Inspired, perhaps, by the topic of affordable nabes, The Wall Street Journal this weekend served up a heaping plate of love for Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The area’s incredible architecture is unlikely to come as news to regular Brownstoner readers but it’s always fun to get the demographic analysis. “It’s drawing a big segment of younger people priced out of other locations,” said BHS broker and 24-year-resident Bill Sheppard. “It’s your classic New York melting pot.” And with houses ranging from $900,000 to $1,500,000, “People are just blown away by the space that they can afford over there,” says Lee Solomon, another Brown Harris Stevens broker who recently had one of the pricy Midwood Street listings (all of which are referenced in this post).
Secret Is Out in Prospect Lefferts Gardens [WSJ]
Photo by nrv lowdown

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As part of the feedback The Times got from readers on its article So You’re Priced Out. Now What?, a couple of readers wrote in to promote the affordable merits of their neighborhoods.

Not sure why Midwood in Brooklyn is constantly overlooked and undervalued. Home to Brooklyn College, one of the best schools in the CUNY system, and DiFara Pizza, this still largely Jewish (with huge influx of Russians and Ukrainians now) neighborhood is ridiculously safe and loaded with inexpensive shopping and services (I get a weekly massage for $50/hr at a fabulous Chinese spa). It could do with more restaurants and many are Kosher so closed on Fridays and Saturdays, but over all, great big houses at affordable prices (my husband and I bought a four-bedroom, 2,000-sq.-ft. town home for $550,000 two years ago) and near the subways (B/Q). — Sandi, Brooklyn

And one more…

Bushwick is still very underrated. The industrial area oof the Morgan L train gets most of the attention, but farther into the neighborhood (off the Dekalb, Mytle-Wyckoff and Halsey L train stops, and odd the Knickerbocker and Central M train stops), there are a lot of really beautiful streets of limestone brick houses that have a wonderful, family-oriented vibe. And of course there are new galleries and cafes constantly popping up farther into Bushwick. And it’s still more affordable than the “affordable” neighborhoods listed here! — hey hey, Bushwick, N.Y.

What other names were left out of the story?
Photo of Midwood by Matthew Chamberlain

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Here’s a thought-provoking nugget from a recent blog post on Hyperallergic:

Some people say that Ridgewood will inevitably be the next destination of the emerging (and starving) artistic community, after organic grocers replace bodegas and people sitting at tables and chairs on the sidewalks are more likely to be having brunch than playing dominos. Others say that Ridgewood will never be the new Bushwick, because there aren’t enough industrial buildings suitable for conversion into artist studios and the streets are too loud to be adopted by the solitude seeking creative community.

It seems to us that Bushwick still has a ways to go before all the existing warehouse and loft space has been used up by artists and foodies. Then again, the fact that Chelsea mainstay Luhring Augustine has announced plans to set up shop in the ‘wick does suggest that the days of affordable rents and DIY abandon in the nabe (or at least within walking distance of the Morgan stop on the L train) may be numbered. (The gallery shelled out $2,050,000 last November for the 10,000-square-foot building, which it plans to use for “project and storage space.”)

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      Today The Brooklyn Paper ran an op-ed from Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries about why he’s introducing a bill to formalize the process of naming neighborhoods as well as one from a Rapid Realty broker named Lanishia Goodwin about why she supports new neighborhood handles. From Jeffries’ piece: “The consequences of realtors providing misleading information are broad. Working families are pushed out of rebranded neighborhoods as housing prices soar. Newer residents pay more to rent or buy, largely as a result of the deceptive marketing. This is why I plan to introduce the Neighborhood Integrity Act. This bill will require the city to develop a community-oriented process before brokers can rebrand a neighborhood or redefine its boundaries simply for commercial purposes. These new names rarely result from community input and are often disconnected from a neighborhood’s history, culture or tradition.” Meanwhile, Goodwin has this to say, in part: “In Brooklyn, even familiar names are nicknames for other neighborhoods. Prospect Lefferts Gardens was borrowed from a group of buildings in the Prospect Heights neighborhood, What about Ocean Hill and Kensington? They’re really Flatbush. And what about Stuyvesant Heights? Most of the owners of the million-dollar real estate in this historical area grew up there won’t argue that it’s Bedford-Stuyvesant…Brooklyn as a whole has also become such prime real estate—there are so many people moving farther and farther into Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Bushwick—that it can no longer defined by just prime neighborhoods.”
      Jeffries: Neighborhood Integrity Matters [BK Paper]
      Goodwin: New Names Help Brooklyn Grow [BK Paper]

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      Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries is a man on a mission, a mission to stem the tide of broker-named neighborhoods like “ProCro” and “Greenwood Heights”! According to City Room, Jeffries is going to introduce a bill next week that would require new names for neighborhoods get approved by community boards, the City Council and the mayor. The bill calls for fining brokers who use unofficial names in their listings and, perhaps, suspending their licenses. City Room quotes Jeffries as saying that real estate agents “are allowed to essentially pull names out of thin air in order to rebrand a neighborhood and have the effect of raising rents or home prices.” A senior vice president for the Real Estate Bard of New York, meanwhile, says it would be “difficult to legislate the use of an official name when these neighborhood names are not legally defined.” Still: BoCoCa, we hardly knew ye.
      ‘SoBro’ and ‘ProCro’ No Joke to Assemblyman [City Room]
      Assemblyman Wants To Prevent Realtors From Renaming Neighborhoods [NY1]

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      We mentioned the start-up Naked Apartments back in 2009 when it was trying to launch a different system to find rentals in NYC. The site published its own top five neighborhoods from around 500,000 rental searches. Brooklyn is the second most-searched borough behind Manhattan, and the top neighborhoods are Williamsburg, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, and finally Greenpoint. You can see all the stats here.

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      We missed this profile of Bed Stuy in the Daily News on Friday (which surprisingly was accompanied by a photo of five houses on the Clinton Hill side of Classon, recreated above), but a reader flagged it for us yesterday…The writer clearly has a big crush on the nabe, even if it’s his first time visiting. “You can’t believe something like this is in New York, and then you can’t believe you never knew it existed,” he writes about himself seeing the Montrose Morris-designed Alhambra building. And the architecture isn’t the only thing that impresses him: Its restaurants are “are more Greenwich Village than Greenwich Village.” We also learn how wonderful the residents are: I didn’t like people very much before we opened, says the co-owner of Ms. Dahlia’s Café. But the people here are amazing.” And of course there’s the issue of race, with this quote from a fifty-year resident of Madison Street: We’re going back to how we were in the late 1950s, she says of the current wave of gentrification. We were 80/20 white-to-black then. Then we were 90/10 black-to-white. Now, every new family who comes in is white. We welcome the change. It’s great, but it makes me laugh. Let’s say 20 years ago I moved to Howard Beach? I don’t think I would be as welcomed as the white people coming here are. That tells you something.
      High on Bed-Stuy [NY Daily News]

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      “A case in point is Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, who recently moved to Washington and Sterling streets in Brooklyn. I moved to Prospect Heights or Crown Heights, but I’m not really sure which, says Mr. Chan, who adds that he tells friends he lives in Prospect Heights because they are more familiar with it. He also notes that on the popular Brooklyn blog Brownstoner, there are pages of people debating which neighborhood Mr. Chan’s address is located in. “Only when the name makes the transition from real estate hype or marketing label to a commonly used phrase to describe a neighborhood does it hold, says Jonathan Miller, chief executive of appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc. In the case of Mr. Chan’s area, the jury is clearly still out.” — Crain’s

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      We’ve all heard that if a real estate investor wants to find the next hot nabe, he only needs to find where the artists and gay people are moving. According to The Observer, though, it pays to watch a particular subset of the gay community: Lesbians. “Practical, and always in search of domesticity, lesbians are handy urban pioneers, dragging organic groceries and prenatal yoga to the ‘frontier’ neighborhoods they make hospitable for the rest of us,” writes The Observer. “In three to five years.” Sharon Zukin, a Brooklyn College professor and author of Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places, identifies an even further subset to keep an eye on: “Lesbians may be canaries in the urban coal mine. And lesbian moms may be an even more acute canary, maybe because they are especially concerned about the character of the school district.” And which neighborhood have the lesbians annointed now? Kensington, where one lesbian rejoiced over the “crazy amount of space” while admitting that the trade-off is that “there is nothing to do within walking distance except grocery shopping.” The article has already been met by criticism from one blog. In a post titled Bad Gentrification Writing, Ditmas Park Blog says, “This Observer story really reads like a parody of the genre, and manages to get all the details wrong in passing…We remember the days when they had editors, and a clue, at the Observer.”
      Lesbians as ‘Canaries in the Urban Coal Mine’ [Observer]
      Photo by bonnevilleyacht76

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      In its current issue, This Olde House picks its top 51 neighborhoods for old houses. Among its top six Editors’ Picks is none other than Stuyvesant Heights, which gets the nod for being the “Best Place for Brownstone Buffs.” Here’s what they have to say:

      This culturally rich nabe is shedding its high-crime rep as restaurants, bakeries, and cafes open their doors to new and longtime residents, all of whom want a distinctly Brooklyn lifestyle for themselves and their families…While prices for townhouses were creeping into the millions a few years ago, they’ve come down of late. Some fixer-uppers are going for as low as $475,000. It won’t stay that way.

      Sweet!
      Best Old House Neighborhoods [This Olde House]
      Photo by gkjarvis