Real Estate 2001: Neighborhood Profiles

What’s next after you can’t afford Park Slope? Follow the F train south, around Prospect Park and on toward Coney Island. Even as they become reservoirs for gentrification overflow, these traditionally working-class neighborhoods remain a good deal. “I rented a three-story limestone house to six college graduates in Kensington last year for $3,600,” says William B. May’s Mark Pipes. “You put that same building in Park Slope and you’re talking about a $6,000 setup, easy.” These areas may lack bistros, and nightlife that’s not an Irish bar full of firemen, but you don’t have to travel all the way to Manhattan to find them—Park Slope’s just a stop or two away.

WHAT’S NEW: Several condo apartments at 143 McDonald Avenue that sold at $275 a square foot last summer when they were new have since resold at $345 a square foot. But residents are protective of Windsor Terrace’s small-town feel: When the Park Edge Condominiums on Prospect Park Southwest broke ground last year, construction was temporarily halted after neighbors protested.

STREET LIFE: “I love it here!” gushes Cristina Merlo, an AOL executive who purchased a three-story, four-bedroom Victorian house in Kensington last year with her husband after renting in Park Slope for seven years. “I actually feel safer than I did in Park Slope,” she says. “There’s a real sense of neighborhood that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the city.” The good news is you can have a car out here. The bad news is that you need one.

MIGRATIONS: Windsor Terrace has long been Irish and Italian; Kensington is more mixed, with Pakistanis, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Russians, Asians, and Eastern Europeans. These groups are now sharing sidewalks with priced-out Slopers. “Kensington and Windsor Terrace have been very receptive to the new people moving in,” insists Huebener. This may be because the influx has been gradual: Many are scared off by the commute and the low-rise residential landscape, which either reminds you of North London or leaves you humming the All in the Family theme song.

TIPPING POINT: When potential buyers started peering at the window advertisements of Park Slope’s real-estate offices, vainly searching for brownstones for less than $1 million. “I looked in Park Slope for a while, and then I suddenly realized, ‘I can buy a very expensive box, or I can buy a house,’ ” says Merlo.

PROGNOSIS: What happens if there’s a recession when you’re in a spillover zone? Brokers still remember a Windsor Terrace luxury-condominium project built to some fanfare in the late eighties, which developers were forced to rent out when they couldn’t find buyers. But many remain optimistic. “As long as Park Slope prices rise, or even hold steady, more people are going to be coming out here,” says Pipes. “Sure, Park Slope’s nicer, but it’s definitely not $500-a-month nicer.”

Real Estate 2001: Neighborhood Profiles