Times Tackles Kensington, Sees Affordable Melting Pot

kensington-05-2008.jpg
This weekend Kensington got the “Living In…” treatment c/o the Times’ real estate section, where the neighborhood (a narrow stretch just below Prospect Park bordered on the west by Borough Park and on the east by Victorian Flatbush nabes like Ditmas Park) is characterized as a multi-culti, cheapish alternative to the Slope. The story profiles some white gentrifiers priced out of the Slope and Windsor Terrace who revel in Kensington’s diversity, affordability, decent schools, and proximity to the park but lament the lack of certain amenities, like coffee shops. Comps: 1-fams=$650,000 to $750,000; 2-fams generally go from $750,000 to $900,000; 1-bed condos tend to range from $150,000 to $300,000; and 1-bed rentals are usually less than $1,500 per month. The piece says Kensington has pockets of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Muslim, and Hasidic Jew communities, and includes the following quote from the founder of the Kensington Blog: “It’s actually a real New York neighborhood, where you can see tons of different kinds of people and we shop at the same places. There’s real beauty in that. At the end of the day, if I have to hop on my bike to go to a restaurant, it’s not that big of a deal.” All this sound about right?
Name From London, People From Everywhere [NY Times]
NY Times Article [Kensington Blog]
The Times discovers Kensington [Flatbush Gardener]
Photo by Precision Accuracy.

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  • we looked at a few houses when we were in the market and weren’t very impressed with the selection. most were too small with a distinct archie bunker vibe.

  • re. posts above – I suppose the same crackpots who call in fake fire alarms to the fire service and make mean-spirited crank calls to people must also have internet access to take their crackpotism to a whole new level.

  • The article doesn’t mention Buzz A Rama on Church Avenue as a fun activity to do for kids and adults alike.
    Yes, it is a cheaper alternative to Park SLope but prices are rising fast and as it is close to Propsect Park, will one day become unaffordable to most.

  • Archie Bunker? That’s crazy. On our beautiful, quiet Kensington block, our neighbors are: Russian, Chinese, Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Croatian, Orthodox Jews, Mexican, Italian. It’s like the U.N. here – no house has residents of the same ethnicity. Many are two-family houses, and the lower floors are often rented to artists and musicians – my kids love to stand and listen outside “the jazz house” on weekends. My family represents the ex-Park Slope yuppie contingent, I suppose. And as such, we’d love if a coffee shop opened in the vacant hair salon space at McDonald and Albemarle… But hey, everything else is nearly perfect. Golden Farm on Church is awesome, especially after one compares one’s grocery bill to places in the slope…

  • The article sounds about right. I think from what I’ve heard from longtime residents that times were hard in Kensington in the 60′s/70′s and folks who struggled to maintained homes turned to the asphalt shingles and aluminum siding so in some cases Archie Bunkerish. I didn’t even want to go into the open house for our home, but the inside was a pleasant surprise. I’ve seen a few neighbor’s homes and that’s been the case- some nice woodwork, stained glass windows, etc but our exteriors are not what we’d like them to be- yet.

    Living close to the eastern edge of Kensington gives us access to all the services of Ditmas Park so we have a few more options for restaurants than folks on the west side. We’ve enjoyed living here since 2003 and having a big backyard has been worth it.

  • yes, but where can i find a review of bar milano?

  • The biggest drawback for Kensington is the F train. Depending on where you are, you are anywhere from two to five more stops into Brooklyn on the F from Park Slope, which means a commute into midtown takes a while. As much as an hour depending on where you need to go and the frequency of the trains and connections at Jay Street.

    We chose Ditmas Park as an alternative, mostly for transportation benefits: B & Q train service make it a quick ride to Union Square, Penn Station and Times Square. Not that either train is perfect, but relying on the F as our sole lifeline into Manhattan was not an option.

    Obviously, issues such as a lack of good restaurants and coffee shops are the same in Ditmas as in certain parts of Kensington, but that’s changing (in both neighborhoods, I’d imagine).

  • i did an appraisal the other day of a 2 family in Kensington. 9th street, near Ave c. I spoke to a resident who grew up there. he told me all about its irish and italian past, white flight in the 70′s crack, murder and prostitute epidemic in the 80′s, influx of Indian, Paki, Bangli in the 90′s , and now the influx of some hipsters and artists. seems like you can pick of a 3 over 3 for around 700k. he also said, as did another resident of 15 years, that crime has significantly dropped in the past 10 years. not sure if female yuppies feel totally safe at night, but the neighborhood is improving. im curious if there is a glut of foreclosure, REO and short sale activity there. and yes, the coffee shops and bars have yet to arrive. but it feels like they will start coming.

  • That’s true about the F subway, 11:25. But the whole point of the article is that people who can’t afford Ditmas Park are looking at Kensington. I’ve never seen anything decent in Ditmas that isn’t at least a $1.5 MM investment, either if already renovated or after you do the renovations yourself. That’s a $700K price difference between a house in Ditmas and a house in Kensington. Kensington houses are smaller sure, but that’s a huge difference in price. The two neighborhoods are simply not going to be marketed to the same buyers.

    But I totally agree, I couldn’t only have the F as my one option, either. That’s the problem with Windsor Terrace too. Subway options will only become more and more and more important as the city population grows and as this borough’s population of commuters grows as people continue to choose Brooklyn over the suburbs.

  • I’ve had a co-op in Kensington for 4 years but lived nearby since 98. It’s not a place for everyone, but I love it. If you’re looking to walk out your door and have hip restaurants and trendy stores right there, you’ll find it boring. But if you enjoy diversity and a bit of adventure (bargain shopping, authentic food), it’s great. Close to the park, express bus to mid-town, good prices, safe to walk at night… The F train isn’t great but Church is 3 stops from 7th Ave, 5 minutes on the train. This is not the boonies. It’s an alternative for those who can appreciate a real Brooklyn.

  • Also parts of Ditmas are so far from the B/Q you need to drive there.

  • i looked at kensington and williamsburg as 2 areas with “deals.” ended up in williamsburg for the amenities and convenience/commute. i like kensington as a neighborhood with good value, but it’s a bit far and there’s nothing.

  • Depending on where you live in Kensington, you are not limited to the F. Because we live on the east side of the neighborhood, we are an equal distance to F and Q and also have the express bus option on Stratford/Cortelyou Road which gets my husband to 23 and Park in 30 minutes on most days. Folks who live near Church and East 7th have that same option. I commute by Q (40-45 min to Union Square) and am fortunate for having 2 other commuting options for when the Q is down.

    I feel totally safe at night here. We weren’t sure what to expect when we moved here since the area is very quiet at night. Didn’t know if the lack of activity was ominous or not. Turns out it’s just quiet and I’ve never had any problems coming home late and walking from the train. There has been a lot more younger folks moving in and that’s increased foot traffic from the train later at night so it’s not as scary quiet as it was 5 years ago.

    The houses tend to be smaller than Ditmas Park and less detailed but for us the size is better on the heating costs and just the manageability of owning an old house. The biggest issue the neighborhood faces is the rise of some seriously ugly architecture of the Feddars type jammed on small lots. Having the melting pot is great in terms of richness of culture but it means there is a less unified voice as to community issues since what’s good for one group is often not for another. Also seems that makes for a lack of a preservationist sense, since I don’t think that ideal is important to all groups equally, which I can totally understand. There is a real hodge podge of exterior styles that really look odd slapped on wood frame housing, unfortunately, that I’m sure were picked as easier to maintain.

  • The F is not so bad. Better than relying on commuter rails/buses from NJ, LI, and Westchester.

  • i looked at kensington and williamsburg as 2 areas with “deals.” ended up in williamsburg for the amenities and convenience/commute. i like kensington as a neighborhood with good value, but it’s a bit far and there’s nothing.

  • There are plenty of co-op buildings in Ditmas, although a lot of the focus and the reputation of the neighborhood tends to be based on Victorian homes. We paid $290,000 for an 1100-square foot co-op three blocks from the Q & B trains.

    So, 12:05, you’re right in one sense, that a lot of DP is focused on the big Victorians, but that’s one reason why the smaller co-ops and other apartments tend to get overlooked.

    Granted, there are more big apartment buildings in Kensington so there’s probably a larger number of available apartments in the $200K – $400K range in that neighborhood, but such deals do exist in Ditmas Park. 1818 Newkirk is one popular building, and there are a lot of co-ops off of Cortelyou with stuff coming available all the time. In my mind, Cortelyou Road is a much better option than most of Kensington.

  • Living in PLG, which is closer to the park, has a large historic district and is way closer on the B/Q to manhattan, I’m always a bit puzzled that people seem to think Kensington is a better deal/location. Are the schools especially good? Is crime that low? I mean things like the Kensington blog saying “One of the last affordable (and safe!) areas within reasonable commuting distance to Manhattan.” That seems like some sort of coded racial language, or maybe I’m just imagining it.

  • I’ve owned a coop in “The Kens” for 6 years.
    I noticed that in my building, Park Slope Expats were moving in after selling their apts in the Slope, making a profit and paying cash “outright” for an apt in the building.
    This is a VERY smart move as now only 1 parental unit has to work while the other stays home with the kids. Peace of mind in having no mortgage payment over your head and a great school a block away.
    Alot of people are cashing out of their places in “Brownstone, Brooklyn” and enjoying piece of mind with very low or no mortgages over their heads in Kensington. AGAIN, SMART MOVE!

  • Regarding 12:45 comment-
    “That seems like some sort of coded racial language, or maybe I’m just imagining it.”

    Stop being so PC! Although if I had a choice btw PLG and Kensington, I’d surely choose Kensington for the safety factor…

  • 1:01 – totally agree. i do not think it is possible to fully gentrify ghetto areas – bad for your safety in the here and now, and really bad as an investment. you will always end up making more in an area that does not have ghetto elements.

  • I’d choose Kensington over PLG any day of the week.

  • “you will always end up making more in an area that does not have ghetto elements.”

    Tell that to my neighbor who bought here Park Slope brownstone when it was $35,000, next to a crack house on one side and a whorehouse on the other.

    I’d say she could get around 3 million for it now.

    You aren’t from around here, are you?

    Do you have ANY IDEA what the Upper West Side, Soho, Lower East Side and Hells kitchen were like 30 years ago??

    GHETTO with a capital G.

  • 2.15
    I don’t want to wait 30 years and live my life not being able to walk to the subway at 10pm. There are no shootings in Kensington or crack houses. Didn’t you read the Brownstoner article in NY Mag? With the economy the way it is all you PLGs could get screwed!

  • soho was kinda pricey 30 years ago

  • I’ve lived in Kensington for about four years now and am pretty much fed up with it. Noisy and inconsiderate neighbors combined with the lack of amenities (I love how the NYT article under “things to do” basically has: nothing) has pretty much worn me down, and I’m looking to move. I do think it must make a huge difference if you have a car, though.

    It is basically a safe neighborhood, although there are pockets, like Coney Island Avenue where I get street harassed on a daily basis, where I wouldn’t want to walk late at night, especially as a lone woman.

  • 2:15 — sorry, yes PS and the other areas you mention were worse, but NO, they were not filled with black ghettos.. they just weren’t. thanks for proving the point! i look for poor white/ethnic white or hispanic nieghborhoods for gentrification value. you can live safely while helping to push forward the gentrification.

    you cannot change a ghetto black neighborhood. i’d like to see that example. Fort Greene + Clinton Hill + prospect hts are still predominantly black with not good schools.

    i prefer kensington, east williamsburg, greenpoint, sunset park, etc.. over PLG, Crown HTs., Bed-Stuy, for value.

    look at cobble hill, north williamsburg, carroll gardens, west slope – all were italian! easy to gentrify.

  • 2:37, Prospect Heights is a historically-black neighborhood. It’s rapidly gentrifying, thanks to the proximity to the Q/B and 2/3 express trains and Park Slope.

  • seeing how prospect heights and crown heights have much better housing than anything south of 9th st in park slope makes it interesting that south of 9th street has gentrified faster. 14th street is far away from North Slope yet much nicer than anything east of Washington ave which is much closer to say Lincoln Pl.

  • I think some areas are definitely noisier than others. Areas close to Church seem so. Frankly, I always think that’s a block to block thing anyway- the same could be said of my old neighborhood of Boerum Hill (or any neighborhood) when we started living there in 1990. Our block was horribly noisy because it had 5 apartment buildings and lots of folks hanging out in front at night. The rest of the area was blissfully quiet. We live near a jr high here and that can be a real pain in terms of noise and the destructive nature of kids that age but it’s not like I didn’t know that before we bought. I’ve never been harassed walking home or around CIA late and have on Cortelyou in Ditmas but I’d say that depends on what jerk is hanging on the street that day. The littering and the people who leave dog do around are the things that bug me. Way worse than the old neighborhood.

    It depends on where you are in the neighborhood and what you deem amenities. We’re within 3 blocks of Ditmas and Cortelyou Rd, so it doesn’t matter that to us that Kensington is a little lacking in that department but I can definitely see that there’s little to do to the west of us. It is what it is- a changing area. If you are close enough to Ditmas you have a few nice restaurants and business that you can frequent while you wait and see if the rest of the area gets some without paying 1.1M for a house. But if you live in the other parts, the area may seem totally too lacking. That’s the risk you take for buying in a relatively affordable place. There’s usually something (transportation, no restaurants, more crime, whatever) that makes it cheaper.

  • We chose Kensington over Williamsburg (where we had lived for 10 years)for many reasons. Yes, the commute is longer but I’m a reader so that does not bother me. Kensington is substantially cheaper than Wmburg when it comes to buying a single family home, especially if you look at the pocket just south of the cemetary (Chester, Clara, Louisa)where they are all solid brick homes often with large yards and garages and deceivingly large and beautiful on the inside. It is very safe and quiet and the schools are again much better then Wmburg. No, we are not nearly as groovy but I’m over that. We have been very happy the last 4 years with our choice and have no intention of leaving anytime soon. They do need a good coffeee shop though , that is for sure. A gold mine waiting to be tapped…

  • DITTO ON NEEDING A GOOD COFFEE SHOP!!! The Church Ave/ McDonald stop is busy all of the time.We need a good coffee shop right on that corner!

  • The first post fell for what so many do… judging the houses by their 60′s makeovers. Get rid of the aluminum awning, give it a nice paint job and you just might find a real gem under there. Our house looked awful when we bought it but we knew it had good bones. It is a real beauty now. We love Kensington! We just need a Tea Lounge or something!

  • I bought a 875 sqft JR4 in one of the doorman buildings on Beverley Road for 125K back in 2003 and I am EXTREMELY happy with the investment. It is a very safe, very quite neighborhood and has all the basic shopping you can possibly ask for. 5 minute walk to the Subway too.

    Lack of good food is annoying, but Korner Pizza is top tier, Yummy Taco is not too bad either. A coffee shop would be fantastic. Heck even Dunkin Donuts with seatings will address a major complaint. But at end of the day you can always order, Fresh Direct delivers to my building as well.

    Commute is fantastic if you work on Wall Street, but now I work on 59th and Lex it is 2 hours a day. I am thinking about renting my place out and look into Jackson Heights (IMO, the only area that can truly match Kensington in overall value).

    I am sorry there is no way I am going to pay 2X the money to live in a smaller apartment for a few more dining options or coffee shops. That is what Manhattan is for. I can brew my own coffee at home and I rather have the space.

  • As far as being the next big thing, even Jackson Heights got a Starbucks now, I don’t think it is completely out of question.

    All it takes is one higher tier place, and that will trigger the chain we have all been waiting for. I really don’t see why this area can’t get Windsor Terrace type of shops. Terrace Bagels, a good Sushi place, Connecticut Muffin style coffee shop . . . That will add another 20% to our investments.

    F train is not bad at all. I get a seat every morning from Church and I sleep for 45 minutes then I am there.

  • 2:25 PM – You’re the one on crack.

    I live in PLG – am a single white woman, and walk home drunk at 2 am and have never had a problem.
    Maybe that’s because I don’t act like I’m afraid of the other people on the street or think that I’m better than them.

  • Where is Kensington?

    – Manhattan resident

  • It is preference. I personally prefer as much white meat as possible in my nabe, got nothing to do with racism, just that white meat seems to increase property value a lot.

  • 5.15 – don’t be mad u live in a ghetto!

  • Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, PLG, Clinton Hill and Ft. Greene are all predominently black and priced higher than Kensington, Midwood, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, etc.

    A lot higher. Prospect Heights Brownstones routinely sell for near 2 million, as do those in Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill.

    I think it has more to do with housing stock and accessibilty to Manhattan than about the color of skin.

  • nyc icy just opened.

  • You get what you pay for?
    If you are on a budget then Kensington might be a wise choice. But you have to put up with all the cons (few amenities, influx of new immigrants)

  • “Where is Kensington?”

    Dear “Manhattan Resident,”

    There is no such place. Please forget you ever heard it mentioned. It’s much better for all parties involved that way. Thank you.

  • No, I know I’ve heard of it, I just don’t know where it is. Near to Park Slope, I’m guessing? I’ve heard it’s ugly and dangerous, but cheap.

    Is this true?

  • it’s full of those yucky unsightly new immigrants. They have no taste for mid-century Danish furniture, their eyeballs are on stalks and in the early spring they ooze green slime. Low-end specialty shops along Church Avenue hawk customary plastic cones they like to wear on their tails in keeping with their beliefs.

  • Wow! The secret is out!
    Poster from Manhattan – I dare you to walk down East 4th street between Caton and Beverly Road. I doubt you’ll think it’s ugly. It’s also just a 5-10 minute walk to Prospect Park.

    Kensington has many advantages:

    NO RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE RENOVATIONS!
    Most of Ditmas Park is landmarked. Not Kensington. It means that you don’t have to deal with the expense and hassle doing landmark-quality upgrades and renovations. That said, people still have taste and don’t turn their homes into Fedders extravaganzas.

    HELP WITH THE MORTGAGE
    There are also many 2 and 3 family homes available. That means that if you’re a modest person looking for an investment, you can find a nice house with a yard and a basement, AND have people help you pay your mortgage. Ditmas Park has few multi-family homes. Also, homes are cheap enough that the rental income will actually make a dent in your mortgage.

    LIGHT!
    Most homes are detached. I had no idea how much natural light the 5 feet between me and my neighbor’s house would allow. It’s made me realize that living in a brownstone is like living in a dungeon.

    SCHOOLS!
    Check out http://www.insideschools.org and you’ll find great reviews for PS 130 and 230.

    COMMUTE!
    13 minutes to Wall Street if you take the express bus from Church and Ocean Parkway. 30 or so minutes to midtown. Take that Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill!

    FOOD!
    So what if we don’t have any yuppified restaurants. Besides, I’ve learned to cook many authentic international dishes since moving here – Bangladeshi biryani, tacos with cecina (salted Mexican beef), russian stuffed cabbage, etc.

    MULTI-CUTURAL UTOPIA!
    Kensington is what America should be all about – taking advantage of the unique ability to live side-by-side with people from all over the world. Have you ever been to freaking Europe? It’s the most xenophobic, homogenous place…reminds me of Manhattan.

    And regardless of what the haters say –
    THERE IS STUFF TO DO!
    Try going to Prospect Park, riding horses, using the bike path to travel to Coney Island, playing tennis at the Prospect Park Tennis Center, hanging out on Cortelyou Road just over the border in Ditmas Park, bargain hunting at the various $2 stores where you can pick up samples and overstock from Banana Republic, Sigrid Olsen, Levi’s, etc.,

    Oh – and NYC Icy, formerly of the East Village, just opened up just off of Coney Island Avenue. Try their mexican chocolate! Yummy!

    Unlike Ditmas Park, this is a neighborhood in which people don’t hire gardeners, so you’ll probably end up spending a lot of free time chatting with your neighbors as you weed your lawn or plant flowers. There’s a real sense of community. And, unlike Ditmas Park, people actually use their porches!

    The only thing lacking is a coffee shop. And it would be great if the coffee shop catered to ALL of the residents by serving various teas – masala chai, russian teas, polish teas, cafe con leche, mexican hot chocolate, whatever the Israelis drink, and good-old-fashioned yuppie-caliber coffee.

    To people considering moving here – please don’t…unless you value the diversity of our community and are willing to work to preserve it. Please don’t come here begging for a Blue Ribbon outlet or a Starbucks. I’ll have to kick your ass.

  • Yeah, I have been here since Kensington was as “gentrified” as Park Slope back in the 60′s and 70′s.

    It is really a “Melting pot come lately” you know.

    If you would like to get a feel for what we were back in the day.
    Kensingtonstories.blogspot.com

    Enjoy my tales of a Kensington that had better schools than Park Slope back in 1968. And parents that just let seven year old kids play outside in a Brooklyn of the past.

    Thanks,
    Ron Lopez

  • “Have you ever been to freaking Europe?”

    Yes, I have been many times, in fact. U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Austria, Spain, Belgium…I prefer nearly every place I’ve ever been to 90% of the United States. Have YOU ever been to Europe, seems like a better question. Or Alabama? Or Greenwich, Ct?

    And I also happen to like Manhattan. I’ve heard about some black/jewish crime lately in Brooklyn, so not sure how you can paint a rosy picture of 20 colors living side by side. It rarely happens.

    Thank you for the hard sell on Kensington, but it doesn’t sound like it’s for me.

    At all.

    – Manhattan resident

  • it’s not 1968 anymore.

    sadly, park slope has moved on. kensington is stuck in time.

  • Im thinking about a place around this area, can anyone give me any info as to the neighborhood? Safe? Good Investment? Does anyone know specifically about the co-op building itself? Any info on this could help, Thank You!

  • The area I was talking about was 599 East 7th Street Im thinking about a place around this area, can anyone give me any info as to the neighborhood? Safe? Good Investment? Does anyone know specifically about the co-op building itself? Any info on this could help, Thank You!

    – And no Im not from manhattan, im another poor soul priced out of Park slope who is trying to buy something for my future family, any help would be appreciated!!!

  • I just can’t imagine moving from Park Slope to Kensington. Don’t you get used to living steps from a million bars/shops/restaurants? I’d think so. Isn’t that, afterall what makes this the city and not the burbs. Once you get an hour away with no services, it sounds to me that you might as well leave Brooklyn.

    I also don’t understand the Manhattan bashing comments at all.

    WHO in their right mind would live in Brooklyn if Manhattan didn’t exist. Please don’t fool yourselves.

    Without Manhattan, Brooklyn is nothing but a larger, slightly nicer St. Louis, Missouri.

  • Its not manhattan bashing, I just needed a question to be asked. And yes you are completely correct, Park Slope is a plethora of shops, bars, restaurants, etc. But my underlying intention is too invest in a community that can have the same, or similar, atmosphere in the next 5 years.
    I’m twenty five, with a strong inclination that I will not be able to afford what I want in about 5 years unless I jump into something now, hence the reason to try to invest in the future.

    And for all of the Kensington’ers I have no intention on investing and renting out, I am trying to keep what you can consider a fresh attitude towards the neighborhood with nothing but good intentions. I have been racking my brains over the purchase of a co-op I went to visit. It needs a small amount of work but I believe the investment would serve its purpose, dually, as my home where I would reside and as a stepping stone into a stronger real estate market in the future.
    So any info on 599 east 7th st would help me out tremendously.

    And FYI Manhattan is still pretty glamorous.

  • Manhattan is so special indeed.

    That being said, I like living in Brooklyn even more and being just a short train ride away…

  • I moved to Kensington from the Slope and I don’t miss it at all. I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn and never looked back on that move either.

    But that Times article was VERY annoying (or maybe it was the couple profiled that was annoying)

  • kensington is pretty lae..although vested interests have been trying really really hard to pimp it up for a few years now

    it aint working

  • I didn’t see a couple “profiled”. Are we talking about the same article???
    Kensington is definitely not for everyone. Please do not come here if you are looking for “a good investment”. Come here because you want to LIVE here.

  • “The only thing lacking is a coffee shop. And it would be great if the coffee shop catered to ALL of the residents by serving various teas – masala chai, russian teas, polish teas, cafe con leche, mexican hot chocolate, whatever the Israelis drink, and good-old-fashioned yuppie-caliber coffee.”quote from 9:26

    BRILLIANT IDEA!!!!WHERE ARE YOU ENTREPENEURS????OPEN A WORLD CAFE featuring world music, etc. We definitely have enough locals to fill the place.Take the best of Kensington (all the diversity) and go with it!

  • Hey poster re: 599 East 7th

    I live in Kensington, but closer to Church and the F train, so I won’t be very helpful. I love where I live, but I don’t know much about your block.

    Whenever you’re looking to buy a place, stalk it. Talk to the neighbors coming in and out of the building and on the street. Ask them how they feel. Try to find out how long people have lived in the building. If they’ve stayed for a long time, they might be happy (or priced out of other nabes). Go at night, on the weekends, etc. If you’re worried about crime, you can find local crime stats via the NYPD
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/crime_prevention/crime_statistics.shtml
    I feel safer in Kensington than I have in any other neighborhood. The housing density is low, so there are a lot of home owners who will respond if someone is screaming in the streets – as it’s likely their neighbor.

    The location seems good – close enough to the F and Q trains. God knows I wish I were as close to Vox Pop as you will be.

    Wishing you clarity and strength as you make your decision!

  • I sort of agree with 10:49… The reason Kensington is so hyped and is seeing so much interest is because more “desirable” areas like Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, etc are prohibitively expensive for many. Yet people still want to be less than an hour’s subway ride from their jobs and other amenities of the more desirable neighborhoods. The story of the couple in the NYT article would seem to confirm this theory, although obviously their story is not everybody’s: they considered Park Slope, couldn’t afford it, then considered Windsor Terrace, couldn’t afford it either, finally look at the next nabe – which was Kensington – and found that it was finally something they COULD afford. Not their first choice, but a compromise based on financial considerations.

  • “you cannot change a ghetto black neighborhood. i’d like to see that example. Fort Greene + Clinton Hill + prospect hts are still predominantly black with not good schools.”

    Yeah, people who bought a brownstone in Ft. Greene 10 years ago must be SO very bitter about making that investment.

    Right. Go back to your white Italian neighborhoods with their bad subway service (if any) your neighbors’ tacky tastes resulting in curb-cuts, bricked-in porches, and chrome railings on the front stoop (yes they install those – it’s the new thing among the Italians) and yes please do stay away from the more valuable and historic structures of Ft. Greene, PLG, and Clinton Hill.

  • 10:01- eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!

  • people are sooo down on the F train.
    but it’s pretty much the only subway option for neighborhoods like carroll gardens, cobble hill, red hook (yeah, yeah), and a big chunk of “prime” park slope. I’m not sure why some think it’s a dealbreaker for windsor terrace and kensington, being only 1 or two stops further out on the line.

  • Do the people begging for a coffee shop not realize that Old Brick Cafe makes some of the best espresso around? And they’re usually playing something Balkan/Greek/etc, for those of you wishing for “world music”.

  • I moved from Park Slop to East 7th in a co-op apt. between CIA and Ocean Parkway, closer to the Ditmas Park Cortelyou Road. I know many other Park Slopers who have also bought in the area. I agree it depends where you are in Kensington. I am equidistant to both the Cortelyou BQ and the F (either Church or Ditmas Ave stops), and love having the flexibility of which to use. I take the Q for commuting but love having the F on weekends to go a short way to Park Slope, DUMBO, Carroll Gardens, and LES.

    I admit I hang out more on Cortelyou in Ditmas Park precisely because there’s more there. But I agree that all it takes is ONE great place to open up and the rest will come. Church Ave. is a main shopping area, and like the article says, are mostly “downscale”. But it’s soooo full of great potential! Including CIA, if anyone has an entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, I just saw an Auto Garage on CIA off Cortelyou for sale or rent. It could make a great first start for a bar ala Billyburg where they started converting those ugly garages into shops/restaurants/bars. CIA could use some beautification!

    I still go the Kensington “center” to go to Golden Farm for groceries (although, it is more convenient for me to pick up groceries at Cortelyou’s 2 organic groceries on my walk home.

    I’m a single woman and have come home at 2 am (NOT drunk) and obviously cross CIA. Never a problem. As Ditmas Park gentrifies, so will Kensington. Just walking around on a Sunday and going into the groceries show just how much has changed since the last year… the demographics have increasingly become “park slopish”. And sorry, but once you start seeing the label-conscious Asians move in, you know it’s going to change. If the economy were better than it is, both Kensington and Ditmas Park would develop much faster. For now, it’s slowly changing.

    Kensington has 3 Thai places.. 2 new in the last year that are excellent. And we also have LES’ NYC ICY that just opened. Also, a great Falafal place.

    I also just saw a 3 story limestone for sale on Cortelyou just west of Ocean Parkway (between 3 and 4th st?). I wish I had the money to buy it. It’s not a beautiful area, but those limestones are not often for sale in the neighborhood!

    Come check it out. Start at the Cortelyou Q stop and walk down Cortelyou, past OP and CIA. Or, Take the F to Church Ave. and explore the center. OCean Parkway is great for a stroll too.

  • You could buy anything in NYC 10 years ago and would have made a ton of money. Hell my coop apartment in Kensington more than doubled in last 5 years alone.

    Look at Clinton Hills / Fort Green, consider their proximity to Manhattan, now compare with Brooklyn Heights, Long Island City, Newport Jersey City, yeah I thought so. What about Harlem and Washington Heights? They are right in Manhattan and much cheaper than the areas mentioned above. Compare apple to apples please, brownstone against a row house? Of course brownstone is going to win.

    In any case, when you are renting you live where you want to live, when you are buying investment is a MUCH BIGGER factor. At the moment, Kensington is the best overall value in Brooklyn. I am addicted to real estate ads, my 125K, 875 sqft JR4 on Beverley (5 min to F train) is now worth at least 260K and that is for a quick sale. I gave myself a budget of 300K and looked all over NYC for a better deal.

    Guess what? Can’t find it. In fact, if I don’t already own an apartment today, and have to buy a new one, only Jackson Heights in Queens comes close to Kensington’s value. You really can’t beat it.

    Sorry I take F over Q any day, Q is way too dark for me.

  • By the way, I think Park Slope / Brooklyn Heights is the most overrated neighborhood in NYC. Can someone explain the advantage of these nabes over say Upper East Side?

    You are paying Manhattan money, without living in Manhattan. I rather spend 5 more minutes on the train and double my space.

  • What time does Old Brick open? I need my espresso around 6:30 a.m. From the looks of the full platform at Church Ave and McD at that hour, so does everyone else! I’m on the “other” side of McD. We need some espresso, etc closer to the train (near McDonald). There are a couple of empty store fronts near there for someone to jump in-

  • Oh, *that* kind of coffee. I don’t know, before my self-employed days, when I was a corporate drone, I made my own coffee, because I couldn’t even get my clothes on straight without it. Of course that kind of place would be great. But if people are looking for a cafe to sit down and relax in, Old Brick is pretty nice. No idea how early they open.

  • I’d been in Carroll Gardens since 1999 and was sad to find I was totally priced out. My husband and I bought a two bedroom coop in Kensington in November and could not be happier.

    We did the research and based our search on the following criteria – Schools, space + price. Ok, price, price, price, schools + space.

    We have a child and aren’t going out anyway, so we don’t feel like we’re missing much. What we’ve gained is quick access to a great playground (Greenwood Playground), a nice library and Prospect Park; A much shorter walk to the subway, tons of light, and a huge floor plan. Seriously, we joke that we’re tired from walking around our big apartment.

    Greenwood playground and The Golden Farm ARE like the UN. The diversity is great. There’s a bunch of kids who play cricket on Saturday.

    I totally miss the services and convenience, but I also hop on the subway and go to CG all the time for the CVS and Winn Discount… Trade offs were required, but it was worth it.

  • I lived in Kensington for 6 years and always felt very safe. It’s a great value!

  • Let’s see now. People want to get rid of the longtime residents and the recent immigrants. What will remain is blandness.

  • guest at May 27, 2008 12:15 PM wrote: “It’s not a place for everyone.”

    That’s a wise comment. If you like Kensington for what it is, move here. If you don’t, find someplace more to your liking. Don’t move here with the purpose of changing us.

  • guest at May 27, 2008 12:45 PM wrote: “I mean things like the Kensington blog saying ‘One of the last affordable (and safe!) areas within reasonable commuting distance to Manhattan.’
    That seems like some sort of coded racial language, or maybe I’m just imagining it.”

    You’re imagining it. That’s not what our neighborhood blogger means and that’s not how we, the blog’s readers, take it. Your interpretation of the word “safe” as meaning no African Americans is way off the mark.

  • guest at May 27, 2008 2:37 PM wrote: “i look for poor white/ethnic white or hispanic nieghborhoods for gentrification value. you can live safely while helping to push forward the gentrification.”

    And while helping to push out the people who live there now and who helped make New York City the great American city that it is. That’s not very neighborly of you. When they see you coming, they should put up “There’s Nothing for Sale Here” signs.

  • guest at May 27, 2008 6:46 PM wrote: “If you are on a budget then Kensington might be a wise choice. But you have to put up with all the cons (few amenities, influx of new immigrants)”

    Neighborhoods in New York City have immigrants. New York City has been a city of immigrants for a few hundred years. Get used to it.

  • I’d love a two-bedroom co-op with a terrace in a building with excellent financials. Does anyone know anything about 370 Ocean Parkway?

  • Influx of new immigrants, and established presence of older immigrant groups, is exactly what makes Kensington (and also Ditmas Park) interesting, livable, and exciting in ways that have nothing to do with gentrification. Without these large groups of people, these neighborhoods would be bland. Because they are here, you can hear so many languages, visit a Russian bathhouse, try an Israeli or a Balkan boureka, hear the muezzin at the mosque issue the call to prayer (or maybe it’s a recording, but it’s still beautiful), find real Mexican food, buy five kinds of feta at Golden Farm or pelmeni and Armenian preserves on Ditmas Avenue, and so on. There’s even a 24-hour deli on CIA that sells cricket bats, should you need one at any hour. If you like being immersed in multiple cultures not your own (or of your ancestors: I can find all the stuff my grandmother cooked around here), this area is for you. If you don’t like immigrants and people from other places, move to Boston.

  • I’ve lived in Kensington for two years now. I love living there because it is quiet and out of the fray. The detached and semi-detached houses give it an open feeling, and I love the greenery of the front yards and street trees. If you want to be right in the middle of restaurants and shops, don’t bother. If you can stand traveling a bit for those things, and you like the idea of a tranquil neighborhood, it’s worth checking out. It’s true, there are lots of terrible-looking vinyl-clad buildings, but there are also lots of big pre-war apartments, as well as many cute one- and two-family houses. Not cheap by any sane standards, but less expensive than lots of other neighborhoods.

  • 2:18 Since when did white= safe???
    Besides, Kensington happens to very safe and not particularly white. Its about as mixed as it gets. That’s why we like it!

  • To the person who asked about 599 east 7th…. I live in that bldg and love it. It a good, solidly built building, and the neighbors are by en large a freindly group with a lot of pride in the building. (An example of the construction: an apartment that shares a wall with me had a fire and in our apartment you’d never know it- no smoke fumes, no damage at all!) The building echos the neighborhood- a strong mix of black, white, east asian and middle eastern. There are young families, single people, and older couples. The location is good b/c we are only a 5 minute walk from Cortelyou, which has good groceries, coffee at VoxPop, Connecticut Muffin, the Farm, etc etc. The Q is about a 10 minute walk, the F about 7 minutes. I don’t love the shopping options on Ditmas, but make due when I need to grab something quick.

    I recommend buying in the building.