People with very deep pockets are shelling out serious dough to buy homes in Gravesend, breaking records for the most expensive properties in all of Brooklyn. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that homes in the community are sought out by observant Jews looking to live close to the neighborhood’s synagogues and community centers.
Gravesend, which has traditionally been a diverse, middle-class neighborhood, is seeing whopping spikes in some home sales, with some selling for more than $10 million. The Journal accounted for the huge price tags on homes and why it is happening now:
Brokers said prices hinge not only on how big a house is, but also on its proximity to area synagogues and Jewish community centers. They say it isn’t uncommon for buyers to purchase relatively modest or outdated houses in order to tear them down and build new residences that allow for easy walks on the Sabbath.
At present, the highest-priced listing in the area, according to real-estate listing website StreetEasy.com, is a seven-bedroom house on Ocean Parkway with an asking price of $8.99 million. The house was initially listed for $14 million in 2012, and if it had fetched that price it would have been one of the most expensive homes to ever sell in Brooklyn.
A number of homes in Gravesend have already been among the most expensive to ever sell in the borough: One house on Avenue S sold for $10.25 million in 2011; another on the same avenue sold for $11 million in 2003; and one on East 2nd Street went for $10.26 million in 2009.
Avi Spitzer, the executive director of the nonprofit Sephardic Community Federation, explained the phenomenon in an email to the Journal.“Today Gravesend is the heart of the largest Sephardic Jewish community in the United States. The community has grown because we have built schools, synagogues, facilities and social service agencies to serve the community’s needs,” Spitzer said.The Journal also elaborated on the history of how Gravesend became a hotspot for the Sephardic Jewish community and what the most in-demand blocks are:
Mr. Spitzer said the city’s Sephardic Jewish community moved from Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Bensonhurst, which borders Gravesend, in the early 1900s, and migrated to Gravesend in the 1940s. Approximately 30,000 Sephardic Jews live in the neighborhood, he said, and many more live in adjacent neighborhoods such as Midwood.The most in-demand blocks in the neighborhood are concentrated in a small, tree-lined enclave from Avenue S to Avenue U, between McDonald and Coney Island avenues.
Ocean Parkway is the main thoroughfare running through the area.
While some price tags are skyrocketing, the median price for homes in Gravesend, $465,000, is still below the Brooklyn median, $495,000.
Still, it is remarkable how factors unrelated to geographical beauty and the architecture and size of homes can have minimal importance in driving a dwelling into multi-million dollar status.