August 1, 2011
Fourth Avenue finds footing After tough stretch, Brooklynâ€™s ugly duckling finally sees boost in activity By Jane C. Timm Fourth Avenue -- a wide boulevard wending its way from downtown Brooklyn to Bay Ridge -- is still a far cry from the "Park Avenue of Brooklyn" that politicians predicted during its mid-2000s rezoning. Development on Fourth Avenue, especially the section that skirts the western edge of Park Slope, did indeed take off during the real estate boom. Pioneering condo projects in the area, like Novo and the Crest, are now sold out. But as The Real Deal and others have reported, the area saw a number of projects stall mid-construction during the downturn. Plus, the notoriously unattractive area -- known for garages and empty lots -- still has more autoÂŹ shops than doormen. Recently, however, brokers say demand for residential properties on Fourth Avenue has spiked, with the help of postdownturn price cuts. And even more new construction is on the way, now that the worst of the downturn appears to be over. The Marketing Directors' Jackie Urgo, who is handling sales at the Arias at 150 Fourth Avenue, said she knows of three soon-to-be-announced projects within 10 blocks of the Arias. To help Fourth Avenue come into its own, the city is trying to encourage more retail and commercial development along the strip with yet another new zoning proposal. The surge of housing, housing and more housing -- without enough retail to accompany it -- in the last few years has been criticized for making Fourth Avenue "less inviting, less pedestrianoriented" than it should be, said Craig Hammerman, Brooklyn's Community Board 6 district manager. But City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden's recently unveiled plan aims to make the area more pedestrian-friendly, with more storefront retail space and fewer garages. The rezoning, which still needs city council approval, will address issues that were "overlooked" during the earlier rezoning, Hammerman said. This month, TRD took a stroll down Fourth Avenue to assess the state of residential and retail development in the area. The Arias: 150 Fourth Avenue Orignally built by the Iconic Group as a luxury condo during the market's peak, this 95-unit building was reincarnated as a rental in 2010 to adapt to the less-than-stellar market and the glut of inventory and planned units on Fourth Avenue. That seems to have been the right move, because the building is now 60 percent leased after only three months on the market, according to the Marketing Directors' Urgo. Move-ins began June 27; studios are renting for roughly $2,150, one-bedrooms for $2,900, and two-bedrooms for $3,800. That's significantly higher than Park Slope's rental averages of studios at $1,657, one-bedrooms at $2,214, and two-bedrooms at $2,646, according to a July 2011 report from the brokerage MNS. Arias, a full-service building with a gym, a pet spa and a rooftop fire pit, seems to appeal to Brooklyners looking for amenities that are rare in the area, Urgo said. "As opposed to being in the typical brownstone environment of Park Slope, [the Arias has] a 24-hour doorman and the amenities," Urgo said. In fact, that seems to be the allure of Fourth Avenue overall. "New construction is the name of the game," she said. Arias' ground floor has almost 6,000 square feet of retail, and FasTracKids, an early childhood learning center, has already signed a lease. Another tenant is currently negotiating for space, according to the retail agent for the building, Ryan Condren of CPEX Real Estate Services.