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The Cheapest DUMBO Condos Are More Expensive Than Prime Manhattan Areas

By Alexandra Leon | October 24, 2016 9:54am

BROOKLYN — It can be more expensive to own property in DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, two of the most expensive real estate markets in Brooklyn, than in some of Manhattan’s prime neighborhoods. 

Prospective buyers won’t find a condo for less than $1,000 per square foot in DUMBO or Vinegar Hill, according to data compiled by real estate research and analytics site NeighborhoodX.

Its latest analysis of the waterfront neighborhoods’ condo prices showed that listings for 185 York St. in Vinegar Hill (a one-bedroom asking $645,000) and 85 Adams St. in DUMBO (a one-bedroom asking $899,000) are among the cheapest in the neighborhood.

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(Credit: NeighborhoodX)

The average condo in DUMBO and Vinegar Hill goes for about $1,626 per square foot, and the most expensive were upwards of $2,400 per square foot — a three-bedroom penthouse at 1 Main St. is listed at $7,495,000, or $2,462 per square foot.

By contrast, the least expensive listing in the Upper East Side’s Yorkville section is going for $545 per square foot — a one-bedroom at 509 E. 88th St. asking $400,000.

Buyers can find a number of other listings going for less than $1,000 per square foot in other Manhattan neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, including a one-bedroom at 457 FDR Drive asking $649,000, or $811 per square foot.

The difference between these listings in Manhattan and those in DUMBO are that they are co-ops as opposed to condos, and often these properties come with added restrictions or challenges.

“Oftentimes the reason people pay premium for a condo is that you have more freedom to rent it out,” said NeighborhoodX co-founder Constantine Valhouli. “The other reason driving bargains in prime areas is that there’s a challenge with the property — some are underground, or the second bedroom isn’t really a bedroom or it’s next to a playground.”

Meanwhile, property in DUMBO is amenity-laden, new construction that’s been developed in the last 10 years. 

Unlike Brooklyn Heights — another one of the borough’s priciest neighborhoods whose value has risen due to its historic charm and proximity to Manhattan — property value has been added to the formerly industrial neighborhood through the conversion of warehouses into lofts and condos, according to Valhouli.

Development in DUMBO has been the product of intentional planning by real estate development firm Two Trees Management Company, which was founded by David Walentas and now owns 80 percent of the neighborhood.

By offering free rent to DUMBO’s first retailers like chocolatier Jacques Torres in the early 2000s, Two Trees is credited with creating a destination neighborhood that would attract more luxury retailers and affluent residents — a stark contrast from the neighborhood’s population just 10 years earlier.  

“You’re definitely seeing everything skew towards a much more affluent demographic which has got to be shocking to the artists who were there from the beginning when it was a forgotten warehouse district between two bridges,” Valhouli said.

Unlike other dining and shopping destinations like Williamsburg, development in DUMBO has been geared largely toward families. The conversion of warehouses into lofts has generated more spacious units that lend themselves to families.

And new development is far from over as the Jehovah’s Witnesses sell their DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights headquarters and move upstate to Warwick.

The redevelopment of those buildings into office space has sparked the neighborhood’s revival as a tech hub, and part of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle that includes Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Five former Jehovah’s Witness buildings owned by Kushner Companies, RFR Realty and LIVWRK are already part of the “high tech urban campus” in DUMBO, where companies like Etsy and WeWork have already leased office space.

“It’s interesting how it’s come full circle,” Valhouli said. “From old industries and large manufacturing coming back for a second wave as the boutique maker movement.”