Bed-Stuy’s affordable housing, diverse community a big draw

The Bedford-Stuyvesant housing market is exploding.

With its plentiful brownstones, proximity to Manhattan, and thriving culture and community, many investors and home-seekers are buying into the neighborhood.

According to StreetEasy, the median sales price in Bed-Stuy rose from $600,000 in 2013 to $800,000 in 2016 as of Oct. 12.

Rents are also creeping up, with the median rising from $2,000 in 2013 to $2,400 this year as of Oct. 12, the listings site found.

However, brownstones in Bed-Stuy are relatively affordable compared to those in areas like Park Slope, according to Michael Feldman, the president of Bedford Brownstone Realty at 1171 Bedford Ave.

Much of his clientele are families moving from Manhattan, he said.

Instead of spending $1 million on a condo in Manhattan, buyers can spend that in Bed-Stuy “and get larger square footage and have a better property that has a good chance to go up in value in the next two to five years,” he said. “And they can have fireplaces \[and\] beautiful wood staircases.”

Feldman specializes in selling buildings that would make good renovation projects, which Bed-Stuy is chock full of.

Brownstone renovations have been a hit with cash investors looking to flip properties, which is helping to drive up overall property values in the area, Feldman added.

New developments are popping up here too, such as the four-story 443 Bainbridge St. and the six-story 159 Tompkins Ave., both built this year.

Gentrification is a common topic for conversation in Bed-Stuy these days.

The area has long-been a haven for minorities, but a hipster crowd is moving in, bringing with it new restaurants and bars.

For example, the reggae bar Lovers Rock opened on Tompkins Avenue in July 2015 and Eva Jean’s, a farm-to-table restaurant, opened on Kosciuszko Street in February of this year.

Fulton Street, to the south, remains Bed-Stuy’s main shopping street with stores like Walgreens and Footlocker, along with Abu’s Homestyle Bakery for desserts and the Carib Food Market for fresh fruit and vegetables.

And with numerous bus lines and subway stops, it’s an easy neighborhood to commute from.

As for a downside, apart from Herbert Von King Park on Lafayette Avenue, there isn’t much open space in the area. 

But newcomers appreciate the sense of community that exists in the otherwise urban neighborhood, according to Emily Nonko, 28, who moved to the area three years ago and now runs The Bed Stuy Blog.

“People know each other, people hang out on their stoops and they have been in the area a long time,” she said.

Neighbors mingle at community events over the summer, including at block parties and farmers markets — among which are the Hattie Carthan Community Farmers’ Market at Marcy Avenue and Clifton Place, and the Marcy Plaza Farmers Market at Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue.

Bed-Stuy also has several community gardens, like the Halsey Community Garden at 462 Halsey St. and the Quincy Community Garden at 100 Quincy St., and residents regularly win the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Greenest Block in Brooklyn award.

“It’s a really big deal in Brooklyn,” Nonko said of the award. “And it often goes to Bed-Stuy blocks because people have done these gorgeous flower beds and taken care of all the trees. It’s just incredible the amount of investment in the neighborhood from the local residents.”

For Suzanne Spellman, 61, a guide with Morris Hill and Sparrow walking tours who works in Bed-Stuy, the sense of community is what makes Bed-Stuy what it is.

“When you live on a block, you’re joining a village,” Spellman said. “I believe that, for the most part, on most of the blocks in Bed-Stuy there’s that sense of community that transcends how long you live there, or race or religion or age. People are just neighbors, and that’s wonderful.”

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