Prospect Park: Brooklyn’s Outdoor Treasure

DSCN9039If you live in Brooklyn, you know Prospect Park. You’ve been there to run, bike, play ball, whether baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, pétanque, or extreme Frisbee (okay, that’s not ball), lay out in the sun, take the kids to the myriad playgrounds, ride horses, build a snowman, work out, hike the ravine, go to a summer evening concert, paddleboat in the lake, see fall colors, go to the zoo, sit on a bench and read, cross-country ski, ride the carousel, watch birds, watch fireflies, play chess, take your pup to the dog pool, have a picnic, collect leaves, play in or listen to conga jams, ice skate, visit a museum in a colonial house, feed the ducks, go sledding, throw a party, have a barbeque, or even, on a summer night, walk into the trees and listen to the amazing cacophony of a million singing bugs.

Prospect Park is a draw not only for Brooklynites. Even if you don’t yet live in Brooklyn, there’s a chance you’ve been to our crown jewel of leisure. Designed by Olmsted and Vaux, the same team that created Manhattan’s Central Park, Prospect Park is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Like all of the city, the park has been through cycles of highs and lows through the years, and at this time is riding as high as it’s ever been. Fueled by support systems including the Prospect Park Alliance, The Friends of Prospect Park, and the rangers of the National Park Service, the park in many areas within its 526-acres has been refreshed, renewed, and, when necessary, restored, with a wide range of clean-up/fix-up projects completed, many others ongoing, and more big ideas in the planning and development stages.

Access to the park is easy, with the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, Q, F, G, and Franklin Avenue Shuttle trains all stopping within a block or two from a park entrance, so whether you live in Greenpoint or Brighton Beach you can get there with one train ride. With all that the park offers, it’s no wonder that many people moving to Brooklyn, especially those in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Prospect Heights, and Crown Heights, were sold on the area because of Prospect Park. And that’s not to mention the nearby Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, all lined up next to each other along Eastern Parkway just across Flatbush Avenue from the park.

If you’re moving to or within New York City, we know you’ll be looking at Brooklyn. If you’ve never been to Prospect Park, you must spend a day or two getting to know Prospect Park. There are a million great reasons to move to Brooklyn. Prospect Park and the areas around it hold many of them. Check it out.

Is Brooklyn’s Business Boom an Empty Dream?

Brooklyn has been a strong magnet for residents for many years now, but what about the business community? Many former industrial waterfront areas in DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint have been either retooled for or replaced with condos, none of which seem to have too much trouble finding eager buyers. The past few years have seen a push to create office space, as well.

Some big-name retailers have moved into downtown on Fulton Street to serve the new residents coming into all the nearby condos that have sprouted up. Well beyond downtown, the race to create office space is instead resulting in a glut of empty space. According to a recent article on Bloomberg.com, there are plans by various developers to build about seven million square feet of office space in the next few years, mainly in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Sunset Park, as well as the old Watchtower Building in DUMBO. The article sites 23 projects due to open by 2020. That much space will require either a ton of small companies taking out leases or help from a few big companies that will take several floors of space at once. The problem experts are seeing is that the big guys don’t seem too eager to make the move.

Prices on Manhattan office space have plateaued, and there is room for negotiation there, so big companies with no real yen for Brooklyn have little incentive to pay for a big, expensive move and to uproot their employees for possibly newer digs and beautiful offices in a place that’s frankly not that easy to get to from Westchester, New Jersey, Connecticut, or even Manhattan and Queens. Big companies that have recently moved to the NYC area, including Facebook and Alphabet (Google), have settled into Manhattan, and those that have come to Brooklyn have put pieces of their businesses in rather than move the entire company.

Several commercial real estate experts interviewed for the Bloomberg article remain upbeat. Although the signing of a 100,000+ square-foot lease would be newsworthy and perhaps a shot in the arm, Andrew Hoan, the CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, noted that Brooklyn has added jobs faster than any other borough, and related his feeling that not being dependent on large companies is “a good thing.”

So, bring on the office space, we say. As long as it’s being concentrated in otherwise unused or underused buildings like those in the navy yard or Sunset Park’s Industry City, it’s a plus for Brooklyn, and in time, we feel, for the patient developer as well.

Read the full article on Bloomberg.com:
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-04/brooklyn-as-the-next-hot-spot-for-new-york-offices-not-so-fast

 

Cuomo Taps $$$ for Central Brooklyn Reno

Governor Cuomo last week announced a plan for a major infusion of money–$1.4 billion–into central Brooklyn, with the main focus to be in poverty-afflicted areas like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, and East New York.

Thank you, governor.

Of course, at this point, the plan, called Vital Brooklyn, is just that–a plan. The governor hopes to have the money allocated in his next budget, but that will mean convincing majorities in the Assembly and Senate to go along with him, never a sure thing when it means spending money.

According to an article about the plan in The New York Times, fully half the allotment, $700 million, would be used to fund initiatives related to health care, generally a huge problem for residents in the targeted area. Other monies would address neighborhood quality-of-life issues such as crime and violence, unemployment, and a lack of green space, “aiming to eliminate so-called park deserts by building green spaces and renovating athletic facilities within a 10-minute walk of every neighborhood.” It’s estimated that 7,600 jobs would be created, a network of 36 ambulatory care centers would be built, and 1,200 people would receive training to work in the construction industry. An additional $1.2 million would be used for youth development programs.

The Times article reports that the plan received positive initial responses from various experts in the fight against poverty, though some warned that, for continued success, any programs established or supported through Vital Brooklyn would need ongoing funding to maintain their level of activities.

Another piece of Vital Brooklyn includes the construction of 3,000 units of affordable housing in the area. While decent affordable housing is a noble idea, some current residents are wary of the plan, feeling that the new housing and all the upgrades in parkland could make the area more attractive to real estate developers, eventually pushing housing prices in the newly improved neighborhoods beyond their means. Residents will be happy for any improvement, but not if it eventually costs them their homes and their place in the neighborhood.

As mentioned above, the money for the plan will be included in the governor’s budget this year; whether or not it stays in will be up to state lawmakers.

To read the entire Times article, click here.

You Get What You Pay For; Should We Say It?

Brooklyn is considered by many to be the best place in the world to live. You may think that all those “many” people live here in the world capital of cool already, but the fact is, demand for homes of all sorts has been high for many years, and it’s all those buyers banging on Brooklyn’s door that have pushed prices to record highs and made Brooklyn New York City’s most expensive outer borough in which to buy a house.

According to NY Real Estate Trends, (www.nyrealestatetrends.com) Brooklyn has led the city in average sales price for the past twenty years, but in the last ten years the price differential between a home in Brooklyn and those in the other outer boroughs has increased dramatically. In 1995 Brooklyn was already the most expensive of the four outer boroughs, but by just a few percentage points. In 2005, Brooklyn remained ahead of the pack, but only by about 10% over Queens. By 2015, however, Brooklyn led Queens, its nearest competitor, in average price for a single-family home by 48.3%: Brooklyn’s average price was $838,977 vs. Queens’ $565,656, according to the NY Real Estate Trends data.

We get it. We know that living in Brooklyn is five or ten times as great as living in Queens or Staten Island, so in our mind, paying only 50% more for a house is a bargain! Buy in Brooklyn and you’ll get much, much  more than you paid for.