Since June 2008, NYC residents have rented cars, taken ferries or rode buses to Ikea in Red Hook — venturing to one of New York’s classic neighborhoods purely as means to an end. Over the last few years the list of neighborhood attractions such as Red Hook Flicks and restaurants like the Red Hook Lobster Pound have made the area even more of a destination. But before you start researching apartment listings, Red Hook’s limited transportation options keeps it from seeing the transient foot traffic of its neighbors in south Brooklyn — where real estate values are climbing. So while Red Hook may have the all the hype of “the next hot area,” zoning laws and its lack of transportation keeps this area mainly as a place to visit.
Like many other waterfront neighborhoods along the coast of Brooklyn and Queens, Red Hook has historically been zoned for commercial use. A majority of the real estate stock is taken by warehouses and loft spaces, which are in turn used by artists seeking affordable places to call home. While this does not seem like a far cry from the Williamsburg model for growth, the lack of zoning change has kept an influx of residential housing stock away. Instead of condo towers, classic two family row homes have marked the streets for decades.
It isn’t surprising, then, to hear that a lack of new housing is increasing the demand for what’s already there. According to StreetEasy.com, the median price per square foot for a home in Red Hook in September 2012 was $609, which is 29 percent higher than the $472 median in the same month of 2011 and a 44 percent increase from the price of $422 in 2010. Brokers from all over NYC are taking note of this demand, but locals don’t want this to change the flavor of this historic area.
“An eclectic group of people live there and still have families that have been there a long time,” explains Victoria Hagman, a resident of the area and the founder/president of Realty Collective, the only brokerage office to maintain a storefront in Red Hook. “As a resident, I don’t want development to change the character of the neighborhood.”
If you’re thinking of Red Hook, get ready to:
Drive: With few subway lines, and constant complaints about bus service, having a car may be the best way for you to get around. “Everyone is upset about the B61 bus; it hasn’t improved and it’s unreliable,” explains Hagman. “Having a car improves your quality of life.”
Eat: The Red Hook restaurant scene has been booming over the past few years. The upcoming Taste of Red Hook food festival on Oct. 23 will highlight local favorites such as Baked, The Good Fork and Defontes Sandwich shop. Proceeds benefit the Red Hook Initiative, and tickets can be purchased through www.rhicenter.org.