LATEST NEWS

As Another Condo Rises, Crown Heights Makes Last Stand Against Gentrification

Crown Heights is starting to look very different. Gentrification changes the face of yet another neighborhood.

By Jeff Vasishta October 6, 2016
564 St. John Place. Photo courtesy of Karl&Fischer Architect

Franklin Avenue has become the Rodeo Drive of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Instead of just some surgically altered features, the whole neighborhood is getting a facelift. Chopped up multi-family brownstones are being restored to their resplendent single family glory and restaurants are covering more corners of the globe than a bring a dish to work day at the United Nations.

Related: As Crown Height Gentrifies, A Vicious Gang-War Plays Out

Crown Heights is best known for its landmarked leafy townhouses between Nostrand Avenue and the Children’s Museum on Brooklyn Ave. But in the blocks between Washington and Nostrand, multi-unit buildings are rising like a candidate’s blood pressure. The latest is an eight story, 193-unit building at 564 St. John’s Place. The project, which just secured a $163 million loan to ensure its completion, will sit on the previous site of a parking facility. The Hasidic Rabsky Group (currently transforming Bushwick), are the surgeons responsible for slicing and dicing much the old Brooklyn into something shiny and expensive. Although they are not the developers, like Don Corleone’s hand on the puppeteer’s strings, they seem to control the area and reportedly sold the controlling equity in the project to Heritage Equity Partners, now valued at $30 million.

With construction well under way and the project topped off, framing work has begun on the lower floors.  “We’re pleased to provide capital that will help one of our repeat borrowers complete this well-located, high quality residential asset,” Josh Zegen, co-founder and managing principal of Madison Realty Capital, which provided the financing, according to globest.com.

608 Franklin Avenue, rendering by ODA Architecture
608 Franklin Avenue, rendering by ODA Architecture

“Crown Heights is increasingly attractive to many new residents who are drawn to the close proximity of Prospect Park and reasonable housing prices—compared to Park Slope and Williamsburg. Construction of the building is far along, and we expect the project to be well-received when it hits the market.”

The rapid transformation of Crown Heights is a contentious issue, especially as it sweeps down to Nostrand Avenue. Some champion the change. Ramshackle boarded up houses are being sprinkled in developer’s golden pixie dust and being sold for top dollar. Previously vacant storefronts are hosting newly opened restaurants. But longtime residents who can’t keep up with the rising tide of rent increases are being pushed out and while broker’s celebrate the recent spate of near $2 million priced townhouse sales, many lament the loss of Crown Heights’ soul.

“It’s infinitely safer, but a lot of people here can’t afford gourmet delis and $20 pizzas,” Frank Esquilin, president of the Crow Hill Community Association told the Wall Street Journal.

Bailey McCaan, a writer who has lived in the neighborhood for the last decade, welcomes the change. “I think it’s great that the neighborhood is getting more restaurant options on Nostrand. Early on, going out often meant the same two places or traveling to a neighborhood nearby.”

New residents swarm into Crown Heights like hordes of an invading army, albeit ones with who may have first visited the borough during the Book Fair, grabbing an artisanal coffee along the way. There’s a slew of new multi-unit projects planned for the area including a 119 unit building at 1040 Dean St., 110 units at 1515 Bedford Avenue, 133 units at 1535 Bedford Avenue and 147 units at 505 Saint Marks Avenue. As a certain Robert Zimmerman once pronounced, “The times they are a changin’. But the changes aren’t to everyone’s liking.

“Williamsburg and Bushwick, to me, are gone—forget it,” Ayanna Prescod told the Guardian. Ayanna is a longtime resident and third generation Crown Heights resident and founder of the blog OurBKSocial . “The neighborhood is totally gone. At least with Crown Heights, we still have the neighborhood feel. I hope it doesn’t go away.”

Alas, it may already be on its way out. Next time you get a chance, pour out a little for our fallen brownstones.

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.

  • AGORAFY
    Stefano Boeri, the architect mastermind behind the famous plant-covered skyscrapers, is now designing Forest Cities in Liuzhou, China. #ForestCity #China https://goo.gl/PsTUwv
  • AGORAFY
    Auction is the second scheduled in a month for a One57 unit and it could set a NYC foreclosure record. #BillionairesRow #Foreclosures https://goo.gl/NZ3zqD
  • AGORAFY
    Once a couch-surfing website, Airbnb moves on to luxury properties, further disrupting hospitality industry. #Airbnb #Luxury https://goo.gl/7TpLk6
While Other Real Estate Platforms Start Charging Agents $3-Per-Day Exposure Fee, Agorafy Remains Accessible To All
Real Estate searching platform are always finding news ways to diversify their revenues models. Case in point—on Tuesday July 18, Streeteasy, one of New York…
Is Real Estate Crowdfunding The Fix That Urban Housing In America Really Needs?
Saving money for a down payment? One can only hope. Most millennial in their twenties or thirties are mortified that they might never be able…
Brooklyn And Queens’ Real Estate Sub-Markets Continue Their Ascent To The New Heights
So, the sales prices in Brooklyn and Queens hit record highs. Again. Just like they did in December 2016 and at the end of this…
The Economy Of Car Services And Delivery Apps Might Be Making NYC Less Eco-Friendly
Living in an eco-friendly neighborhood is a good thing. And, as it always the case with the good things, it also costs more. High rents…
Building Communities: What The U.S. Developers Should Learn From Soho China
As our world emerges into the new period of globalization and technology, some of the most important by-products of this process are buildings that have…
Five Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Must Keep Their Eyes On China
It is hard to overestimate the importance of Chinese influence on the modern global economy. Carving out a place in Chinese market and winning over…
Airbnb Up Their Game With A New Luxury Tier Featuring Mansions And Villas
Airbnb is about to seriously up their game. First, the company started testing a new service called Select in an attempt to push accommodation listings…
Will Artificial Intelligence Change Real Estate Industry In The Next Five Years?
Globalization and tech progress are the two forces that are irreversibly changing the world. Robots, machines, artificial intelligence (AI) tools, and, of course, vast amounts…