THE HIGH END For Dumbo, a Different Kind of Condo
With a median sales price close to $2 million, Dumbo, Brooklyn, routinely finds itself on lists of the New York City’s most expensive neighborhoods. One developer is hoping to counter that trend by building condos that are lower in price than those typically sold in the area.
The developer, Hope Street Capital, believes that those working at companies in Dumbo who cannot afford to pay average Dumbo prices will be eager to buy units at 98 Front Street, where studios will start at $595,000 and one-bedrooms at $795,000.
“What we’re doing is intentional,” said Sha Dinour, a partner at Hope Street Capital. “We looked at what’s underserved in Dumbo, and it’s homes available for under $1 million.”
Many of the listings in the neighborhood tend to be for larger apartments, with two or more bedrooms. This building will have many studio and one-bedroom units, but with more than 100 layouts, it will cater to a variety of likely buyers; Mr. Dinour expects they will include single people, couples and families with children.
In the last couple of decades, Dumbo has changed from a sleepy, bohemian neighborhood to a booming office area. It is part of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which includes the Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn, and is home to some 500 technology and creative companies, according to the nonprofit Dumbo Improvement District. Employment at tech firms throughout Brooklyn has increased 57 percent since 2009, making it one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the borough, according to a report by the state comptroller’s office. The number of employees in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle is expected to reach about 36,000 by 2020.
Mr. Dinour believes that many of these employees want to live in Dumbo but can’t afford the hefty prices that have become the norm. In a recent search for homes on nytimes.com/real-estate, only five of the 51 listings were under $1 million, while 27 were priced over $2 million.
“I think there’s a serious void in the Dumbo market for a high-end product with a reasonable price threshold,” he said. “The traffic at rush hour is amazing, packed with young professionals. I’m betting some of them want to live where they work.”
That said, there will also be higher-priced homes in the 165-unit building, including two-bedroom units starting at $1.38 million and three- and four-bedroom homes ranging from $1.85 to more than $4 million.
The building, designed by ODA New York, will be LEED certified when it is completed in the spring of 2020. And the amenities, like those of other high-end condominiums, will include a steam room, an indoor saltwater pool and spa, and a fitness center equipped with Peloton exercise bikes. The ground-floor lobby will connect to a lounge and coworking space via a courtyard garden with a reflecting pool. The 7,000-square-foot rooftop terrace will have three outdoor kitchens, a bocce court and an outdoor screening and fitness area. Residents will be able to access the building with their cellphones using Latch, a keyless entry system, and Butterfly MX, an intercom system.
The units’ interiors will have windows that are nearly nine feet tall and are insulated and sound-attenuated, as the building sits next to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Kitchens will be equipped with Bosch refrigerators, dishwashers, cooktops and ovens.
The neighborhood is now so popular, it has become a tourist magnet, and some streets have been mobbed with throngs of visitors carrying selfie sticks to take photos of themselves with the Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridges as a backdrop. But residents know which corners to avoid (including Washington and Water Streets), said Rita van Straten, a broker at Douglas Elliman and a former Dumbo resident.
Ms. van Straten, who is not associated with sales at 98 Front Street, said she believes there is an appetite for homes under $1 million. Her Dumbo clients have included many empty-nesters and young professionals, she said, adding, “Dumbo has a very different feel than Downtown Brooklyn, so people who look for homes here tend to only want to look at Dumbo homes.”
Moreover, the Brooklyn condominium market has remained relatively stable, she noted, compared to that in parts of Manhattan, where sales have slowed. “There was a lot of hesitation among buyers last year, but it feels like there’s less uncertainty now,” she said. “Interest rates are stable, so we’re starting to see more transactions that are completed.”
But 98 Front Street will soon have competition: a mixed-use complex called Front and York, which will rise in a former parking lot at 85 Jay Street. The project, developed by CIM and LIVWRK, and designed by Morris Adjmi Architects, will be two towers with a mix of more than 700 condominium and rental units.
Residents will have access to a private park designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the same firm that designed nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park — and according to a spokesman, it will likely be “one of the city’s largest private parks.”