By Richard Morgan
Williamsburg is in the middle of the same transition seen in SoHo in an earlier generation, going from bohemian
wonderland to high-end mall encased in gloss.
"Why do so many of us buy into the state of attitude that is Williamsburg, even though the actively uncool UTNE
Reader crowned it one of America's hippest places--in 1997?" asked Details magazine--in 2004. In the years since,
according to a report earlier this year by Williamsburg brokerage aptsandlofts.com, the neighborhood went from 21 condo
sales competed in 2003 to 480 in 2013 (peaking at 1,047 in 2011), with average townhouse sales more than tripling, from
$378,000 to $1.4 million.
Williamsburg is massive, brimming with pockets of unique mini-neighborhoods. It matters if a home or business is
north or south of Metropolitan Avenue, west or east of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. But Williamsburg's heart, a half-
mile radius, give or take, around the Bedford Avenue stop on the L line, is a bellwether.
Along Williamsburg's pluckiest heartstring, Bedford Avenue, a visitor--and there are many--can find the kinds of
venues one might expect in a Minneapolis mall: a Dunkin' Donuts, a Subway sandwich shop, a Verizon Wireless store and a
Juice Generation is on the way.
The area also hosts plenty of imports from Manhattan below 14th Street: Cafe Mogador, Crif Dogs, Dos Toros
taqueria, Fellow Barber, high-end menswear line Gant Rugger, Two Boots pizzeria and Umami Burger.
The Wythe Hotel and coming Level Hotel, which is scheduled to open in early 2016 and will be within in spitting
distance of the Wythe, exude a coolness that once belonged to the Meatpacking District'sGansevoort and Standard hotels.
Nearby the Williamsburg hotel sites is nightclub Output.
How kaput is hipster Williamsburg and the days of its scruffy lofts? In April, freewilliamsburg.com, a local blog,
chronicled all of the neighborhoods touted over the years by reputable publications to be "the next Williamsburg."
There were 19 contenders. The blog found the front-runner was Long Island City, with three published nods, followed
by Bushwick and Greenpoint, with two each. The remaining list was a five-borough hodgepodge: Astoria, Bay Ridge,
Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Heights, Crown Heights, East New York, Hunts Point, Mott Haven, Ridgewood, the Rockaways,
St. George, Sunset Park, the Upper East Side and West Harlem.
In the most Williamsburg-y of assertions, John Flansbaugh, of the Brooklyn-based band They Might Be Giants, told
the Gothamist blog: "The Catskills is the New Williamsburg. There! I said it! There is more artisanal pork being
butchered there than anywhere." No coolness survives so many challenges.
For residents, the neighborhood flux can be jarring.
"I went to a Vietnamese restaurant in my neighborhood and realized in the bathroom, when I saw a sign for my old
mechanic, that the spot was where my mechanic had been. I died a little inside," said Christopher Amundson, a 38-year-
old events producer.
Mr. Amundson moved into a $648-a-month, rent-stabilized one-bedroom in Williamsburg in 2004, but is now leaving for
New Jersey after his latest lease asked for $1,100 a month. "The Meatpacking District is on Wythe Avenue now," he said.
"The whole thing is over."
As it has been for many other neighborhoods, the imminent arrival of a Whole Foods has triggered a frenzy of
gentrification, including a five-story specialty version of Urban Outfitters called Space Ninety 8, on North Sixth
Street. Vice Media, a multiplatform fief, pushed out thrift-store Beacon's Closet when it planned expansion earlier this
year, and is now in talks about possible partnerships with long-established Time Warner Inc.
More telling of the neighborhood's future is the coming J. Crew--which swings more toward the first lady than Lady
Geoff Bailey was hired by SCG Retail last year specifically to expand the real-estate brokerage's Brooklyn
footprint. He has been operating in the Williamsburg market for seven years, and has participated in deals including
space for SoulCycle in 2012, and locations for Whole Foods and Sweetgreen that are coming to the neighborhood.
He noted a firm analysis finding that Williamsburg residents are now on average between 25 to 35 years old making
per-capita income of $108,000 a year.
"It fits the profile of the upper Upper West Side, Chelsea and the East Village," he said.
To that end, building plans were unveiled last month for construction at Kent Avenue and North Seventh Street:
3,000 square feet of commercial space topped with a 9,771-square-foot, single-family residence complete with a third-
floor infinity pool.
$1.75 million265 N. Sixth St.
This three-family house is set up as two two-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom, each with one bathroom.
Property Plus: The house is 21 feet wide.
Property Minus: Last renovated more than 50 years ago
Listing Agent: Yuval Vidal of Douglas Elliman, 646-436-5625
$1.8 million22 N. Sixth St., No. 8I
This is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in a doorman building.
Property Plus: Use as pied--à--terre is allowed.
Property Minus: View faces inner courtyard and another tower.
Listing Agent: Harkov-Lewis team of Halstead Property, 212-381-6590
$4.75 million 2 Northside Piers, PH30Y
A duplex four-bedroom penthouse and a one-bedroom apartment, with other floorplans possible.
Property Plus: 28-year tax abatement
Property Minus: There is no storage unit.
Listing Agent: Ralph Modica of Douglas Elliman, 917-407-0084
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