Excellent Prospects

Photo: Joshua Lutz/Redux for New York Magazine

Jason Oliver Nixon, editor-in-chief of Gotham and Hamptons magazines, longed to live in a house with a yard, so like many others on the Upper West Side looking to stretch their dollars, he headed for Harlem. All he found, however, were gutted shells for $1 million; no surprise, considering that one prime uptown house just reached $2.6 million. Then he looked to Brooklyn—but opted for an unusual choice. “I could’ve done Park Slope or Brooklyn Heights,” he concedes, but he wanted something “more surprising.” Instead, he and his partner, interior designer John Loecke, bought a four-story, $675,000 Tudor in Prospect–Lefferts Gardens.

For years, Manhattan expats have been creeping around the edges of Prospect Park, from the Slope into Kensington and Prospect Heights. Now the eastern edge of the park—Prospect–Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood few of them had probably heard of till recently—is fair game. “It’s become a destination for Manhattanites,” agrees Aguayo & Huebener associate broker and local resident Mark Dicus. Corcoran’s Joy Weiner, Nixon’s longtime agent, says she has sold six properties there in the past few years, all to former Manhattanites.

The housing stock is more diverse than in brownstone-heavy Park Slope, running the gamut from shingled Victorians to handsome limestones fronted by gas lamps, says Corcoran’s Keith Mack, a longtime Lefferts Gardens champion. The houses tend to be smaller than in the Slope, and they line streets with small-town names like Maple and Midwood; some have porches and garages, and many are priced well below $1 million. The community’s so chummy, some residents are actually tearing down fences between their backyards so they can share larger gardens. “We feel close enough to each other that we could do that,” explains attorney Tom Southwick, who moved there in 1999.

Brokers say the friendly vibe and handsome houses make up for some of Prospect–Lefferts Gardens’ shortcomings: Graffiti mars storefronts on the bodega-heavy thoroughfares of Flatbush and Rogers Avenues, and the schools aren’t the best. Still, says Weiner, “sophisticated buyers are willing to go to undeveloped neighborhoods for the architecture.” Besides, with developers circling abandoned warehouses on Empire Boulevard and constructing residential buildings such as the one slated for Hawthorne Street, yet another Brooklyn-neighborhood makeover can’t be too far off. “I’ll be bringing lots of my tastemaking friends to Lefferts Gardens,” says Nixon. “It’ll be the next best thing.”

A Screaming Deal
Voice-over work must be very lucrative for Gilbert Gottfried. The squinty-eyed Brooklyn-born comedian—who’ll be appearing in the filthy-joke-fest The Aristocrats (opening next week), and can be heard squawking as Iago the parrot in Disney’s Aladdin, in TV commercials as the AFLAC duck, and as yet another waterfowl in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events—is said to have paid just under $3 million for the new apartment he recently purchased with his longtime girlfriend. A swank 2,435-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath loft in the West Twenties, the full-floor apartment has views of the Empire State Building, a super-sleek kitchen, and oversize rooms (the living room alone is larger than many typical Manhattan studios, occupying more than 700 square feet). Both Toni Haber of Prudential Douglas Elliman, who represented the seller, and Gottfried’s broker, Stribling’s Bill Roche, declined to comment on the sale.

Same Space, Different Place
Paying for a Mud Room When There’s No Mud
Would you pay twenty grand fora place to hang your vacation photos? Though these adjacent apartments at the Adlon, a midtown building opened in 1912, have nearly the same square footage and prewar finishes (honeycomb ceilings, inlaid oak floors, wood paneling), their asking prices are $20,000 apart. That’s because 6D has a bigger foyer than 6C, and a hallway perfect for a picture gallery (6D also gets more sunlight). “Other than that, it’s the same apartment,” explains listing agent Jude Dayani of Orsid Realty.

200 West 54th Street, Apartment 6C
The Facts: One-bedroom, one-bath, 750-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $560,000.
Maintenance: $784 per month.
Agent: Jude Dayani, Orsid Realty.

200 West 54th Street, Apartment 6D
The Facts: One-bedroom, one-bath, 800-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $580,000.
Maintenance: $886 per month.
Agent: Jude Dayani, Orsi Realty.

Excellent Prospects