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Rent $1,600 Higher in North Williamsburg Over South

By Meredith Hoffman | May 6, 2013 6:38am | Updated on May 6, 2013 7:04am
 A map by MNS Real Estate shows extreme price discrepancies in different parts of the neighborhood.
Rent $1600 More in 'Prime' Than South Williamsburg, Map Shows
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WILLIAMSBURG — Average rents in "prime" North Williamsburg are nearly $1,600 more than in parts of South Williamsburg, a new map shows.

Average residential rents for studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments are now $3,499 in North Williamsburg, north of the Williamsburg bridge between the BQE and the East River, the MNS Real Estate graphic shows. The price is nearly double that of the $1,900 average in South Williamsburg, south of the BQE and Broadway.

"This is prime Williamsburg," said MNS Real Estate's CEO Andrew Barrocas of North Williamsburg, including Bedford Avenue and the strip of new towers by the Williamsburg waterfront, where rents have reached such heights that some residents have felt pushed back to Manhattan to get better deals. "The proximity of the L train is a key driver...plus the amenities that have built up there, like restaurants and shops."

The southernmost section of Williamsburg, meanwhile, includes several public housing developments and is closer to the J, M and Z train station, he noted. The section, with a high population of Hasidic Jewish families, was also considered an area with one of the city's highest concentrations of poverty in a report last year by the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York.

East Williamsburg south of the BQE is slightly more expensive than the southernmost section, with average rents of $2,400, the map shows. And the area south of the bridge above the BQE is $2,900, the map shows.

Meanwhile, North Williamsburg east of the BQE (including Cooper Park and the area around the Lorimer Street and Graham Avenue L train stations) costs nearly as much as "prime" North Williamsburg, at $3,324.

"You see a big push going out toward East Williamsburg into Bushwick along the L. And everything in South Williamsburg, near Broadway and especially the waterfront...is becoming a lot more desirable," Barrocas said of the areas where prices were increasing.

The gentrification of North Williamsburg — which has been occurring the past several years since the area's rezoning for residential and commercial use in 2005 — is no news for local residents, but the exact price discrepancies between the different parts of the neighborhood reaffirmed a "concerning" trend, local City Councilman Stephen Levin said.

"It's obviously shocking how high these rents are," Levin said. "You look at other neighborhoods in Brooklyn and it seems like [North Williamsburg] is the outlier. These are Manhattan-level rents and it's very concerning, because I hear from constituents all the time who don’t have rent protection. It's difficult for working people to make that type of rent."

Levin noted the extreme variety of different areas of Williamsburg made it much more diverse than one typical neighborhood.

"In a lot of ways it’s a composite of different sub-neighborhoods. I'm not surprised to see those discrepancies because there are hotter areas than others," he said. "But the high-end prices are being driven by gentrification that’s clearly in overdrive."

But Barrocas said the price increases were partly "natural" and in keeping with an increasing cost of land and maintenance costs.

"To a large degree rents need to increase. It's natural," Barrocas said. "It's not just because of the gentrification of the area — water's more, sewage is more, the cost of land is more. Prices are increasing across the board."