(Interesting artical written in the New York Times about Crown Heights Real Estate)
Published: January 20, 1985
CROWN HEIGHTS is being rediscovered. Regarded for years as a dangerous ghetto, the central Brooklyn neighborhood now attracts many newcomers in search of affordable housing near the more prosperous Park Slope.
During the 1950's and 1960's, Crown Heights's population dropped as ethnic and racial composition shifted and poverty and crime discouraged new investment. The 1970's brought new vigor to Brooklyn, largely through the brownstone revival and renewed interest in the borough's architecture and history. Crown Heights's innate attractiveness and the personal and economic investment of its residents have kept the community's social fabric from unraveling completely.
Today, community involvement is the key. ''There are well over 100 active community organizations in Crown Heights,'' said Pat Denton of the Prospect-Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association. ''These groups help to bring positive change to the area.''
Housing diversity is bringing people back to Crown Heights, which is bounded on the north by Atlantic Avenue, the south by Empire Boulevard, the east by Ralph Avenue and the west by Flatbush Avenue. There are brownstone apartments in the northwestern corner, sometimes called Prospect Heights. Prewar apartment houses, many now co-ops, line Eastern Parkway. The southeastern corner has many one- and two-family homes, several dating to the early 1900's and passed from one generation to another.
Jesse G. Alexander, assessor-in- charge of the Brooklyn office of the city's Real Property Assessment Bureau, said: ''Trends like the increase in house sales south of Eastern Parkway between New York and Albany Avenues are felt all over the community. It's only a matter of time before real-estate values increase with the growing demand.''
Crown Heights, which until three decades ago was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was one of the original neighborhoods designated for funds under the Federal Neighborhood Preservation Program for housing renovation, and community organizations have teamed up with city agencies to rehabilitate abandoned and vacant properties for low- and moderate-income housing. The program, begun in 1973, coordinates the expenditure of local and Federal money in so- called ''neighborhoods in transition.''
''There is a lot more space to be found in Crown Heights for a lot less money than in Park Slope,'' said Jack Winter, owner of the Winter Real Estate Agency on Kingston Avenue. ''People are looking for reasonably priced housing within a comfortable commuting distance of New York and Crown Heights offers that.''
The IRT No. 2 line to New Lots Avenue and the Nos. 4 and 5 to Utica Avenue serve the community with service to midtown Manhattan in 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the time of day.
''Work is Manhattan and home is Crown Heights,'' said Sarah Thibodeau, a singer and part-time secretary who lives on Eastern Parkway. ''I suppose Crown Heights isn't for everyone. You can't dial out for pizza any time of the night, but there's space out here, space with trees.''
Houses, when available, range from about $125,000 to $150,000. One that sold recently for $125,000 paid taxes of about $1,000. Studios rent for $300 to $350 a month and one- and two-bedrooms range from $400 to $600. Co-ops along Eastern Parkway average $20,000 a room.
Crown Heights once included the Lefferts farm, one of the largest in western Long Island. The Lefferts mansion, built in the 1660's, still stands in Prospect Park, just off Flatbush Avenue near the zoo, where it was relocated in 1917.
After the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, one-family mansions sprang up along the borough's broad avenues. When the IRT subway line was tunneled beneath Eastern Parkway in 1920, apartment houses replaced some of these mansions and the parkway became the spine of a middle-class community with a large number of professionals.
The parkway, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted with Charles Vaux and has been declared a historic landmark, has been granted $7 million in Federal funds for a restoration that will include new lighting, trees, traffic signals and sidewalks.
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