Downtown Brooklyn takes a stand

There’s finally an increase in residential activity in Downtown Brooklyn.

For years, Downtown Brooklyn just couldn’t catch a break. Neighboring DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights saw an influx of restaurants, new residents and skyrocketing real estate values, while zoning restrictions kept New York City’s third-largest business district from gaining any residential momentum. In 2004, a rezoning plan by the City Planning Commission started the way for change; now, eight years later, it’s  finally  DoBro’s turn.

As a longstanding hub of commercial activity, the area essentially ran on office hours, seemingly deserted after 6 p.m. — despite easy access to public transportation that could bring in visitors from other areas. Now, according to Aptsandlofts.com’s President David Maundrell, “It’s starting to come into its own as a well-rounded neighborhood with a steady increase in residential activity. … People are really excited about it.”

The residential invasion into the neighborhood has been diverse in coming from both the rental and sales fronts. Led by mega-condos such as 38-story Toren at 150 Myrtle Ave. and nearby 40-story Oro at 306 Gold St., buyers looking for the next hot neighborhood to invest in are seeing prices nearly $200 per square-foot less than neighboring DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights.

The new downtown

The attack on the highest elevations of the Brooklyn skyline has been led in full force by a flood of rental towers, including 369-unit 80 DeKalb and 631-unit Avalon Fort Greene, where renters look to enjoy luxury amenities without Manhattan prices. The most notable project to rise up has been the Brooklyner, a 515-foot rental building which took over as Brooklyn’s tallest building upon completion just two years ago. That record stands to be broken, though, with two new projects breaking ground in 2012 that are both designed to be nearly 100 feet taller.

For those with doubts that a neighborhood comprising skyscrapers can create an attractive community feeling, the new retail/restaurant scene that is slowly emerging inspires hope that later hours and potential for nightlife could reach the area soon. The opening of Shake Shack and The American Beer Co. on Adams Street, along with the recent announcement of NYU’s Polytechnic Institute coming to the Metrotech Center, should be just the start of what could become a scene for restaurateurs and retailers to find their next jackpot.

Worried that yet another Brooklyn neighborhood is being overdeveloped? Hopefully the increase in inventory will keep prices affordable for consumers and boost the local economy. And if you’ve been around for a while, you know you still have Junior’s, which has been serving Fulton Street since 1950. Having that on top of better quality apartments and job opportunities? That’s the icing on the (world-famous) cheesecake.

New buildings

Two new buildings will be breaking ground in 2012, both designed by SLCE Architects, with plans
to stand above the rest of the already gargantuan buildings of DoBro. Here’s a quick look
at them:

388 Bridge St.:
590 feet, comprising 234 rentals on lower floors and 144 condos on upper floors
Developer: Stahl Real Estate

Avalon Willoughby West:
596 feet, 861 rental units,
rising 57 stories
Developer: Avalon Bay


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