There’s no slowing down the demand, the development, nor–most record-breaklingly–the price of Brooklyn rental apartments these days. According to the May Brooklyn rental apartment report released by MNS recently, overall rents were up, on average, a head-spinning 10% from last year… and the average cost of a Park Slope rental apartment rose an astounding 40%. Forty percent!
Brooklyn Heights, Williamsburg, and DUMBO rental apartments are also seeing record prices, and even Bed-Stuy rental apartments are getting hit by a 6.5% average increase over last month though, it should be noted, they still lease for about 45% less than neighboring Williamsburg rental apartments.
So if you want to move to Brooklyn (and, clearly, many people do), where should you start? Two big articles on Brooklyn developement and zoning recently offered portraits of two very different streets, one in Park Slope, the other in Carroll Gardens.
First, the bad news. The Wall Street Journal served up a scathing report on how short-sighted decision-making by the City Planning Department and bad architecture by individual developers have failed the residents of Park Slope’s rental apartments along Fourth Avenue.
Fourth Avenue, explains the Journal, is a broad thoroughfare that serves as the border between the neighborhoods of Park Slope and Gowanus, anchored to the north by the magnificent Williamsburg Bank building. Demand for Park Slope rental apartments being what it is–that is, extremely high–the Planning Department encouraged hasty residential development along Fourth Avenue by not requiring new buildings to house retail establishments in their ground floors, a lack of street-level activity that has translated into a general wasteland feel to many blocks along the strip.
Plus, developers didn’t help the overall aesthetic by throwing up generic, “cheap-looking” residences, often cutting the sidewalk with driveways in parking garages, further discouraging residents from strolling the Avenue. As anyone who has spent two minutes in the New York City knows, the quickest way to kill a community is to keep pedestrians off the sidewalks. The city has since changed the zoning laws on Fourth Avenue, but it may too late–the poor zoning and a rush of Brooklyn development following said zoning has already done the damage.
The good news? There are literally hundreds of vibrant, pleasant, friendly streets upon which Brooklyn rental apartment residents can stroll, including, as the New York Times points out in a lengthy, loving portrait, Smith Street in Carroll Gardens.
Carroll Gardens sits between Gowanus and Red Hook, south of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Downtown Brooklyn, and as the Times says, it is “the backbone” of the community which gets it name from the unusually deep “front yards” of the neighborhood’s Italianate brownstones, landscaped and decorated to varying degrees and styles by the residents.
But if the Carroll Garden side streets are defined by their quiet prettiness, Smith Street is a lively strip of retail stores and restaurants old and new, as well as an always-bustling playground and a weekly greenmarket in season. Basically, this is a Brooklyn neighborhood done right.
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