New buildings are transforming Brooklyn’s homiest neighborhood

When Imani Ribadeneyra and Tosan Eyetsemitan were hunting for their first apartment together, they wanted a luxury building in a charming area.

But popular nabes didn’t tick both boxes. “There are a lot of luxury buildings in Williamsburg, but they tend to be in overpopulated areas,” says Ribadeneyra, a 27-year-old creative consultant. “Dumbo and Downtown Brooklyn didn’t have the smallish neighborhood vibe I was looking for.”

Ribadeneyra and Eyetsemitan, a 27-year-old sports executive, found their new home in Greenpoint at One Blue Slip, a 30-story, 359-unit luxury tower with prices starting at $2,800 for studios. Opened a year ago, the building overlooks the East River at Brooklyn’s northwesternmost edge. Part of the Greenpoint Landing megaproject, One Blue Slip is both the neighborhood’s first high-rise and a signal of what’s to come for the area’s historically industrial waterfront.

Imani Ribadeneyra and Tosan Eyetsemitan, with pup Gemma, moved to new East River-front rental One Blue Slip in old-school Greenpoint.
Imani Ribadeneyra and Tosan Eyetsemitan, with pup Gemma, moved to new East River-front rental One Blue Slip in old-school Greenpoint.Michael Sofronski

Shaping the taller, denser Greenpoint of the future is The Greenpoint condo-rental. The February-opened structure reaches 39 stories, making it the neighborhood’s second tower and, for now, the tallest. Developed by Mack Real Estate Group with Palin Enterprises and Urban Development Partners, it has 368 luxury rentals priced from $2,950 for studios and 95 condominiums that have all sold — some for as much as $3 million.

Located just north of trendy Williamsburg and separated from Long Island City in Queens by Newtown Creek, Greenpoint has largely retained a small-village vibe sustained by a longtime Polish community and a more recent influx of artsy types seeking an affordable, somewhat bohemian lifestyle.

“A lot of people think of Greenpoint as an extension of Williamsburg, but it’s a separate, unique special thing. I’ve always seen it as such,” says Adam Saucy, 35, who moved to the neighborhood in 2007 from Oregon and in 2016 opened Odd Fox, a coffee shop on the main drag of Manhattan Avenue. “I’ve lived in other parts of Brooklyn, but they didn’t have the same community feeling. You see your neighbors at the coffee shop, then at the restaurant and then later on at the grocer.”

Adam Saucy
Adam Saucy, who moved to Greenpoint in 2007 and opened coffee shop Odd Fox in 2016, says the busiest intersection can feel like “St. Marks Pace on a Saturday night.”Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Saucy has watched the neighborhood transform from “very Polish with big swaths of unused industrial space” to an area with “hip and popular restaurants” and “lots of foot traffic,” likening the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Franklin Street, where he and his husband share a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment in a historic brick building, to “St. Marks Place on a Saturday night.”

Buzzy restaurants have helped put Greenpoint on non-locals’ radars. Popular newcomers include Oxomoco, a Mexican canteen that earned a 2019 Michelin star, and Vietnamese hotspot Di An Di, alongside earlier game-changers like Chez Ma Tante and Anella.

It’s only a lack of public transit — the G train is the only subway line — that’s “long kept a lid on prices relative to neighboring areas,” says Grant Long, StreetEasy’s senior economist.

While asking prices in Greenpoint remain about $100 per square foot less than neighboring Williamsburg and Long Island City, per Long, they’re on an upward trajectory, increasing from $893 in 2014 to $1,446 in 2018, according to Halstead Development Marketing. The median sales price in Greenpoint more than doubled from $539,714 in 2010 to $1.14 million in 2015, then rose to $1.58 million in 2019. StreetEasy data shows the median asking rent jumped from $2,350 in 2010 to $2,800 in 2019.

Improved transportation is part of the explanation. The NYC Ferry stop on India Street opened in 2017, connecting commuters to Manhattan in as little as 10 minutes for the price of a subway fare.

“As the cost of homes in other nearby neighborhoods has risen and ferry service has made the area more accessible, Greenpoint has emerged as an attractive alternative for a wide range of buyers and renters willing to make the commute work,” adds Long.

Ten-condo 91 Diamond St. is one of about a dozen boutique developments coming to the area.
Ten-condo 91 Diamond St. is one of about a dozen boutique developments coming to the area.CG Rendering

The L train “slowdown,” ongoing until at least summer 2020, has also made Greenpoint more appealing: Residents can use the 7 train across the Pulaski Bridge in Long Island City as an alternative.

Greenpoint is only just now seeing the effects of the 2005 residential rezoning that has already transformed Williamsburg’s waterfront. Greenpoint Landing, developed by Park Tower Group with Brookfield Properties, will open 10 new buildings across 22 acres over the next decade, introducing 5,500 new residential units to the neighborhood (with 1,400 designated affordable).

Slated to open in January, Greenpoint Landing’s next major arrival is the 40-story, 421-unit Two Blue Slip. The megaproject will also include a pair of waterfront towers with 745 rentals by OMA, founded by architect Rem Koolhaas, that will soon break ground as the firm’s first project in Brooklyn.

The remainder of Greenpoint’s waterfront — once filled with factories — is largely spoken for. Building permits are filed or construction is already underway at lots stretching from Huron Street, just south of Greenpoint Landing, to the Bushwick Inlet, a small body of water that separates the neighborhood from Williamsburg.

From north to south, notable projects include: 53 Huron St. (a 14-story, 173-unit residential development); 18 India St. (a 40-story, 470-unit residential development); 30 Kent St. (an 11-story, 80-unit mixed-use development above riverfront Transmitter Park); and 27-41 West St. (five mixed-use structures in a complex to be known as Calyer Place).

In addition to the affordable housing that the 2005 rezoning requires, developers of taller towers must also contribute to a public waterfront park that will eventually connect to become an esplanade. Disjointed parcels have already opened at One Blue Slip (designed by the landscape architects behind the High Line) and The Greenpoint.

Blogger Aaron Simon, here with wife Heba Armoush, casts “a cautious eye toward new residents” (and real-estate action) flocking to the quiet ’hood.
Blogger Aaron Simon, here with wife Heba Armoush, casts “a cautious eye toward new residents” —and real-estate action — in the historically quiet ’hood, which is home to longtime Polish businesses like donut-maker Peter Pan (right).Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Still, some longtime residents are concerned about the impact of new development. Though he moved to Greenpoint in 2013, Aaron Simon — the 33-year-old editor of the hyper-local Greenpointers blog and Instagram account, which covers everything from the latest Polish bakery’s closing to flash floods at the ferry stop — says both he and lifelong denizens cast “a cautious eye toward new residents.”

With community groups, Simon works as an environmental activist seeking remediation for the legacy of pollution from both Greenpoint’s industrial past and its present-day construction boom.

Waterfront development is only half the story in Greenpoint. “Older housing stock has made the area an attractive target for developers seeking to turn older structures into posh new condos designed to attract professionals who are interested in Brooklyn, but have been priced out of areas like Dumbo and Cobble Hill,” adds StreetEasy’s Long.

A study by Localize.city of the five boroughs minus Staten Island found that 78 percent of both rental and sales listings in Greenpoint are within one block of ground-up construction, compared to 40 percent elsewhere. The Post counted more than a dozen such boutique condos with fewer than 10 units — many with as little as three — in pre-development phases across the neighborhood, including 111 Noble St., 153 Green St., 91 Diamond St., 80 Oak St., and 163 Newel St.

Pooja Kolluri traded an East Side “shoebox” for Greenpoint’s homey atmosphere.
Pooja Kolluri traded an East Side “shoebox” for Greenpoint’s cozy, lively atmosphere.Michael Sofronski

In spite of rising rents and the glut of new development, Greenpoint’s older buildings still attract new residents squeezed out of other Brooklyn neighborhoods or Manhattan. Pooja Kolluri, a 27-year-old who works in advertising, moved into a railroad-style apartment in a three-story walk-up on Driggs Avenue near McCarren Park with a roommate last year after living in a “shoebox” on the Upper East Side. A native of Princeton, NJ, Kolluri says that in addition to a roomier apartment, she prefers Greenpoint’s “slower pace of life” to Manhattan. “With all the warehouses and cool storefronts, it’s a fun neighborhood to wander around in,” she says, adding that she also enjoys “getting to know the Polish community,” even though she “sometimes feels like an intruder.”

“There’s always going to be some pushback, but a lot of people are happy to see the neighborhood thrive,” says Molly Franklin, a local Citi Habitats broker. “Greenpoint is a combination of new-school and old-school. Right now, it’s a magical moment where you can see both coexisting.”

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