Bay Ridge, Brooklyn: Convenient to Manhattan, but More Affordable


A decade ago, as housing prices ballooned in Brooklyn, particularly in northern neighborhoods close to Manhattan, David G. Farley began looking farther south for a new home.

“We were priced out of Cobble Hill and thereabouts,” said Mr. Farley, 53, who moved to Bay Ridge in 2007 with his wife, Joanne Farley, now 52, and their daughter, Lucy, now 14. “So we found our way down here.”

For several years, the family rented a home in this bayfront Brooklyn neighborhood surrounded by Sunset Park, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton. Then, in 2012, they bought a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with Mr. Farley’s parents, who were living on Long Island, paying $705,000.

“We loved the community so much, it seemed like the right thing to do,” he said. “Although I am from Long Island originally and my wife is from Austria, Bay Ridge is the first place that we have ever really felt at home and wanted to put down roots.”

The neighborhood’s proximity to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island, and the easy commute to Manhattan, provided more reasons to stay put.

“I was teaching at St. John’s University on Staten Island at the time,” said Mr. Farley, an associate professor who teaches writing at the Institute for Core Studies, “and my wife was working in Lower Manhattan” — as a grant writer — “so it seemed a good location.”

Bay Ridge, they agreed, was an appealing amalgam of big city and small town — something others appear to have discovered as well, judging from the rising prices in the area over the past decade.

Forty years ago, when Tony Tadross, 72, an IT consultant, bought the three-bedroom house he still lives in — now with his wife, Karen Tadross, 61 — he paid $113,000 for it. Ms. Tadross said she has watched the neighborhood transform, as chain stores have replaced some of the smaller businesses. But other things have stayed the same.

“The spirit of the community is what I find inspiring. I am always amazed at how the community comes together when there is a crisis or someone needs help,” said Ms. Tadross, a self-described “professional volunteer” who helped found the group Bay Ridge Cares. “I love that I can walk into a store and the owner knows my name. It makes it feel like a small town in a big city.”

Bay Ridge has “an interesting mix of old-school neighborhood mainstays and newer businesses and restaurants,” said Joseph Moniaci, 46, a high school social-studies teacher who has lived in the neighborhood since 1998. “Quite a few coffee shops have opened recently. I think we finally caught up to the rest of Brooklyn.”

Mr. Moniaci, who lives with his wife, Deborah De Santis-Moniaci, 46, a psychologist, in a 1915 limestone house they bought in 2010 for $836,000, said the couple were drawn by the neighborhood’s walkability. “The parks have been a balm during the pandemic and quarantine,” he said. “One of my favorite things to do is take the NYC Ferry from the 69th Street Pier to Dumbo or Manhattan for fun. It’s an incredible way to see and experience the city and the waterfront.”

Plus, he added, “There is a community club and pool at Fort Hamilton, New York City’s only active military base — it’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets.”

The demographics in Bay Ridge have changed dramatically through the decades. The Irish, Italians and Scandinavians who settled in the area in the early 20th century were joined by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in the 1950s, said Henry Stewart, the first vice president of the Bay Ridge Historical Society. Over the past 20 years, Asian-American and Arab-American residents have arrived.

That diversity is part of what appealed to Mr. Farley, along with the vibrant political and cultural scenes. “Bay Ridge is home to a number of artists who have managed, over the years, to build a strong community, including galleries, theater productions, poetry readings, installations and the like,” he said, noting that “the number of street fairs and summer strolls seems to increase every summer.”

During the pandemic, a huge draw has been Bay Ridge’s open spaces, from Owl’s Head Park to Shore Road Promenade, bordering the waterfront, where people bike, run and fish. Runners also favor the path along the Belt Parkway, which offers views of the Verrazzano Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

As for housing, the market was fairly stable before the pandemic, thanks to the neighborhood’s relative affordability and strong local community, said Mary-Jean Gianquinto, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group. Inventory is usually scarce, and buyers come for more space than they’ll find elsewhere in the city. This fall, she said, she sold two townhouses at asking price before they went on the market.

“Bay Ridge has an incredibly diverse housing stock,” Ms. Gianquinto said, from $300,000 co-ops to $9 million waterfront homes.

“There are multiunit brick apartment buildings, mostly prewar apartments, in which the apartments are typically larger in size, with parquet floors and incredible views of the water,” she continued. On Shore Road, where there is an esplanade, you’ll find condos “in large buildings which are reminiscent of Sutton Place in Manhattan.”

Rents can range widely, from apartments for $2,000 a month to private homes for more than $4,000.

In late November, there were 276 homes on the market in Bay Ridge. The most expensive, a seven-bedroom Mediterranean-style house built in 1915, was listed for $9.335 million; the least expensive, a studio co-op in a 1953 brick building, was $189,999.

Local brokers report that demand has climbed amid the pandemic. “People are rushing to sell and buy,” said Mimoza Pavlina Qoku, an agent with Ben Bay Realty.

But data from the third quarter of 2020 reveals a market struggling to regain its balance. Sixteen single-family houses sold for an average of $1.135 million during the quarter, Ms. Gianquinto said, citing Corcoran data, down from 32 sales for average of $1.233 million during the same period last year. Thirty co-op units sold for an average of $370,000, down from 53 units for an average of $409,000 last year. Only condos saw a price bump, with nine units selling for an average of $803,000 in the third quarter of the year; during the same period in 2019, 14 sold for an average of $791,000.

The average monthly rent during Q3 was $2,129, according to data from the Corcoran Group.

If Bay Ridge looks familiar, it may be because you’ve seen it in movies or on television.

The CBS series “Blue Bloods” is set in Bay Ridge, and the 1920s colonial on Harbor View Terrace that stands in as the exterior of Tom Selleck’s character’s house is a favorite with fans, who like to take photos outside. And “Saturday Night Fever” was filmed in Bay Ridge, “although the movie depicts it taking place in Bensonhurst,” said Anthony Marsillo, a longtime neighborhood resident whose own restaurant, Gino’s, opened in 1964 on Fifth Avenue.

Over the years, the neighborhood’s culinary offerings have diversified with the population. Katelyn Giguere, a youth organizer at the Arab American Association of New York, based in Bay Ridge, said she particularly likes the food at Yemen Café on 71st and Fifth Avenue, which has provided free meals to essential workers during the pandemic.

Nearby is the popular Balady Halal Food Market, which sells specialty and imported foods. Mosa Masoud, the store’s general operations manager and a longtime neighborhood resident, said the expanded options have “had a domino effect that brought about more particular businesses focused on serving more particular ethnicities,” he said. “There are also more younger people, couples and families, compared to the Bay Ridge of the past.”

Fort Hamilton High School serves more than 4,500 students in ninth through 12th grade (36 percent white, 31 percent Hispanic or Latinx, 28 percent Asian and 3 percent Black), with a graduation rate of 80 percent for the class of 2019.

Private school options include Bay Ridge Prep, which serves about 400 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, at two locations.



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