Over the past few years, outsiders and residents alike have dubbed Brooklyn the “new” Manhattan, in terms of development, art, and a changing demographic. Yet, Brooklyn is large (the most populous borough and only second to Queens in terms of land area), so what people usually mean when making this reference is Williamsburg; though, more recently, that has included Bushwick and Bed-stuy as well. As those neighborhoods have, for all intents, already shifted, developers and investors have begun to search nearby for new opportunities. They seem to have found just that in Crown Heights.
The central Brooklyn neighborhood, conveniently located on the Eastern Parkway, near Prospect Park and Zoo, the Brooklyn Museum, and other attractions, has been in transition for years, but an increasing number of people have started paying attention. Likely most known for a horrible tragedy which took place over 20 years ago, the Crown Heights Riots, the neighborhood is a tale of two cities: on one side, majority Afro-Caribbean (it hosts the annual Caribbean Carnival in Brooklyn), on the other, a largely Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. The area is one of many in Brooklyn which expertly balance urban and family life, and offers a mix of housing options, from single to multi-family homes, condos and brownstones, at a reasonably low price. Thus, it’s an unsurprising real estate choice.
Marking the shift, new businesses have begun to populate the area, hoping to attract and cater to a clientele with more disposable income. One such business is Brooklyn-based, high-end grocer, Wholesome Foods (not to be confused with Whole Foods). Replacing a 99 cent store, the company signed 15-year lease and agreed to pay an incredible $65 per square foot, versus $20 paid by the previous tenant (with an average of about $30/square foot for commercial space in the neighborhood). Also, there’s been a Starbucks added along the Parkway, as well as a new beer hall, solidifying that it is, indeed, a new day in the neighborhood.
Like commercial rents, home prices are rising. In fact, residential home prices in Crown Heights have increased more than any neighborhood in Brooklyn except for the Downtown area. Between 2013 and 2015, average prices are said to have increased by 45%, about $880 per square foot. As such, it’s not uncommon to see homes upwards of $2 million or even $3 million, or about $1,350 for studio rents. That number is expected to continue to rise.
What’s next for the area? At least two dozen rental and condominium properties and more individuals moving from places in the city or the more expensive parts of Brooklyn, looking to get better bang for their buck as well as take advantage of recently added amenities. On the business side, that means a lot of opportunity and, apparently, a lot of competition. It may be worth looking at what’s to come after. East New York, Brownsville, Flatbush? Only time will tell.