“The NY Times Real Estate section—the Rosencrantz to the Style Section’s Guildenstern—has a report this weekend on the current state of Brooklyn Gentrification ™ ™. It seems that the Brooklyn residents being priced out of areas such as Park Slope, Williamsburg, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens (who aren’tfleeing for suburbia) are instead turning their attention toward Sunset Park, Crown Heights, Bushwick, Ditmas Park and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Oh, but you probably already know that if you’ve read the NY Times before.
The problem with “Brooklyn’s New Gentrification Frontiers” is that there isn’t much “new” about it. It’s true that most of the locations they profile haven’t exploded in the same way that Park Slope or Williamsburg have (exception: Prospect-Lefferts Gardens), but they’re all places the Times has already featured as up-and-coming gentrification locations over the last decade…or more.
In 2009, Ditmas Park was touted as a place filled with “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.’” Bushwick was “fresh new blood in every sense” in 2006 and identified as a “transitional” area in 2011. Sunset Park had “been on an upward track for a dozen years” in 2001, a revival that they noted was five years in as of 1985, “propelled by the availability of relatively affordable housing.”
In 1985, Crown Heights was also highlighted as attracting “many newcomers in search of affordable housing near the more prosperous Park Slope.” In a quote that could have come from this weekend’s article, Jack Winter of Winter Real Estate Agency said back then: “There is a lot more space to be found in Crown Heights for a lot less money than in Park Slope. People are looking for reasonably priced housing within a comfortable commuting distance of New York and Crown Heights offers that.”
Then there’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens, which has seen property prices increase 63% between 2004 and 2012. The reason they made the Times’ new story is because of neighboring Park Slope: “It tends to be two or three times as much money,” Bill Sheppard, an associate broker in the Brooklyn Heights office of Brown Harris Stevens, said of Park Slope prices. But that just means Prospect Lefferts Gardens is equal to the Upper West Side now: “When I started selling there 20 years ago,” he said, “you could get a house for $250,000.” Now, he noted, those same properties are topping out at $1.6 million.
So why do people keep spreading out across Brooklyn rather than to other boroughs? “What many clients have told me is that they like the old Brooklyn vibe of these up-and-coming areas,” Kristen Larkin, an agent with TOWN Residential, told the Times. “They like the sense of community, friendliness of the neighbors, and the mom-and-pop shops that come along with it.” So is it only a matter of time before Brownsville, East New York, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and Marine Park get chosen for the gentrification major leagues.”