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Greenpoint growing on renters

The Manhattan view from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

By Al Barbarino

Brooklyn rents have risen sharply over the past year.  Williamsburg wasn’t spared.  Nor was Greenpoint.  But despite sharp rent increases in both neighborhoods, the latter remains an equitable alternative to its chicer and more expensive southerly neighbor.

Year-over-year rents grew more than 22 percent in Williamsburg and 18 percent in Greenpoint, July data from real estate firm MNS shows.  But average rents for studio, one and two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, at $3,364, are still nearly 29 percent higher than the average Greenpoint rent of roughly $2,613.

“We’re seeing very high rents at the moment in Williamsburg and in some cases rents are higher than in Manhattan,” said Jeffrey B. Remin, a research analyst at real estate services company MNS.  “Greenpoint is still in the vicinity of the hip and modern areas to live and you can get a much better deal there.  But as the area continues to grow I think we’ll continue to see a raise in rents in Greenpoint as people catch on.”

Williamsburg may have Greenpoint beat when it comes to nightlife, with countless bars and live music options and restaurants ranked among the best in New York City.

But Greenpoint is in its own right a vibrant Brooklyn enclave with a nice mix of quaint storefronts, bars and restaurants.  It’s also home to some of the best public schools in the city and is generally safer than Williamsburg, making it a great – and quieter – place for young couples to settle down and raise families.

The average renter can expect to pay roughly $700 more for a studio, $500 more for a one- bedroom, and more than $1000 more for a two-bedroom in Williamsburg.

“It’s very tough to predict the changes that will occur with rents,” Remin said.  “With all things equal I definitely see that the rise in Greenpoint rents will continue.  Will they catch up with Williamsburg?  It remains to be seen.”

Unlike the current rent discrepancies, the two neighborhoods share a lot in common, like a mostly conjoined waterfront.  Warehouses on Greenpoint’s western waterfront block the panoramic Manhattan skyline views seen in Williamsburg, casting a literal and metaphorical shadow on the smaller neighborhood.

“People know Williamsburg because it’s kind of at the forefront of being a hip place to live in NYC,” said John Brandon, a licensed real estate salesperson with real estate firm City Habitats, who has lived in Greenpoint – on the border with Williamsburg’s north end – for the past year.  “But I consistently find that people have never heard of Greenpoint.”

“I think it’s a fantastic alternative,” he said.

John Brandon

Not only are prices lower, but the quality of living is higher, with its laid back, quieter and more isolated feel, its tree-lined streets, quainter restaurants and cuter coffee shops – similar to the comparison between Manhattan’s East and West Villages, Brandon said.

In that case, to the east lies the grittier young, perhaps hip crowd; to the west is the more mature cousin.  But inarguably, Williamsburg lacks no charm, with its young hipsters and its own array of trendy – and not so trendy – locales.

“If you’re looking for a dive bar you go to Williamsburg,” Brandon said.  “For a nice Sunday brunch you go to Greenpoint.”


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