Boerum Hill

A cheat sheet for The Bergen’s new owner: Ten things you should know about Boerum Hill

Eye On Real Estate

January 7, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Eye on Real Estate is offering up a cheat sheet full of info about Boerum Hill for the new owner of The Bergen, the apartment building shown here. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Dear European investor:

Your real estate broker announced recently that you had bought The Bergen, a spanking-new Boerum Hill rental-apartment building.

You forked over $52.2 million for the 84-unit property at 316 Bergen St.

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Since you’re new to the area, we have written a cheat sheet about Boerum Hill for you. Study up so you won’t seem like a stranger when you visit.

Be aware that your new neighborhood is full of 19th-Century housing stock, which New Yorkers prize. Some of the blocks are in a specially designated area known as the Boerum Hill Historic District, which is protected by city landmarking laws.

Sorry we’re not calling you by name — or calling you to ask what made you want 316 Bergen St. for your property portfolio.

Brokerage firm Savills Studley referred to you as “a private European investor” but didn’t give any other details about your identity in announcing the deal it had brokered between you and The Bergen’s seller, the Naftali Group.  

And the authorized signatory for your purchasing entity, 316 Bergen Street LLC, signed the deed with an illegible scrawl, we noticed when reading city Finance Department records.

According to the deed, your LLC can be reached in care of Avery Hall Investments — but those guys aren’t European investors. That development firm is headed by Brian Ezra and Avi Fisher and is located at 175 Varick St. in Lower Manhattan.

As readers with sharp memories will recall, Avery Hall Investments recently got approval from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission for its plan to demolish the Shell gas station at 112 Atlantic Ave. in Cobble Hill and build an apartment house at the site.

No. 1: Your building is not the prettiest apartment house in Boerum Hill.

There are numerous candidates — and our vote goes to 306 Dean St., an old-fashioned red-brick beauty that glows when the afternoon sun hits it just right.

A one-bedroom loft apartment that’s available in this former brewery building is on the market for an asking rent of $4,500 per month, a listing on indicates.

No. 2: Your building is not the only new, upscale rental property in the neighborhood.

Quinlan Development Group and Lonicera Partners just built 267 Pacific St.  The building is easy to spot from Smith Street because of a huge, colorful mural on one side of it.

Recently available one-bedroom apartments there are being offered for rents of up to $3,996 per month, according to a listing.

No. 3: There’s an invisible dog in Boerum Hill — and it’s not a drunken hallucination or a creature in a ghost story.

The Invisible Dog Art Center is a late 19th-Century factory building at 51 Bergen St. with terrific art exhibitions.

The building’s name comes from the quirky gag gift that was manufactured there, a stiff dog’s leash and collar that a prankster would hold while strolling the streets. It looked like there should be a dog wearing the collar — but there was no dog.

Lucien Zayan, an opera and theater director from France, rents the space for the interdisciplinary art center, which he opened in 2009.

The landlord is an LLC that bought the building for $4.3 million in 2007, city Finance Department records indicate. The LLC’s authorized signatory is Frank DeFalco.

The seller was William Zorbas, executor of the last will and testament of the late George Zorbas, Finance Department records show.

George Zorbas was the manufacturer of the invisible dog leashes.  

No. 4: Everybody has heard of Smith Street’s restaurant row. To show you really know Boerum Hill, take your friends from Europe to restaurants and bars on Hoyt Street or Bond Street instead.

Check out Mile End, the delicatessen with Jewish comfort food that’s similar to what co-owner Noah Bernamoff ate during his youth in Montreal. The restaurant is located at 97A Hoyt St.

An awesome 19th-Century building at 148 Hoyt St. houses Brooklyn Inn, a bar where wood paneling, stained-glass windows and restored tin ceilings add atmosphere and make preservationists smile.

Building on Bond (yes, that’s the restaurant’s name) at 112 Bond St. is where all kinds of cool people hang out. Northern Italian restaurant Rucola is at 190 Dean St., which is on the corner of Bond Street.

No. 5: Where’s the most adorable house in Boerum Hill? Opinions vary — but we think 112 Nevins St. fills the bill.

The baby-blue brick house, which is on a landmarked block, was built around 1852.

It recently changed hands, by the way. Jeffrey Weiss and Elizabeth Brand bought it for $2.1 million in October, city Finance Department records indicate.

Its charm is enhanced by the building next door, 116 Nevins St., which is a red-brick beauty with fleur-de-lis designs on its decorative metal grills.

The two buildings make such a sweet couple, standing side by side. 

No. 6: The most interesting-looking house in Boerum Hill is 108 Wyckoff St., we think.

Its façade is covered with wonderful mosaics that show people dancing and giant flowers growing. The front patio is covered with mosaics as well.

“One day in 2001 I went outside and starting gluing things to the front of my house,” artist Susan Gardner wrote on her website. “My hope was to make a celebratory statement that would cheer and amuse.”

A note hanging on her front door gives her website address, in case people want to contact her about her work.

No. 7: The neighborhood is full of beautiful twins — twin buildings.

One matched set of eye-catching homes consists of slim, stately 244 Dean St., which is clad in clapboard and has long, distinctive windows and a sharply pointed roof, plus look-alike 240 Dean St.

The two houses, which were built around 1857 to 1858, are located on a landmarked block.

Between them there’s a lot which provides space for parking — a possession coveted by every Brooklynite who owns an automobile.

According to city Finance Department records, the vacant lot belongs to the owners of 244 Dean St., Anthony and Kate Rock.

Speaking of automobiles, take note: People in Boerum Hill own some very cool cars.

The other day, there was a classic Karmann Ghia parked on Nevins Street. Let’s hear it for automotive eye candy.

No. 8: Jonathan Lethem, the quintessential Boerum Hill author, does not live in the neighborhood now. He left Boerum Hill for a professorship at Pomona College in Los Angeles County a few years ago.

No. 9: Jonathan Lethem is gone, but there are other famous people who own houses in Boerum Hill.

One of the more recent buys came to light in mid-2013, when show-biz website’s “Real Estalker” column and reported that actor Ethan Hawke had purchased 247 Dean St.  

The handsome 1850s-vintage Greek Revival brick rowhouse is located in the Boerum Hill Historic District.

City Finance Department records indicate that the sale price was $3.9 million, and the deal closed in December 2012.

The purchase was made through a trust, with Carolyn Rossip Malcolm of CRM Management signing the deed as trustee, Finance Department records show.

She’s a business manager for actors, and Hawke is one of her clients, according to

No. 10: When you own property in Brownstone Brooklyn, you should know where the prettiest rows of historic houses in your neighborhood are.

Your friends and business associates who visit you from Europe will want to see them — even if the building you own is modern.

There is sooo much architectural eye candy in Boerum Hill. These four rows are just a sample:

* The brick rowhouses on the odd-numbered side of Pacific Street between Bond and Nevins streets are so fine.

* So are the pastel wood-frame houses on the even-numbered side of Bergen Street between Court Street and Boerum Place.

*  The brownstones on the even-numbered side of Dean Street between Hoyt and Bond streets are delightful to look at.

* The brick rowhouses on the odd-numbered side of Wyckoff Street between Bond and Nevins streets are nifty as well.

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