In the quiet, family-friendly Kensington section of Brooklyn, it’s common to see parents and nannies walking with strollers down McDonald and Church avenues.
The Kensington population is diverse and includes thriving Orthodox Jewish, Bangladeshi and Ukrainian micro-communities.
But due to its friendly environment and proximity to Prospect Park, the neighborhood is getting more popular — not just for new residents, but also real estate developers and business owners.
Though the 585-acre park offers family-friendly fun to a large swath of Brooklyn, the attractions within walking distance for Kensington residents include a lake and horseback riding stables. The local entrance into the park also leads to the Parade Grounds, which offers soccer and baseball fields along with indoor and outdoor tennis courts.
Real estate developers have caught on to Kensington’s growing popularity, and several new buildings, including luxury residences at 231 and 130 Ocean Parkway, opened their doors in 2015.
Adding to Kensington’s family-oriented vibe, a new middle school, M.S. 839, opened on Caton Avenue, on the border of Windsor Terrace, to meet the demand from new residents.
But while some who work and live in the area are excited about its recent changes, others fear that rising real estate prices are likely to follow.
Lifelong Kensington native Rosie Ortega, 27, is concerned about getting priced out.
“The apartments are really expensive now. I’m not feeling good about that,” she said.
The types of homes in the area range from prewar buildings, private Victorians and town houses, to multifamily homes, co-ops and condo buildings.
As far as prices go, the median rental price in Kensington rose 4% between 2014 and 2015, from $1,872 in 2014 to $1,950, according to the listings site StreetEasy. The median asking sales price rose 20%, from $312,500 in 2014 to $375,000 in 2015, the site found.
Prospective renters and buyers are likely to face some competition, according to David Germaine, 39, a real estate agent with the local Rapid Realty office, on Coney Island Avenue. People who can’t afford housing in more popular Brooklyn neighborhoods are setting their sights on Kensington, he said.
“The demand for property in Kensington is very high,” Germaine said.
But for Luis Rojas, 30, who works at Carmelitas Flowers — which opened on Dahill Road 11 years ago — new residents mean more customers.
“The neighborhood is changing in a positive way. The environment is getting way better and cleaner. We have more space, parking lots and more [people] than before,” he said. “It’s a good thing [for Carmelitas Flowers] because we have more customers coming in.”
Robin Wertheimer, co-owner of Werkstatt, an Austrian restaurant that opened this past fall on Coney Island Avenue, also said the neighborhood is improving.
“There are a lot of new services, restaurants and bars in the area and plenty of demand for them,” she said. “There are so many young people moving in — a lot of people in their late 20s, early 30s.”
Wertheimer said Kensington’s suburban feel and close-knit neighbors make it really feel like home.
“There is a great network of parents and good schools,” she said. “The people are friendly, helpful and laid back — everyone knows everyone. I love it here.”
Kensington is bordered by Caton Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway to the north; 36th Street down to Dahill Road to the west; Coney Island Avenue to the east; and Foster Avenue to the south, according to StreetEasy.