Brooklyn's Crown Heights Rediscovered
Joseph De Avila
November 12, 2011
The past decade has brought lots of change to Crown Heights. Crime has fallen, the demographics have begun shifting and patches of new development have started to emerge in this pocket of Brooklyn lined with limestone and brownstone buildings. Changes are most apparent along Franklin Avenue where several new restaurants, coffee shops and bars have opened up.
Bergen Street and New York Avenue Krisanne Johnson for The Wall Street Journal
But what continues to attract many home buyers to Crown Heights is the large stock of historic homes that were built around the turn of the century. The neighborhood's large historic district boasts rows of Colonial, Romanesque and Medieval Revival homes.
"Some of the best architects left their marks on Crown Heights," said Barbara Brown-Allen, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman who has lived in the area for 10 years. "That was my draw to the neighborhood."
Crown Heights has emerged as a popular option for home shoppers looking for townhouses but who have also been priced out of areas of Brooklyn such as Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights. In Crown Heights, historic townhomes can be bought for a fraction of the price in other parts of the borough.
There is currently a one-family brownstone on the market at 1492 President St. The 3,500-square-foot home has four bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, original moldings, four fireplaces and three skylights. It is listed for $999,999.
The median asking price for homes currently listed in Crown Heights is $440,000, or $290 a square foot, according to real-estate site StreetEasy. In Bedford-Stuyvesant to the north, it is $333 a square foot, and in Prospect Heights to the west, it is $615, according to StreetEasy.
Crown Heights continues to be home to a large Caribbean population that first settled in the neighborhood following World War II. Eastern Parkway, which divides the northern portion of the neighborhood from the south, is the site of the annual West Indian Day parade.
The demographics in the neighborhood, however, have begun to shift. The white population has increased by at least 20% in the neighborhood since 2000 and the black population has fallen by at least 10%, according to U.S. Census data.
Still, the neighborhood remains diverse, and that diversity is still a big reason why many families opt to buy in Crown Heights, Ms. Brown-Allen said. Many of the newcomers are artists moving from Williamsburg, she said.
Shops line Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. Krisanne Johnson for The Wall Street Journal
New construction has also begun to alter the neighborhood but not to the extent seen in other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The inventory of condos remains relatively low with only about 50 units currently on the market, according to StreetEasy. In Bedford-Stuyvesant there are about 150 condo units currently for sale.
Even with low condo inventory, developers are still willing to offer concessions for many buyers, said Steven Laurelli of aptsandlofts.com. At the Collection, a new development on Pacific Street, the sponsor is covering city and state transfer taxes. The project relaunched during the summer, and asking prices there range between $399,000 and $899,000.
"It's not 2005 anymore," Mr. Laurelli said. "That's why they are helping with closings costs."
The Modern Post on Washington Avenue is another new development in the area. The units have floor-to-ceiling windows and a common rooftop. A one-bedroom duplex is on the market there for $700,000 and a studio is listed for $450,000.
At 475 Sterling Place near the border of Prospect Heights, there is a new 45-unit condo building that has a shared garden, a gym and roof deck. The building is nearly sold out, but