Buy Curious

What you need to know about living in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, an affordable and low-key neighborhood

By Nancy A. Ruhling | June 2, 2022 - 1:30PM

An aerial view of a two-family house on the market at 8878 16th Ave. in Bath Beach.

Remax Elite/StreetEasy

The southwestern Brooklyn community of Bath Beach, where John Travolta strutted down the sidewalk in the opening scene of the 1977 disco-dancing film “Saturday Night Fever” and bought two slices at Lenny’s Pizza, is a multicultural neighborhood that’s not on most people’s radar—including fans of the film who sometimes give the credit to Bensonhurst. 

Despite its name, Bath Beach doesn’t have a beach any more—the sand was sacrificed in the mid-20th century to build the Belt Parkway. Once a luxury summer resort in the 19th- and early 20th-century, the area is now populated by immigrants from Italy, Russia, the Middle East and China. And while it may not have the cachet of nearby Bay Ridge, residents revel in its family-friendly, down-home vibe.

In this week’s Buy Curious, Dan Gallogly, a team leader and associate broker with RE/MAX Edge, and James P. Nelson, an associate broker with Ben Bay Realty Co. of Bay Ridge, tell us everything you need to know about living in Bath Beach.

The question:

I’ve never heard of Bath Beach. I’m looking for an inexpensive place to live. Would this be a good choice?

The reality:

“It’s not surprising that you know nothing about the community, because most of the younger people don’t call it Bath Beach—they lump it in with Bensonhurst,” Gallogly says. “It’s only the old-timers who refer to it as Bath Beach—they remember the beach and the amusement park that was like a mini-Coney Island.”

It is, indeed, affordable, Nelson says, adding that it’s less expensive than the neighboring communities of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Gravesend.

Where is it?

Bath Beach is bordered on the east by Gravesend Bay, on the northeast by Bensonhurst and New Utrecht, and by the Beach Park and Golf Course on the northwest.

Why would NYers want to move to Bath Beach?

The diverse population—a mix that includes people from Italy, Asia, Russia, and the Middle East—and the fact that you can get to Downtown Manhattan in an hour on public transportation, make it attractive, Nelson says.

“It’s affordable and extremely family-oriented,” he says. “It’s a quiet neighborhood designed for early-evening activities, but it’s close to the nightlife on Third and Fifth avenues in Bay Ridge, which is only 11 minutes away by Uber.”

It also is a haven for immigrants who want to live in a community that reminds them of home.

“If you don’t speak English, but you speak Russian, Arabic or Mandarin, you’d feel right at home in Bath Beach,” Gallogly says. “I went into a food store looking for mushrooms recently, and there was nobody who spoke English. Bath Beach is not trendy—the people who buy property here have family here already, or they know somebody who lives here.”

Where in Bath Beach should you live?

The community, which has a population of less than 30,000, is not divided into neighborhoods.

What are housing and prices like?

Although there are condos, co-ops, and single-family houses, extremely low inventory has created a seller’s market that leaves buyers with few choices.

There are only 24 condos, co-ops, and single-family houses listed in Bath Beach, according to StreetEasy.

“Houses priced at fair market value see a lot of action,” Gallogly says. “It’s possible to get multiple offers and sell them in a weekend.”

The housing stock ranges from Victorian houses that are over a century old to new-construction condos that typically are three stories. The co-ops, which were converted from rental apartments and generally are four-story walk-ups, are older.

Prices of one- to three-family houses range from $900,000 to $1.4 million or $1.5 million, Gallogly says.

One-bedroom co-ops typically are $250,000 to $325,000, and renovated two-bedroom units are around $400,000, he says, adding that there are very few three bedrooms.

One-bedroom condos are scarce. Two bedrooms generally are priced at $650,000 to $700,000, and three bedrooms range from older units in the high $600,000s to $750,000 for newer units.

The prices, Gallogly adds, depend on the square footage of the unit, the age of the building, and the variety of amenities, such as parking, which comes at a premium.

One-bedroom rental apartments “of a decent size, not small studios,” he says, are about $1,600 per month; two bedrooms are $1,800, and three bedrooms range from $2,200 for older units, which include heat and water, to $2,600 to $2,800, plus heat and water, for new-construction units.

Is there a lot of new development?

New development, Gallogly says, “is spotty. There’s no vacant land; the only time new condo projects are built is when old houses are knocked down.”

Nelson says that Bath Beach’s building boom, where developers tore down large Victorian houses on large plots of land to erect six- to 12-unit condos, occurred seven to 20 years ago.

What’s the transportation situation?

The D subway line runs through the community. The B1, B3, B6, B8, B64, and B82 SBS bus lines and the X28 and X38 express bus lines also serve Bath Beach.

“Renters choose Bath Beach because we are at the beginning of the express bus line,” Gallogly says. “It’s about 35 minutes to Downtown Manhattan and Wall Street on the express bus and about 50 minutes to 34th Street on the subway.”

What is there to do?

There are several green spaces. Bath Beach Park has a children’s playground, chess tables, fountains, and a spray shower. Dyker Beach Park has an 18-hole public golf course with a pro shop and contains the CityParks Junior Golf Center, which is the only golf course in the city that teaches the sport to young golfers. It also has tennis courts.

Bensonhurst Park, which recently underwent a $7.86-million renovation, has a playground, a field, and basketball courts. Scarangella Playground and Calvert Vaux Park are right outside the border of Bath Beach in Gravesend.

The Shore Parkway Greenway Trail, for bikers and hikers, passes through Bath Beach. “You can walk along the ocean,” Gallogly says. “It’s beautiful and flat. It’s about four miles to the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge.”

Nelson adds that people “go fishing on the trail, and they rent bicycles made for two or four people. You see a lot of parents and children riding together.”

What’s the restaurant/nightlife situation?

The community lacks nightlife, but it more than makes up for in its choice of restaurants, which reflect the diversity of its population.

“There are not a lot of restaurants like in Bay Ridge and Park Slope, but there are mom-and-pop establishments, where you feel like family,” Nelson says.

Longtime favorites of locals include La Villa, which has been serving pizza and pasta for 38 years; Tommaso, an Italian restaurant known for its classic cuisine, wine list and live music; and Mike’s Diner of Brooklyn, whose fare ranges from burgers and omelets to roast turkey dinners.

“I love the regular slice at Nicky’s Pizza and the hero sandwiches,” Nelson says.

The community has a lot of Chinese restaurants, including Golden Palace, whose menu includes rice and noodle dishes.

“Some of them have Chinese food for Americans, and some of them have Chinese food for Chinese people,” says Gallogly, adding that “I can’t tell you their names because they are written in Chinese.”

One of his favorites is New Ruan’s Restaurant and Cater, which has a broad menu, including Peking duck.

How about grocery stores?

Key Food, Food Dynasty, Grace Foodtown, and Jmart are the main choices, but there also are many smaller markets, generally with three to four aisles.

Check out these listings in Bath Beach.

189 Bay 23rd St., No. 3A

Listed for $699,000, this 1,000-square-foot, condo duplex is in a four-story brick building built in 2009 that has seven units. In addition to an open-plan kitchen with a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door, there is a 40-square-foot balcony and an 852-square-foot terrace. There are two bedrooms, one full bathroom and one half bathroom. The laundry space can be converted to a third bedroom. The price includes a parking space.

251 Bay 19th St., No. A

This 650-square-foot, first-floor brick co-op, listed for $399,000, has one bedroom and one bathroom. The renovated kitchen has a granite countertop and a washer and dryer. The renovated bathroom features a walk-in shower. In addition to hardwood floors, there is an outdoor patio. Pets are permitted.

8878 16th Ave.

This one-family, 992-square-foot brick duplex, built in 1950, is listed for $919,000. The two-story house has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one of which has been updated. The kitchen is new. Other features include tile and hardwood floors, a finished basement, backyard, and one-car detached garage plus an additional parking spot reached via a community drive.

8755 21st Ave.

This two-family brick house, with a private drive and a one-car attached garage in front, is listed for $1.449 million. The 2,623-square-foot house, which was built in 1970, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an expansive dining room and large windows in front on the first floor. The top floor has a combination living room/dining area with a half-open kitchen. There also is a full basement with a laundry room.

1407 Shore Parkway

This three-family house, rebuilt in 2007, has six bedrooms and six bathrooms. Listed for $1.999 million, it has a renovated attic that has been turned into an office, three outdoor spaces, a private parking space, and a two-car parkway. The house is 24 by 53 feet; the lot is 24 by 95 feet.

Nancy A. Ruhling is a freelance writer based in New York City.

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