EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER BONANOS
Could Bay Ridge—the time-capsule Brooklyn backdrop of Saturday Night Fever—be joining the cappuccino class? “We have a Starbucks!” chirps Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “We have the Gap. I envision people saying, Wow, the public transportation has improved so much, let’s go to Bay Ridge.”
That prospect gets a boost on February 22, when, for the first time in eighteen years, Bay Ridge gets an express train to Manhattan, on the N-R line. It’ll be a 30-minute ride to Wall Street—the real-estate Midas touch. “It’s as if their neighborhood is moving up to where Park Slope is,” Gene Russianoff, a lawyer from the Straphangers Campaign, told the Times.
Diane Henning, a Corcoran broker who works in the Slope but lives in Bay Ridge, has made several deals for former Slopesters. “So many people are being priced out of Park Slope,” she explains. Henning admits that “I’ve had people say, Three more stops—that’s too far. But when they see what they can get for the same amount, they get excited.” Adds Joe Madaio, of RE/MAX 1st Choice Realty, “When something goes on the market, it sells immediately.”
And attainably. Houses often go for under $800,000, and one-bedroom rentals are about $1,000, far below Park Slope’s average of $1,700. There’s fancy stuff, too: A four-bedroom house just went for $1.85 million, and a new condo complex on Shore Road has sold four units at over $1 million apiece. Besides, Century 21 reigns on 86th Street; restaurants like Areo rival the Slope’s best.
Is that enough? Karen Mancuso, who works for the Park Slope Food Co-op, recently visited friends in the area—a couple who fled Manhattan for the Slope, then for Bay Ridge—and did not come away enlightened. “If I want chicken Parmesan, maybe I’ll go,” she says. “But if I want to live there, I might as well go back to Jersey and live in my parents’ hometown.” — Jeff Vandam
House Music: P. Diddy sells his Park Avenue crib for $17 million.
He may have been upstaged by Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl, but Sean Combs (a.k.a. P. Diddy, a.k.a. Puff Daddy) is doing just fine in the real-estate world. Diddy just sold his twelve-story house, one of the only freestanding homes on Park Avenue, for about $17 million. That’s $5 million more than he paid in November 1998 (and more than the asking price of $16 mil). It’s a strange building that, brokers say, lingered on the market because of its odd layout of bedrooms that can be entered only through other bedrooms. (On the other hand, it has three elevators, a pool, and a spa.) Lately, Combs has been on a buying spree, snapping up pads in Tribeca, Miami, and Atlanta. Douglas Elliman broker Dolly Lenz, who sold the property, had no comment; Combs’s representatives confirmed the sale. —Deborah Schoeneman
309 East 108th Street
3-bed, 2-bath, 1,500-square-foot condo.
Charges and taxes: $639.
Time on market: One week.
Though the area is full of bodegas and mixed housing, Lawrence Comroe and Tony Oakley of Corcoran sold this renovated schoolhouse loft with perfectly preserved ironwork and sculpture for $413 per square foot, which they claim is a record for the area. “The East Side is expanding north, and this sets the next price level,” says Comroe. “When we look back three years from now, we’ll get a chuckle.”
250 Mercer Street
1-bed, 1-bath, 900-square-foot co-op.
Maintenance and taxes: $1,108.
Time on market: 15 days.
“The appraiser said, God, this must be a celebrity pad!” says Douglas Elliman broker Nikki Scheuer. No wonder: The seller, a massage therapist in his thirties, had added luxe touches like velvet walls, a mosaic bathroom floor, and columns detailed with precious metals. Both the first and second viewers offered the asking price. A third viewer bid well above asking, but the seller kept his word to the original bidder—who then backed out. Bidder No. 2 topped everyone’s offer and won the war. —Jada Yuan