Real estate is all about location, and in New York, location is all about proximity to transit. Apartments are often advertised as being in the center of it all, but rarely are they as centrally located as the first building constructed as part of the mega-development formerly known as Atlantic Yards.
The 32-story building at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue was created using modular technology—the apartments were built as boxes in a factory off-site and slotted into the framework by crane. The tower is the tallest modular building in the world, a distinction that wasn't achieved easily: work finished more than two years behind schedule, and only after the project devolved into lawsuits between developer Forest City Ratner and contractor Skanska, and after the experimental design was reported to have resulted in major leaks.
Now apartments have been leasing for about a year, and they're commanding substantial rents. Studios start at around $2,500, and two bedrooms are going for as much as $6,000 a month. The reason people are willing to pay this is the same one that Forest City and its Chinese government partners at the firm Greenland have been willing to lobby politicians extensively for money and permission to build through years of protests: the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, atop Atlantic Terminal, is Brooklyn's Times Square, a location so central it was once proposed as the site of a new stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, of course, the Barclays Center is hosting sports events at the very same crossroads, and work on the development's 15 buildings is set to continue at least into the next decade.
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Location is also a variable within the modular building at 461 Dean St., formerly known as B2. The most striking line of apartments is at the northwest corner, where the building comes to a sharp point with Flatbush running along the left and the arena edging in close on the right. The rooms at the point evoke the prow of a ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows thrusting the occupant out over Downtown Brooklyn toward the neighborhoods, the Manhattan skyline, and the harbor beyond. For the privacy-, noise-, and space-conscious, this may be a little too in the middle of everything for comfort, but some are willing to pay a premium to wake up surrounded by the busiest patch of Brooklyn.
Take Regina Griffin. An e-commerce manager at a multinational company with offices in Midtown and Hoboken, she moved to Brooklyn from Georgia four months ago, settling on a $3,200 studio on the pointy side of 461 Dean. On the sixth floor, her unit doesn't quite rise above the Barclays Center on one side, but still, she says, "It's just flooded with sunlight. Even in the morning with the blinds drawn, you know when it's morning... I don't feel my day has begun until I raise the shades of all eight bedroom windows."
At 1,000 square feet, the apartment is spacious for a studio, and Griffin says the layout has allowed her to turn it into a two-bedroom, using a walk-in closet as a guest room, partitioning off a bedroom from the common space, and furnishing the prow or "wedge" area with a bed, a few leather chairs, and an end table. There's not much in the apartment (on the same line as the one pictured above) to give away its factory pedigree, she says, apart from a few seams in the sheetrock and some irregularly placed columns, including one right where you walk in.
"I love decorating," she says, adding that she saw the unusual layout as a fun challenge. To the entryway column, she has mounted a long mirror on one side and a flat-screen TV on the other, she says. And on the plus side, the apartment includes three or four more closets beyond the walk-in.
Griffin says she loves the apartment for its convenience to transit and its views.
"It's so beautiful at night," she says.
The street below is noisy at most times of the day, but Griffin says her unit is "surprisingly quiet."
Even so, others might find the prospect of waking up on top of Flatbush Avenue maddening.
Would you want to live in a $3,000 studio overlooking Flatbush and Atlantic?
Here in the Brick office, we're torn. The publicity photos look cool and all, but they're also a bit anxiety-inducing. There is also the obvious drawback of paying so much for so little space, which may or may not be made up for by the quick commutes.
Let us know what you think in the comments.