Cobble Hill, Brooklyn: A Village-Like Vibe With Towering Prices


Ann Rathkopf came full circle in 2018, when she and her husband, Giona Maiarelli, moved into their home on Amity Street, in the achingly pretty Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill.

As an infant, she had lived with her parents around the corner, on Pacific Street. “So it’s like a homecoming,” she said.

The empty nesters, who previously lived in Europe and on Long Island, sublet a combined one-bedroom and studio in a four-story co-op building, for which they pay $3,500 a month. They enjoy a village-like existence, commuting on foot to their graphic design and communications studio near Dumbo, and shopping at Sahadi’s Middle Eastern grocery and Dellapietras butcher shop on Atlantic Avenue.

At the restaurant Lillo Cucina Italiana, near their home, “The food is great, there are no bathrooms, it’s all-cash, there is no liquor license and you can’t bring your own wine,” Ms. Rathkopf, 55, said, clearly bewitched. The owner “speaks to everyone in Italian, whether you understand it or not.”

But their time in Cobble Hill, a 40-block neighborhood filled with 19th-century rowhouses, may be fleeting. Building regulations limit sublets to two years; the couple will soon have to buy the apartment or move somewhere else, and housing prices have kissed the stratosphere. (The median value in Cobble Hill is $1.4 million.) Ms. Rathkopf said she is not aware of what their unit would cost.

Their surroundings are changing as well. Since their arrival, a 16-story building has risen at the corner of Amity and Henry Streets, obliterating their slivered view of Lower Manhattan.

The new tower at 347 Henry Street is one of seven housing sites in the River Park complex on the campus of the former Long Island College Hospital. After years of community resistance and a compromise that yielded lower building heights but killed hopes for affordable housing, the mixed-use development by the Fortis Property Group is partly completed and sold. Ultimately, a 103-unit condominium tower planned for 91 Pacific Street will top out at 475 feet, making it the tallest building in South Brooklyn.

Cobble Hill’s seven-block stretch of Court Street is rife with real estate offices and children’s stores typical of gentrifying neighborhoods. But a number of vacant storefronts also tell a story of decline that is seen throughout New York.

Still, Michael DiMartino, the marketing director of Brownstone Real Estate, said he is not pessimistic about the retail industry here. Having recently placed a sustainable clothing shop called Rue Saint Paul in a 550-square-foot space at the border of Carroll Gardens (the rent is $3,800 a month), he said, “I see unique artisans and specialty retail shops being the future.”

The most closely watched boundary is the one formed by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the west. The Cobble Hill Association is part of a coalition of more than a dozen local organizations that wants to transform the roadway, which is in dire need of reconstruction, with parkland, pedestrian walkways and express bus service. “Hopefully we can see a future that has more green space, or at least less fuming traffic right at our doorstep, and also reunites the communities around us,” Ms. Breedlove said.

Mr. DiMartino said that for several years, until recently, the real estate market has been favorable to renters in Cobble Hill, while sales have been “aggressive.” Now the reverse is true: Rents are heating up, while the cost of buying property, although still high, is tapering off.

According to Property Shark, the median sale price of Cobble Hill homes in the third quarter of 2019 was $1.5 million, based on 17 transactions. The year-over-year increase was 88 percent, a figure bolstered by the sale of a number of luxury properties at River Park.

The Brooklyn real estate company MNS reported that in January the average monthly rent was $3,231 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $4,098 for a two-bedroom. The year-over-year increase in rents over all was 14.25 percent.

As of Feb. 16, 25 homes in Cobble Hill were listed for sale on StreetEasy’s website. The most expensive was a new townhouse on Amity Street, in the River Park development, priced at $6.4 million with a monthly homeowner’s fee of $400 and annual taxes of $23,824. The least expensive was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op in a 114-unit 1952 building on Congress Street; the 750-square-foot property was priced at $674,999, with a monthly maintenance of $1,410.

As towers join church spires in piercing the sky, there is a sense that the rest of Brooklyn is encroaching on Cobble Hill. But the neighborhood remains lively as well as lyrical, with its handsome townhouse rows and insistent greenery.

Ms. Breedlove stressed the importance of preserving the sidewalk culture. “It used to be a stoop culture, but people don’t necessarily sit on stoops anymore,” she said. “They do walk on the sidewalk and talk to each other every day.”


Sahred From Source link Real Estate