Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and visiting fellow at Florida International University.
Property values have soared in some neighborhoods. But other parts of the borough have been largely excluded from the boom.
That Brooklyn houses one of New York City's hottest real estate markets is old news. But a look at some new data shows how uneven and concentrated the borough's transformation is. A number of Brooklyn neighborhoods have seen their residential property values appreciate at an incredible clip. According to PropertyShark's real estate blog:
- Home prices per square foot are up 174 percent in Williamsburg, from $269 per square foot in 2004 to $736 in 2012. As happened in Manhattan’s SoHo decades ago, those that gave Williamsburg its éclat are at risk of being priced out of their very own stomping grounds.
- Residential values in Prospects Lefferts Gardens, a neighborhood of beautiful limestone and brownstone single family houses near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the old Ebbets Field have risen 63 percent, from $235 to $382 per square foot during the period, despite a lack of restaurants, bars, shops, and music venues that Williamsburg is famous for.
- Sandwiched in between Carroll Gardens to the west and Park Slope to its east, property values in gritty Gowanus have gone up more than 50 percent, despite its notoriously polluted canal.
None of this is particularly surprising. Brooklyn's Park Slope bested Manhattan's Lower East Side for the crown of New York's "most livable" neighborhood in a 2010 ranking by Nate Silver for New York magazine. Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens/Gowanus, and Prospect Heights all numbered among the top 10. As the map shows, most of the neighborhoods that have seen substantial increases in property values are directly across the river from lower Manhattan, or near Prospect Park, the only exception being Coney Island to the far south.
But what the map also shows is how localized this gentrification turns out to be. Despite Brooklyn's image as an uber-gentrified, artisanally-over-the-top hipster-ville, the reality is that more than half of Brooklyn's neighborhoods have actually seen their property values grow much more modestly or even slide.
When you look to the east towards Brownsville, Canarsie, and East Flatbush — where millions of Brooklyn's residents live — property values have declined by double digits. The three neighborhoods that have seen the biggest declines are Cypress Hills, East Flatbush, and Flatbush. When you look to the traditional working class and middle class neighborhoods of Bensonhurst and Midwood, the appreciation is much more modest, in the single digits.
I have often noted that the world is getting spikier, as economic activity concentrates in certain locations. It happens within cities too — even within boroughs, as some neighborhoods experience stunning growth, and others continue to languish. The map shows how uneven and spiky urban transformation is and how divided our cities remain — a subject I will be writing much more about in the New Year.