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Sunset Park: A Radical Revamp Beckons—Big Businesses, New Housing In The Works

Once a secret getaway on the river, developers got wise and locals get worried.

By Jeff Vasishta October 19, 2016
Photo courtesy of The Propcy Blog

Let’s face it, trying to find a non-gentrifying neighborhood in New York and its boroughs is like trying to scan through a Trump speech to find an excerpt suitable for fourth graders. An easier proposition would be to find one that is gentrifying slower than the rest. Enter Sunset Park.

The heavily Latin and Chinese neighborhood of Brooklyn has many of the trappings that would appeal to hipsters and millennials— a waterfront, townhouses and a 20-30-minute commute into the city—and it’s cheaper than its neighbors like Park Slope and Gowanus. With a spacious park, authentic ethnic foods and towering, overpriced glassy condos, locals are hoping that one of Brooklyn’s most understated neighborhoods remains off the radar. Alas, their hopes may soon be dashed.

Related: Team Agorafy Picks The Top Five Affordable Rentals For College Grads: Cause That Rent’s Not Gonna Pay Itself

Sunset Park’s waterfront is attracting developers like WikiLeaks attracts headlines, with plans announced for a tech and design hub. Industry City, which occupies 16 hulking buildings is already in the area. The inevitable box stores chain restaurants and residential developers are set to follow. The developers are touting their plans to revitalize the waterfront, turning it from grey to “haay!” while bringing jobs. The city has said a proposed street car will connect parts of the area not serviced by a local subway.

Photo courtesy of NY Travel Guide
Photo courtesy of NY Travel Guide

As with any neighborhood in the flux of dramatic change, displacement of long-term, lower income residents is a concern along with environmental damage. The local environmental justice group, Uprose, is trying to keep things in the check amid the stampede for big dollars. That said, planning permits for new constructions are flapping around like seagulls in a storm.

Amongst the most notable, according to yimby.com, are those filed last April by the developers of Industry City for a seven-story, 500,000 square-foot office conversion at 168 39th St. The office space will be located across the first seven floors of the building. The conversion will feature a new lobby, new windows and upgrades to infrastructure, like the installation of modern elevators. The Brooklyn Nets recently completed their new 70,000 square-foot training facility, called the Hospital for Special Surgery Training Center, on the eighth floor of the building.

Also according to Yimby, builders are aiming to cater to the growing number of Chinese families in eastern Sunset Park and have started looking for ways to redevelop its aging brick townhouses and squat walk-up apartment buildings. One such project is that of longtime owner William Chou who hopes to build an eight-story, mixed-use building at 816 58th Street.

Elsewhere Zhen Wei Guo has filed applications for a four-story, two-unit mixed-use building at 750 52nd Street, in Sunset Park. Ying H. Li’s Brooklyn-based City Building NY Architect is the architect of record.

Also property owner Iyad Saleh has filed applications for a three-story, two-unit mixed-use building at 4623 Fifth Avenue. There will be 2,506 square-feet of commercial retail space on the ground and cellar levels, followed by full-floor residential units on the second and third floors. The apartments are expected to average 2,506 square-feet apiece, which indicates that condominiums are likely in the works.

With a new five-story, 98,200-square-foot public school planned at 278 59th street and a public school redevelopment at 4302 Fourth Avenue, you can be sure, this is just the start of Sunset Park’s radical revamp. Stay tuned.

 

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 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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