While Park Slope and Williamsburg are likely out of reach at this point for the budget-conscious New Yorker, East New York is still a viable option, and has been garnering plenty of buzz as Brooklyn's latest "up and coming" neighborhood. Joe Azar of Citi Habitats gives an overview of the neighborhood—and explains why you haven’t yet missed your chance to become a Brooklynite—in this week’s Buy Curious.
THE WISH LIST:
I’ve heard a lot about East New York being the next up-and-coming neighborhood in Brooklyn (that’s still affordable). What can you tell me about the area and what’s available? Particularly in the brownstone arena?
“East New York has never been considered one of the great Brooklyn neighborhoods, but that may be changing,” says Azar. Recently the area has seen a lot of interest from investors, both large and small. Related Companies, for instance, opened a large, very successful shopping center, Gateway Center, in the neighborhood just last year, bringing in popular chains like Home Depot, Target and Olive Garden.
Plus, earlier this year, real estate investor Bluestone Group purchased a two-building, 210-unit apartment complex and Pinnacle Group grabbed up 318 rental units in a 19-building East New York residential complex. “These [investors] are banking that the redevelopment and gentrification that has transformed the neighborhoods to the west”—such as Williamsburg, Park Slope and Bed-Stuy—“will continue its spread into East New York,” says Azar.
In addition, there is a comprehensive rezoning initiative in the works that’s being undertaken as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York. This East New York Community Plan—which was designed to promote the development of affordable housing, encourage economic growth, and create pedestrian-friendly streets—has the potential to change the face of the neighborhood and bring thousands of new residents into the community.
Another factor working in East New York’s favor is the wealth of public transit options in the community. The Broadway Junction subway hub serves multiple lines, including the A, C, J, Z and L trains. There’s even an “East New York” station on the L.I.R.R., making travel throughout the city, and region, extremely easy.
“Many new residents to East New York choose the area because they are priced out of what I like to call ‘the Big 3,’” says Azar, referring to Bushwick, Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights. “In the Big 3, brownstones are now routinely trading for over $1 million. But if a buyer wants more value for their dollar, East New York is a viable option. In this community, equivalent homes trade at a 30 to 40 percent discount to the more established areas.”
All this, of course, has given rise to worries over gentrification—a justifiable concern. As newcomers priced out of other areas stream in, long-timers are feeling pushed out. In May, locals took to Highland Park to express their frustrations, with one tenants rights advocate telling Gothamist that they're seeing "people who are living in double-up situations" who can't even afford the rents set at new affordable housing projects slated for the neighborhood under Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan, let alone market-rate rents. (According to the city, half of the apartments planned for the neighborhood are supposedly affordable, CityLimits reports. The required income for residents applying for these types of units is between $42,000 to 67,000 per year, per Gothamist, but "in East New York, the Area Median Income (AMI) is just $32,000 per year.")
As for the types of housing available, while some Brooklyn neighborhoods—like Park Slope—are known for their uniform housing stock, the housing in East New York is a jumble of different styles. “There is a mix of big rental complexes, large masonry apartment buildings, multi-family homes and wood-frame and brick single-family houses, all in various states of repair,” says Azar. “The classic Brooklyn brownstone is not common in East New York. However, there are some historic brick townhomes scattered throughout the neighborhood, many of which were built around 1900.”
Aside from the retail at the Gateway Center, the neighborhood is also home to a large ShopRite supermarket, as well as an Aldi discount market. In addition, there is also a selection of dollar stores, inexpensive restaurants, and bodegas along Atlantic and Linden Avenues. “However, at least for now,” notes Azar, “residents interested in high-end shopping or dining will need to look elsewhere.” Crime also remains a concern: The neighborhood placed near the bottom—65 of 69—of DNAInfo's neighborhood safety ranking in terms of the number of murders; it placed 62 out of 69 for felony assault; and 53 out of 69 overall.
Here are some properties to consider:
East New York multi-family house, $369,000: This five-bedroom, two-bathroom two-family house at 548 Liberty Avenue between Schenck Avenue and Hendrix Street is just a short walk to the C train, but it's in need of a gut renovation.
East New York multi-family house, $489,000: This two-family fixer-upper (currently set up as a three-family) at 334 Jerome Street between Glenmore and Pitkin Avenues has a three-bedroom single-floor unit and a four-bedroom duplex with an additional kitchen. At the moment, the duplex is set up as two units. The property has three separate kitchens, as well as three separate entrances.
East New York townhouse, $525,000: Located at 727 Vermont Street between New Lots and Hegeman Avenues, this five-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse has been completely gut-renovated, has a private backyard, and is move-in ready. There are also hardwood floors throughout, and a finished basement with a separate entrance connected to the first floor.
East New York multi-family house, $649,999: This brick four-family home at 365 Milford Street between Blake and New Lots Avenues is close to the Gateway Center, has a finished basement, private parking, and a new roof, boiler and hot water tank.
East New York multi-family house, $669,000: This three-story brick two-family home at 747 New Jersey Avenue between New Lots and Hegeman Avenues is in the final stages of a renovation and has hardwood flooring throughout, granite kitchens with stainless steel appliances and a full finished basement with street level access.
East New York mixed-use building, $1,350,000: This mixed-use building at 375 Sheffield Avenue between Blake and Sutter Avenues is a great property for investors. There’s a ground-level storefront, as well as four apartments.