Dozens of young children ran around Carroll Park on a recent, crisp fall Sunday afternoon. Their yelling and laughing voices are often thought of as the symphony of Carroll Gardens, a small enclave of brownstone Brooklyn where several blocks are landmarked, the rent is high, and neighborhood amenities match.
Carroll Gardens was once a stronghold of Italian immigrants, and while that is still visible with some old-school restaurants and other businesses, its proximity to Manhattan, family-friendly vibe, and abundance of new shops and eateries are making it more popular among other newcomers.
Italian staples like the big plate restaurant Vinny’s of Carroll Gardens, at 295 Smith St. since 1997, and Caputo Bakery, at 320 Court St. since 1904, are as popular with locals as kitschy places like the chicken eatery Purbird, which opened at 502 Henry St. in July, and the farm-focused spot Buttermilk Channel, which opened in 2008 at 524 Court St.
“It’s fascinating and frustrating at the same time to watch the old and new cultures mix,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6, which includes Carroll Gardens.
“There’s an old guard who often is very preservation-minded when it comes to neighborhood customs and traditions,” like maintaining Italian heritage, which is less of a focus for newcomers, he explained. “The parallel to that is that a lot of the newer settlers are the ones who are pushing the notion that the Carroll Gardens historic district ought to be expanded.”
Several blocks — from Smith Street to just past Hoyt Street and between President and First streets — were given a historic designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973.
But, he said, “there’s almost an expectation when you move [to Carroll Gardens], you’re joining a community. And when you join a community that means that you’re going to be immersed in a place where people say ‘Hello’ to one another and stop and chat, and where you get to know your neighbors.”
This homey vibe doesn’t come cheap. In 2015, the median recorded sales price for the neighborhood was $1.65 million, according to the listings site StreetEasy. Rentals fetched a median $2,913 per month last year, the site found.
In Brooklyn overall, the median price last year was $648,750 in the sales market and $2,500 on the rental side.
So far this year, however, sales prices have dipped slightly in Carroll Gardens, making it a good time to buy “before the demand gets high again,” said Anthony DelleCave, a real-estate sales broker with Citi Habitats and lifelong neighborhood resident.
The median sales price in Carroll Gardens was $1.52 million as of Sept. 19, according to StreetEasy.
You won’t find large high-rise buildings in Carroll Gardens, with most of the inventory brownstone row-homes, or apartments above shops on the main commercial strips of Court or Smith streets. But a few low-rise apartment buildings have been built on those commercial strips in recent years.
“The market overall is slowing down there because now there are so many neighborhoods outside of Carroll Gardens that have just as good a reputation,” DelleCave explained.
Longtime resident Wanda Lucibello, 60, said she loves the area’s access to arts, like its proximity to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in nearby Fort Greene, and fresh food, which she finds at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket on Sundays. But she laments the area’s rising housing costs.
“I don’t love the fact that it’s become very expensive for families,” said Lucibello, who has lived in Carroll Gardens for 32 years. “It’s become so pricey that it’s not affordable.”
Families are still moving here, though.
For example, Mary McDonough, 34, moved to the neighborhood four years ago and now has a 2-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.
“It’s really perfect,” said McDonough, a writer and producer who moved from the East Village and is renting in the neighborhood. “I love that it’s busy — it still feels busy and energetic and fun as if we were in the city.”