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- Living in Sunset Park -



On the Trail of Brownstones in Brooklyn


by Jeff Vandam




As real estate scavengers have discovered in recent years, the brownstones of Brooklyn do not end with what is traditionally known as Brownstone Brooklyn.  They have begun to look beyond the pricey borders of Carroll Gardens and Park Slope for stately 19th-century architecture, and they have found it and more in Sunset Park, a neighborhood where $1 million for such houses is more likely to be a price ceiling, not a floor.


Stretching south of Park Slope down to Bay Ridge, the neighborhood represents a diverse land of plenty.  More and more people are moving from within the borough, and from Manhattan, into Sunset Park's rows of brick, limestone and brownstone houses that descend toward New York Harbor.


What You'll Pay


If buyers are looking for homes under $1 million, "the answer is yes for a three-story house," said Tim Betancourt, co-owner of Park Slope's Betancourt & Associates Realty.  "If you're talking about four stories, it depends on the location."


In general, while some houses can still be found on the market in the $600,000 range, many now exceed that and the average falls more in the upper $700,000's and $800,000's. Well-preserved two- and three-family houses are in the $900,000's.


What To Do


Sunset Park has two thriving shopping strips -- one a vast Asian market, the other a Latin American smorgasbord.


Eighth Avenue is a heavily trafficked bazaar of noodle houses, fishmongers, fruit stands and butchers.  Shoppers walk about hauling bright orange and yellow bags of produce as vendors of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches sell their wares.  On Fifth Avenue, the food


extravaganza continues in the form of gorditas, tamales, tortas and tacos on practically every block.  There are also a few grocery stores and the highly popular Costco wholesale market on Third Avenue.


For recreation, there is always Sunset Park itself, with its views, its large playground, plenty of ball courts and a large pool.


The History


Sunset Park has always been home to immigrants.  Development began in the mid-19th century, when Irish settlers began to arrive, to be followed a few decades later by Poles, Italians and Scandinavians.  So many of the latter group moved in that there were areas known as Finntown and Little Norway.


The Commute


The neighborhood has two express subway stations:  36th Street, served by the , M, N, and R lines, and 59th Street, served by the N and R.  According to New York City Transit, the rush-hour commute on the D to 34th Street in Manhattan from 36th Street takes 25 minutes; from 59th Street on the N to 57th Street in Manhattan, 36 minutes.  The New York Water Taxi stops during rush hours at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, at 58th Street on the waterfront; a one-way trip is $6 and takes 15 minutes to Pier 11 at Wall Street.


What We Like


It is lovely to laze on Sunset Park's gently sloped lawn, taking in views of Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty and the water-tower-topped warehouses of Sunset Park itself.





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