A new lease of life
Once an industrial heartland, the East River stretch of waterside in Williamsburg, a neighbourhood in New York’s Brooklyn borough, is being transformed into glossy rental apartments. Significant developments include the conversion of the 11-acre Domino Sugar refinery site into five buildings with 2,800 rental apartments and a public park. Leasing is under way on the first building of 522 apartments.
At 420 Kent, a development by Eliot Spitzer, the former NY governor, construction is under way on three 22-storey residential towers. They will have a total of 857 rental apartments, which will share a private park and two rooftop pools (prices are yet to be announced).
The commute is set to improve — eventually
The L train, the subway artery between Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan that handles 400,000 passenger trips each weekday, is closing in 2019 for restoration works to repair damage done by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The city transport authority says the work will result in a more frequent and reliable service. In the meantime, residents will have to make do with the proposed replacement services: an aerial gondola beside the Williamsburg Bridge and a city-sponsored scooter-sharing scheme.
Almost every day for three years — between 1959 and 1961 — the jazz great Sonny Rollins would walk from his home on Grand Street to Williamsburg Bridge, where he would practise his saxophone, on a private spot hidden from view, next to the subway tracks. Today, venues such as the Music Hall of Williamsburg and St Mazie Bar & Supper Club, mean the neighbourhood is still a place for music lovers.
Contemporary art scene
Once Manhattan’s poor, industrial cousin, Williamsburg’s low rents drew in a wealth of creatives and, by 1996, had a 3,000-strong population of artists. Most have since been priced out, but the galleries and markets remain. Institutions such as Slag Gallery, the Sideshow Gallery and Ventana244, support emerging artists.
The only way seems to be up
According to the Q2 2017 Brooklyn sales report by Douglas Elliman, the estate agency, median sale prices in Brooklyn have increased 20.6 per cent in the past 12 months.
It’s the third record of average sale prices in the past four quarters. Transactions have increased more than 50 per cent year on year.
Photographs: Dreamstime; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; CityRealty/ EastRiverSkyway; Ryan Deberdinis/Dreamstime; Bloom Images; Andrey Burakov/Alamy; Zhukovsky/Dreamstime; Minh Tang/Getty Images/Hemera