Brooklyn author and journalist Neil deMause has launched a survey asking Brooklynites what drew them to the borough and why they’ve stayed despite rapidly rising housing costs. The questionnaire is part of deMause’s research for an upcoming crowdfunded book, “Brooklyn Wars,” about Brooklyn’s gentrification and redevelopment boom.
The idea came to him while he was wondering why rents have increased even as local poverty rates have risen. ”I was discussing this with a housing economist friend, and while we both had theories, none of them were convincing,” he said in a press release. ”While web surveys are inherently anecdotal and unscientific, even a self-selected sample should give some hints as to how Brooklynites view their reasons for remaining in a borough that charges $3,000 a month to live in a closet an hour’s subway ride from their job.”
So far, leading early responses include ”it’s cheaper than Manhattan,” “diversity” and “boyfriend.”
Over the past 20 years, Brooklyn has gone through a shocking transformation. Where once it was nearly impossible to get your Manhattan friends to come visit you in Brooklyn, now they’re moving in next door. This is especially true of particular parts of the borough, places that started out rough around the edges, only to become the hottest destinations in the city. It’s true of Williamsburg, of course. It’s true of Smith Street. And it is certainly true of Park Slope’s 5th Avenue.
Longtime Park Slopers remember a time when 5th Avenue’s crime rates made it, for some, a “no-go zone.“ While 7th Avenue was the main street for young families, 5th Avenue had trouble attracting businesses other than bodegas, 99-cent stores, hardware stores, and dive bars. Now, after seismic changes in crime rates, real estate prices, and demographics, 5th avenue has become the new main street, attracting high-end boutiques, inventive restaurants, and…dive bars. We’ve come a long way, baby.
So take a walk with us down 5th Avenue! We hope you’re ready to shop, eat, play, drink and eat some more.
Here’s a cute starter family apartment right on the Parade Grounds in Caton Park. The top-floor pad has two bedrooms along with lots of windows and lots of light–and a good deal of prewar charm to boot. The asking price is $439,000 and monthly maintenance is just $739. Pretty good, right?
The Brooklyn Historical Society next month will debut an exhibit about the abolitionist movement in Brooklyn and the little-known activists behind it. ”In Pursuit of Freedom“ traces the roots of Brooklyn’s slaves, who made up 30 percent of the Kings County population in 1790. Even after emancipation in 1827, Brooklyn’s commercial growth, fueled by commodities like cotton, tobacco and sugar, relied heavily on products of slave labor in the South. In the early 19th century, black and white Brooklynians began to organize associations, schools and churches to fight for black civil rights and the abolition of slavery.
Visitors will learn about Brooklyn’s relatively unknown abolitionist activists, including Sylvanus Smith, one of the original land investors in the free black community of Weeksville, William Wilson (aka Ethiop), James and Elizabeth Gloucester, and James Pennington, some of whom have been the subject of Montrose Morris columns on this site. At left, a pamphlet about James Pennington in the Brooklyn Historical Society collection. The exhibition is part of a public history initiative in partnership with the Irondale Ensemble Project and the Weeksville Heritage Center.
The exhibit was designed by Matter Architecture Practice, technology firm Potion, design firm Pure+Applied and lighting designer Robert W. Henderson, Jr. The exhibit will include an online curriculum, walking tours, an original theater piece by Irondale Ensemble and a memorial to Brooklyn Abolitionists that will appear in the new Willoughby Square Park when it opens in 2015. “In Pursuit of Freedom” will open January 15 in BHS’ newly renovated building at 128 Pierrepont Street.
John Catsimatidis’ development company Red Apple Group is planning a 15-story rental tower for 180 Myrtle in downtown Brooklyn, according to a plan exam application spotted by Buzz Buzz Home. Dattner Architects will design the building, which will have 213 units and 129 parking spaces. The 156-foot-tall development will have 171,890 square feet of residential space, 10,988 square feet of commercial space and 500 square feet of community space. There will also be a lounge, playroom, roof terrace and exercise room. The supermarket mogul has owned the lot between Fleet and Ashland Place since the early ’80s, along with the two properties on either side of it, 81 Fleet Place and 218 Myrtle Avenue (another large rental building called The Andrea). And Catsimatidis has been planning a large development there since at least 2007, when we reported on plans for a 400-foot-tall building with a million square feet of space.
Three of four units are still available and pricing has changed (it’s higher) at 371 6th Avenue in Park Slope, a condo conversion by East River Partners that is almost complete. The top three floors are floor-through apartments with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and there’s a garden duplex with two bedrooms and 2.5 baths. The 2,069-square-foot duplex with a 600-square-foot garden has the highest asking price at $2,095,000; the second floor is $1,150,000; the third floor is $1,175,000; and the penthouse is going for $1,350,000. (Previously prices ranged from $1,050,000 to $1,800,000.)
One of the units is in contract, said a spokeswoman, although she did not specify which one. The renovation of the 19th-century brick four-family was originally anticipated to be completed this summer; now it looks like construction will wrap in the next two months, she said. Sales launched in April, according to a story we ran then, but the company says sales officially launched this week.
Brooklyn rental prices continue to climb, as the median rental price shot up 4.6 percent to $2,850 in August, compared to the same period last year, according to a report from Douglas Elliman. Manhattan prices rose as well, but at a much slower rate, leading to a price difference of just $300 in August — the second smallest price gap on record. Rentals in Manhattan increased 1.8 percent to $3,150 in August vs. the same period last year, while Brooklyn rents reached a five-year high. The number of new rentals surged in Brooklyn as well, with 554 new rentals in August alone, 166.3 percent higher than August of 2012. We’ve inlcuded Elliman’s graph of Brooklyn rental prices after the jump.