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City Living: Boerum Hill has tree-lined blocks, 19th century brownstones
Boerum Hill, the brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood surrounded by Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope and Gowanus, got its name in the ’60s.
That’s when Helen Buckler, a community activist, decided that the neighborhood needed a public relations boost to try to attract homesteaders.
The name Buckler chose refers to the family of Simon Boerum who lived on the corner of Fulton and Hoyt Streets and represented Brooklyn in the Continental Congress. The Hill that existed in Boerum’s time was razed long ago.
It is amazing to think that this slice of Brooklyn, with its stunning row houses, historic district with almost 250 homes, cafes and performance spaces, and its own piece of Atlantic Avenue lined with designer shops and Smith Street with its restaurant row, ever needed marketing help.
When asked how hot (or not) the Boerum Hill real estate market is today, Katherine Akerly of the Aguayo Team at Halstead Property Development Marketing said: “Boerum Hill is always hot. It’s small, has very little inventory and a high level of demand. The neighborhood is attractive to everyone -- the tree-lined blocks and 19th century brownstones are a perennial draw as is the proximity to Smith and Court Streets, a new Trader Joe’s, [the Brooklyn Academy of Music], the Barclays Center.”
“The average price per square foot for listings that have closed recently was $783 per square foot, but with the lack of inventory we're seeing sellers get more aggressive on their asking prices and listings are now averaging $923 per square foot,” she added.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, folks who considered themselves urban homesteaders would buy a row house for $20,000, roll up their sleeves, renovate and then rent out a floor or two to help pay the mortgage. People who are buying now are more likely to buy their “dream house” for millions.
Still, Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2 which includes Boerum Hill, thinks of it as “the most unassuming neighborhood that I’m acquainted with. It doesn’t have a commercial strip of its own and the core of the neighborhood is residential which is what contributes to its character.”
When Boerum Hill was being developed from the 1840s to 1870, it was a bastion of the middle class. Physically, the neighborhood of Italianate, Gothic Revival and Greek revival row houses has changed very little since those earliest days.
"Once our neighborhood was considered a place you walked through to get to Cobble Hill or Park Slope or Fort Greene. Not anymore. We've become a destination," says Jessica Fishkind, who moved there from the Upper West Side. Her only complaint: "We could use more sushi."
Shari Sperling, a broker at Halstead's office on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, is also bullish on the neighborhood.
"You can get into a lot of retail trouble along Atlantic Avenue," at stores that sell $400 bikinis to customers like Rihanna and Kate Hudson, hip designer clothing, shops, mid-century modern furniture and handmade wedding and engagement rings, she said.
Although the boundaries tend to be somewhat elastic, and often folks think they are in Cobble Hill when they’re actually in Boerum Hill, we’re going with the Boerum Hill Association’s definition: South side of Schermerhorn to the north side of Warren; east side of Court Street to the west side of Fourth Avenue. More »
Trains: More »
The fate of the Pacific branch at 25 Fourth Ave., the first library built by Andrew Carnegie in 1903, is also uncertain. The Brooklyn Public Library has backed off from a plan to sell to a developer to raise funds for the new library that would be adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Officials insist that they will do all it can to preserve the existing building but the needed repairs are both costly and extensive. Stay tuned. More »
The owner of the post office building, 542 Atlantic Ave., says that he will not renew the lease and will put up a seven story hotel in its place. The USPS says it will look for a new location in Boerum Hill. More »
Since the “bad old days” in the ’90s, crime in Boerum Hill, part of the 84th Precinct, dropped 84%. However, there were 13 grand larceny, or major theft, complaints in the precinct’s CompState report between March 17 and March 23, up from four in the same week in 2013. There were three car thefts that week, up from zero the year before. More »
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Kolins is the President of the Boerum Hill Association. More »
556 State St. #2CN Two-bedroom, two-bath with a huge outdoor deck, a doorman and a gym; 975 square feet: $945,000 360 Baltic St. #2A Three-bed, two-bath condo with floor-to-ceiling windows in every room and views of Boerum Hill Park and downtown Brooklyn skyscrapers; 1,195 square feet: $1,250,000. More »
349 Atlantic Ave. Newly renovated with three bedrooms, one bath and an outdoor patio with a garden; 950 square feet: $3,600 per month. 357 Dean St. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a 46-square-foot balcony, custom Italian cabinetry, in-unit stackable Bosch washer/dryer, and dark hardwood floors; 1,100 square feet: $4,250 per month More »