In May, a renovated century-old townhouse on Wolcott Street became the new home of Reshmi Sengupta, 42, her husband, Kinshuk Datta, 49, and their two children, aged 9 and 3. After 11 years in a two-bedroom condo in Boerum Hill, they wanted more room and outdoor space. They sold their apartment for nearly $1.2 million and bought the three-story Red Hook house for almost $1.7 million.
“I’d had my eye on Red Hook for years,” said Ms. Sengupta, the programs director at Sakhi for South Asian Women, a nonprofit organization addressing domestic violence. “We wanted to live by the water and liked how artistic it was and vibrant with manufacturing, but we couldn’t figure out what our commute would look like.”
Red Hook lacks subway service, so Ms. Sengupta catches a B61 bus to Borough Hall and then a train to the financial district. Mr. Datta hops on a Citi Bike to connect to a train that takes him to his Midtown job at a wealth management firm.
Both say it’s worth it. They live on the upper two floors of their house and are considering using the one-bedroom ground-floor apartment to host in-laws. They have a roof deck, a backyard and a view of the Statue of Liberty from their bedroom terrace. The price to pay to live near a vulnerable waterfront includes strengthening the plumbing system and a “hefty” insurance bill.
“We are aware it’s a flood zone and could get bad again,” Ms. Sengupta said, “but it was a risk we were willing to take.”
What You’ll Find
Red Hook’s peninsula is less than one square mile, bounded by the Gowanus Expressway, the Gowanus Canal, Upper New York Bay and Buttermilk Channel. According to a 2014 survey by the New York City Department of City Planning, more than half the neighborhood’s roughly 10,000 residents live in subsidized rentals at Red Hook Houses.
Surrounded by water on three sides, Red Hook is “almost like an island, and people get to know each other on the streets,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who represents Red Hook as part of District 38.
The area’s industrial and freight port history has left a muscular legacy of brick and concrete architecture, towering container cranes, parking lots and few trees. It is still a working port, with cruise ships docking at theBrooklyn Cruise Terminal.
Linchpins are the sprawling Ikea, by the waterfront Erie Basin Park, and a Fairway Market in the base of a former warehouse converted to lofty apartments. A Tesla Motors showroom debuted earlier this year on Van Brunt Street.
Some streets hold homes of one to four stories and Civil War-era warehouses. Vacant lots won’t be vacant for long, brokers say, with developers buying them up to build more townhouses and condos.
What You’ll Pay
On Oct. 10, 18 properties were listed for sale on The New York Times search engine, from a one-bedroom condo with a garden for $799,000 to a new two-family townhouse with a yard for $2.975 million. The median sales price through August this year for a one-to-three bedroom housewas $1,296,500, down 6.9 percent from the same period last year, according to Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. There were just 14 sales through August, including one condo but no co-ops. “When this new wave of condos start closing it will redefine the Red Hook market,” Mr. Miller said, “because there will be so many more properties.”
Rentals range from $1,700 to $1,800 for a studio, $1,900 to $2,500 for one-bedrooms and $2,500 to $3,500 for two-bedrooms, according to Victoria Hagman, the owner of Realty Collective, a local brokerage.
A soundtrack of drilling and hammering filters through the streets, where enterprises includemetalworking, furniture design and glassblowing. Wine, spirits and chocolate producers are multiplying, such as Red Hook Winery, Uncouth Vermouth, Van Brunt Stillhouse and Raaka Co. Virgin Chocolate, all offering tastings, tours, or both. The distillery Widow Jane shares a facility with the chocolate factory Cacao Prieto, offering a combined tour.
Public School 15 Patrick F. Daly Magnet School of the Arts serves about 455 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5. According to the city’s 2014-2015 School Quality Snapshot, 20 percent met state standards in English, versus 30 percent citywide; 34 percent did so in math, versus 39 percent.
Among other options, Pave Academy Charter School has about 515 students from prekindergarten through Grade 8; there 24 percent met state standards in English versus 30 percent citywide and 41 percent did so in math versus 35 percent. A private school founded in 2014, BasisIndependent Brooklyn, has about 670 students from prekindergarten through Grade 10.
The closest subway stop, with the F and G trains, is at Smith-Ninth Streets in Gowanus. There are two bus lines, the B57 and B61, and depending on trainconnections, the trip to Midtown Manhattan can take 45 to 60 minutes. By next summer commuters will also have Citywide Ferry Service, Councilman Menchaca said.
In the memoir “Sunny’s Nights: Lost and Found at a Bar on the Edge of the World” (Random House, 2016), Tim Sultan sheds light on the illustrious Sunny Balzano(1934-2016), the owner of Sunny’s Bar on Conover Street, as well as on the colorful past of the area, where “bootleggers distilled, arsonists lit, nuns crossed, longshoremen hauled, unions agitated, kids pelted, gangs brawled.”