An Uphill Slope

Photo: Frances M. Roberts

It’s been fifteen months since Cindia Clark and her husband started house-hunting in Park Slope—long enough for her to get pregnant and deliver their second child—and they’re still searching.

“I grew up in a brownstone, and I want to live in one,” declares Clark, a real-estate agent herself and the daughter of Park Slope veteran broker Peggy Aguayo. But she may have to wait a little longer.

Yes, Brooklyn Heights’ dreamy blocks continue to be a haven for townhouse types. But Park Slope is still the center of a certain kind of Brooklyn life, and last week, when the Corcoran Group released its end-of-the-year report—painting a patchy picture of a housing market that’s up, down, and sideways, all at once—one statistic leapt off the page. The average price of a townhouse in the Slope reached $3.35 million this past year, a 90 percent increase over the last quarter of 2004.

Admittedly, those numbers are not pure: Corcoran’s stats lean heavily on the company’s own deals and tend to focus on the upper part of the Brooklyn market. Moreover, $3.35 million is an average, not a median, so a few super-duper sales may be skewing the numbers upward. Corcoran’s sheer size, however, makes its numbers a useful guide, and other brokers report more or less comparable data. The full range these days, says Aguayo, goes from about $1 million for a South Slope eighteen-footer to about $7 million for one park-block stunner. In short, there’s little question that the neighborhood has reached Gold Coast status.

Why the surge, and why now? Park Slope long ago arrived for the usual reasons—great schools and services, not to mention the park itself—but its huge stock of intact brownstones is the core of its appeal. The families that a generation ago would have left for the suburbs are now brownstone buyers, and that creates extreme competition and a very small supply of listings. “We constantly have bidding wars,” says Clark, who’s been on the losing end of two recently. “You never have enough,” agrees Brown Harris Stevens’s Libby Ryan. Which leaves old-timers like Judy Janda nonplussed—but pleased. “When I got here 34 years ago,” marvels Janda, “the whole neighborhood was redlined”—meaning it was considered blighted (in part for racial reasons) and a poor mortgage risk. It also means that she paid $45,000 for her four-story house.

Maybe a Great View Will Get His OBP Up
The condominiums in the East Thirties have become a destination of sorts for well-paid, party-hearty twentysomething professionals, filled with analysts at Goldman Sachs and associates from the big law firms. So maybe it’s no surprise that one of the highest-earning 28-year-olds in New York—the Mets’ center-fielder, Carlos Beltran—was recently spotted looking at 425 Fifth Avenue, the Michael Graves–designed building at 38th Street. The 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath apartment on the 65th floor has 360-degree views of the city—all the way down to the Statue of Liberty on a clear day, say folks who’ve been up there—and the usual fancy new-condo finishes like cherrywood floors and granite countertops. The price is $6.995 million, practically small change for a player who inked a $119 million deal last year. No word on whether the slugger (or onetime slugger, to judge by his 2005 numbers) plans to sign a contract here as well.

Photo courtesy of Prudential Douglas Elliman

Triple Assessment
502 Park Avenue, Apartment 11J
672-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath condo.
Asking Price:
$1.2 million.
Charges and Taxes: $1,203 per month.
Broker: Lisa Maysonet, Prudential Douglas Elliman.

This one-bedroom in Donald Trump’s remake of the former Hotel Delmonico has been on the market for three months. Listing broker Lisa Maysonet of Prudential Douglas Elliman says the owner has received two offers near the asking price—the most recent at $1.1 million—but hasn’t accepted either of them. Should she have caved?

Dianne Van Laer, Bellmarc: “It’s view-challenged,” says Van Laer, who also bemoans the small kitchen—“a kitchenette. If I were to represent that as a kitchen to a client, I’d be in trouble.” Still, she says, “Trump builds quality spaces. But you have to pay for the brand.”
Her assessment: $1.1 million.

Judith Saunders, Halstead: “It’s in mint condition with beautiful prewar details like moldings and herringbone floors,” says Saunders. She’d more likely market it as a pied-à-terre rather than a home. “People usually want to cook and entertain, and this isn’t the apartment for that,” she says.
Her assessment: $975,000.

Lee M. Frankel, RP Miller & Associates: “This would be a perfect corporate apartment,” Frankel says. “It’s midtown, it’s quiet. It feels like a glorified hotel suite.” One odd feature: “The bathroom’s disproportionately luxurious and large.”
His assessment: $995,000.

An Uphill Slope