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Why people pay millions to live in DUMBO

Young professionals and families — who can afford it— flock to the Brooklyn neighborhood for its small town feel, epic waterfront views and proximity to Manhattan.

The waterfront community of DUMBO might have the best views in all of Brooklyn. The acronym-named neighborhood, which stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” is bordered by Brooklyn Bridge Park to the North, providing panoramic sights of the East River, the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. Jane's Carousel, the 1920s antique and Brooklyn icon, revolves year-round at the water's edge. 

It’s an easy commute to Manhattan (ten minutes via the F, A and C lines). And while home to several high-profile startups, including ecommerce site Etsy and home retailer West Elm — which recently expanded into a 10,000 square foot space on the ground floor of the Empire Stores warehouses — the old port village maintains an old timey Brooklyn feel in its architecture and proximity to historic Brooklyn Heights, its neighbor to the south.

Deborah Rieders, a licensed associate real estate broker at Corcoran, who has worked in the area for 16 years, says that’s a draw for her clients moving from Manhattan neighborhoods like Tribeca and SoHo. “They really appreciate that architecture of the old lofts and the cobblestone streets, versus, say, a brand new construction high-rise you might get in Williamsburg,” she explains.  

You pay for what is now "the premiere neighborhood in Brooklyn," as Rieders calls it. According to the MNS Brooklyn Rental Market report for March, DUMBO had the highest average rents of the borough, at $3,488 for a studio, at $4,373 for a one bedroom, and $5,900 for a two bedroom. And they’re climbing: the report also noted DUMBO has Brooklyn’s biggest rent increase in two bedroom apartments, up 5.7 percent.

It’s pricey to buy, as well. Just this month, the neighborhood saw the most expensive condo sale in the borough’s history, a penthouse that went for $15 million in the Dumbo Clock Tower building at 1 Main St. According to Zillow, home values in the neighborhood have gone up 9.7 percent in the past year, with the median price currently listed at $2,275,000, compared to a borough-wide median of $788,329. 

Elvin Roytman, a licensed real estate salesperson at Douglas Elliman, who handles rentals and sales in DUMBO and surrounding neighborhoods, attributes the high price point to the fact that “land is at a premium here. Since you’re surrounded by the Navy Yard and the water, it’s harder to expand and build than it is in other areas, and it costs more to develop,” he explains.  

It’s a great place to raise a family — if you can afford it. Mallory Kasdan, a 44-year-old children’s book author, voice actor and podcaster (MILK, aka, Moms I’d like to Know) who owns a three-bedroom with her husband and two kids on Water St., says the neighborhood has a “small town feel.” While she wouldn’t disclose how much she paid, she did say matter-of-factly that “there are no deals.” 

“All of our kids have grown up together,” says Kasdan. “It’s a really interesting place to live. There’s always something weird going on. Whenever [our kids] tell us, ‘Mom, dad, why don’t we have a backyard?’ We always tell them, ‘The park! The movie set! The flea market!’” 

Armand P., a 28-year-old who owns his own software company, cites the neighborhood’s relative quiet as a draw. “You don’t get a lot of pass through traffic. People either come here because they’re a tourist or they live and work here,” he says. In July, he and girlfriend moved into a one-bedroom, paying just under $3000 a month. 

While he loves living by so many parks, he says the neighborhood could use a few more restaurants. Of the current offerings, he names Vinegar Hill House, just a few blocks west, as a favorite. 

Local hangs 

IMAXShift

This spinning studio sets its workouts to big screen entertainment. Cyclers pedal away in the dark theater to themed rides like a “Drake vs. the Weeknd” music video mashup, or an “Adventure” ride of aerial flyovers through nature, helping take their mind off the burn. ImaxShift, 127 Plymouth St., Imaxshift.com 

Usagi New York

The cafe/art gallery/bookstore designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto showcases work from emerging and established artists. Wander around the 2,800 square foot space with wall-to-ceiling windows, while enjoying Ippudo tea or coffee from 95 RPM coffee roasters and checking out the latest exhibition on view. Usagi NY, 163 Plymouth St., usaginy.com/ 

On the market

For Rent: 

Apt. 602a, 60 Water St., $3, 273 

This one-bedroom, one bath on the sixth floor overlooks the Brooklyn waterfront via floor-to-ceiling windows. Amenities include a 24-hour concierge, luxury rooftop, fitness center, and in-unit washer dryer. corcoran.com/nyc/listings/display/3892248, Licensed Real Estate person Marcus Schott, (718) 765-3776  

For Sale: 

The Sweeney Building, 30 Main St., 9G, $3,700,000

2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1 half bath corner loft includes a library with custom mahogany fixtures, kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a living room with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the waterfront. 24 hour doorman, health club, and roof deck. elliman.com/new-york-city/the-sweeney-building-30-main-street-9g-brooklyn-pzshydy, Listing agent Elizabeth (Liza) Passade, 646-561-2365

What it costs: 

Median sales price: $2,275,000 Median price per square foot: $1,476  Average rent two bedroom: $5,900 Average rent one bedroom: $4,373 

New in the neighborhood: 

DUMBO House 

Construction is nearing completion on the first Brooklyn outpost of members-only club SoHo House. It’ll be called DUMBO House, and it’s set to open this fall in the top two floors of DUMBO’s Empire Stores, joining tenants West Elm and Shinola. While the plans don’t include a pool, unlike the Manhattan location, there will be a bar and an outdoor terrace overlooking the East River. 

 
 
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