The backlash to the Williamsburg backlash has begun. In the wake of all the stalled construction and squatters coverage, staunch Williamsburg defenders are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that you can, in fact, walk the neighborhood's streets without being accosted by strung-out gutter punks or reminded of the Bronx circa 1977. Most of these discussions have occured in social environments, off-the-record, the truth serum a-flowin'. But now, finally, the sentiment is being played out in dispatches to the CurbedWire. Take for example, this e-mail:
I just wanted to let you know that not every pocket in Williamsburg is actually desolate, and there are still some buildings that are filling with life. I am a buyer at 125 North 10th. The building is finished now, and people are actually moving in. The closings and move-ins started in the second half of June, and there has been a steady stream of closings since, and yesterday we actually welcomed our 10th buyer. Of course, as you can easily see on StreetEasy, the building can still use some more buyers. Our hope as owners is that having a completed building with people living in it will attract more people.
Of course it's true there are many empty lots now, and they are not pretty, and there was a bubble, and developers got too excited and too greedy. But what the "Daily News" recently wrote about Williamsburg now being a haven for punks and drug addicts is just bogus. I don't see them, in fact I think the crowd is still pretty much the same it was 18 months ago when I first looked into buying here. And the neighborhood is still vibrant, bars and restaurants are filled.
And there you have it. Meanwhile, has the Williamsburg real estate frenzy returned? Based on the following, yes!
We just received a press release from Williamsburg brokerage Apts & Lofts, notable for a few reasons. The subject line? "One-day, sold out." It's the type of chest-pounding announcement that was the norm during the boom years, but the formula has been tweaked. This time, it's for a rental building, 320 Bedford Avenue. Not only that, but one that was supposed to be a condo at one time. What's the point of promoting a rental building with no available rentals? Apts & Lofts has a whole neighborhood to defend, and they lay it on thick:
The loft-inspired apartments at 320 Bedford Avenue, one of the first new developments on Williamsburg’s main thoroughfare, Bedford Avenue, in at least two years, were gobbled up on Sunday July 19 - with all 14 units being leased. The building is situated at the corner of South 2nd Street in the center of the neighborhood’s “Main Street” of restaurants, coffee bars, small shops and nightlife spots and a short walk to the Bedford Avenue L train stop. The apartments were released to the market at 11:00 am and by 12:00 pm 50% had deposits from potential renters. By the end of the day all 14 units had been leased.
One of the new tenants, an art student moving to Brooklyn from Boston, called the apartments “amazing.” She said that her new apartment “feels spacious, with a huge kitchen. I’ve seen many apartments for more money that had nothing to offer. This has so much and at the right price.”
Robert Parry, a new tenant who works at a media company in Manhattan, says that he had seen at least 50 properties both in Williamsburg and Manhattan, so when he saw 320 Bedford he knew it was what he wanted. “Between the location and the apartment itself, this was a step-up from everything else that we’d seen. The apartments are beautifully designed, interesting, and lively. When we went back a couple of days later to look at the apartment, we had the rare experience of thinking it was better than we remembered it.”
aptsandlofts.com’s marketing campaign had been highlighting the diverse, international population of Williamsburg. “We wanted to make sure to appeal to everyone in multicultural Williamsburg,” says Alex Saltalamacchia, aptsandlofts.com’s Director of Leasing. In keeping with that theme, the 40-foot banner draping the side of the building announces the word “large” in several languages and reads “Grandísimo, Aîné, Wielki, Grande, Büyük, LOFTS!”. As a promotion during the marketing roll-out, the developer has coordinated with North Williamsburg’s only fitness club, Maxim on North 9th Street between Bedford and Driggs Avenue, to offer residents of 320 Bedford Avenue free gym membership for 6 months courtesy of the developers.
All clear now, folks? Nothing to see here, move along. Or so they say.