Welcome to the Hot Seat, where we interview folks involved in Brooklyn real estate, architecture, development and the like. Introducing Jennifer Johnsen, the new executive director of sales for real estate firm MNS. Jennifer oversees the sales and rental divisions at MNS and will open a new office for MNS in Williamsburg this spring.
Brownstoner: What neighborhood do you live in, and how’d you end up there?
Jennifer Johnsen: I currently live in Williamsburg. It was a day trip that turned into a new home. My kids and I went over from the city one weekend to check out the Smorgasburg and fell in love with the neighborhood. Two weeks later we leased an apartment and made the move.
BS: You’re opening up an MNS office in Williamsburg this spring, the second for the firm in the neighborhood. Why did it feel important to be in this particular neighborhood?
JJ: The Williamsburg/Greenpoint neighborhood is the hottest submarket in Brooklyn. MNS has had incredible success with our new development projects along the waterfront and surrounding neighborhood; we have a great presence in this area combined with a large group of very loyal and important clients. We do a lot of resale business in Williamsburg and have outgrown our space on Bedford Avenue.
After the jump, Jennifer discusses the market boom in Williamsburg, how to balance gentrification in a growing neighborhood, and the projects MNS is tackling in Brooklyn now…
BS: What’s the real estate landscape look like right now in North Brooklyn? We’ve seen many small condo developments in the area sell out fast. Will this keep up for the foreseeable future?
JJ: Absolutely. We have a seven-year low of inventory throughout the Manhattan and Brooklyn markets. Right now we are positioned very well to capture the resales in this area, and most everything we have coming on the market that is priced appropriately, whether new development or resale, is getting multiple offers almost immediately.
BS: Many Brooklyn neighborhoods are experiencing growth and change at incredible levels right now. How to best balance this growth with the existing character of the neighborhood, and the people who have lived there before the boom?
JJ: This is always a challenge. There is always going to be some resistance to change and there needs to be sensitivity and care when you have established neighborhoods with longtime residents who are valuable members of the existing community. But with growth comes additional resources and most often with improvements to local parks and recreation. I think Williamsburg is the perfect example. With all of the new construction that has gone on, the [area] has not lost its arts or music scene. In fact, I think it has benefited by the exposure, and on every corner you see new restaurants, markets and theaters which provide jobs and wonderful amenities to the local residents.
BS: Are there any new developments that MNS is working on in Brooklyn right now?
JJ: Yes, we have a few coming up this year, including 456 Grand, Williamsburg Social, Williamsburg Townhomes and Fort Greene condos. One North Fourth Place is a large project on the Williamsburg waterfront that we will be working on too in the next year or so.
BS: Where’s the smartest place to buy in Brooklyn? The smartest place to rent?
JJ: Well you are asking a Williamsburg resident and the executive director of sales for one of the most prominent, expanding real estate companies about to open a second office in Williamsburg, so I think that answers the question… Williamsburg. If you are looking for investment opportunities you can head down the L or hop the ferry and look north to check out the expansion in Greenpoint and Long Island City along the waterfront and see for yourself the opportunities that exist.
BS: Finally, your favorites: favorite Brooklyn neighborhood, favorite new development, favorite Williamsburg institution.
JJ: Williamsburg, The Edge, and Blue Bottle Coffee (a neighborhood favorite guaranteed to never lose its hipster vibe).