Brooklyn’s Great Prospect?

Photo: David Gahr

Finding an affordable apartment in Manhattan has become a blood sport. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are poised to come off rent-control rolls in the next three years, and rental buildings are going co-op all over Manhattan, heating up competition for whatever’s left. Prices are high, too: Three-bedrooms go for an unheard-of $2,000 a month along Fifth and Park. There’s even an apartment for sale for $100,000!

So what’s a penny-pinching Manhattanite to do? It’s time to consider—and don’t laugh just yet—Brooklyn. Specifically, the neighborhood known as Park Slope, the four-block-wide strip along Prospect Park that runs east-west from Flatbush Avenue to about 9th Street. Admittedly, it has none of the jolt of Manhattan living, and it’s way short on shops and places to eat. (Seventh Avenue, the area’s commercial strip, is as sleepy as any suburb after dark.) Once blue-collar and mostly Irish, the area has a mix of poorer residents now, and crime is a worry, especially below Sixth Avenue. In some pockets, vacant lots have been abandoned. Rumor has it that banks are redlining the area.

But here’s the payoff: If you do manage to get a mortgage loan, an entire brownstone full of Victorian details costs as much as a half-floor loft in the Village—about $20,000. There are enough original houses, in fact, that activists are saying Park Slope should become a landmark district like Brooklyn Heights.

No wonder professionals seeking more space for less money have descended upon the area they affectionately call “the Slope.” They’re enthusiastic enough to have just formed an association called the Park Slope Block-Betterment Committee. There are even enough believers for a cooperative nursery school to have opened at the Berkeley Institute on Lincoln Place.

Brooklyn’s Great Prospect?