While “cheap” is relative in a city where apartment prices are among the highest in the nation, perhaps “value” is a better word to describe the prices on the apartments in the nabes we’re about to discuss. No matter which word you prefer, it is possible to live near a great park and not pay the sky-high rents usually associated with such a prime location.
Unlike Manhattan’s Central Park, which has forever been surrounded by extremely expensive real estate, the neighborhoods around the equally-spectacular Prospect Park in Brooklyn have long been a mixture of the fancy and the less so… much to the delight of anyone who has managed to rent a cheap Brooklyn apartment a few blocks from all of that greenery.
The communities to the west, north, and south of Prospect Park are pretty much established, and it’s tough to sneak up on anything in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Windsor Terrace, respectively (though compared to anything in Manhattan, the prices in these neighborhoods are inviting indeed).
But as two articles recently reminded me, the two communities to the the east of Prospect Park remain in transition, with enough potential “cons” (mostly a hangover from the bad old days of 1970s and ’80s, though real problems remain), to give Brooklyn apartment seekers pause even in the face of some pretty awesome “pros”: convenient transportation, vibrant commercial strips, low rents, and the aforementioned amazing park.
First, the New York Times had an interesting article on Crown Heights rental apartments, and, specifically, how Franklin Avenue, the main commercial strip nearest Prospect Park, has become emblematic of the change being wrought in that previously beleaguered neighborhood. “The epicenter of a renaissance,” as the Times puts it. “The next subway stop on Brooklyn’s gentrification express.”
Franklin Avenue has traditionally been a retail and restaurant hub in Crown Heights, with lots of great bakeries and cheap eateries, the whole stretch alive with bustle, but the arrival of young professionals and creative types, as well as families priced out of the neighborhoods across the park, has changed the nature of a lot of these businesses.
As the Times discovers, to take just one example, at a new “gourmet” pizza place called Barboncino (above), Crown Heights residents wait for upwards of an hour for a table during prime meal times. And as fancy pizza moves in, Crown Heights rental apartments prices rise, though a two-bedroom with “luxury touches” will still only set you back about $1,800 a month. That qualifies as a cheap Brooklyn apartment when look at what you would pay in nabes on the other side of the park.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal sketches a quick portrait of the neighborhood just to the south of Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Garden, which “offers some of the city’s best examples of turn-of-the-century architecture at a fraction of the price”.
And though most of the housing stock here are these beautiful single-family homes, which according to covenants on their deeds cannot legally be broken into smaller apartments, there are some Prospect Lefferts Gardens rentals to be found, though they don’t stay on the market long.
Prices for Prospect Lefferts Garden rental apartments are usually a bit higher than their Crown Heights neighbors, but they’re still a lot cheaper than, say, anything you might find in Park Slope on the other side of Prospect Park. And in addition to the handsome homes and easy access to the park, Prospect Lefferts Gardens also offers rental residents access to expres rides into Manhattan via the 2, 5, B, and Q trains.
Considering their proximity to one of the city’s greatest parks, perhaps cheap isn’t such a bad description after all. So if you’re looking for a cheap Brooklyn apartment near a great park, Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens are the places to go.
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