It’s only a matter of time before Staten Island gets pinned as the next Brooklyn. As new developments pop up along the northern tip, the oft-forgotten borough is seeing the tides turn in its favor. Today the Times ran a piece on some of the biggest projects coming to the island, and unlike those popping up in Manhattan, this bunch is far more focused on livability and community building. Moreover, with rooftop beehives, shared vegetable gardens, small-batch espresso, pet spas, artisanal shops shilling specialty olive oils, and cheese caves in the pipeline, Staten Island is also starting to sound a lot like some of the city’s most hipster-run areas. In fact, in casting its net for local testimonials, the Times was able to find Ridgewood and Bushwick refugees that have already high-tailed it southwest. And it’s no wonder, with real estate being offered at just a fraction of the price—one couple in the story closed on a house with “numerous porches and six bedrooms, for $620,000″—it’s only a matter of time before we turn to our significant others and say, “Let’s move to Staten Island!”
The area of focus is the piece is “a bite-size portion” at the North Shore, which includes the neighborhoods of Stapleton, St. George, Tompkinsville and Clifton, served by a ferry to Manhattan and the Staten Island Railroad. Some of the more notable constructions on the rise in this particular are include the Empire Outlets and of course the 630-foot, $500 million New York Wheel. Although some point to these projects as means to stir more interest and development in the area, Empire Outlets developer Donald A. Capoccia of BFC Partners contends, “What’s happening here is not developer-driven…The developers are following people here, there’s no question about that.”
Homes on the North Shore priced at $299,000, $799,000, $379,000 (L-R) via Realtor.com
And he may be right. With rents and real estate prices reaching all-time highs in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Staten Island’s very generous offer has become a huge draw, particularly for Brooklynites. The Times zooms in on a mid-20s couple who were looking to buy a Victorian in Ditmas Park, but couldn’t fathom the $4M-plus price tags. They then turned their eyes on smaller properties in Brooklyn Heights and found that their $600,000 budget could only afford them a small one-bedroom. When shopping on Staten Island, they were able to score a historic six-bedroom home for just $620,000—though other sizable and even cheaper options were also available.
The paper also talks to Eric von Hasseln, a 25-year-old artist who left up-and-coming/almost-there Ridgewood, Queens after a short stay in Bushwick. “You always have to look where everybody else is not. It’s a survival mechanism if you’re an artist,” he told the Times, adding to that cost was a big driver. Next month he has plans to take up a share in a wood house in Stapleton, where he’ll split the home’s meager $1,400 a month a rent.
Ironically, von Hasseln cites one of the island’s biggest allures is its nonchalant vibe, “I got tired of living somewhere that was really hip,” he says. But unbeknownst to him, developers are vying to recreate the cool he’s tried to escape. If the amenities being included in some of the area’s new housing developments are any indication of what investors hope Staten Island will be, it doesn’t get much more “hip” than than URL and Lighthouse.
Planned for a stretch of waterfront is URL Staten Island, short for “Urban Ready Life,” a $250 million mixed-use project from Ironstate Development that will bring about 900 rental apartments in a series of buildings resembling factories with flat roofs–”better to house bee hives.” In addition to this, the Times writes that “URL will also boast a 5,000-square-foot plot planted with vegetables that can be purchased from an on-site farm stand. Or, for a fee, residents will be able to request that its kale, spinach, rainbow chard and mizuna be prepared by a chef who will do double duty as the head farmer.” The developer also has plans to ban any national chain from entering. Studios will be offered at about $1,600 and two-bedrooms will ask from $2,800—not quite the deal found elsewhere in the the area.
Another development of the same vein called Lighthouse is being backed by Triangle Equities. This 12-story, 116-apartment tower is expected to break ground later this summer and will include a hotel component housed in one of the area’s historic lighthouse buildings. Here also are possible plans turn vaults beneath the site that long ago housed flammable oil into cheese caves or wine cellars. No prices have been unveiled yet, but the project will cost $200 million and wrap by 2018.
There is of course the challenge of commuting to Manhattan when it comes to living in SI, but if you’ve got everything there—which developers seem keen to bring—there may not be a need to even leave. Would you make the move?
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Neighborhoods : Staten Island