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Thread: Bedford-Stuyvesant Development

  1. #1
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    Default Bedford-Stuyvesant Development

    Apologies if I should have put this somewhere else.

    May 9, 2009

    A Merchant Watches as Bed-Stuy Gentrifies


    Eric Bullen, who owns a store in Bedford-Stuyvesant, has seen a transformation from gunfire to gentrification.

    Years ago, the sight of a white face passing by Al’s Men’s Shop on Fulton Street in Brooklyn would trigger a countdown from within.

    By the time Eric Bullen, the shop’s owner, had gone from 10 to about 2, there would almost certainly be some sort of ruckus outside: shouts for help, screams, sometimes flashing lights and sirens.

    “They would get mugged,” Mr. Bullen said of the few adventurous whites who ventured into Bedford-Stuyvesant in decades past, exaggerating somewhat. “I used to see it. I knew what was going to happen.”

    From behind the long counter in his store at 1140 Fulton Street, with hundreds of men’s hats stacked on the walls and tucked in worn display cases set around him, Mr. Bullen has seen decades of change sweep through the neighborhood.

    Fulton Street, Bed-Stuy’s main commercial corridor, which runs its length from east to west, was not very safe in the not-so-long-ago days of the late 1960s and 1970s, when heroin use was rampant, or in the 1980s and 1990s, when crack cocaine turned parents into drug addicts and many of their children to young gunners and drug runners.

    The collective fear of the neighborhood was summed up in a line from the 1980 Billy Joel song “You May Be Right”: “I’ve been stranded in the combat zone/I walked through Bedford-Stuy alone.”

    That reputation clung to the sky over central Brooklyn like a dark cloud, part boogeymanlike lore that helped fuel fear of its mostly black, mostly poor and working-class inhabitants. But it was also part of the neighborhood’s truth, a legitimate statement that the stakes there were high.

    These days, however, there is much more ado about gentrification than about gunfire and gangs.

    “I’ve seen so much of a change,” Mr. Bullen said from his shop on a recent afternoon, ringing up a pair of $45 Kangol caps for a customer. “At one time white folks were leaving the neighborhood. Now, I’m seeing the change where white folks are in the neighborhood, coming in and just buying up.”

    Mr. Bullen stepped outside his shop that brisk but sunny day and onto the sidewalk, where a late-afternoon scene featured schoolchildren, delivery drivers, shoppers, hawkers, hucksters and plainclothes police officers.

    Mr. Bullen, whose 65 years show only in his neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper hair, mused on times past and present, and wondered if Al’s Men’s Shop would survive yet another era: He is unsure if he will be able to afford his rent if it goes up when his lease ends next year.

    “I do get an anxious feeling sometimes,” Mr. Bullen said. “But I’m not ready to leave, to pack it all up.”

    The changes he sees around him were unthinkable just 15 years ago, he said.

    Crime is still prevalent, but to a much lesser degree. White residents, who left in droves several decades earlier, are finding their way back to Bed-Stuy — the largest predominantly black neighborhood in New York — searching for cheaper rents and quick commutes to Manhattan.

    Sights that were rare even a few years ago are now commonplace: white men and women jogging throughout the neighborhood; white college students biking, skateboarding and hanging out on stoops; groups of white 20-somethings walking home from the subway in the wee hours.

    “They want to do the same thing in Bed-Stuy that they did in Harlem,” said Myles McLean, 61, a longtime resident and customer of Mr. Bullen’s. “And that’s good and bad. The bad is it’s going to be too high. You won’t be able to live, won’t be able to afford it.”

    The good thing about gentrification is that the neighborhood is safer, Mr. McLean said, with police officers a steady presence from corner to corner.
    But it is disconcerting, Mr. McLean said, that the police are now “here to protect ‘them’ ” and not ‘us.’ “I know who it’s for.”

    Mr. Bullen bought Al’s Men’s Shop in 1977 after working for the owners for about 10 years.

    Tension between the black community and the mostly Jewish business owners — his employers included — was heating up. Many blacks were frustrated that their dollars were being taken out of the community while the neighborhood was falling apart.

    His store’s owners were losing money and their sense of security, Mr. Bullen said. So they sold the business and moved to the Bronx, where they already owned Cedar-Del Army and Navy.

    “It was like a ghost town,” said Mr. Bullen, who speaks in slow and breezy riffs with a Grenadian accent. “It was very dangerous for them.”

    Mr. Bullen came to this country in 1968 after leaving Grenada for Trinidad and Tobago, where he served in the Caribbean Defense Force.

    A year after coming to the United States, he went back to Trinidad to marry, returning six months later with his wife to a modest job at the hat shop — it was across the street then, at 1155 Fulton Street — and a small one-bedroom apartment at Jefferson and Throop Avenues.

    “We battled,” Mr. Bullen recalled with a faint smile. “We had a little one-room place. Made lots of sacrifices.”

    The neighborhood was rough, and his job did not pay well, but he worked hard and carved out a happy life for his wife and, later, three daughters and a son.

    Then he bought the shop and built a solid clientele in the neighborhood, selling everything from Lee jeans and rubber snow boots to day-to-day men’s headwear and hats for the big hat-wearing holidays like Easter.
    “I put a hat on your head, and I see a big smile on your face, and that means a lot to me,” he said.

    The shop has survived several burglaries, riots and the citywide looting during the 1977 blackout. Mr. Bullen said he had maintained a steady flow of business over the years, with one notable exception: a 1970s slump when the Afro was in, and hats, therefore, were out.

    “I even grew an Afro at the time,” Mr. Bullen said, who now has a low haircut and wears a navy blue newspaper-boy cap. “When people were into the Afro, you couldn’t really fit a hat on the head because the whole idea was for the ’fro to show.”

    Mr. Bullen stood out in front of his shop surveying the block, passers-by greeting him with a “Hey, pops” or the like.

    “I knew many of their fathers,” he said. “It makes you feel good. Because you feel that you enjoy what you’re doing and people recognize it, and say a good word, that they are happy that I’m still around.”

    The subway roared from beneath the sidewalk grate as he pointed to buildings that once held this business or that one, which closed down this year or that.

    “I’m the last one,” he said. “The survivor.”

  2. #2
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default 426 Lafayette Avenue

    According to the article, this is in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but looking at a map, it seems more in Clinton Hill.

    Edit: According to Neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the boundaries of Clinton Hill are Vanderbilt Avenue (W), Classon Avenue (E), Park/Flushing Avenue (N) and Fulton Street/Atlantic Avenue (S). So, this falls just outside that.

    September 8, 2009

    Development Watch: 426 Lafayette Avenue

    The residential development at 426 Lafayette Avenue has been progressing at a steady clip. We spoke to the workers there last week, and they couldn't give us an estimated date of completion, but one of them said it will be finished soon—"too soon," he said, since he'll have to find another job. The Bed Stuy building, when complete, will reach 70 feet and seven stories high, and will contain 24 residential units. GMAP P*Shark DOB
    Last edited by Merry; September 9th, 2009 at 05:52 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default 111 Monroe Street

    111 MONROE

    The clean and modern design of 111 Monroe introduces a brand new level of home to this historic area of Brooklyn. With its affordable pricing and availability of FHA financing, 111 Monroe offers a higher standard of living for very attractive value. The thoughtfully executed layouts of all of the one and two bedroom homes at 111 Monroe have been tastefully designed and well appointed with quality finishes throughout and stainless steel Summit, GE and Whirlpool appliances. Equally as impressive are the oversized windows that allow for an abundance of sunlight while most of the homes feature a private outdoor space.

  4. #4


    What is "affordable" for them? I've been to that neighborhood very recently and I am NOT seeing what makes it so great. Unless the building really is cheap.

  5. #5
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    Bed-Stuy Is the New Home of the American Dream

    October 30, 2009

    The American Dream lives on, at least in Bed-Stuy.

    It's not Brownstone Brooklyn, but you can get a brownstone--in Brooklyn--for $300,000 dollars, courtesy of the economic apocalypse.

    They call it distressed sales activity, the foreclosed-upon fruits of all those would-be developers taking out bad loans and then defaulting on their mortgages. And they're cheap, says a new report by TerraCRG Commercial Realty Group.

    The realtor behind the report, Ofer Cohen, says he's got 10 of them he can sell you right now, each with three or four units. Granted, they're in Bed-Stuy, not Clinton Hill. "The weaker neighborhoods are seeing more of this," Mr. Cohen told The Real Deal.

    But still, $300,000 dollars for a three- or four-unit building: Batten the brownstones, if you didn't already.

  6. #6
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    Bed-Stuy bargains get bigger

    Some condo developers in Brooklyn neighborhood still in sales mode; others negotiate with banksBy Caren Chesler

    Imagine you host a party and no one comes. That was broker David Behin when he unveiled the 29-unit condo project 111 Monroe last year in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He put the building, with its slick glass-and-stone façade, large, clean apartments and huge windows, on the market last January and didn't get a single bite.

    "It was a project where anyone who walked into the building said, 'Wow.' But it was tough as nails to try to get anyone to buy," said Behin, executive vice president of the Real Estate Group New York, a residential brokerage. "And we probably went out with prices that, even though we reduced them, were still too high."

    The developers lowered the price of the units, twice. Two-bedrooms, for instance, fell from $495,000 to $450,000. The developers also offered to pay buyers' closing costs and got the building approved for FHA loans, meaning qualified buyers could purchase units with as little as 3.5 percent down. And they could pluck down just $2,000 to sign the contract and make the rest of the down payment over time.

    The result? The units started moving. By December, he had contracts on half of them, he said.

    But the building wasn't alone in its struggles. Sales volume in Bed-Stuy is down about 23 percent from the market's peak in 2006. Condo prices alone have fallen about 40 percent, according to developers and brokers who work in the neighborhood. By comparison, average condo sale prices in Brooklyn have dropped 13.5 percent since their peak in 2007, data from Miller Samuel shows.

    The market downturn has hit almost every section of the city, but condo developers in Bed-Stuy have been some of the worst hit. After all, before the boom, few would have pegged Bed-Stuy as a lure for new condo construction. That changed, of course, and plenty of condos rose from the ground.

    For a while it looked like the bet would pay off. Not anymore. When the condo market turned, those who could get out did -- by 2007. But those who were unable to sell are stuck with buildings in which they can't sell the units, and the whole cost structure of the deal was based on inflated condo prices of up to $650 a square foot. Condo prices today are closer to $350 a square foot in Bed-Stuy.

    Some condo projects there, like the Mynt building at 756 Myrtle Avenue, have been turned into rentals. But that's not an option for those with construction loans coming due. Those developers are now either looking for a new principal to inject equity into the deal, or they face foreclosure. In some instances, it's the banks, not the developers, that are trying to figure out what to do with the properties: sell, finish developing them or simply sell the loan to a private investor.

    "We've done several valuations for banks trying to figure out what this stuff is worth," said Michael Amirkhanian, first vice president of sales at Massey Knakal. While not exclusive to Bed-Stuy, Amirkhanian said many of the properties are located there, as well as in Brownsville, Bushwick, East Flatbush, East New York and Crown Heights.

    "That said, there is a pool of buyers across the city that have been patiently waiting and are so thirsty for this stuff that you may see some unlikely suspects putting bids on distressed properties and notes in [Bed-Stuy] that you may not have anticipated," Amirkhanian said.

    He said in certain deals there's been a "real overcorrection." Land, for example, has been the hardest hit in Bed-Stuy, with values plummeting from $60 to $100 a buildable square foot at the peak to about $25 to $45 now. Mixed-use properties have also been hit hard, as banks don't want to lend on property tied to the struggling retail sector.

    Pricing on multifamily properties, particularly those that are fully occupied, have fallen the least. Vacant properties, in better sections of the neighborhood like Stuyvesant Heights (on the south side of Bed-Stuy) and areas west of Marcy Avenue, are attracting developers looking for quality rental developments, sources said. The neighborhood has also been hit by high home foreclosure rates, affecting overall property values.

    But with construction on hold, many newcomers are left waiting for the new neighborhood amenities they had hoped for.

    Lilo Stainton, a 40-year old media relations executive, moved to the neighborhood in 2004. And while sections like Stuyvesant Heights, where she lives, boast some of the city's most beautiful brownstones, she said there's still not much entertainment in the area, outside of the handful of restaurants, cafes and a bookstore on Lewis Avenue.

    "I love my neighborhood, but if we want to go out, we have to get in the car," Stainton said. She and her husband, Tim, bought in Bed-Stuy after living in a small apartment in the West Village and deciding they wanted more space.

    Juny Francois, an attorney and developer with properties in other parts of Brooklyn and out of state, bought a brownstone in Bed-Stuy in 2003. Her property offers a good breakdown on what pricing in the neighborhood has experienced. She purchased it for about $350,000, and by 2005 it had doubled in value. By 2007, she was receiving offers in excess of $1 million. Today, she estimated, the property is worth about $750,000. Brownstones overall have retained their value better than condos or co-ops.

    The good news is prices appear to have stabilized. Still, the only substantial activity in the neighborhood is in the northwest section, on Bedford Avenue, Skillman Street and Spencer Street, where the Hasidic community has been buying up property, said Douglas Heller, a real estate attorney at Herrick, Feinstein in Manhattan, who has worked in the area of developing, lending and restructuring condos and co-ops for 30 years. "There were about 40 trades in the first six months of the year, and roughly all of them were in the northwest part of Bed-Stuy, which is Hasidic," Heller said.

    Some developers are selling their properties at bargain basement prices, just to unload them. A six-unit building at 118 Lexington Avenue (also known as 354 Franklin Avenue) recently sold for about $175 a square foot.

    "Bedford-Stuyvesant was never all that high, but $175 a square foot? You don't recover your construction costs then," Heller said. "A lot of neighborhoods go two steps forward, one step back. That's what happened in Williamsburg, and I believe that's what's happening in Bedford-Stuyvesant."

  7. #7
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    Bedford-Stuyvesant: Buyers Have Upper Hand


    Bedford-Stuyvesant real estate, which enjoyed a mini-renaissance during the boom years, has gotten hit especially hard by the downturn.

    But that means there are more bargains for home buyers, some of them on display in open houses this weekend.

    While home prices in many parts of the city have rebounded, values there are still scraping along their post-bust lows. The median sales price in East Brooklyn, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, fell to $340,000 in the second quarter, down 40% from its peak of $570,000 in the 2006 fourth quarter, according to data compiled by Miller Samuel, a real-estate appraisal firm.

    But there are also some signs of improvement. Last year, there were 25 foreclosures in Bed-Stuy, down from 57 in 2008, when the area had the second-highest number of foreclosures in Brooklyn, according to New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
    Though sales in East Brooklyn aren't near the highs the area saw during the good times, volume is picking up, says Jonathan Miller, president and chief executive of Miller Samuel. "East Brooklyn sales activity is up 64%, but the level of sales is still less than half of levels seen during the market peak in late 2006 to mid-2007," Mr. Miller says.
    The neighborhood dates back to the 1600s, but it was rural until the 19th century. A large African-American community settled in Bed-Stuy around the turn of the century, and the area has remained a center of Brooklyn's black population ever since.

    Located in north-central Brooklyn and bordered by Bushwick, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Crown Heights, the neighborhood has served as the backdrop for Spike Lee films and has been home to celebrities like Jay Z, Chris Rock and the late Notorious BIG.

    Handsome brownstones and townhouses abound in Stuyvesant Heights, the neighborhood's historic district located between Tompkins and Stuyvesant avenues. The landmarked Akwaaba Mansion on MacDonough Street, built in the 1860s, is now a bed and breakfast.

    Thanks partly to the area's architecture, it attracted a surge of interest when soaring prices in other Brooklyn neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Prospect Heights pushed buyers to look elsewhere. Crystal Bobb-Semple, who grew up in Bed-Stuy and has owned Brownstone Books on Lewis Avenue for 10 years, says that the neighborhood has gotten much younger and more diverse, attracting recent college graduates and young professional families.

    Macon Street

    In 2000, blacks made up 74.9% of the population while whites made up 2.4% and Asians 0.8%, according to NYU's Furman Center. By 2008, the number of blacks decreased to 63%, while whites accounted for 13.6% of the population and Asians 2.3%. Hispanics have been roughly 19% of the population since 2000.

    "The first wave of gentrifiers, for the most part, were young black professionals," says Ms. Bobb-Semple. "Over the last maybe five years, that's broadened."

    Retail, restaurants and night life isn't as vibrant as in other areas of Brooklyn, but the options have expanded with arrivals like the Pilar Cuban Eatery, Therapy Wine Bar, Black Swan, a general store and pharmacy called Tin City and SarahJames, a speakeasy-themed restaurant and bar.

    The commute from Bed-Stuy to Manhattan's Financial District on the neighborhood's main subway lines, A and C, takes under half an hour; to Midtown, the trip is about 30 to 45 minutes. The G train also runs through Bed-Stuy, but a transfer is needed to reach Manhattan.

    Though the area is safer than it used to be, crime remains an issue. There have been 22 murders, 33 rapes and 466 robberies reported so far this year in Bed-Stuy's 79th and 81st precincts. Some of the area's public schools also are struggling.

    Schools in Bedford-Stuyvesant are part of districts 13 and 16, which includes P.S. 262 El Hajj Malik El Shabazz Elementary School, M.S. 35 Stephen Decatur and Bedford Academy High School.

    In 2010, which marked the start of new test standards to prepare students for college, 25.2% of students in the eighth grade in District 13 scored proficient on the math exam and 26.5% of students scored proficient on the English Language Arts exam. In 2009, that number was considerably higher under the older test standards with 62.7% of students in the eighth grade scoring proficient in math and 52.3% for reading.

    In District 16, the number of eighth graders that scored proficient on the math exam was 26.7% and 19.1% on the English Language Arts exam. In 2009, that number was 61.3% in math and 43% in English.

    But residents say its improving quality of life and attractive real-estate prices more than make up for its problems.

    "It's an extremely affordable neighborhood for people who want brownstone Brooklyn but may be priced out of other neighborhoods," says Brown Harris Stevens agent Miriam Sirota, a Bed-Stuy resident. "You can get a gorgeous brownstone for under $1 million."

  8. #8
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    Bedford-Stuyvesant Steps Up Its Game


    Brownstones and trees line many streets in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

    When Michael Zawacki first moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant five years ago, friends would sometimes be surprised when they heard where he lived.

    Now, he says, "I don't get the kinds of reactions I used to get. People say, 'Oh, I heard that neighborhood is really changing,' or 'Oh, it's really beautiful over there.'"

    This spring, Mr. Zawacki and a partner, Sam Lutzer, opened a gourmet coffee shop, Daily Press Bed-Stuy, on Franklin Avenue. The café is among a flurry of shops and restaurants that have been springing up in this rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood as owners aim to take advantage of a growing customer base and relative lack of competition.

    "There's a changing demographic that would appreciate more of a higher-end coffee shop, but there's also a lot of [longtime] residents there who appreciate what we're doing," Mr. Zawacki says. "The neighborhood has changed so much just in the past five years, it's amazing—every time you blink there's something new."

    The area, bordered by Clinton Hill, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Crown Heights, is known for its rich African-American history as well as its brownstones and tree-lined streets. Until the recession hit, the area had been undergoing a development boom but then the neighborhood saw numerous foreclosures. Its large stock of new construction led to a drop in prices, and several buildings intended as condominiums were converted to rental housing.

    Now prices in Bedford-Stuyvesant are on the upswing, though still lagging 2008 levels, according to The median sales price of homes that closed in the first half of 2011 was $373,500, according to the data, an 8% rise from the 2010 first half, but a 24% drop from the same period three years ago.

    The volume of sales in the neighborhood has picked up since 2008, in contrast to a citywide trend, the data show. In this year's first half, sales of 394 units closed, a 3% drop from the same period last year but a 7% increase from 2008, according to the data. Citywide, the number of closings dropped 14% in the 2011 first half from the year-earlier period and 13% over the past three years, the data show.

    "We're seeing more attendance at open houses, we're actually getting more offers than we'd recently been getting on properties," says Anthony Morris, a vice president at Corcoran Group who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant. "With the influx of new people moving to the neighborhood, you're seeing new restaurants. The culture is evolving in the neighborhood."

    The surge in new businesses is an additional draw for prospective residents, according to Michael Brooks, executive vice president at sales and marketing firm MNS. He is project manager for 315 Gates Ave., a 72-unit luxury condominium building that began sales last year and is now more than 70% in contract or sold.

    "I think since we started selling this building about a year ago, there have been so many new businesses that have come in that it's almost becoming difficult to keep track," Mr. Brooks says.

    "We had created a sales office map with all the local points of interest, and it's essentially outdated a year later, based on the new restaurants and shops that have come in."

    Other newcomes include Sud Vino e Cucina, an Italian restaurant on Bedford Avenue that opened earlier this year; Dough, a doughnut shop on Franklin Avenue; Cinnamon Girl, an organic café and grocery on Nostrand Avenue; and Brooklyn Stoops, a café on Myrtle Avenue, all of which opened last year.

    Yet even as new shops and restaurants have arrived, other stores have closed, including Bread Stuy, a café, and Brownstone Books, both longstanding businesses on Lewis Avenue.

    "We're not immune from the national economy," says John Samuel, a co-owner of Breukelen Cellars, a wine store that opened in March on Nostrand Avenue. Still, Mr. Samuel, a native of Bedford-Stuyvesant who recently moved back to the neighborhood, says he is optimistic.

    "Bed-Stuy was most definitely underserved, so it looked like a good opportunity for the neighborhood to get something that they need, and an opportunity for us to make a sound business move."

  9. #9
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    Giant Glass Karl Fischer Box to Consume Bed-Stuy Corner

    June 12, 2015, by Jeremiah Budin

    A Karl Fischer-designed building with rental apartments and a grocery store is headed to the corner of Fulton Street and Franklin Avenue in Bed-Stuy, where it will replace a shuttered Key Foods. The building will be 11 stories tall and contain 189 units, Brownstoner reports, with an unspecified percentage of those units designated affordable. The project is being developed by Joseph Brunner. It was purchased last May by an LLC for $19 million. Fischer, one of the city's most prolific, if not beloved architects, is currently designing other large buildings in the neighborhood as well, including ones at 946 Myrtle Avenue and 1060 Bedford Avenue.

    Big Karl Fischer-Designed Build on Fulton Will Be Even Bigger, With Grocery, Affordable Units [Brownstoner, via YIMBY]

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