Brooklyn’s Gowanus to become one of New York’s hottest neighborhoods

Gowanus rose in value by 68 percent in one year and property owners made half a million dollars in equity without lifting a finger in 2016.

By Jeff Vasishta December 28, 2016
Credit: Madhu Nair

These days the term “Superfund” does just refer to the Gowanus canal’s ongoing toxic clean-up but also the kind of cash you’ll need to live there. According Property Shark the neighborhood’s median home sale price shot up by a meteoric 68 percent in 2016 to an eye watering $1,213,000.

To put it in perspective, this time last year the median sales price in Gowanus was $720,000. That means buyers made close to half a million dollars before they’d had a chance to choose what colors they’d wanted to paint their apartments.

Related: Gowanus Gentrified: Developer To Turn Old Brooklyn Warehouses Into 200,000 -Sq.Ft. Office Space

Why all the heat in Gowanus — and we don’t mean the rash you’ll be like to get after sticking your hand in the notoriously contaminated canal?  Part of the reason is due the fact that there’s simply not that much available housing in the mainly industrial zoned neighborhood. Only 52 apartments trading hands, compared to 66 in Carroll Gardens and 416 in Park Slope in 2016, according to Property Shark.

Also, the neighborhood is brimming with a hip appeal — a hive of  young, budding creative type businesses and startups at nearby Industry City, We Work and rival Cowork/RS which opened last year on 68 3rd St. Recently came the news that , Industrie Capital Partners LLC are revamping a building in Gowanus into a 200,000 square-foot multiple-use project. The buildings that were previously owned by the Roulston grocery chain and used as warehouses will now be turned into communal office spaces, retail and restaurants. This has pushed up sale prices for development sites. Alloy Development bought the land for its new offices at 431 Carroll St. for $338 per buildable square foot, “a rare number for land in a manufacturing zone,” noted a November report by GFI Realty Services.

With a median rental price of $3000/month, according to real estate firm StreetEasy which predicts price growth in Gowanus in 2017, and ranked it No. 7 on its list of the city’s top 10 “hottest” neighborhoods, it’s inevitable that more industrial zoned land will be made available for residential use. It would follow the precedent set by 365 Bond St, the first residential development which opened this year. The 430-unit building has 86 affordable units set aside for low- and moderate-income renters. More than 56,000 people applied for the lottery for the below-market-rate units.

Related: Gowanus Trades Artists For Breezy Workspaces

Despite all the development activity in the area, the Department of City Planning’s Brooklyn office director said, “There will not be a rezoning until there is a neighborhood plan,” at a Gowanus community board meeting in October. “We are committed to this process of community engagement and of planning together.” The city earlier announced that Gowanus is on the list of neighborhoods targeted for rezoning under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing initiative.

Reeling from the displacement of the Latin community on 4th Avenue, which has undergone massive residential development in the last decade, community activists appear to be waging a losing battle in Gowanus. The Latino population has dropped dramatically and hundreds of artists have been pushed out to make way for warehouse conversions.

As a response, the greater residential focus in Gowanus, the city began greening the streets, literally, laying down emerald toned bike lanes on an eight-block stretch of Bond Street five hundred who wheelers passed Bond and Union on weekdays in April 2016, up from 418 in April 2015 and 395 in April 2014, according to the DOT.

Green, it turns out, is an apt color for Gowanus.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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