Real Estate 2001: Neighborhood Profiles

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 haven’t been out there lately. While $900,000 would have guaranteed a townhouse just off Prospect Park five years ago, today’s 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 Corcoran’s Melinda Magnett. “Then it was Sixth Avenue. Now it’s Fifth. And Fifth used to be no-man’s-land.” And the outer-borough discount is long gone. “I used to show apartments on the Upper East Side,” says William B. May’s Mark Pipes. “And frankly, if you’re looking for a studio, I don’t see the benefit of getting one out here instead of up there.” He pauses: “Except that this neighborhood’s nicer.”

WHAT’S NEW: “Just about every space that can be developed has been developed,” says Corcoran’s 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 don’t expect to find an apartment there—all 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 Slope’s newer frontiers, beyond Fifth Avenue and across Flatbush to Prospect Heights, belong to a younger generation. “Seventh Avenue is Park Slope’s West Village,” says Pipes. “And Fifth Avenue is its East Village.”

MIGRATIONS: “It’s ironic,” muses William B. May’s Anna Hamlin. “The people who always made Park Slope such a nice place to live—the teachers and such—now people like them can’t 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 $995,000—no 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 I’m seeing all sorts of places listed at $2 million or more,” says Hamlin. “And it’s like, excuse me?”

PROGNOSIS: Brokers laugh at the idea of a Seventh Avenue slowdown (“It’s 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 don’t know,” says Magnett. “I’m not convinced they’ll hold.”

Purchase, 1BR
1996, $145K-$162K
2001, $175K-$276K2 BR
1996, $180K-$200K
2001, $300K-$400KBrownstone1996, $400K-$500K
2001, $671K-$1.6M

Rentals, Studio/1BR
1996, $900-$1,200
2001, $1,300-$1,8002 BR
1996, $1,200-$1,300
2001, $2,000-$2,4003 BR1996, $2,000-$2,400
2001, $3,000-$3,500

Real Estate 2001: Neighborhood Profiles