Boerum Hill, Brooklyn: a “village within the city”

Katie McShane and her husband, James O’Reilly, were looking for an apartment in Brooklyn in 2017 when they noticed a “for sale” sign out...


Katie McShane and her husband, James O’Reilly, were looking for an apartment in Brooklyn in 2017 when they noticed a “for sale” sign outside a brick townhouse in Boerum Hill. Ms McShane, now 36, was intrigued. Mr O’Reilly, 38, remembers thinking: “There’s no way we can afford a townhouse.

Not by themselves, anyway. So they teamed up with Mrs. McShane’s brother and his wife to buy the four-story home for $3.3million, converting it into two duplexes.

Life in Boerum Hill, with its 19th century brick and brownstone townhouses, allowed the couple to “breathe a little deeper than in Manhattan, where we used to be”, Mr O’Reilly said , president of a coworking company. . The “picturesque” neighborhood is also minutes from conveniences like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, he said. (Of course, there were more restaurants and bars on the Lower East Side, their old neighborhood, said Ms. McShane, a lawyer, but they used them little.)

Residents praise the access to transport, with 13 subway lines nearby – although only one station, the F/G at Bergen Street, is within the neighborhood boundary. “If you jump on train 2 or 3, it’ll take you 10 to 15 minutes to get to Wall Street,” said Howard Kolins, who bought a circa-1899 brick apartment building with a former college pal in 1987. for $415,000.

Mr. Kolins, a live event producer, is the president of the Boerum Hill Association, a civic group that has worked to preserve the low-rise character of the neighborhood. To that end, he was instrumental in creating the Boerum Hill Historic District, with nearly 250 buildings, in 1973, and the expansion of the Historic District, with an additional 288 buildings, in 2018.

“Boerum Hill is, as we like to say, ‘a village within a city,'” said Sue Wolfe, a Corcoran agent and former resident of Boerum Hill. The neighborhood has long since transcended the days when “real estate agents had to say ‘close to Brooklyn Heights’” to attract buyers, Ms. Wolfe said.

Now Mr Kolins said: ‘We all say, ‘Well, I couldn’t afford to live here if I bought today. “”

According to a map of Brooklyn Community District 2, Boerum Hill is bounded by Schermerhorn Street to the north; Warren Street to the south (although some say Baltic Street); Court Street to the west; and Fourth and Flatbush Avenues to the east.

With its many Greek Revival and Italianate townhouses, the neighborhood is part of what is known as the “Brookstone Brownstone”. Potential buyers often think of it “almost like going out of town, because you have beautiful wooded blocks, the buildings are very historic, you see a lot of sky,” said Tamir Shemesh, an agent for Douglas Elliman. (Mr. Shemesh currently sells condos at 561 Pacific Street, a 12-story building with a Japanese-inspired aesthetic.)

Thai, Japanese, Italian, French, Mexican, vegan and other cuisines abound at many neighborhood restaurants, many on Smith Street, a major thoroughfare where “you can shop, you can eat, you can get shoes.” , you can get your nails done,” Mr. Kolins said.

Cultural offerings include Roulette, a performance hall on Atlantic Avenue, another bustling business corridor, and the Invisible Dog Art Center, housed in an 1863 factory building on Bergen Street.

Area attractions led Ryan Serhant, a real estate agent familiar to viewers of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York,” to buy an 8,000-square-foot brownstone on Pacific Street in 2018 for $7.6 million.

“It’s location, location, location,” Mr. Serhant said. “I can walk home from a Nets game at Barclays Center,” and the trip to his office in SoHo “takes me 16 minutes by car.”

One of the neighborhood’s concerns is the construction of 100 Flatbush Avenue, planned as the city’s first all-electric tower and the first of two towers in a project by Alloy Development. Developers have downsized the project, which will include affordable housing and two schools, and have been “very responsive”, Mr Kolins said, but some residents remain concerned about a 44-story building facing low-rise homes. height on State Street.

The median price of the 220 condominium and co-op units sold in 2021 was $1.275 million, a 6.3% increase from the median price of the 71 units sold in 2020, according to information provided by Ms. Wolfe and her daughter, Lissa M. Wolfe, also from Corcoran. The median price of the 36 townhouses sold in 2021 was $2,937,500, an increase of 2% from the median in 2020, when 19 townhouses sold.

As of January 20, 61 homes in Boerum Hill were listed for sale on StreetEasy. The most expensive was a 10-room townhouse at 75 Bond Street, listed at $5.75 million. The cheapest was a 453-square-foot studio at 58 Saint Mark’s Place, listed for $595,000. (The most expensive condo was an eight-room, four-bedroom home at 265 State Street, listed at $4.85 million.)

Of the 18 rentals available, the highest price was a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment at 342 Bergen Street, asking $6,500 a month; the lowest was a four-bedroom unit at 376 Atlantic Avenue, listed at $3,400 per month.

Both worldly and intimate, Boerum Hill offers “a sense of city life” while “kind of resembling a small village”, Mr Kolins said.

The neighborhood — whose borders touch other working-class neighborhoods like Park Slope, Fort Greene, Gowanus and downtown Brooklyn — is home to “a lot of Wall Streeters and lawyers,” as well as “a lot of creative people,” a he declared. Bringing residents together is an annual plant sale, holiday-sharing party, and biennial house tour. (In 2020, the house tour was canceled due to Covid-19, but “we’re thinking of doing it virtually this year,” Mr. Kolins said.)

The Hoyt Street Association operates the Hoyt Street Garden (one of three community gardens), where art events and storytimes are held. The garden is fenced, but the keys are given “to neighbors and those who work nearby”, according to the association’s website.

Boerum Hill has been “more community-focused than we anticipated”, said Mr. O’Reilly, the former Manhattanite. “It’s nice to walk down the street, and you get a wink from your neighbors.”

Elementary schools in Boerum Hill include PS 261 Philip Livingston, at 314 Pacific Street, and PS 038 The Pacific School, at 450 Pacific Street.

In 2020-21, PS 261 enrolled 691 students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. In 2018-19, the most recent school year for which data was available, 58% met state standards in English, compared to 48% citywide; 53% met the standards in math, compared to 50% citywide.

In 2020-21, PS 038 enrolled 547 students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. In 2018-2019, 63% met the standards in English and 61% met the standards in mathematics.

MS 447 The Exploratory Math and Science School, located at 345 Dean Street, enrolled 539 students in grades five through eight in 2020-21. In 2018-19, 83% met state standards in English, compared to 47% citywide; 85% met state standards in math, compared to 41% citywide.

Although technically only stops F and G are within the borders of Boerum Hill (at Bergen Street), other accessible lines include trains A, C, B, D, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

According to the Boerum Hill Association, modern Boerum Hill began in the 1960s when new resident Helen Buckler bought and renovated an old brownstone and searched for a charming name to attract others to the area. . She found it on a 1775 map depicting Simon Boerum’s 80-acre farm. Although there is no hill, the name Boerum Hill was born.

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