Neighborhood Watch: Sunset Park

In each issue of Brooklyn Home, we’ll be taking a closer look at a Brooklyn neighborhood. This month, we’re focusing on one of the hottest, most up-and-coming and affordable neighborhoods in South Brooklyn, Sunset Park.

Nestled between  Greenwood, Bay Ridge and Borough Park, Sunset Park is bordered by Greenwood Cemetery and 36th Street to the north and 65th Street to the south, with 9th avenue and Upper New York Bay to the east and west.   Founded in the late 1800s by Scandinavian, Polish and Irish immigrants, Sunset Park remains a diverse and vibrant neighborhood and is home to thriving Chinese and Latin American communities.


Full disclosure here – if you’ve ever  ‘talked real estate’ with me in person, you’ll know that I have a tendency to wax lyrical about this neighborhood.  I’m a huge fan.

So what’s so special about Sunset Park?  Well let’s start with bang for your buck.  Like Park Slope and other Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, it has a large inventory of Brownstones, townhouses and pre-war coop buildings. However, while prices have been rising steadily over the past few years: a single family house that would have sold for $520,000 in 2011 will now command in the region of $1,130,000, an increase of 117%, Sunset Park is still incredibly affordable which makes it a huge draw for both those seeking more space or an affordable property investment.  While it may be a little further out from the city, with the R, N and D trains servicing the neighborhood, it’s far from remote.

Media professional Kateri Jochum moved to the neighborhood five years ago from Park Slope. “I got about the same space for a lot less, plus a huge sunny backyard – big enough for planting, barbecue and just having a respite from the city.” She says she likes the “family-feel” of the neighborhood. “A lot of the families on my block have been there for decades, so it feels very safe. Plus having two express lines handy means I can get into the city in about 20 minutes.”

The neighborhood has plenty to explore:  Brooklyn Chinatown is very popular with residents and is a go-to for fantastic food and produce.  Local ‘hipster’ cafes such as Parlay and Parkette are also popping up, perhaps in response to the changing demographic of the area.

Sunset Park itself is perched at the neighborhood’s highest point and offers beautiful and expansive  views of the Manhattan skyline along with a large open air pool that is open during the summer months.  The neighborhood also borders Greenwood Cemetery, described by Paul Auster (author of the  novel Sunset Park) as “One of the most remarkable places in all of New York City”.

“We love taking walks in Greenwood Cemetery and I swim in the Sunset Park pool all the time in the summer” says Kateri.  “Industry City is great if you work at home – and South Slope restaurants and bars are very close.”

Ah yes, Industry City.  The lure of Industry City has a huge part to play in the buzz that’s emanating from Sunset Park . Formerly Bush Terminal, built in 1890,  this 16 building, 6 million square foot complex houses a creative hub of artists, makers,  manufacturers and start-ups.

Recent large scale relocations to the complex include Time Inc, Publicis, Design Within Reach and even the Brooklyn Nets, who have a state of the art training facility there. Industry City also houses a food hall with multiple food retailers and has regularly hosted food and retail events such as the Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg and the Renegade Craft Fair.

Employment at the complex has more than tripled from 1,900 in 2013 when work began on the $1 billion 10 year renovation, to 6,000 today.  By 2025, Industry City expect the total long-term jobs generated as a result of the redevelopment to grow to nearly 20,000.   A recent tenant survey also reported that approximately two-thirds of the workforce are under the age of 35.

So what does this mean for Sunset Park’s property market?  The substantial increase in  commuters to the area combined with the affordability of property is good news for sellers as demand for inventory is high among those looking to buy.  Last year, a multi-family townhouse listed by my office fetched $200K over asking price with multiple offers from just one open house.  For weeks afterwards, we fielded up to five calls a day inquiring after similar properties.

For buyers, while rock bottom bargains are becoming harder  to come by, there is still a large window of opportunity for those looking to snag an affordable home. Townhouses in the area can be found for between $1.1 and $1.5 million, with pre-war 2 bedroom apartments in the Finnish coop buildings that border the park regularly selling at between the $500 and $600K mark.

With private sector employment in the neighborhood reaching record levels in 2015, investment opportunities are also abundant, with would be landlords looking to invest in affordable property to rent to the influx of new workers.

All in all, it’s fair to say that Sunset Park’s future is bright and I for one am excited to see this quickly evolving neighborhood continue to blossom and shine…

If you’re interested in the Sunset Park property market and would like a free market analysis or help with buying, selling or renting in the area, you can contact me here and I’ll get right back to you.

Photo credits: Lindsay Owen & Industry City.

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