have been unthinkable back in the dilapidated Boerum Hill of the 1980s.

“The phenomenon of people buying brand-new townhouses has been a really big thing in Boerum Hill,” said Leslie Marshall, an associate broker for the Corcoran Group. “A lot of buyers don’t have the stomach for a gut renovation, which so many of the houses that come on the market need, so new construction is really appealing.”

90 WYCKOFF STREET A four-bedroom townhouse (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.bhsusa.com/brooklyn/boerum-hill/townhouse/10191116&quot;), with three and a half baths and a garage, listed at $7,200,000.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

For some, the “turnkey” condition of newly built townhouses is as much a draw as the neighborhood. In 2007, Louise Whittet, at the time a teacher whose family was “busting out” of its apartment in TriBeCa, she said, was introduced to Boerum Hill when former neighbors invited them to their new home, one of 14 just-completed, modern-style townhouses on State Street.

“My husband calls it the most expensive brunch we’ve ever had,” Ms. Whittet said. “We go into their house, and the kitchen’s beautifully done, and there’s huge amounts of space. When you come from 1,600 square feet in Manhattan and see 3,000 square feet, it’s mind-boggling.”

A few months and $2.75 million later, Ms. Whittet and her family had moved into their own new home on the row, a five-story, five-bedroom house with a double-height dining space adjoining a backyard.

The clincher for Ms. Whittet and her husband, Andy Scruton, who works in finance, was the neighborhood’s proximity to Manhattan, only a 10- or 15-minute subway ride away. But once ensconced, they came to love the area for its own sake.

“It’s urban but residential, like parts of London,” said Ms. Whittet, who is British. “It offers the energy of an urban environment but with tree-lined streets and lots of space.”

Some of that space — vacant or underdeveloped lots throughout the neighborhood — is rapidly being filled in. Last year nine more new townhouses down the block from Ms. Whittet were sold for prices ranging from $3.2 million to $4.3 million. Farther down State, east of Hoyt Street, a row of seven one- and two-family townhouses (http://sevenatboerum.com/) is going up. At 319-325 Pacific Street, four four-story red brick houses are also rising, with elevators and garages behind handsome carriage-house-style doors.

As holes in the once gaptoothed streetscape are filled in, Ms. Whittet said Boerum Hill seemed very much at the center of things. “It feels we’re at a nexus, where everything meets and branches out again,” she said. “I walk the dog every day in Fort Greene, BAM (http://www.bam.org/) is a nine-minute walk, and I can walk to the water in 15 minutes if I want to look at Manhattan.”

What You’ll Find

Boerum Hill is an easygoing, predominantly low-rise community of about 18,000 residents east of Cobble Hill. Its boundaries, as defined by its civic association, are Court Street to the west, Fourth Avenue to the east, Schermerhorn Street to the north, and Warren and Wyckoff Streets to the south.

The residential heart of the neighborhood is its small historic district, which takes in parts of Pacific, Dean, Bergen and Wyckoff Streets. Here one finds uncommonly long, cohesive rows of Greek Revival and Italianate houses built mostly between the 1840s and the early 1870s. Adding to the area’s appealing visual jostle are church buildings and carriage houses converted to homes, walk-up rentals of brick or brownstone, and even the odd frame house. Interspersed throughout are charming ground-floor businesses like the atmospheric Italian restaurant Rucola (http://www.rucolabrooklyn.com/) and the aptly named Little Sweet Cafe (https://plus.google.com/107360209579088751136/about?gl=us&hl=en).

546 PACIFIC STREET A renovated two-family townhouse (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://kwnyc.com/index.cfm?page=details&amp;id=116161&quot;) with two two-bedroom duplexes, listed at $2,900,000.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

The stretch of Atlantic Avenue around the Brooklyn Detention Complex, for decades a hodgepodge of gas stations and parking lots decried by local groups as a “gap” in need of filling, is at last undergoing major development, with commercial and mixed-use buildings on the way. For better or worse, most of the area’s rough edges have been buffed away. Long gone from the commercial strip of Smith Street are the beer-drinking domino players and the dry cleaner with the puffy black-and-white chicken pecking about in the window. Nonetheless, despite the incursion of commercial chains, Smith still has a distinctive sense of place, with small storefronts generally lending an indie vibe to the strip’s thriving restaurant row.

“The mythology of the neighborhood is that you could walk to your own business, support the local schools, own a 40-seat restaurant or a dress shop,” said Howard Kolins, the president of the Boerum Hill Association (http://boerumhillassociation.org/). “Some people still do that, and that’s what everyone likes.”

What You’ll Pay

Boerum Hill is small, which helps keep inventory low and drives up prices. Only 24 townhouses sold last year, at a median price of $2,996,500, a 15 percent jump from 2013, according to sales data provided by Corcoran. In the last six months, two-bedroom condos averaged $956 per square foot, said Shari Sperling, an associate broker at Halstead Property, while two-bedroom co-ops fetched an average of $1,012 per square foot. At the Boerum, a 210-foot-tall condo planned at 265 State Street, sold units have averaged just over $1,300 per square foot.

Rental prices vary widely. At the upper end, a three-bedroom penthouse duplex on Dean Street is on the market for $7,250 per month, whereas a one-bedroom apartment above a storefront on Atlantic rents for around $2,500.

368 STATE STREET, #4 A one-bedroom one-bath co-op (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/&quot;http://www.elliman.com/new-york-city/368-state-street-4-brooklyn-dhbyteo&quot;) with a shared roof deck, listed at $650,000.
Alan Chin for The New York Times

A search on StreetEasy.com earlier this month found 32 residential properties for sale and 62 for rent.

What to Do

Concerts and sporting events at Barclays Center (http://www.barclayscenter.com/) are within walking distance, as is the vibrant green expanse of Brooklyn Bridge Park (http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/). Atlantic Avenue between Third and Fourth Avenues is home to many Islamic and Middle Eastern shops. Farther west, sleek design stores and boutiques like Steven Alan and Atelier Cologne have set up shop, undeterred by the rumbling traffic. October brings the Festival des Soupes, a “soup crawl” in which many of Smith Street’s restaurants serve up tasting cups of house-made fare.

The Schools

At Public School 261 (http://ps261.org/) on Pacific Street, which serves prekindergarten through fifth grade, 40 percent met state standards on the state English test last year, and 45 percent met standards on the math test, versus 30 and 39 citywide. The Brooklyn Heights Montessori School (http://www.bhmsny.org/), its name notwithstanding, is on Court Street in Boerum Hill; it teaches prekindergarten through eighth grade.

Three well-regarded private schools are within walking distance: the Saint Ann’s School (http://saintannsny.org/) and the Packer Collegiate Institute (http://www.packer.edu/) in Brooklyn Heights, and the Brooklyn Friends School (http://www.brooklynfriends.org/RelId/33637/ISvars/default/Home.htm) in Downtown Brooklyn.

The Commute

The area is served by an alphabet soup of subway lines: To the northeast, nine trains stop at Atlantic Avenue — Barclays Center, including the B, Q, D, N and R. The 2, 3, 4 and 5 serve that station as well as Borough Hall, a couple of blocks north of Schermerhorn Street. The A and G stop full time at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, the C part time. The F and G trains come into the Bergen Street station.

The History

A fashionable district in the 19th century, the neighborhood had become down-at-heel by the 1960s. In a successful effort to attract middle-class buyers to the area, which some called North Gowanus, pioneering brownstone renovators renamed the area Boerum Hill, after a family that farmed local land in Colonial times.