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New York Times

Park Slope Brooklyn A Neighborhood To Grow Into

Kate and Kabir Singh have come a long way since moving to Park Slope, Brooklyn, from Greenwich Village a decade ago, hopscotching from home to home to home, but despite their nomadic tendencies they’ve traveled a grand total of five and a half blocks in that time.

Introduced to the leafy, house-proud neighborhood when Ms. Singh began teaching at a local school, the couple were enticed into putting down roots by the proximity of Prospect Park, the strong reputation of Public School 321 and the alluring rows of well-maintained period brownstones. And as with so many Manhattan transplants, their attachment to the neighborhood has grown along with their family.

“Once people cross the pond to Park Slope, they’re here forever,” said Jackie Lew and Marc Wisotsky, associate brokers with Halstead Property, who has raised their own children there. “Their lifestyle changes and they don’t want to live anywhere else.”

By then, Ms. Singh said, the family’s lives had become happily entwined with Park Slope.

“It’s got a real small-town feel,” she said. “On my walk to school with the kids, I know so many people from all different parts of my life: people I know as a teacher, small vendors, real estate people and the parents of my children’s friends.” But if, as some residents say, Park Slope has a “Sesame Street” atmosphere, the area’s rents have risen high enough to push out many mom-and-pop shop owners of Mr. Hooper’s ilk. Seventh Avenue abounds with banks and with real estate offices that have windows full of pricey listings reflecting the neighborhood back on itself. On Union Street, the Tea Lounge, a popular bourgeois-bohemian hangout, recently shuttered.

Nevertheless, even as parts of Park Slope are increasingly buffed to a high polish, the area still offers a variety of experience. After living much of the last six decades in the North Slope townhouse her seamstress mother had bought in 1949, Lorraine Leong, a health care administrator, decamped to the southwestern fringe of the neighborhood in 2012, paying $693,000 for a two-bedroom condominium on 12th Street and Fourth Avenue, a thoroughfare where blocky residential buildings have sprung up since a 2003 rezoning. Her son, a “foodie” who lives upstairs, keeps her informed, she said, about “all the great restaurants opening up” on Fifth Avenue and Flatbush Avenue.

“Fourth and Fifth Avenues have that diverse mix that Brooklyn always had, and it’s very appealing to me,” said Ms. Leong, who is of Chinese descent. “There are Italians and Latinos still around, and a guy on my corner sells tacos from a little stand for a dollar. You don’t want to lose that.”


What You’ll Find

A principal draw of Park Slope has always been the rolling meadows and sinuous paths of Prospect Park, a masterpiece designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. The neighborhood, home to about 60,000, stretches west from the park to the rumbling river of traffic known as Fourth Avenue, and south from Flatbush Avenue. There is no unanimity on the southern boundary. Many longtime residents define it as 15th Street; others say the vicinity of the Prospect Expressway.

Spurred in part by the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, a Gold Coast of ornate townhouses and mansions arose around Plaza Street and Prospect Park West. Some of these were later replaced by fine prewar apartment houses, but others survive. On Prospect Park West, a Romanesque Revival limestone mansion houses the Poly Prep Lower School; next door, a neo-Jacobean mansion built for a Bon Ami cleansing powder magnate is now home to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. At 105 Eighth Avenue, the neoclassical Tracy Mansion, which served for years as a Montessori school, is on the market for $13 million, listed by Jackie Lew and Marc Wisotsky of Halstead Property.

With a few exceptions, houses generally become less grand as one heads south from about Third Street or west down the hill from the park. In the South Slope, the blocks south of Ninth Street, frame houses are common, and residents tend to be a notch or two less affluent, census data show.

763 CARROLL STREET A two-family townhouse with nine bedrooms and three and a half baths, listed at $3,950,000. (718) 832-4193

What You’ll Pay

Big money is pouring in. A seven-bedroom limestone-and-brick townhouse at 45 Montgomery Place recently sold for $10,775,000, a neighborhood record, while median single-family townhouse prices rose 26 percent over all last year to $2,755,000, according to sales data provided by the Corcoran Group. Tight inventory means houses typically sell within 30 days, at or above asking price, said Jessica Buchman, an associate broker at Corcoran. “A quarter of our deals are all cash,” she added. “The wealth is staggering.”

One-bedroom co-ops fetched an average price of $776 per square foot, up 8 percent from 2013, the Corcoran data showed, while the average for one-bedroom condos was $883, up 15 percent. Two-bedroom co-ops sold for an average of $930 per square foot, up 16 percent; two-bedroom condos were $961, up 15 percent. A mid-January search on StreetEasy.com found 16 houses and 52 apartments for sale.

Development continues apace on Fourth Avenue. At 278 Sixth, a 12-story rental building that opened in October, 45 of 63 units have been leased, said Joe Cruz, the project’s exclusive broker. Available one-bedrooms are listed at $3,000 per month, a typical price for a new building; two-bedrooms are $3,900, in the middle of the range for a new building.

708 DEGRAW STREET, #2 A three-bedroom two-bath condo with 1,008 square feet, listed at $1,250,000 (718) 613-2985.

What to Do

Every spring, hundreds of diminutive baseball players parade with Norman Rockwell wholesomeness down Seventh Avenue en route to Prospect Park, where they play games organized by the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Also in the park, the two-rink skating complex of the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, which opened last winter after a $74 million restoration, is thronged with ice skaters in cold months and roller skaters in warm.

Seventh Avenue in the South Slope, with favorites like Talde, and Fifth Avenue, with the can’t-get-in-the-door mainstay Al di Là, both have active restaurant scenes. For organic-food lovers unexcited about working the shifts required of members of the Park Slope Food Co-op, the arrival of Whole Foods on Third Avenue and Third Street in neighboring Gowanus has been a boon. Farmers’ markets in Grand Army Plaza and by the renovated Washington Park thrive as well.

The Schools

462 SIXTH STREET, #4C A studio with one bath and a renovated kitchen in an 18-unit co-op, listed at $319,000. (212) 500-7096

Public School 321, a well-regarded elementary school on Seventh Avenue, is a major attraction. Last year, 78 percent of students met state standards on the state English test, and 80 percent on the math test, versus 30 and 39 percent citywide. The Berkeley Carroll School, a private institution for prekindergarten through 12th grade, has its lower school on Carroll Street and middle and high schools on Lincoln Place.

The Commute

The North Slope is well served by subway lines, including the 2, 3, B and Q, which make stops on Flatbush and reach Midtown Manhattan in about a half-hour. Nine trains stop at Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Center, including the D, N, 4 and 5. The R train serves stations along Fourth Avenue. Center and South Slope residents can catch the F and G on Fourth Avenue, Seventh Avenue and 15th Street-Prospect Park.

The History

Washington Park was home to a forerunner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, which used the Old Stone House of Gowanus, a 17th-century structure, as their clubhouse in the late 19th century. A reconstruction of the house stands in the park today.



708 DEGRAW STREET, #2 A three-bedroom two-bath condo with 1,008 square feet, listed at $1,250,000 (718) 613-2985

Wednesday, January 21, 2015