Real Estate Archives

February 22, 2006

The Supersizing of Bedford

Originally uploaded by Runs With Scissors.
Since moving into Williamsburg I've seen a very strong grassroots movement to keep it at a small scale. What makes the place special is that it is low rise, and isn't Manhattan.

But looking at the recent construction going on (you can spot as many as three tall buildings going up from the J line) I think it's only a matter of when (not if) that the Bedford area will change. Of course this isn't the first time that this has happened in NYC, if you want to see the future of the Bedford strip just take a look at Soho, Chelsea, and now the East Village.

But on the flip side I think the action will just move to the east. I live on Keap near Broadway and I still see many empty or sad looking store fronts. My thinking is that Broadway will look like Bedford in another three to five years with trendy clothing shops and upscale eating.

I also went to see some music in Bushwick last weekend, and from what I'm seeing Bushwick is what Williamsburg was ten years ago, and headed up. This isn't all to say that the community shouldn't fight the invasion of Tumpesque towers, but that there is a larger tend underway as Manhattan becomes too expensive for creatives and the middle class.

March 7, 2006

Website of Note: Save Our Urban Life

If you live in Willimsburg, Greenpoint, or any where on the edge of Manhttan a great website worth checking out is Save Our Urban Life - Williamsburg. I love this site as it's very focused on the over-development issues. To quote from their mission statement:
Independent neighbors concerned about runaway development. Many of our homes have been structurally damaged and even been condemned by careless adjacent construction and overbuilding. Developers blatantly disregard zoning and other regulations. Here is information if you, your home and community are under siege. This is a record of experiences, tips on how to protect your building, find out the letter of the law and make sure it is enforced fully.
It's a great news website to track what's going on, and bookmark worthy too...

April 5, 2006

Killing Williamsburg

The Edge?
Originally uploaded by Runs With Scissors.
There is a new Flickr group worth chceking out called "Killing Williamsburg" which is focused on the real estate boom going on:

Killing Williamsburg

The computer rendering shown here is from that group - it has the following caption:

"This is a rendering of how my Brooklyn neighborhood may be changing in the next year or two.

Several years ago our run-down East River waterfront was top become a public park but instead 20, 30 story buildings will rise up.

I like this rendering as it shows how small a noon day shadow these buildings will cast, neglecting to depict what the other half of the day will look like."

April 14, 2006

Williamsburg Waterfront News: TransGas Stymied

If you're not a fan of having a power plant on the Williamsburg waterfront this should be some good news:

TransGas Stymied in Effort To Build Power Plant

The proposal to build an underground steam and electrical power plant on the Brooklyn waterfront suffered a major setback Wednesday in an Albany ruling that is raising questions among industry experts about whether it is even possible to build a new independent power plant in New York City. Two state judges ruled that TransGas Energy's most recent application should be dismissed, and reaffirmed an earlier recommendation that the state sitting board deny its earlier application to build a large, 1,100-megawatt facility on the Bayside Fuel Oil Depot site in Greenpoint. The state sitting board, made up of panelists of several state agencies, must now decide on the application.

The Bloomberg administration has aggressively opposed the power plant, saying it conflicts with the city's plans for a revitalized Brooklyn waterfront that would complement a recently rezoned swath of Greenpoint/Williamsburg, where the city envisions denser commercial and residential development. Mr. Bloomberg has dedicated funds and begun the land acquisition process to transform the heavily contaminated East River site into a 28-acre park.

However just because you don't have a power plant that still doesn't mean that we won't see forty story buildings rise up on the waterfront. But perhaps this does show that a community can have a say in what's going on. In any case I have to question the wisdom of TransGas in picking the location, when it comes to New York City even an energy company doesn't stand a chance against real estate interests.

Here is a summary of the TransGas plan for reference:

Project Summary

April 17, 2006

How Big Is Too Big?

The New York Times has a feature story on Williamsburg on the front page of the Real Estate section:

How Big Is Too Big?

It is not hard to spot the buildings that Robert M. Scarano Jr., an architect, has designed in New York City: they tend to be a lot bigger than the other buildings around them. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mr. Scarano's building at 78 Ten Eyck Street is about twice as tall as the modest three-story houses on either side of it.

But the sheer bulk of many of Mr. Scarano's projects has prompted some residents to complain that he ignores the zoning code and puts up buildings that are simply too big, blocking the light and views of their neighbors. And too often, they say, the city has stood by and done nothing.

Stephanie A. Thayer lives in Williamsburg and has been active in protests over a tall building designed by Mr. Scarano that is going up at 144 North Eighth Street. She was also involved in years of community debate that led to a major rezoning in Williamsburg last year, including lower bulk and density restrictions for much of the neighborhood. this I'll add: Not only are the buildings tall, poorly put together - but they're also ugly. Not that Robert M. Scarano Jr. should be singled out for putting up ugly looking buildings to cash in on a real estate boom, but many of these buildings have that Soviet feeling to them. I don't know if it's a lack of detail or the overall boxy look, but these buildings have no character. I think what makes this stand out is that the old buildings surrounding these rush jobs have that seasoned quality and craftsmanship to them.

June 21, 2006

Brooklyn Doesn't Want Frank Gehry

This is a Slate article on downtown Brooklyn not Williamsburg, but many of the issues of supersized buildings can apply to the waterfront situation here:

"Novelist Jonathan Lethem, author of Fortress of Solitude and avid Brooklynite, has written a stirring open letter to the architect Frank Gehry over plans to create a towering "neighborhood from scratch" in the middle of the low rise, homey buildings of Brooklyn."

read more | digg story

June 23, 2006

Galapagos Woes Due to Real Estate Costs

I was just reading that the Galapagos performance space is looking for help from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs:

Brooklyn theater lobbying for new artist aid

In an effort to keep up and coming artists in New York, Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg plans to meet with the Department of Cultural Affairs tomorrow to begin lobbying for government aid for emerging artists. Executives at Galapagos, which presents 140 performances a month attracting an average of 8,000 people, say New York City is at risk of losing its status as an international cultural capital because beginning artists can't afford to live here anymore.

"There's not the inflow of young artists moving in the city like there used to be," says Robert Elmes, director of Galapagos. "The conversation at this point isn't whether or not there's opportunity in New York, but just what other city they should go to."

Mr. Elmes says his theater has already seen a significant drop in proposals from college students or recent graduates to come there and present their work. Instead, young artists are heading to places like Pittsburgh, or even oversees to Berlin, which has been aggressive about promoting itself as an affordable hub for emerging arts. The main problem in New York, Mr. Elmes says, is the cost of real estate. That has led to a slew of off-Broadway theater closings in recent months.

But here is the part that hurts for those of us who love Williamsburg:

Galapagos itself has started looking for a new space as its lease expires in two years. Mr. Elmes is worried he won't be able to find anything affordable, and that his theater too will be forced to leave the city.

It would be sad if they can't find a new space in Williamsburg. Perhaps with any luck the market will cool, but even the odds aren't good for anything near the waterfront. Yes perhaps Galapagos can go out to Bushwick and live again, but a bit of what makes Williamsburg special will be gone as of 2008.

June 29, 2006

Parts Of Brooklyn Rezoned For Residential Use

More news on the waterfront:

Parts Of Brooklyn Rezoned For Residential Use

New housing is in the works for a section of Brooklyn waterfront. The mayor says it'll give lower-income families the chance at a good home, but some say the plan doesn't go far enough.

It doesn't look like much now, but a former industrial site in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, Brooklyn, will soon be the location of mixed-income housing, now that the city's expanded rezoning program has turned it into a residential area.

Developers are building three apartment towers that will sell at current market prices. But a fourth building - Palmers Dock - will contain affordable rentals.

"A family of four with an income of no more than $56,720 a year will be able to live in Palmer's Dock and will not have to pay more than a third of their income for rent," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The mayor and other city and state leaders broke ground on the project Monday. In the first phase, almost 300 residential units will be built, and a third will be affordable.

...wouldn't it be better if the major setup a city owned company to create more afforadble housing which would generate direct income for the city instead of giving away the land?

August 25, 2006

Higher Rents on Hope

It looks like that giant warehouse on Hope Street near the BQE is going to be yet another luxury condo building. This sort of confirms my theory that Havemeyer Street will be the next Bedford, and that within a year or two the L train will need people pushers just like the subway trains in Tokyo:

Industrial Building to be Converted Into Condominiums

"In a transaction valued at $26 million, Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, a real estate firm, has arranged for the sale of a 113,000 sq.-ft. industrial building in Brooklyn to Hope Street Ventures LLC, which is planning to convert the property into residential condominiums. Neil Dolgin, president of Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates, and Howard Darsi, the company’s associate broker, represented the buyer and private seller in the transaction. The renovations are expected to begin at the end of the year and commence in spring 2007, Darsi told MHN.

The building, located at 59-65 Hope Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, will be mostly comprised of two-bedroom units, Darsi said. Many local residents have expressed interest in the property because of the industrial building’s high ceilings. The building is near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Williamsburg Bridge. The property is also easily accessible by car, subway and bus and it will be near the Metropolitan Avenue Ferry. "

November 6, 2006

Buildings Popping Up like Mushrooms

I half wonder is this great boom is about to go bust, on my walk to the L train at Lorimer (on Keap Steet) I counted about three major sites where buildings have been torn down but nothing seems to be going back up:

City Sees Growth; Residents Call It Out of Control

"The city’s goals were ambitious. Greenpoint-Williamsburg was meant to be a model of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s vision for former industrial zones, an example of empathetic urban planning. In exchange for letting developers build residential towers on the waterfront, where factories had stood for decades, the city created a plan that it said would add residential growth and preserve the character of the neighborhood inland. At the same time, the plan was to provide thousands of apartments for low- and middle-income families, acres of green space, and protection for residents and businesses being displaced by the growth.

City officials say that their plan is right on schedule, especially by the waterfront, where construction has started on projects that will produce 460 below-market apartments, plus an initial few acres of parkland. But among many residents and community leaders, there is a nagging sense that the government has not moved fast enough to keep pace with developers.

In September, the city’s Department of Buildings received 337 complaints about construction in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, more than twice the filings from the community board of another fast-growing area nearby. In the heart of the rezoned area, near McCarren Park, luxury towers climb skyward, yet only nine new apartments of low- and middle-income housing are being built, far below the city’s original estimates."

Williamsburg: Buildings Popping Up like Mushrooms

March 11, 2007

Williamsburg Moves to Bushwick


Above: This is an artist's rendering of the Williamsburg of the future. In this scenario all hipsters who are under the age of thirty are banished (sort of the opposite of Logan's Run). Children run and play, and ask questions like "Daddy, what was a bodega?"

The great Williamsburg real estate boom is being reported on as far away as the wilds of Austin, Texas. This story (which was first reported in the Washington Post) features a hipster who flees to Boston. From my own experience folks just seem to move furher out on the L and J lines:

Williamsburg goes from hip to super-expensive
Former neighborhood of working class and artists changes dramatically.

"So this is truth: About eight nanoseconds ago Williamsburg was the national-magazine-certified coolest hood in America, with more vaguely employed white hipsters per square inch than anywhere on the continent. There are 22 clubs and 61 art galleries and enough pubs pouring fine Belgian beers to pitch any 22-year-old into a state of bleary-eyed ecstasy. Makis Antzoulatos was fine with all that.

But something nagged. As the neighborhood went hyper-hip and rents spiked, where would all the Puerto Ricans go? Or the old Poles who run the delis, and the Italians in East Williamsburg, where you can wander into a pasta joint at 11 p.m. and get scungilli and OK-but-headache-inducing Chianti?

Antzoulatos gathered pierced hipsters in his tenement living room and founded Gentrifiers Against Gentrification. They vowed to make common cause with Puerto Rican teachers and Italian bus drivers — who, not incidentally, gave Williamsburg the working-class edge that made it hip in the first place — and repulse the moneyed waves.

Whatever. Condos kept flipping. Antzoulatos dialed for a moving van. "I realized the struggle was about negotiating the terms of departure," says Antzoulatos, 28, who now lives in a working-class precinct of Boston.

Much has been written about gentrification and its discontents, but in few places has the speed and finality of that transformation been more startling than in Williamsburg, a formerly working-class Brooklyn neighborhood of 180,000 people along the East River. A wall of luxury glass towers is rising for 25 blocks along the "East River Riviera." Wander inland and check out the needle condo towers, selling three-bedroom places for $1.135 million."

March 20, 2007

The Times Discovers Trustifarians

I always wondered who was buying those penhouse apartments, but what makes this article great is now I also understand how someone can afford to work in the music business:

Buying With Help From Mom and Dad

"LIKE many parents, Madhu and Kishore Agrawal do whatever they can to help their children. For their 25-year-old daughter, Natasha, that help has ranged from sending her through Tufts University to watching her cat, the General, when she traveled to India to visit relatives late last year. Recently, they made the most financially demanding commitment so far: they are putting up most of the money to help her buy a two-bedroom penthouse apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for $900,000.

Space and privacy will be a big change for Ms. Agrawal, who now lives in a sixth-floor walk-up in Chelsea with three roommates, but it does not come without complications. Or, as some might say, strings.

In exchange for getting financial help from her parents, there are certain things she knows she cannot do: for instance, she cannot let her boyfriend move in. She accepts that. More contentious is the matter of the couches she bought from a thrift store.

Ms. Agrawal says the couches will be moving with her, because they will blend with the deep greens, yellows and oranges that she plans as the color themes for the new apartment. “I’m not ready to give in,” she said while seated in a SoHo cafe during a break from her job, working in the promotions department at an independent music label. “It’s not like me having furniture I like will depreciate the value of the house".”

April 7, 2008

The Condos are Due on Keap Street

The Condos are Due on Keap Street: This is the now empty lot that's behind the Kellogg's Diner on Keap Street and Metropolitan Avenue. Being located next to the second stop of the L train one can only guess that more luxury housing is on the way. Next door to this location is a building which use to house a gallery and now is also going condo too. Williamsburg Brooklyn 11211

This is the now empty lot that's behind the Kellogg's Diner on Keap Street and Metropolitan Avenue (to see the image full sized click here). Being located next to the second stop of the L train one can only guess that more luxury housing is on the way. Next door to this location is a building which use to house a gallery and now is also going condo too.

Photographed March 15th, 2008.

April 28, 2008

Hope and Keap

Hope and Keap

Yet more new buildings going up...

Collage from iPhone photos taken on April, 2008.

About Real Estate

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The Williamsburg Nerd in the Real Estate category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

NYC Photos is the previous category.

The Arts is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33