Celebrities are turning Brooklyn Heights into the ‘next’ West Village

On a recent afternoon, the line stretched down the block from The 4F apartment, a French bakery that started as an Instagram account during the pandemic and opened in a Brooklyn Heights store in June. Has been harassed ever since.

Walking down Montague Street, a posh crowd was having brunch at Felice, a new Italian restaurant run by the group behind the fashion world hangout Sant Ambrose. Felice recently created the celebrity obsessed site two mewhen the actress tommy dorfman was seen there.

And a few blocks away, actor Paul Rudd was hanging out on his front porch with his family, having recently purchased and renovated a neighborhood brownstone.

In the last year or so, the stodgy, wealthy enclave of Brooklyn Heights, the old Volvo of New York neighborhoods, has undergone a subtle but significant change.

Change is in the early stages: Senior Discount Tuesday at Gristedes is still popping up, and the closest thing to a home furnishings store is Mattress Firm. But the leafy neighborhood, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge along New York Harbor, has destination food and shopping for the first time in a while. Its grand historic row houses have become prized by the nouveau superrich who are driving out the merely well-to-do lawyers and bankers who have long been part of the local nobility.

And celebrities are now everywhere. Amy Schumer made headlines in July when she paid more than $12 million for The house “Crazy Moon”the five-bedroom, 5,600-square-foot row house built in 1829 where the 1987 Oscar-winning film was shot.

Matt Damon paid $16.7 million in 2018 for a 6,000-square-foot penthouse in Standish Brooklyn, the Beaux-Arts-style hotel turned celebrity-studded condo in Columbia Heights. Her neighbors include John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. three blocks away, Michelle Williams paid 10.8 million dollars in 2020 for a 3,000 square foot townhome.

Celebrity sightings have become so common: Jennifer Connelly walking her children to school; Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on a weekend getaway; Adam Driver playing fetch At the dog park, it’s no wonder the paparazzi haven’t kept an eye on the boardwalk.

In another sign of the neighborhood’s growing cultural prestige, Jenny Jackson, Knopf’s vice president and executive editor, has written a novel of manners set in Brooklyn Heights that follows a wealthy family. “pineapple street” will not come out until next year, but it has been chosen for development as a television series.

“It’s about the extraordinary understated wealth that can be found in the pockets of this neighborhood,” said Ms. Jackson, who moved to Brooklyn Heights from the West Village 11 years ago. “It’s a fun neighborhood. It is not flashy. However, there are pockets of deep wealth that loom.”

She has also had her share of run-ins with celebrities. “The West Village is where you went if you wanted to see celebrities in their natural habitat,” Ms. Jackson said. She now meets Keri Russell at SoulCycle and Adam Driver at the ice cream cart. I’ve seen Matt Damon outside the pharmacy. He draws so much attention because he pulls his hat down to try to be inconspicuous.”

The West Village analogy is not far off. Since then carrie bradshaw was seen leaving a Perry Street brownstone, the neighborhood has long been considered one of the most desirable in New York City for a certain class of downtown celebrities who coveted a West Village row house as the ultimate real estate award. architectural compendium was once asked if West 11th Street was home to the most “star-studded” block in the city.

But maybe the West Village became too good a thing. All the best row houses were gobbled up by billionaires like Steve Cohen, the hedge fund manager and owner of the Mets. Tourists flocked to the Magnolia Street bakery and boutiques on bleecker street.

In a city where the ultra-rich want not one, but two home offices and plenty of outdoor space — desires that skyrocketed during the pandemic — Brooklyn Heights has emerged as a quaint alternative for those who can afford to live anywhere.

“Right now, there are countless shoppers simultaneously shopping in the Village and Brooklyn Heights,” said Ravi Kantha, a partner at Leslie Garfield, real estate agency specializing in semi-detached houses. “I tell people, ‘It’s like the West Village, no breaks,’” she added, referring to well-kept row houses on tree-lined streets.

In a way, it’s even better. Homes in Brooklyn Heights tend to be larger than those in the West Village, many built during the 19th century by wealthy merchants in what would become Manhattan’s first suburb.

The charming streetscapes are also more uniform, offering a cloistered tranquility that other brownstone neighborhoods lack.

“In the West Village, you’re stuck between the avenues, and there are all these people who come from out of town to go to the comedy clubs or the jazz clubs,” said Elizabeth Roberts, the architect known for blowing up the back of Brooklyn Brownstones and Glass Wall Installation. “Brooklyn Heights is block after block of tranquility. Why do celebrities and others head there? It’s the most beautiful Brooklyn brownstone neighborhood there is.”

And it has spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, giving it a visual link to downtown, which is reassuring for anyone venturing across the river for the first time. That may explain why the private rooftop has become Brooklyn Heights’ entertainment trophy.

Ask Robert Taffera and his brother, Eric, from Taffera Inc., the “It” contractors in Brooklyn Heights – Yes, there is such a thing. New brownstone owners have a sky-the-limit approach to gut renovations, with budgets sometimes exceeding $4 million, based on quotes of $1,000 per square foot for renovations.

“In some projects, we’ve excavated almost underneath the entire lot and put the landscaping back on top,” to make room for offices, gyms and warehouses, Robert Taffera said.

Home prices have also skyrocketed. In 2020, a Quay Tower penthouse, a waterfront condominium, sold for $20 million, breaking the district sales record held by Mr. Damon. That record was short-lived: in 2021, a sprawling house on Montague Terrace owned by Vincent Viola sold for $25.5 million to an undisclosed buyer.

Many of the newcomers made their fortunes in the new economy and are drawn to the beautiful architecture, proximity to Manhattan, and elite private schools like Packer Collegiate Institute and St. Ann’s School.

They include Joseph Lallouz, a cryptocurrency executive who paid $18.3 million last month ($3 million more than the previous list price) for a five-story brownstone with a carport, private garden and a rooftop terrace with ocean views. Other notable residents include dan houser, founder of Rockstar Games; Michael Lynton, Chairman of Snap Inc; and Julie Greenwald, chief operating officer of Atlantic Records.

“People who walk through the neighborhood, very often the first comment is, ‘Wow, it’s so beautiful. It’s so quiet, so peaceful,’” said Mr. Kantha, the real estate agent. “For anyone looking for an escape from the pressure, the noise, anything about the city that can be overwhelming, this is an amazing thing to discover.”

But there are still plenty of amenities that Brooklyn Heights lacks. Until recently, there were no Instagram-worthy bar or restaurant scene. There are no gourmet shops to purchase grass-fed beef or cheese from Hudson Valley purveyors. No boutique hotel with a meeting lobby.

The closest thing to a social club is the casino of the heightsa timeworn squash and tennis club that feels imported from the 1950s in Greenwich, Conn.

Montague Street, the neighborhood’s main shopping strip, is famous, perpetually monotonousa boulevard of chain stores like Starbucks and Key Food interspersed with hardware stores, bodegas and mom-and-pop cafes, along with many empty stores.

Ashley Coiffard, who opened L’Appartement 4F with her husband, Gautier Coiffard, first visited Montague Street three years ago and recalled thinking there was nowhere to eat except the Subway.

“After we signed our lease, a lot of people said, ‘Brooklyn Heights, there’s not much to do. Are you sure it was a good decision?’” he said.

But the bakery appears to have spurred a retail renaissance. Across the street at 122 Montague, novelist Emma Straub is opening a new branch of her bookstore, books are magical, a store so cute that it has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram. (The bookstore’s original location is on Cobble Hill.)

Both businesses were brought to the neighborhood by the Brooklyn Heights Association, a civic group over a century old that works with owners, neighbors and businessmen to boost local commerce. “The older generation may not like it, but I think the next thing to look for is a really cool bar on Montague Street,” said Erika Belsey Worth, president of the association.

She may have gotten her wish. In June, Sean Rembold, a former chef at Williamsburg mainstays Marlow & Sons and Diner, and his wife, the fashion designer Carol CallahanOpened Bar Ingas, a chic neighborhood eatery at 66 Hicks Street, a space formerly occupied by neighborhood stalwart Jack the Horse Tavern.

Ingas is usually packed with people who seem to have Ubered in from the colder parts of Brooklyn. On a recent night, Amy Schumer was hanging out at the bar.

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