Back in 2013 director/actress/screenwriter Lake Bell and tattoo artist to the stars Scott Campbell bought this quaint townhouse in north Clinton Hill in the Wallabout Historic District for $1.55 million. Three years, a baby and some creative renovations later they listed the home at 119 Vanderbilt Avenue for an ambitious $3 million. After a price cut last November to $2.55 million and a broker switch, the home with the enchanted Zen garden and top-floor atelier is now asking $2.3 million with new photos to boot.
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Though we can see how the otherwise potential-filled historic–and allegedly haunted–Lefferts-Laidlaw mansion at 136 Clinton Avenue in the Clinton Hill/Navy Yard/Wallabout neighborhood may terrify prospective buyers with an ask of $4.499 million, an 1878 New York Times account describes the persistent and mysterious ring-and-run situation that apparently plagued the home’s then-resident, Edward F. Smith. Neither crafty attempts to discover who was responsible for “doorbells rung, doors rattled” on a nightly basis and a brick hurled through a window, nor police intervention could produce a culprit. The house became a fixture on the map of spiritualists who held seances on the sidewalk. Locals suggested the pesky poltergeist might be either a lawyer who had committed suicide on the premises, or, as Mr. Smith suggested (possibly with some sarcasm attached as it was, after all, Brooklyn), Satan.
Between hyper-developed hotspots, main drags in up-and-comers, and those genuinely avoidable areas, there can often be found a city’s “just-right” zones. They aren’t commonly known, but these micro-neighborhoods often hide within them real estate gems coupled with perfectly offbeat vibes. Continuing our Goldilocks Blocks series, this week we turn to Brooklyn.
The culturally rich, architecturally stunning Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill need little introduction. The Brooklyn Navy Yard to the north is busily growing as a start-up business incubator and creative and commercial hub. An “in-between” zone—the sort of area that engenders a question mark and a furrowed brow when perusing neighborhood maps—lies just north of Myrtle Avenue and south of the Navy Yard.
Known as Wallabout, the area was named for Wallabout Bay to the north, much of which was filled in to create the Navy Yard in the 19th century. Unique among its neighbors, a block-long stretch of this border district feels more like a small-town side street than a growing urban crossroads.