Sunset Park, Brooklyn: What to do in the waterfront neighborhood

Sunset Park, Brooklyn: What to do in the waterfront neighborhood

With its beautiful waterfront, culturally diverse residents and up-and-coming vibe, Sunset Park is in the running to be the next go-to place for young people in New York City.

As the millennial crowd search in their uberPOOL and Lyfts for the next Williamsburg or Bushwick — a place where the rents are more affordable than in other parts of Brooklyn, the L train shutdown isn’t looming, and gentrification hasn’t quite cemented itself — they may find it here.

Located south of Gowanus and Park Slope, Sunset Park isn’t quite “deep Brooklyn” — it’s a 20-minute drive or 30-minute subway ride on the N, R or D to downtown Manhattan — and with its tree-lined streets and traditional brownstones, it looks similar to Park Slope.

Coralys Otero, 27, an artist, moved to Sunset Park three years ago from the Bronx. She was attracted to the area for its namesake park, which spans 24.5 acres from 41st Street to 44th between Fifth and Seventh Avenues.

The park offers a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, and it bustles with activity during the summer months: Families picnic, children ride bikes and scooters, and local residents gather for informal community meetings on the park benches.

“This is the first time I really go out to parks,” Otero said. “I come to the park sometimes to just sit down and draw. I mean, the view is beautiful, you don’t get that in other parks. It’s something that really inspires me.”

Earlier this year, a report by the commercial real estate firm Cush & Wakefield named Sunset Park one of the top 15 coolest neighborhoods in the U.S., calling it “edgy cool but in its infancy.”

“It’s not far from the city, it’s more affordable than the other communities around us, it has a lot of restaurants that cater to the tastes of a younger crowd,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Brooklyn Community Board 7, of Sunset Park.

Trendiness is slowly edging in on Sunset Park, exemplified in part by its growing party scene in occasional warehouse parties and concerts.

The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal’s 39th Street Pier hosted the Time Warp festival last November; and genre-bending FKA Twigs performed at the Brooklyn Hangar, a warehouse space at 140 53rd St., three times in May 2015.

Meanwhile, the new Citywide Ferry is planned to link Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal to Pier 11/Wall Street on Manhattan. The ferry service is scheduled to open in mid-2017 and is expected to transport Brooklynites to Manhattan in 35 minutes.

Industry City, a 6.5-million-square-foot business hub on 36th Street, hosts the Winter Flea and Smorgasburg market from November through March. It also houses an eclectic assortment of permanent businesses, from Aerobo, a start-up drone manufacturer, to Danielle Trofe Design, which makes lamps out of mushroom mycelium.

Some Sunset Park businesses set up shop in a gamble that the nabe will be the next big thing — as was the case for Angel Miranda, 25, who three years ago opened The Mug Cafe at 5811 Fourth Ave., an Italian and breakfast eatery.

“My friend told me that I was kind of jumping the gun, and that all the action right now was in the 20th the 30th [Streets in Greenwood and north Sunset Park],” he said, “But I was like,‘I’ll take a risk.’“

If business follows in the footsteps of local home prices, Miranda and other newcomers could see serious growth.

According to the real estate listings site StreetEasy, the median sales price in Sunset Park grew from $550,000 in 2012 to $800,000 in 2015. It surpassed overall Brooklyn, which had a borough-wide median sales price of $649,950 last year.

Sunset Park’s rental market is a little more attainable. While its median rent rose from $1,595 in 2012 to $1,900 in 2015, it was still down from Brooklyn overall, which saw $2,500 last year, the site found.

Jesus Elias Benitez, an associate sales broker with RE/MAX at The Slope, at 261 Fourth Ave. in Park Slope, has lived in Sunset Park for 15 years.

Benitez said he loves the neighborhood for its brownstones, which have remained unchanged since they were built around the turn of the 20th century, and vary in type from classical brownstones, to limestone and brick.

“Each block is different and unique,” he said.

Inside them is a diverse array of cultures, which are also reflected in the bustling Chinatown on Eighth Avenue and the Mexican community along Fifth.

Visitors can grab an authentic, all-natural fresh tamarind juice, served from a large jug on the sidewalk in front of Nieves Tia Mimi at 4711 Fifth Ave., and in just a few minutes’ walk grab jumbo shrimp at Lucky Eight, a Cantonese seafood restaurant at 5204 Eighth Ave.

Jairam Ganpat, 22, a student at Brooklyn College, has spent his life in Sunset Park and said it hasn’t lost its authenticity despite its growing population of newcomers.

“There’s a lot of older families just barbequing right outside of their apartment and just playing their music as loud as they want,” he said. “There’s just a festive vibe on any normal day.”


Sunset Park’s northeast boundary is 36th Street, and its boundaries extend southwest to the Belt Parkway and the Gowanus Expressway to 65th street. To the northwest, it is bordered by the Bay Ridge Channel, and on the southeast by Ninth Avenue, according to StreetEasy.

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