Neighborhood insider: Lyon Porter on Williamsburg’s evolving identity and enduring charm
New York City’s most successful real estate agents make it their business to know the city’s highlights, hot spots, secrets, and specialties; many are NYC natives or longtime residents whose love for the city’s streets and avenues predated their career choice. We’ve asked top agents to tell us about their favorite neighborhoods and share their insider picks. Read on for a longtime resident’s view of Williamsburg: Lyon Porter, Associate Real Estate Broker with Compass, explains how the popular Brooklyn neighborhood has grown and evolved with him.
Lyon is a former pro hockey player and hospitality entrepreneur who is currently among the city’s top brokers, having sold over $3 billion in residential real estate. With team partner Jonah Katz, Lyon’s sales have spanned everything from $62 million development sites to Puck Building and Parc Imperial penthouses, with sales that set records for multi-family and condo price-per-square-foot in Brooklyn.
In addition to having over 15 years of experience in real estate, Lyon joined the city’s hotel industry in 2014 when he opened the Brooklyn Urban Cowboy hotel; the brand has grown to include Urban Cowboy Nashville, the Public House Bar, Urban Cowboy Lodge, The Dive Motel, and the soon-to-be-open Urban Cowboy Denver.
Lyon tells us why Williamsburg is his favorite NYC Neighborhood, and how he spends his time there.
How would you describe the Williamsburg vibe?
Williamsburg is a creative hub. The industrial warehouses-turned-artists ‘-lofts of the past mixed with the new towers, restaurants, and bars that make up the neighborhood now creates one of the most unique and sought-after areas in the city. Concisely, Williamsburg is “creative cool kids who grew up and had babies.”
What do you love most about it?
This neighborhood has aged and grown with me. Having lived here on and off over 20 years from my 20s to 40s, the neighborhood has evolved in tandem with the various phases of my life. In my 20s, what drew me here was the giant warehouse lofts and gritty dive bars, but now 20 years later, Williamsburg has settled down and evolved to offer every amenity I could want for me and my family–from bars and restaurants to health and wellness centers and family-friendly fun.
What are some of your favorite things about daily life in the neighborhood?
My particular part of Williamsburg is very much still a neighborhood, which is why we love it so much. My area has my favorite cheesemonger and meat/fish markets. We walk around on the weekends going to each purveyor for each need and it feels like a real community. You can escape the fast pace of Manhattan but you can also be in Union Square in 15 minutes.
What are some of your favorite spots?
My favorite play space for kids is Twinkle; favorite daytime bar/restaurant is Sweetwater; favorite cocktail bar is Maison Premiere; favorite Chinese food is Kings County Imperial; favorite vintage shop is Raggedy Threads; favorite butcher is The Meat Hook; favorite daily grocer is Campbell and Co. Cheese and Grocery.
Where would you send a visitor who’s there for a weekend?
The Wythe Hotel–it’s in the middle of everything and the best hotel in the neighborhood.
Urban Cowboy Lodge, photos courtesy of Lyon Porter
When you get the urge to escape the familiar, what’s your favorite “getaway” in the city or elsewhere?
My hotel, Urban Cowboy Lodge, in the Catskills! We’re just two and a half hours away from the city but The Lodge feels like another world–one where you can even see the Milky Way at night. We always like to say that our best amenity is no cell phone service!