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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.

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Court Street in Brooklyn is full of extreme contrasts. Trendy new stores and restaurants abut family-run establishments that have been in business for over half a century. The meshing of quintessential Brooklyn and the rapidly gentrifying city only adds to the appeal of Court Street, and has led to a unique gastronomic scene with a penchant for international flavors.

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One of the great things about Atlantic Avenue is the variety of businesses, from antique shops and high end clothing boutiques to perfumeries and Islamic bookstores. Whether you’re shopping for something specific or want to spend a leisurely afternoon popping in and out of stores, it offers a dizzying range of options.

One of the longest streets in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue goes all the way from Brooklyn Heights to the Long Island Railroad Station in Jamaica, Queens, but today we will be focusing on the section between Atlantic Terminal and the Brooklyn waterfront. Every autumn, this stretch of Atlantic Avenue is the home of The Atlantic Antic, an immensely popular street fair with live bands, children’s attractions, shopping, and a variety of food and beer that puts all other New York street fairs to shame. The Antic has been going strong since 1974, even earning a mention in a Beastie Boys track.

The Atlantic Antic, photo courtesy of click wrrr via Flickr

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To wander up Smith Street is to take a journey through a Brooklyn you can see changing before your eyes. On its southern end, in Red Hook, Smith Street is undergoing a rebirth from an industrial center to the newest residential frontier. On the northern end, it enters the historical core of Brooklyn, punctuated by the architecturally notable Borough Hall and its neighboring courthouses. And in between, Smith Street boasts an eclectic mix of hip bars, restaurants and boutiques, along with remnants of the pre-gentrification, working class neighborhoods that would become what Carroll Gardens and Boerum Hill are today.

Since the 1820s, Smith Street has been home to mixed-use buildings, with shops on the ground floor and living space above, while its cross streets were lined with row houses and brownstones.

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Brooklyn rental prices rose and the number of new leases signed more than doubled in the past month, according to rental reports from MNS and Douglas Elliman. Jonathan Miller, founder of real estate analytics firm Miller Samuel, told The Real Deal that the increasing number of new leases showed that tenants were dissatisfied with rent hikes from their existing landlords and looking elsewhere for their next apartment.

Not only were 442 new leases signed in January, a 111.5 percent increase from December, but that number represented a 33.5 percent jump from January of last year, according to Elliman. And more tenants negotiated discounts on their rents than last January, with the discount from the original list price rising from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent. Overall, median Brooklyn rental prices jumped from $2,660 a month in December to $2,830 a month in January, a 6.4 percent increase.

Bushwick, Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene all saw marked rental price increases between December and January, MNS said. And two-bedroom apartment prices in Crown Heights rose 5.3 percent because of new developments on Bergen Street. Not surprisingly, Dumbo still holds the title for most expensive average rents in every type of unit. Meanwhile, Prospect Lefferts Gardens has the cheapest studios and one-bedrooms, and Bed Stuy has the cheapest average rents for two-bedrooms, MNS’ analysis shows.

Has your landlord raised your rent lately? Or if you’re a landlord, have you raised the rent?

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Like many famous thoroughfares, Bedford Avenue and what it conjures in our cultural consciousness belies its more complex and unique history. While today we often think of hipster culture, small local boutiques and trendy restaurants, there’s a lot that went into transforming the avenue in Williamsburg into what it is today. The area around the L train stop is the most well-trod, but Bedford Avenue is in fact Brooklyn’s longest street, stretching from Greenpoint all the way to Sheepshead Bay.

Looked at in its entirety, Bedford Avenue speaks to many aspects of Brooklyn’s history–a transformation from rural to urban in some areas, a bustling commercial corridor with architecture to match its future prospects in others. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the portion from Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint to Broadway in Williamsburg.

Greenpoint and McCarren Park 

Five Leaves

Bedford Avenue begins without much fanfare in Greenpoint, just off the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Nassau Avenue. The businesses along the triangular block that is created from the junction reflects the shifting demographics of the neighborhood. Neighborhood establishments like a Polish restaurant, a locksmith and laundromat give way to Five Leaves, the popular corner establishment planned by Heath Ledger before his untimely death. On balmy days (even in winter) you can find Brooklynites sitting outside sipping a cocktail and taking in locally sourced, organic fare. But don’t miss the Film Noir Video Store just next door, a holdout of the disappearing neighborhood video rental spot. Owner Will Malitek says that Film Noir is “dedicated to classic and obscure music and movies” and when you chat with him in person, it’s clear he’s equally versed in both.

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Today Douglas Elliman released its fourth quarter sales report for 2013. You can view the full reports for Queens and Brooklyn here. Douglas Elliman found that inventory and absorption rate fell to the lowest level since it was tracked in mid-2005, that sales surged from year ago levels (which is likely in response to the spike in mortgage rates this spring), and that housing prices have generally remained stable. In this quarter, condo prices averaged at $448,369, co-op prices averaged at $216,303, and home sales averaged at $568,867. Luxury properties (the upper 10 percent of co-op, condo and 1-3 family home sales) came in at an average price of $1,016,031.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, the median sales price declined 4.4 percent to $372,700, the average sales price was more or less unchanged at $431,241, and the number of sales really jumped — 74.7 percent to 3,344. The listing inventory, however, fell 39.6 percent to 5,248 units. Properties spent less days on the market, at an average of 103 days. And listing discount this quarter came in at 5 percent, compared to 6.1 percent. Finally, the luxury median sales price beefed up by 7.1 percent, averaging at $910,000. The new development market share also increased, if just a little, from 9.9 percent to an even 10 percent.

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It’s time for market reports! A few firms released stats on third quarter activity for the sales and rental market in Queens. Douglas Elliman’s market report tells us that sales in Queens rose to a three-year high, with inventory falling to an eight-year low. Compared to the third quarter of last year, median sales price increased .5 percent to $372,000, the average sales price remained essentially unchanged at $417,838, and the total number of sales surged 29.6 percent to 3,251. For the quarter, the average condo sale was $329,487, average co-op sale $219,479, and average one- to three-family home sale $553,465. The average price in a new condo development came in at $650,163. Also compared to last year, listing inventory fell 32.3 percent to 6,124 units, listings spent an average of 101 days on the market, up 27.8 percent, and listing discount came in at 5.4 percent, up from 3.9 percent. The luxury median sales price increased 4.3 percent to $889,000.

Modern Spaces released its own report for the third quarter, examining condo and rental activity in Long Island City and Astoria. In LIC, despite dwindling inventory, condo sales are strong. According to Modern Spaces, “Apartments have been selling at $1000 per square foot which has become a norm for the area and we continue to see this number increase with sales reaching over the $1000 mark at the luxury condominium, The Bindery.” On a related note, land value is on the rise with sites trading around $200 per square foot. The LIC rental market has a growing inventory with steady pricing. New developments are renting at an average of 20 units a week per building. In Astoria, condo demand is up and inventory is down, pushing the average price per square foot to $703. (That’s a 12 percent increase from the beginning of the year.) Astoria rental prices are rising as well, with a studio averaging around $2,000 a month.

Image via Modern Spaces