Bergen Beach

Do you know the way to Georgetown?

Eye on Real Estate: The shoreline Brooklyn neighborhood has gated communities, suburban-style homes and salt marsh wetlands

December 21, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Welcome to the Georgetown section of Bergen Beach, where there are numerous gated communities such as Mill Harbor Condominiums. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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Gated communities stand beside a stretch of salt marsh wetlands and a yacht club. A few blocks inland, there are strip malls with massive parking lots and a six-lane thoroughfare with roaring traffic.

Is this South Florida? No, it’s a neighborhood called Georgetown in shoreline Brooklyn.

Georgetown is a subdivision of Bergen Beach. Both are situated on a small peninsula that juts into Jamaica Bay, between Mill Basin and Canarsie.

As Kenneth T. Jackson’s and John Manbeck’s book, “The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn,” explains, Bergen Beach’s peninsula was an island until it was connected by landfill to the rest of Brooklyn in the early 20th Century.

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Until the 1960s, Georgetown was largely vacant land.

Many of the homes that have been constructed in recent decades look like middle-class suburban tract houses.

Those of us who grew up in the suburbs find them charming and nostalgia-inducing. When we were walking around the neighborhood the other day, we smelled the grass clippings on a freshly cut lawn and heard song birds in the trees, which added to the suburban feel of the streets.

A lap pool and a library at this condo complex

The neighborhood also has numerous clusters of low-rise condo buildings enclosed by fences and security gates. Except for their lack of palm trees and tropical foliage, they look a bit like South Florida gated communities that were built in the past couple decades.

For instance, Mill Harbor Condominiums is a waterside complex that Parkmore Development built in 2007, right before the Great Recession.

Its nine golden-brick buildings are located on a landscaped super-sized block with frontage on Bergen Avenue, Avenue T and Royce Street. Balconies on the Bergen Avenue-facing buildings have views of recently cleaned-up Paerdegat Basin.

Amenities at the complex include a clubhouse, a lap pool and a library.

Condos that are now for sale by their current owners include a three-bedroom unit with an asking price of $600,000 and a two-bedroom unit with an asking price of $525,000, online postings indicate.

By the way, city Finance Department records show that Parkmore bought the development site from Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers of New York for $11.5 million in 2004 — the same day Saint Vincent’s paid the City of New York $1.57 million to remove a non-profit religious, charitable and educational purposes restriction from the deed.

Tall grasses rustle in the wind  

The Bergen Avenue side of Mill Harbor Condominiums is across the street from a 52-acre swath of salt marsh wetlands and native maritime grasslands the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) finished restoring last year on the shores of Paerdegat Basin. The austerely beautiful property belongs to the city Parks Department.

From the Bergen Avenue sidewalk, you can hear the tall grasses in Paerdegat Basin Park rustle in the wind.

The environmental restoration effort was part of a $455 million DEP project that also entailed the construction of a 50 million-gallon combined sewer overflow retention facility and the dredging of about 23,500 cubic yards of sediment from the bottom of Paerdegat Basin.

Before the dredging was done, the stinky sediment created “nuisance odors” during low tide, a 2015 DEP news release about the project noted.

A yacht club that migrated from Manhattan
Georgetown has a yacht club that was founded in the 1870s, nearly a century before home construction started in earnest in the neighborhood.

The club’s boat docks are in Paerdegat Basin. Its front entrance is at 2101 Bergen Ave., where Avenue U ends.

In the 1870s, the club was located on the Hudson River, at the foot of West 70th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — which is why it’s called the Hudson River Yacht Club.

A kind club member showed us around the place the other day. Even under leaden skies, Paerdegat Basin looked stunning and serene.

Georgetowne versus Georgetown

The neighborhood is called Georgetown, but a 400-home development that was planned in the 1960s on land at Ralph Avenue and Avenue L was going to be called Georgetowne Greens. That version of the word “Georgetowne” had an “e” on the end of it.

According to “The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn,” the Georgetowne Greens project sputtered out because Mayor John Lindsay proposed a competing middle-class housing development nearby.

Various developers wound up constructing homes on the Georgetowne Greens site.

By the way, Georgetown’s six-lane thoroughfare that we mentioned a minute ago, with its thundering traffic and strip malls, is Ralph Avenue. See related story.

Homes for sale for less than $800,000

To give you an idea of how Georgetown homes are priced these days, the asking price for 1308 E. 69th St., a semi-attached single-family home built in 2005, was $689,000, according to an online posting by Jason Sciulara of Bergen Basin Realty.

There’s a signed contract for the three-bedroom house, which has a garage.

The property’s current owner, Paulette Vann, had purchased it for $589,567 in 2005 from Five Star Homes LLC, Finance Department records indicate.

* Sciulara also has the listing for the similarly-sized home that’s attached to it, 1306 E. 69th St., whose asking price is $749,000.

Julius Bowens and Marietta Bowens, this house’s current owners, had bought it from Five Star Homes for $560,038 in 2005, Finance Department records show.

* And Sciulara has the listing for a third, similar home on this block between Avenue M and Avenue N. The address of this house for sale is 1344 E. 69th St. The asking price is $749,000.

According to Finance Department records, Five Star Homes sold 1344 E. 69th St. to its current owners, Louriston Clarke and Angela Clarke, for $579,384 in 2005.

* On another street, a detached two-family house at 1369 E. 65th St. is for sale. The asking price is $779,000, according to a posting by Ruslan Mingazov of Keller Williams Realty Empire, who has the listing.

The current owners, Alon Fischer and Adi Hershkovits Fischer, had bought the house for $405,000 in 2003, Finance Department records indicate.

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