In Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood, residential blocks feel like an afterthought. Terraced houses fill the spaces between the industrial corridors. The parks are steps away from junkyards, where brawny men with sledgehammers pulverize appliances. You can easily find a place to wash your cargo truck.
This is heaven for Laura Alfstad, who moved into a new condominium building on North Henry Street with her husband, Thomas, in September 2020.
A nurse practitioner, Ms. Alfstad, 35, lived on the Pacific island of Guam and met Mr. Alfstad in South Korea. After they got married, they moved into her apartment on East 34th Street in Manhattan. Anxious about “high-rise, high-energy buildings,” Ms Alfstad couldn’t wait to leave.
East Williamsburg felt like a sanctuary. His home, which cost just under $1.4 million, is 1,200 square feet with two actual bedrooms and a garden. The walk to McCarren Park, on the border of North Williamsburg and Greenpoint, is 15 minutes. The couple frequent the old-time restaurants, cafes and butcher shops along Graham Avenue. (“We want to make sure our playing fields stay healthy,” Ms. Alfstad said.) Mr. Alfstad, who works at the United Nations, travels on the L train.
Sure, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway roars by a block and a half away. “I’m originally from Detroit,” Alfstad said, “and I like the gritty, industrial vibe.”
In New York, neighborhood boundaries are notoriously elastic, and some geographers may insist that the Alfstads really do live in Greenpoint. What’s in a name? Northwest Brooklyn has long been a throbbing mass of development, where generations-old Italian, Hispanic and Slavic communities have eroded away, and where young people flock then flee as soon as home prices turn. unsustainable.
Today, East Williamsburg mixes with neighborhoods that share its preponderance of asphalt and street art, like Bushwick to the south and Ridgewood, Queens, to the east. Residents consider the nearby coastal and cultural attractions of North and South Williamsburg to the west as bonuses.
The most stingy maps define East Williamsburg as a triangle formed by Flushing Avenue to the south, Bushwick Avenue to the west, and Metropolitan Avenue to the north. Google Maps places the BQE on the northern boundary and extends the district to the easternmost branch of Newtown Creek. About half of the total 1.4 square mile area is occupied by the East Williamsburg Industrial Park. Breaking down neighborhood demographics is challenging due to uncertain boundaries, but the region that the City-Data website defines as East Williamsburg, encompassing 2.5 square miles and five zip codes, had a 2019 population of 94,473 residents, 42.3 per percent of whom identified as white. , 33.8 percent Hispanic or Latino, 10.7 percent Black, 6.5 percent Asian, and 3.9 percent multiracial.
Even by the strictest definitions, Roberta’s, the beloved pizzeria on Moore Street that’s considered a Bushwick landmark, is technically in East Williamsburg. According to Nick Tukmanian, 39, the owner of a commercial building at 100 Bogart Street that rents out co-working space once Bushwick warmed up a decade ago, businesses near the Morgan Avenue L train stop, including his , they were happy to take advantage of the charm
Last September, East Williamsburg received its own landmark in the form of a 170,000-square-foot Netflix production studio with six soundstages, on the site of a former steel mill on Johnson Avenue.
what you will find
Nostalgics for 1980s New York will find plenty to warm their hearts. Loft buildings and factory walls are covered in graffiti, and parked trucks appear to have sat idle too long and been tagged to match the architecture behind them. As in Bushwick, the streets are filled with stylish young people and tourists.
Mr. Tukmanian recalled that someone recently showed up at his building to ask the person at the front desk the time of the next graffiti tour. “I don’t know the schedule,” the assistant replied. “Just go left or right.”
For Juan Elias Lopera, a real estate agent from Rhome in East Williamsburg, the area’s warehouses are happy breeding grounds for galleries, photo shoots and dance parties. Our Wicked Lady, 3 Dollar Bill and Sovereign are popular performance spaces that flaunt their industrial chic.
The neighborhood becomes more residential as one heads north towards 6.4-acre Cooper Park. Created in 1895 on the grounds of a glue factory owned by Peter Cooper, it features a skateboard park, handball and tennis courts, a pollinator garden, and a playground.
Nearby, the block of Devoe Street between Olive and Catherine includes renovated townhouses that are prime residential real estate. St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, a red brick building on the corner of Devoe and Olive, dates from 1886, when its congregation was overwhelmingly German. (It is now largely Latino.)
“I just like being around raw space,” said Lauren Ball, 42, an artist who moved out of her home at Bushwick Avenue and Varet Street three months ago but still works out of her studio at Metropolitan, which she rents for much less than $1,000. one month. “I think all artists have this affinity for the possibility of space, and to me, that’s what East Williamsburg offered and continues to offer.”
what you will pay
For three years, Engy Adham, 30, a production assistant at CNN, has shared a three-bedroom apartment on North Henry Street with two roommates; her monthly share is $850 plus utilities. “I am Egyptian,” she said, “and when I moved to the United States, I wanted a place that was diverse.” The mix of races and ages “attracts me,” she said.
East Williamsburg attracts young creatives due to its relative affordability, but prices are skyrocketing there, as in much of Brooklyn. The reason, said Lopera, the realtor, is the influx of remote workers and a dearth of available properties. According to Redfin, the median home sale price in East Williamsburg in May 2020 was $1.15 million, up 8 percent year over year, based on 32 sales. (On the Redfin neighborhood map, the western boundary extends beyond Union Avenue to BQE)
In terms of rents, one-bedrooms are currently priced around $2,600 to $2,800 a month on the low end, Lopera said, and two-bedrooms are typically around $3,300 to $3,400 a month. But expect more inventory to arrive, she said, based on the increased visibility of construction sites and work permits.
Some of it has already arrived. The developer, Slate Property Group, describes a new seven-story building at 222 Johnson Avenue, just west of Bushwick Avenue, as East Williamsburg’s first luxury building. It offers 116 rental units, 35 of which are assigned to families with annual incomes from $31,680 to $159,640, depending on household and unit size. Market rents start at around $2,850 a month for a studio and top $4,600 a month for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit. At the end of June, the building was fully occupied. Martin Nussbaum, director of Slate Property Group, said his company will soon break ground on a 180,000-square-foot tower at 159 Boerum Street.
As of mid-June, 16 properties in East Williamsburg were listed for sale on the Compass website, adopting the limits of Google Maps. They included a one-bedroom condo in a seven-story building on Maspeth Avenue, listed at $695,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,031 and monthly taxes of $27. A two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath condo in a four-story building on Powers Street is listed for $1.65 million, with monthly maintenance of $675 and monthly taxes of $1,275.
For now, at least, graffiti is the hallmark of East Williamsburg and subject to its own brand of gentrification. Amidst the spontaneous eruptions of brains, fangs, and smiley faces — of moons, toons, and raccoons — are polished, corporate-sponsored works of art, like the geometric mural that transforms the facade of 154 Morgan Avenue, an industrial building.
PS 196, Ten Eyck Elementary School, enrolls about 290 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. In 2020-21, the student body was approximately 75 percent Hispanic or Latino, 18 percent Black, 2 percent Asian, and 1 percent White. The passing rate of the school’s former fifth-graders in their sixth-grade classes in core subjects (math, English, social studies, and science) was 96 percent.
PS 147, Isaac Remsen, the Brooklyn School of Environmental Engineering, enrolls about 300 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. In 2020-21, the student body was 52 percent Hispanic or Latino, 15 percent Black, 13 percent White and 9 percent Asian. The passing rate of former fifth graders from this school in their sixth grade classes in core subjects was 93 percent.
MS 582, the Magnet School for Multimedia, Technology, and Urban Planning, enrolls about 350 students in grades six through eight. In the 2020-21 school year, the student pass rate in core courses was 98 percent.
East Williamsburg Scholars Academy, a high school, enrolls about 330 students in grades nine through 12. In the 2020-21 school year, the student body was 64.8 percent Hispanic or Latino, 29 percent Black, 2.4 percent percent white and 1.5 percent Asian; 26 percent enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement class. Among the class of 2021, 78 percent graduated in four years.
Williamsburg Charter High School enrolls about 980 students in grades nine through 12. In 2020-21, the student body was 61 percent Hispanic or Latino, 35 percent black, and 1 percent white; 84 percent completed approved college or career preparation courses and exams. Among the class of 2021, 83 percent graduated in four years.
East Williamsburg is served by the Graham Avenue, Grand Street, and Morgan Avenue stations of the L train, and on the western fringe, via the Metropolitan Avenue/Lorimer Street stop on the G and L trains.
According to a 2012 article in “Brooklyn Based,” an online publication, the name East Williamsburg is and is not the invention of an opportunistic real estate industry. The community wasn’t even in Brooklyn originally: “The first mention of the neighborhood, then part of the Dutch settlement of Newtown, is found on maps dating to 1783 in the western part of what is now Ridgewood, Queens.”
In 1982, the developers of the East Williamsburg Industrial Park chose the name to clarify its location in relation to North and South Williamsburg. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the label took hold and the boundaries of the neighborhood expanded.
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.