If Park Slope makes you think of brown-rice living, tree-lined blocks by the park, and Victorian brownstones bought at half the price of most Manhattan apartments, you havent been out there lately. While $900,000 would have guaranteed a townhouse just off Prospect Park five years ago, todays buyers are paying upwards of $1 million for houses closer to the Gowanus Canal. "The outermost border of desirable Park Slope used to be Seventh Avenue," says Corcorans Melinda Magnett. "Then it was Sixth Avenue. Now its Fifth. And Fifth used to be no-mans-land." And the outer-borough discount is long gone. "I used to show apartments on the Upper East Side," says William B. Mays Mark Pipes. "And frankly, if youre looking for a studio, I dont see the benefit of getting one out here instead of up there." He pauses: "Except that this neighborhoods nicer."
WHAT'S NEW: "Just about every space that can be developed has been developed," says Corcorans Billy Stephen. Developers are now turning to the few available commercial buildings for conversion. The Union Temple near Grand Army Plaza has put its parking lot on the block. On 12th Street, two former Ansonia Clock Factory buildings have been renovated as condos: The second will be completed this summer, but dont expect to find an apartment thereall but two have been sold (prices started at $530,000).
STREET LIFE: Once the stronghold of moms in Reeboks and Channel Thirteen tote bags, Park Slope now houses its share of Wall Street families. The Slopes newer frontiers, beyond Fifth Avenue and across Flatbush to Prospect Heights, belong to a younger generation. "Seventh Avenue is Park Slopes West Village," says Pipes. "And Fifth Avenue is its East Village."
MIGRATIONS: "Its ironic," muses William B. Mays Anna Hamlin. "The people who always made Park Slope such a nice place to livethe teachers and suchnow people like them cant afford to live here anymore." The Fifth Avenue Committee, a community housing-advocacy group, is fighting for a "no-displacement zone" in the area, in an attempt to stop the evictions of longtime low-income tenants, many of them minorities.
TIPPING POINT: "In 1995, you saw lots of brownstones on the park sold for $995,000no one was willing to pay the mansion tax, which starts at $1 million," says Anna Hamlin. "Then, in early 1996, we broke the $1 million barrier." In 2000, the $2 million mark was breached. "Now Im seeing all sorts of places listed at $2 million or more," says Hamlin. "And its like, excuse me?"
PROGNOSIS: Brokers laugh at the idea of a Seventh Avenue slowdown ("Its more expensive than Montague Street!" exclaims Magnett) and predict that Fifth Avenue prices will at least stay where they are. The newly colonized side streets west of Fifth Avenue are another story, however. "The blocks between Fifth and Fourth . . . I dont know," says Magnett. "Im not convinced theyll hold."
3 BR1996, $2,000-$2,400