Written by Farah Saeed, CNN
Not all urban neighborhoods are created equal.
West Brooklyn is defined by dirt roads and dingy houses, Brooklyn Heights has always felt a little like “Annie Hall” set on the Upper East Side, Midtown Manhattan is a hub of energy and nightlife. New York City’s other suburbs — Mill Basin, Soundview, New Dorp, and Williamsburg to name a few — are more centered around “the factories and the fancy restaurants,” says S. Kane Neff, senior market analyst for real estate site Redfin, but no neighborhood defines itself quite like Queens’ Park Slope and Long Island City.
Photo by Jerry Hopf via Redfin
“You go there by choice, so the neighborhood you don’t immediately feel like you’re in, it’s out there a long ways,” Neff says.
But in Brooklyn’s midst sits one neighborhood that seems to be tapping into the same allure. Though a distance away from the more high-end areas, it’s no secret how well Fieldston works.
A giant island
Of course there are two versions: The original Fieldston, which sits right smack in the center of the borough, and its newcomer, Rego Park-adjacent sibling, which was voted as one of the top neighborhoods for child-rearing in the US by Parenting Magazine this year.
The main difference between the two neighborhoods is the approach. Over a half century ago, Fieldston took a straightforward northern route down over the river for many of its residents. It continues up Howard Avenue until it hits 130th Street, where a new street approaches its residents.
Many houses appear to be listed as freehold and in many cases the buyer purchases the entire property with no restriction on how the property may be used.
Fieldston occupies much of Ridgewood, where it cuts across the South Bronx to share a road with Spain Street, and Yankee Avenue with St. Nicholas Avenue, and slices through many of the most coveted neighborhoods. Its residents are descendants of Bohemian descent (i.e. the “tire rat”), and once Catholic parents sent their kids to the church or the cloister, on the outskirts of Fieldston’s backyards.
Photo by Mark Cahoon
“The overall idea of Fieldston is very large, with large estates and a lot of beautiful homes,” says Kent Kletzkowsky, co-owner of real estate brokerage Kletzkowsky + Reams of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, who has lived in Fieldston for 14 years.
“If you’re looking for ‘my neighborhood,’ Fieldston is it.”
Two structures within the community are the Rodney Building and the Roderick Historic House.
The Roderick Historic House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and opened as a museum to show how the neighborhood’s property development scheme operated over the years. The historical society’s events and open houses run throughout the year.
Photo by Jordan Williams via Redfin
In reality, most homes along the avenue are rental properties, or a single-family residence or a duplex house.
“Unlike Westchester County in New York, the landlord has an opportunity to change the property several times, without needing a permit, according to the listing, and the few actual houses that are being left, or sold, actually have incredible bones,” says Jerod Crockett, an associate broker at Peter J. Solomon Company, who sold his first home in Fieldston in 1998.
There are no huge rises in home values, Crockett notes, but there is a smaller overall exodus, which would mean higher prices. This is typically evident in the area’s higher asking prices for second or third properties, he says.
There are six houses that have come on the market over the past four years, and of those five are on the market in the same price range.
Photo by Scott Freedman
Even with these caveats, the three single-family homes being offered for sale in the $2.65 million to $3.5 million range are the most expensive homes, and may prove to be the real Gold Coast.
Most other homes have been around for two or three decades, Neff notes, and selling at that price may not be easy.
“The influx of people in particular since the year 2000, many of which were children of Fieldston alums, has almost driven down the value of the remaining single-family homes,” says Neff.
However, he added that if a great buyer comes along at a more affordable price, the properties should sell fast.
As Neff notes, the neighborhood “is where ‘the stars are.’ They shine here, bright and bright, and