WSJ: East Bed Stuy Is Hot

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An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday looked at all the development happening in east Bed Stuy, where Weissman Equities is renovating a mixed-use building on Bainbridge Street and real estate development firm Brookland Capital recently opened an office, among other things. The article noted the area is popular with home buyers looking for brownstones under $1,000,000, and is up for landmarking. It also mentioned the forthcoming Casablanca bar and grocery store Bed Stuy Fresh and Local. The story implied there was nothing in the area “a few years ago” except Bed Stuy Fish Fry, then awkwardly mentioned community gardens and block parties.

Prices in Bed Stuy in general have risen quickly in the last year, and now nearly 80 townhouses are on the market there — despite record low inventory of 19th-century row houses elsewhere in Brooklyn, according to DNAinfo. A group called Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant (CIBS) is urging seniors there to pass down their brownstones to family rather than sell, and is hosting workshops to help them do it, the story said.

There Is Life East of Malcolm X Boulevard [WSJ]
Bed-Stuy Group Encouraging Seniors to Keep Townhouses “in the Family” [DNAinfo]

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    • There Is Life East of Malcolm X Boulevard

      It was only a few years ago when the majority of apartment and brownstone seekers in Bedford-Stuyvesant would ask area residents and brokers: What’s east of Malcolm X Boulevard?

      The answer was pretty simple: Not much. Besides Saratoga Park and Bed-Stuy Fish Fry, a famous seafood joint on Halsey Street, there was little to talk about what is now dubbed as Bed-Stuy East by brokers.

      Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal
      Brownstones at the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Quincy Street

      Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal
      Saratoga Park

      Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal
      The coffee shop Liquid Oz

      Mark Abramson for The Wall Street Journal
      The vintage clothing and furniture shop Thompson Interior Design

      Weissman Equities
      A rendering of 426 Bainbridge St., which is to be built soon

      To be fair, the area is known for its very active block associations, many of which compete and win in Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Greenest Block contest. The neighborhood’s summer block parties are also a highlight, but no one mentioned area amenities, since they were few and far between.

      That said, residents will have a few options to boast about by the end of the year.

      The southern end of Malcolm X Boulevard has quickly turned into a hub of activity. One much-anticipated opening is the Casablanca, a new bar and take-out spot that hopes to start serving by the holiday season.

      Jon Carlson, along with his partner Charles von Herrlich, who owns the VON bar in Manhattan, said they want to carry on a certain tradition.

      “We realize we’re taking over a space that was a long-standing neighborhood establishment,” Mr. Carlson said, referring to the New Casablanca Cocktail Lounge, which was owned and run for decades by area resident Esther Williams. “We want to bring back something to the neighborhood that is now missing; a place where all locals love to hang out.”

      Next door, residents can savor a cup of coffee at Liquid Oz, while some downtime can be enjoyed at the Simplicity Wine Bar & Cafe, which opened earlier this year. Vintage clothing, furniture and jewelry can be found at Thompson Interior Design and a clothing consignment shop called Butterfly 7 is now open on the weekends.

      Even businesses are setting up shop: a real-estate broker is expected to open an office soon, alongside Brookland Capital, a real-estate development firm headed by Boaz Gilad.

      “You see Malcolm X Boulevard and still see many shuttered stores, but that’s actually not a bad thing,” explained Mr. Gilad. “It means that the need for those businesses have disappeared. In five years, Malcolm X Boulevard will start to look like 5th Avenue in Park Slope,” he added, partially because the street is a link to Bushwick, a 10-minute walk to the north.

      Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local will offer residents fresh vegetables, meat and fish by early November. Partners Dylan Richards and Sheila Akbar hired a local architect and contractor to renovate a space on Patchen Avenue after getting help from Bridge Street Development Corporation, a local nonprofit. The two said they will only hire local residents, and many neighbors have indicated their desire to teach classes in the new space.

      In addition, Weissman Equities will start construction on its mixed-use building on Bainbridge Street in the next two weeks. Offers from entrepreneurs looking to open a cafe, a wine store and a custom T-shirt shop have come in, said Seth Weissman, co-founder of the firm.

      It’s no surprise that this eastern pocket has gotten more attention from retailers, as Lewis Street to the west garnered much attention and new residents continue to pour into the neighborhood, brokers noted.

      Sale prices of brownstones in central Bed-Stuy now range between $1 million and $2 million, while many brownstones east of Malcolm X Boulevard remain below $1 million, according to Streeteasy.com.

      For those aiming to stay away from bidding wars, Bed-Stuy East is starting to look very attractive, said Anthony Morris, an area resident and broker at the Corcoran Group.

      A section of the neighborhood is also trying to get landmark status, just like in neighboring Stuyvesant Heights, according to Reno Dakota, a facilitator of the movement. One noted style difference is that many of the brownstones are three stories, rather than four.

      “The brownstones over here are stunning and rival any pristine brownstone blocks in central Bed-Stuy,” said Mr. Morris. He has seen more professionals—both single and families—moving in as they take advantage of the express A-train stop at Utica Avenue, which can transport residents into Lower Manhattan in about 20 minutes.

      Most area residents cited crime as a major concern, though overall rates in the 81st precinct have fallen by about 10% year-on-year.

      “As long as folks aren’t getting pushed out of their homes because the rent is now too high, then I’m for the change,” said longtime resident Samuel Brown. “What I don’t want to see is everyone get too busy where our [community] vibe disappears. We talk to our neighbors around here.”

      A version of this article appeared October 4, 2013, on page A28 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: There Is Life East of Malcolm X Boulevard.

  • MrHancock

    Anyone know how Casablanca can get a liquor license for a bar across the street from a school? I thought there were limits on how close they can be to a school.

  • FYI if you google the article title, the search result will get you behind the WSJ paywall, same with NYT.