04/17/14 10:00am

After noticing some trendy restaurants and a rise in development sales in Bay Ridge, DNAinfo wonders if it could be the next hip neighborhood with a real estate boom. Bay Ridge had 20 percent of the new development sales in the first quarter of 2014,  the most of any neighborhood, according to MNS’ latest report. However, MNS CEO Andrew Barrocas pointed out that the hood’s 14 transactions mainly illustrate the lack of inventory in other neighborhoods.

The median price per square foot rose 7.4 percent over the past year, from $517 to $558, and the median home price increased 14.5 percent, from $560,037 to to $655,498. One realtor told DNAinfo that new condo buyers in developments like 185 Battery Avenue, pictured above, were transplants from Brooklyn Heights or Williamsburg looking for more affordable options.

While the neighborhood isn’t going to have $2,000,000 condos anytime soon, it has seen a slew of new upscale restaurants and coffee shops, like Italian grocery A.L Coluccio, farm-to-table restaurant Brooklyn Beet Company, a craft beer bar and sausage joint called Lock Yard, and the Coffee Lab.

Is Bay Ridge Poised to Become the New Williamsburg? [DNAinfo]
Photo of 185 Battery Avenue via Dorsa Property Group

04/17/14 9:30am

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J.Crew plans to open a store in a warehouse on Wythe Avenue and North 4th Street in Williamsburg, above, according to sources quoted in Crain’s. So Williamsburg may end up being the brand’s first Brooklyn store after all. Last year, it said it planned to open at 151 Court Street in Cobble Hill early this year, replacing neighborhood grocer Pacific Green, but that didn’t happen.

The space at 234-236 Wythe Avenue is a 6,000-square-foot red brick warehouse. It’s close to Gant Rugger, American Apparel, the new Urban Outfitters store, and on the way to the Brooklyn Flea. For years, J.Crew was rumored to be eyeing space on Bedford near where Whole Foods is supposedly opening. Apple is still supposedly looking in the neighborhood, most recently at 242 Bedford Avenue, according to the story.

J.Crew is also planning to open a store in Park Slope, according to Racked, which quoted a story in Women’s Wear Daily today. Both stores are supposed to be open by August, said Racked. Meanwhile, a Madewell store is also “in the works” for Williamsburg.

Massey Knakal is handling leasing for the Wythe Avenue warehouse, which is asking $50,000 per month, or $100 a square foot.

J.Crew Eyes Williamsburg Outpost, Apple May Follow [Crain's]
J. Crew and Madewell to Take Over Brooklyn [Racked]
Photo by Massey Knakal

04/17/14 9:00am

Brooklyn is slated to lose a number of its wood frame houses to development this year. Often these houses are some of the oldest in the borough, although they may not look like much, at least from the outside.

Just like so many other aging wood frames in Brooklyn, this little house on Chauncey Street in Bed Stuy, above, is meeting the wrecking ball soon. Demo applications were filed last week to knock down the two-story home at 201 Chauncey, as well as a shed and row of garages on the property. We don’t know the home’s exact age, but our columnist Montrose Morris noted that it is at least as old as 1880, but probably older, in this Building of the Day post. There’s no word on what will replace the house, but we’re betting it will be an apartment building. An LLC bought the 50 by 108.5 foot lot in February for $1,400,000 — seven times its last sale price in 2004.

Now that warmer weather has set in (apart from yesterday, of course), the applications for demo permits have ticked up in the building department. A large number of the houses marked for demo are wood frames.

We wondered if that’s because they tend to be in worse condition or less expensive than their brick and stone counterparts. Preservationist Elizabeth Finkelstein of The Wooden House Project attributed the trend to rising real estate values in working-class neighborhoods, some of which happen to have a large concentration of frame houses.

“I think the wooden houses right now are especially vulnerable because of the trend in people moving to places like Bushwick and Greenwood Heights,” she said. “People can’t afford to buy in Brownstone Brooklyn anymore, so they’re moving to frame-heavy neighborhoods. Developers follow. While Park Slope and Cobble Hill have been expensive for a long time, homeowners in Bushwick have only recently been able to cash out. I think they’re taking advantage of the market, at the expense of some of these houses.”

A few examples we have covered recently are 111 Clarkson and 50-54 Clarkson Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, 664 Jefferson Avenue and 447 Decatur in Bed Stuy, and, of course, the six 19th-century wood frames at 233-301 11th Street in Gowanus, which will be replaced by a large apartment building at 470 4th Avenue.

Next up are houses from Crown Heights to Bushwick, including: 1480 Pacific Street, 1168 Greene Avenue, 45 Cedar Street, 726 Monroe Street, 341 Sackett Street, 539 Van Buren and 1255 Decatur Street. The house at 1480 Pacific, which was a Building of the Day in February, is part of the proposed Crown Heights North III Historic District expansion.

With the notable exception of Brooklyn Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the first to be landmarked, Landmarks has not typically designated areas with lots of wood frame houses, although some were included in the historic districts of Greenpoint and Wallabout, which are both primarily wood-house neighborhoods. Partly this is because wood frames tend to be highly altered and covered in siding, which can make them ineligible. But there is hope, said Finkelstein.

“Greenpoint is an interesting example of a neighborhood that was landmarked while much of it was still covered in siding (I’m actually surprised the LPC did this). Many of the houses still are, but you can see the positive effect landmarking has had on some of the wooden houses on Milton and Noble streets.” Although, she added, the LPC focused on the most brick-heavy part of Greenpoint and called that the historic district. “So while the historic district does contain some wooden houses, they still brought their brick bias with them.”

Another possible explanation for the demise of wood frame houses: They are sitting on more land and have more FAR. This is certainly the case with 201 Chauncey Street.

– Cate Corcoran and Rebecca Baird-Remba

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

04/16/14 10:00am

A mixed-use development is in the works for part of a very large empty site on Myrtle Avenue across from the Marcy Houses in Bed Stuy, New York NIMBY reported.

Architect Charles Mallea filed a new building application Monday for an eight-story, 46-unit building at 802-806 Myrtle Avenue. The street frontage will cover three of 15 contiguous empty lots, all 25 feet wide, on the block.

The 31,125-square-foot building will include 23 bike storage spots, a shared roof deck and 76 square feet of commercial space in the basement. The building will be 94 feet high, so “ceiling heights will be surprisingly generous compared to typical new developments in the neighborhood,” said YIMBY.

South Williamsburg-based developer Bright Villas LLC bought the 7,500-square-foot piece of land in a series of transfers in 2012 totaling $1,750,000; the properties were originally owned by a church called Mt. Zion Church of Christ Disciples, according to public records. DOB permits indicate the ramshackle three-story church was demolished in 2010. HPD owns the 12 empty lots next door.

“Positive changes are gradually occurring across the entire neighborhood, and developments like 802 Myrtle will go a long ways towards bettering the area’s reputation, which has typically revolved around the negative press surrounding its public housing,” said YIMBY. What do you think?

Permits Filed: 802 Myrtle Avenue [YIMBY] GMAP
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

04/16/14 9:30am

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As luxury high rises sprout up on nearly every vacant lot in south Williamsburg, sale prices in the area are expected to match those of north Williamsburg in a few years, said a story in The New York Times. Right now they trade at about a 15 percent discount, or $1,000 per square foot, vs. the north side’s nearly $1,200.

However, there isn’t much to buy: There were only 16 listings for sale in July, including co-ops, condos and townhouses. The average price was $1,780,000, according to Streeteasy.

About 90 percent of the housing in south Williamsburg is rental, said the story. Rents in the new buildings “are on the high side,” starting at about $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom. Some of the new buildings include 424 Bedford Avenue and 15 Dunham Place. Thousands more apartments are planned for the area, including the huge Domino redevelopment and The Oosten, the Chinese-owned condos.

South Williamsburg: Catching up to the North Side [NY Times]

04/16/14 9:00am

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Crazy weather — although this is not the latest it has snowed in Brooklyn, according to The New York Times. That was May 9, in 1977. We hope this doesn’t wreck our tulips, which were just about to bloom today. (You can see their tiny heads at the far end of our yard, in front of the holly bushes, above.)

Some quotes from Twitter:

“My Farmer’s Almanac did not predict snow with a side of fireworks in Brooklyn in mid-April.” — Elizabeth Spiers

“Ugh, surprise snow overnight in Brooklyn, killed all the cherry blossoms in the back yard.” — Gregory Pattillo

“Did it snow tonight in Brooklyn or am I crazy and wasn’t it like 80 degrees yesterday hey God what are you doing.” — bay res

04/15/14 10:00am

Clinton Hill Library reopened yesterday with an improved interior after five months of renovations. Improvements include a new self-checkout, new central A/C and heating, LEED lighting and ceiling panels, a new paint job, a drawable wall in the children’s room, an updated information desk, new window treatments, new furniture, and a reconfigured, brighter interior space.

The library first opened in 1974 at 380 Washington Avenue. It’s between Lafayette and Greene. Click through to the jump for interior photos.

(more…)

04/15/14 9:30am

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Community Board 8 is holding an economic development forum to encourage business and jobs in Crown Heights and Weeksville. The forum is free and open to the public.

“The goal is to educate the community about strategies to invest and diversify investment options in CB8, look at what has been done and look ahead to what could be done,” said Atim Annette Oton, chair of board’s Economic Development Committee. “The board is looking to explore ideas to create businesses and jobs not just in retail and food but manufacturing in our M1 zone as well as attract other business types.”

There will be panels on real estate opportunities in the neighborhood, expanding the cultural assets of the area, and local businesses. Local business owners, including from Docklands and Franklin Park, and financial consultants will talk about the challenges and rewards of owning a business as well as offer advice. Representatives of Weeksville Heritage Center, Friends of Brower Park, Five Miles, Haiti Cultural Exchange, and others will talk about cultural development. There will also be speakers from the New York Business Development Corporation, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Atlantic Avenue Industrial Center/Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center. The latter’s manufacturing space at 1102 Atlantic Avenue, pictured above, is scheduled to open next year. (more…)

A La Quinta Inn is coming to 1229 Atlantic Avenue near Nostrand, where excavation and foundation work recently began at the large, now vacant lot on the Crown Heights/Bed Stuy border. We found this schematic on the fence after leaving the post office next door. The hotel will rise seven stories with 102 rooms, according to new building permits approved in February.

The 34,902-square-foot building will also feature four off-street parking spaces, a recreation room, lounge, meeting and conference rooms. Hotel plans have been in the works since May 2012, when an LLC snagged the 8,440-square-foot property for $1,600,000 and filed initial new building applications. Askon Architects P.C. is designing the building. The La Quinta will join a few other hotels nearby on Atlantic, including a Best Western on the other side of Nostrand, the Hotel Luxe and the Atlantic Motor Inn.

See what’s behind the fence after the jump. GMAP

(more…)

04/14/14 10:00am

It’s been quiet recently at the partially demolished Fox Savoy Theater in Crown Heights, where the DOB  issued a full stop work order in late February. The BEST squad (Building Enforcement Safety Team) cited the project at 1515 Bedford Avenue for failing to brace part of the building. The stop work order was partially rescinded so that workers could install the bracing, but a partial stop work order is still in effect.

Once workers finish knocking down the grand old movie theater, a 10-story, 114-unit apartment building will rise in its place. The 90,806-square-foot development will include ground floor community space for a synagogue, bike storage, 30 underground parking spots, laundry and a roof deck, according to a building application that was disapproved in January.

The architect is Issac & Stern, who posted this rendering on their website. And the developer is Realty Within Reach, which manages several other Crown Heights buildings and is developing affordable housing nearby in Bed Stuy.

Click through the jump to see some more exterior renderings.

Huge Apartment Building to Replace Fox Savoy Theater in Crown Heights [Brownstoner]
Renderings by Issac and Stern

(more…)

04/14/14 9:30am

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New York Daily News has annointed Williamsburg’s Wythe Avenue the new Meatpacking District, which will probably sound like pretty old news to anyone who’s visited the area in the last few years. It’s only going to get more so, predicted the story, which ran down three of the hotel projects planned for the street, which The Real Deal also profiled last week.

The gravitational pull of Brooklyn’s new nightlife district is giving new meaning to the old term “bridge and tunnel,” according to the story.

“The whole bridge-and-tunnel terminology is becoming outdated,” said Brooklyn Bowl cofounder Charley Ryan. “There are people who live in Brooklyn and think of people in Manhattan as bridge and tunnel.” The Daily News also found a Brazilian tourist who said he spent 90 percent of his visit in Brooklyn. “Williamsburg has a better version of everything I come to New York for. Better people, better food, better clubs and better views of Manhattan,” he said.

Opening soon at the far end of Wythe is the club in Kinfolk Studios, to be called Kinfolk 94. “Made of exposed wood and shaped like a hippie eco-lodge in the Pacific Northwest, 94 is slated to become a rocking dance and performance club when it opens next month,” said the News. Its cedar geodesic dome was praised by the Times in February as an exception to the trend of monotonous architecture in Williamsburg.

“Every year this block gets more tourists,” said Kinfolk spokesman Felipe Delerme. “By 2020, it’s going to be Times Square,” he said, only partly joking.

Wythe Avenue Soars as Global Nightlife Mecca [NY Daily News]

04/14/14 9:00am

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A Brooklyn Heights brownstone overlooking the Promenade is asking $16,000,000. If 192 Columbia Heights sells for ask, it will set a record, as The New York Times was the first to point out. So far the record for a townhouse in the Heights is 70 Willow Street, where Truman Capote famously rented, which sold for $12,500,000 in 2012.

This place is 25 feet wide, five stories tall and has nearly 8,000 square feet of space. It is in move-in condition.

Now that prices in “emerging” Brooklyn have about doubled in the last few years, do you think prices in prime Brooklyn will recalibrate? What do you guess it will sell for?

A Townhouse Above the Brooklyn Heights Promenade Asks $16 Million [NY Times]
192 Columbia Heights Listing [Kevin J. Carberry Real Estate/Corcoran]
Photo by Scott Bintner for PropertyShark