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July 27th, 2015

The Historic Charm of Brooklyn Heights

Real Estate  The Historic Charm of Brooklyn Heights (PDF)

Convenience to Manhattan might have been the original impetus for the growth of Brooklyn Heights, but the neighborhood continues to attract residents for other reasons as well, including its leafy streets, its abundant historic buildings and the expanding Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Jacob Blickenstaff, a photographer, had rented in several Brooklyn neighborhoods before beginning a search two years ago with his girlfriend for a more permanent home that led to Brooklyn Heights.

“Brooklyn Heights was always the most beautiful and peaceful neighborhood that I encountered, with an incredible mix of history and architecture that’s unique,” Mr. Blickenstaff, 36, said. “Once we realized that there were some things available there in our price range, it quickly became the standard.”

Mr. Blickenstaff said he and his girlfriend were lucky to find a one-bedroom co-op for $525,000; they are spending about $50,000 to $60,000 on renovations.

Brooklyn Heights, about 12 blocks deep and five blocks wide at its widest, has roughly 23,000 residents; the area’s median household income is among the highest in the borough at $166,346, according to the city’s Independent Budget Office.

Photo

138 PIERREPONT STREET, #4F A three-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath condo, listed at $3.21 million. (718) 878-1900 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

The neighborhood is “a bit stuck in the past in terms of the restaurants and services and things,” Mr. Blickenstaff said. “It still has a little bit of an older Brooklyn feel.”

But the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park over the last decade is enticing visitors to the area. And two planned hotels, one on Montague Street and the other in the park, should contribute to tourism once they have opened.

Swathed in historic districts limiting property development, Brooklyn Heights has been removed from much of the real estate activity seen in other neighborhoods in the borough. Residents, though, have been critical of a couple of residential development projects in the works.

A group called Save the View Now plans to continue a legal crusade against Pierhouse, the 192-room hotel and 106-unit condo complex adjacent to Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park that obscures some views of the Brooklyn Bridge, despite the ruling in June by a State

Another group, called the People for Green Space Foundation, is opposed to the planned construction of two residential buildings at Pier 6, asserting the park does not need the additional revenue the development would yield.

At least four other residential buildings are at different stages of planning or construction for a total of about 222 units that could be developed in Brooklyn Heights over the next few years, real estate agents said.

Growing numbers of families with young children are moving to the area, said Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. She said “children spilling out of the stoops” drew her to her home on Garden Place in the early ’70s, when there were about 80 children on the block. “Then they all grew up and moved away,” she said. “Now suddenly new families have moved in.

What You’ll Find

Brooklyn Heights’ boundaries are well defined: Atlantic Avenue to Old Fulton Street, and Court Street and Cadman Plaza West to the East River. The neighborhood is almost completely protected by three historic districts, the largest being the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, which was the first historic district to be designated in the city in 1965.

While brownstone townhouses predominate in Brooklyn Heights, what sets it apart from otherBrooklynbrownstone neighborhoods is the diversity of architecture, from wood-frame houses to Federal brick homes to carriage houses, said Lindsay Barton Barrett, an agent with Compass.

Townhouses, often five stories, tend to be bigger than those in other Brooklyn neighborhoods, Ms. Barrett said. Brooklyn Heights also has some prewar residential hotels that have been converted to co-op buildings, she said.

What You’ll Pay

Townhouses tend to sell for $6 million to $8 million, on average, though one mansion is listed for $40 million, said Sam Pollach, an agent with the Upton Realty Group.

Photo

128 WILLOW STREET, #1CD A three-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath co-op in a prewar building, listed at $2.5 million. (917) 693-7286 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

Depending on their size and the number of bathrooms they have, studio co-ops go for around $350,000 to $400,000; one-bedrooms for $450,000 to $750,000; two-bedrooms for $950,000 to $1.35 million; and three-bedrooms for $2.3 million to $3.2 million, Mr. Pollach said.

While co-ops typically range from around $1,200 to $1,400 a square foot, condominiums, such as those at Pierhouse, are closer to $2,500 a square foot, he said.

Gregory Williamson, an agent for Douglas Elliman Real Estate who works in Brooklyn Heights regularly, said that home prices had risen 15 percent to 20 percent in the last year and a half to two years.

Rentals range from $2,000 to $4,000 a month for one-bedroom apartments; $2,500 to $6,500 for two-bedrooms; and $5,000 to $10,000 for three-bedrooms, Ms. Barrett said.

The Commute

The Court Street station, with the N and R subway trains, is one stop from LowerManhattan, as are the Clark Street station, with the 2 and 3, and the High Street station, with the A and C. Their convenience has made the neighborhood a popular choice for people working in the financial district. The 4 and 5 trains, as well as the 2 and 3, stop at nearby Borough Hall, and the A, C and F trains stop at nearby Jay Street-Metro Tech.

What to Do

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2 GRACE COURT, #1W A one-bedroom one-bath co-op in a prewar building with a roof deck, listed at $649,000. (917) 627-8664 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

Brooklyn Bridge Park includes six piers along with Fulton Ferry Landing, offering kayaking and fishing, basketball, bocce ball, beach volleyball, roller skating, playgrounds, soccer and a dog run. There are also waterfront restaurants and snack shops, like Ample Hills Creamery.

Before the park’s creation, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a walkway about five blocks long that has overlooked New York Harbor since 1950, was the area’s main attraction and continues to offer stunning views of Manhattan’s skyline.

Montague Street provides shopping with some national chains, such as Sleepy’s and Banana Republic, and restaurants like Subway and Le Pain Quotidien. Atlantic Avenue has pizzerias and Middle Eastern restaurants, while Court Street offers businesses likeStarbucksand Dunkin’ Donuts.

Brooklyn Heights has a small restaurant row on Henry Street, with Sociale, an Italian restaurant, being one of the newer spots, having opened about two years ago.

A microneighborhood called Willowtown, in the southwestern corner of Brooklyn Heights, is home to the Iris Cafe, which also has a nearby shop selling specialty groceries and prepared foods.

The Schools

The growing number of children in Brooklyn Heights is being felt at the only public elementary school in the neighborhood, Public School 8 Robert Fulton, which now has a waiting list for kindergarten, Ms. Stanton said.

The school serves about 870 students from kindergarten to Grade 8. According to its 2013-14 School Quality Snapshot, 57 percent of students met standards in English, versus 28 percent citywide, and 60 percent met math standards, versus 34 percent citywide.

Brooklyn Heights is also known for its highly regarded private schools, including Saint Ann’s School and the Packer Collegiate Institute. A new private school, AltSchool Brooklyn Heights, for prekindergarten through Grade 3, will open in the fall.

The History

As early as the 17th century, ferries were running across the East River to serve farms in what is now Brooklyn Heights. By the late 18th century, the area had a few major landowners — with familiar names like Middagh and Hicks — but it wasn’t until Robert Fulton’s steam ferry service had its first run in 1814 that development took off as modern commuting began.


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