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Former Bed-Stuy Laundromat Sells for $4.3M

 A development site at 75 Ralph Ave. sold for $4.3 million, part of a growing trend in east Bed-Stuy.
A development site at 75 Ralph Ave. sold for $4.3 million, part of a growing trend in east Bed-Stuy.
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Massey Knakal

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A former laundromat in eastern Bed-Stuy has sold for $4.3 million — a sign that even the neighborhood's lower-income areas are beginning to gentrify, experts say.

The site, at 75 Ralph Ave., is a 130-by-100-foot lot with about 39,000 buildable square feet. It sold in an all-cash deal on June 26, according to real estate firm Massey Knakal, which brokered the deal.

The price tag on the Blue Wave Laundromat site is a sign that the low-income area is going through a change similar to that of the neighborhood's rapidly-gentrifying west side, Massey Knakal's Director of Sales Michael Amirkhanian said.

“The competitive nature of this sale highlights the demand within the development community for the east side of Bed-Stuy as it’s beginning to rival more established pockets further west in the neighborhood,” read a statement from Amirkhanian.

The Blue Wave Laundromat will make way for a six-story, 57-unit apartment building, according to city records. The site can take advantage of a special property tax exemption program.

Despite its high price tag, the lot is located in one of the neighborhood's poorest areas, with an 11.8-percent unemployment rate and 17 percent of families living below the poverty line, according to the latest census data.

Housing prices have been on the rise in Bed-Stuy for years now. A watershed moment came last June when a fixer-upper brownstone between Bedford and Nostrand avenues used in the Spike Lee film "Crooklyn" sold for $1.7 million — $400,000 above its asking price.

But the sale at 75 Ralph Ave. shows that the whole neighborhood is now getting more desirable, said Emilio Dorcely, president and C.E.O. of community development nonprofit Bridge Street Development Corporation.

"Individual sections of the neighborhood, towards Nostrand and Fulton and Stuyvesant Heights, were obviously the places where you initially started seeing prices going up," Dorcely said. "As inventory becomes less and less available, people are starting to look towards other parts of the neighborhood."

With the rise in housing prices comes backlash, Dorcely said. His office regularly sees tenants being pushed out of their homes because they can no longer afford rent.

"Sometimes their lease ends and sometimes they never had a lease because they've been living there for so long," Dorcely said. "I think it's becoming very dire."

The growing trend towards east Bed-Stuy property began in part last year when real estate firm Aptsandlofts.com joined development company Brookland Capital on a one-block stretch of Malcolm X Boulevard.

Aptsandlofts.com currently lists a $1,550-a-month one bedroom apartment on MacDonough Street between Patchen and Ralph avenues as one of its least expensive rental properties.

"You're seeing people really gravitate out there to less-expensive apartments," said Aptsandlofts.com president and founder David Maundrell

"People are going out there and it's all different types of people who are renting and looking to buy."

Maundrell started Aptsandlofts.com out of a Williamsburg office in 2002, watching that neighborhood grow as new developments pop up regularly. He decided to expand into Bed-Stuy last year after he noticed he was doing more and more business in the area.

Now, Maundrell said that he's starting to see some of what he first saw in Williamsburg. And while he doesn't foresee as many developments, he's already noticed an increase in buyers renovating and selling abandoned buildings.

"They're both very different neighborhoods, in terms of property and housing stock, but the activity we saw in Williamsburg is similar to what we saw in Bed-Stuy," Maundrell said. "This was a natural place for me to be right now."