Sights like gas stations and McDonald’s made any trip down Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue worth forgetting.
But the Fourth has awakened, and it’s fast morphing from an industrial hinterland into a gentrifying — and desirable — residential thoroughfare.
“It was a very commercial corridor,” recalls Brendan Aguayo, senior vice president and managing director of Halstead Property Development Marketing (HPDM), of this four-lane strip located near his childhood home. “Auto-body shops, manufacturing, fast-food places,” he says, lined the avenue that connects sought-after areas, including Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Gowanus, and continues south to Bay Ridge.
Today, a trek from Pacific Street down to 19th Street still shows traces of that gritty past; you pass gas stations, car washes and few trees. But it also reveals much of what’s arrived since: a gaggle of ritzy residential buildings.
For instance, at 150 Fourth Ave. stands Instrata Park Slope — a 12-story brick-and-glass rental, where a one-bedroom with an open kitchen and washer/dryer asks $3,400. Meanwhile, there’s the CetraRuddy-designed 202 Eighth St. rental, near Fourth Avenue, where a one-bedroom apartment with comparable features is listed for $2,807. Tenants can also get these perks at the brick-clad 278 Sixth St. building, where a one-bedroom wants $2,900 per month.
There’s far more to come. Scaffolds surround a number of forthcoming developments up and down the avenue, including at the former Church of the Redeemer, a demolition site near Barclays Center that spies tell The Post will give way to a condominium. Also on the way is the ODA-designed 251 First St. — a 44-unit condo that’s one of nine new area developments HPDM is marketing — where prices begin north of $1 million.
From Pacific Street down some 30 blocks to South Slope, and on the side streets immediately surrounding the avenue, a whopping 26 buildings are now in the development pipeline, according to HPDM tallies, which will flood the area with roughly 1,400 units when completed.
All this activity stems from a trio of rezonings between 1994 and 2005. In their wake, developers seized opportunities to build in this untapped area, rightly anticipating residents would want easy access to prime nabes and new construction.
“I felt a brand-new rental could be a very attractive thing for the neighborhood,” says Miki Naftali of the Naftali Group, which developed Landmark Park Slope — a glassy 2013-opened, 104-unit rental that runs alongside Fourth Avenue. This 12-story building has a roof deck with Manhattan views, a residents’ lounge, a gym and homes with floor-to-ceiling windows. “I realized that [New Yorkers] want to live in the neighborhood, but are looking for modern living with great amenities. It was a no-brainer.”
It’s not just a matter of improving the avenue’s aesthetics by constructing elegant buildings with luxe residences — though, honestly, that helps. Over the past several years, developers have targeted this Fourth Avenue corridor simply for what’s nearby. For instance, area transportation is pretty good; the northern end of the avenue opens up to the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center transit hub, where the Long Island Rail Road and nine subway lines pass through, with additional train stations located down Fourth.
“You have a huge hub of commuter lines. You’re not detached,” says Claudia Caicedo, an agent at Triumph Property Group — a co-exclusive brokerage leasing apartments at the 17-unit 546-548 Fourth Ave. rental, where prices start at $3,600 for a two-bedroom.
Major Brooklyn attractions were an even bigger lure.
“Barclays Center was a big driver for us looking at that area,” says Omri Sachs, co-founder of Adam America Real Estate — a firm that’s developing seven sites in the zone, some of which are joint ventures. Among their buildings are the 27-unit 577 Baltic St. and the 70-unit 595 Baltic St. rentals — both just off Fourth Avenue — that should launch leasing shortly. There’s also the avenue-adjacent 31-unit 610 Warren St. condo where rising design star Paris Forino handled interiors and prices begin at $960,000.
We knew there was going to be development around it … and we figured this would be the next spot to be in Brooklyn.”
It’s no surprise, then, that prices have soared over the last decade. Closed condo sales down Fourth Avenue now average $1,101 per square foot — up 4.1 percent from last year, but a 57.1 percent jump from a $701 average in 2007, HPDM data shows. That makes for a good property investment, and that’s what encouraged Adam Edrington, manager of operations at real-estate brokerage Compass, and his marketing-manager girlfriend Ashley Binford to buy a light-filled one-bedroom condo between Fourth and Fifth avenues over the summer.
“Our broker told us there’s a lot of development going on along Fourth Avenue … and it would help the value of the apartment,” Binford says of their home, which is located in an older building.
Reality (the never-ending construction sites!) has confirmed the avenue’s upward trend. “When you look at it now, you see what the potential can be,” says Edrington.
Of course, like in any up-and-coming district, not everything is perfect. Fourth Avenue itself could benefit from additional retail. There’s a noticeable row of vacant storefronts between St. Marks Place and Bergen Street. Farther down, a taxi depot and a U-Haul location are as unsightly as they are hard to miss. But, per zoning requirements, new developments are required to include ground-level retail, which will help fill in the holes.
“[Retail] really helps the neighborhood become a pedestrian-friendly community, not just a bunch of buildings that happen to be near each other,” says Michael Stern, whose JDS Development Group is responsible for the Fourth Avenue-adjacent 44-unit Baltic, which will have roughly 5,500 square feet of retail.
This isn’t to say the area is desolate; some choice offerings line or surround the stretch. The Whole Foods Market on Third Avenue has been a huge plus since it opened in 2013. The Rock Shop and Mission Dolores are neighboring Fourth Avenue bars off the Union Street R station. Folks can also drink up at Threes Brewing, which stands just off Fourth, or grab a bite at the roomy — and delicious — Dinosaur Bar-B-Que three blocks south.
But as anyone can imagine, all the real estate buzz results in literal (and loud) buzzing.
“There’s a lot of noise,” says Renato Poliafito, co-founder of the bakery Baked, who shares a two-bedroom Fourth Avenue-facing condo with his partner, Sven Wiedmann, and enjoys being near the Gowanus arts scene. “They’re building an additional two floors on the [building] next door, and the beeping of the cranes they’re using is relentless. You try to drown it out, but I think it’s a side effect of living in NYC.”
That’s the price of living in a burgeoning nabe. May the Fourth be with you.