Boutique v. Grandeur – Brooklyn Edition

Throughout the last 10 years, there has been an interesting shift in the luxury market. Developers saw outside the Manhattan bubble leading them into areas of Brooklyn that were never explored before. In my eyes, the real onset of the luxury market in Brooklyn started with developers finding old abandoned warehouses and repurposing them into multi-use buildings. They would entertain national-brands for the commercial storefronts and build lofty luxury condos with the remnants of the buildings not leased to national chains.

The best example of this is undoubtably the Red Hook Waterfront.  The Dry Dock the Ikea store and its parking lot sits on, the U.S. Navy built in the 1850s, before the Civil War. In 1928, its original wooden structure was lengthened and rebuilt in concrete and steel at a whopping $2 million. You can read more on the Ikea lot here. From the 1960’s through the 1990’s, the exodus of manufactures and their warehouses left Red Hook somewhat of of a war zone. Riddled with crime and drugs, people didn’t venture to Red Hook unless they were looking for trouble or searching a dead body; the waterfronts and abandoned docks in the area were known to be body dumping grounds for the mafia. One of my favorite personal stories comes from my husband, who grew up in Park Slope (Brooklyn), had a girlfriend in high school (late 90’s) that lived in Red Hook. The neighborhood was so bad he wouldn’t even get off the bus to walk her to her door out of fear! HA!

Let’s fast forward to 2007. I remember my husband and I used to go out on dates all throughout Brooklyn and we once drove by the Beard St. and Van Brunt Stores in Red Hook and our jaws hit the floor. The Beard St. and Van Brunt Stores in Red Hook now held a Fairway (national chain) and luxe loft rentals (275 Conover Street) ranging in price from $5,000 to $8,000 a month for 1-2 bedrooms (2017/2018 pricing)! But one thing seemed to stand out to me, the developers were staying true to the area in this new found goldmine, Brooklyn. Everything from re-purposing buildings to building boutique townhome condominiums, which house anywhere from 3-5 large luxury apartments, were popping up everywhere for a fraction of the cost of Manhattan (both buy/build and re-sale numbers).

All this is fine and dandy, but what do the buyers really want? For the longest time, being a Manhattan agent, I always felt there were “types” of buyers for different products, but throughout my time working the Brooklyn markets, I’ve come to realize that people really want VALUE (and places that are instagram-able). I’ve sold in luxury condominium buildings that house 150+ units, to boutique condo-conversions buildings with 5+ units, but I truly feel today’s buyers, millennials in particular, are looking for a sense of community. Not a large community however, just enough people they can count on one hand; welcome the takeover of boutique condos.

I find boutique condos to really hold the best value. Why? Well, many developers will spend a little extra money on finishes and building materials due to the smaller size; this is easy math, smaller buildings means less units = less money on materials. Take this new development I’m working on with local Brooklyn developers (pictured below). These 3 units will range in size from 1400 SF – 2200 SF boasting high ceilings, Restoration Hardware bathrooms, to even the smallest of details… A POT FILLER FOR OVER THE STOVES! These little details you won’t find often in larger developments. Yup, there’s also a Starbucks nearby LOL.

Agents/Investors/Buyers, want to know more please email me at


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