Your best bet for classic brownstone living might be in Crown Heights or Hamilton Heights. But act fast — the areas are seeing a rise in residential interest.
One college campus is enough to keep real estate values up in a neighborhood. But when an Ivy League school expands its campus north toward the border of one of New York’s classic brownstone communities, how long are residents safe from being priced out?
This is the predicament Hamilton Heights finds itself in, as Columbia University’s northern expansion toward 135th Street could increase property values in an area that has been getting more and more attention from those looking for an affordable place to live in Manhattan along with outdoor space such as the Riverbank State Park.
Sandy Edry, a senior vice president at Keller Williams NYC, has been handling condo conversions on Riverside Drive over the past five years and has watched changes in the neighborhood that houses the City College of New York, and is known for being the former country home of founding father Alexander Hamilton.
“The biggest change is the ongoing influx of what I call ‘downtown refugees’ — folks who are being priced out of areas below 96th Street or who want more space and bang for their buck,” Edry says. He also sites that adding to the allure is “the feeling of community.” “It’s something that was lost on the Upper West Side over the last couple of decades,” he says.
You can call it a comeback or you can just say, “What took so long?” Either way, Crown Heights’ return to its original glory is well underway as New Yorkers are seeing past the race relations between the Caribbean and Hasidic Jewish communities that tore apart the neighborhood in the early 90s. They’re now focusing on its historic brownstone roots.
Unlike some up-and-coming Brooklyn areas, which take advantage of affordable space to build up new condos, Crown Heights has been able to offer residents a combination of new buildings along with their existing selection of townhouses to spark growth. The proximity to a variety of subway lines (you can get into the area from the 2,3,4,5,6,A,C — you name it) makes Manhattan access a breeze, and neighboring Prospect Park ties the area to the family lifestyle that brings people to the rest of South Brooklyn.
Those who want to move into the area are facing stiff competition. According to StreetEasy, first-quarter data shows 39 percent less sales inventory than the same period two years ago.
“We are selling houses for $1.5 million that would have been under $1 million two years ago,” explains Alexander Maroni, a vice president at Douglas Elliman. “But there’s a real sense that the prices can go higher — and they should.”