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Attractions Multiply in the South SlopeBy SHELLY BANJO
Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal.
|A YMCA sports complex opened last year in the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn's South Slope neighborhood.|
Brooklyn's trendsetters have flocked to Park Slope from the beginning of the borough's renaissance into an up-and-coming haven for young families and urban hipsters.
As the area grew in popularity, so did its real-estate prices. While much of that was driven by the northern part of the neighborhood, residents say the southern end of the section is well on its way to catching up.
|Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal|
New restaurants are moving into the South Slope. Thistle Hill Tavern, a gastro-pub, opened in October
Dubbed the South Slope, the area's boundaries are loosely defined as Ninth Street to Prospect Avenue and Fourth Avenue to Prospect Park West, which borders the 585-acre park.
"With a mix of housing options and an added slew of amenities that continue to pop up, the South Slope has just become more accessible," says Dennis McCarthy, a broker with Corcoran Group who lives and works in the area.
While real estate prices in Park Slope as a whole have increased, there are more affordable options in the South Slope due to the mix of housing stock in the area, Mr. McCarthy says.
Multi-million-dollar brownstones and carriage houses mix with older cooperative buildings and new boutique condominiums that continue to be built.
For instance, a 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on 16th Street near Fifth Avenue is on the market for $649,000. A few blocks down, a $1.5 million three-story brick townhouse with seven rooms is for sale.
"There's something for everyone here," says Simon Feil, an actor who lives in the area with his wife and 3-month-old baby. He says the couple moved to the South Slope from Manhattan 2½ years ago because they "got priced out of the city."
Earlier this year, the YMCA opened a 144,000-square-foot recreation arena at the historic Park Slope Armory on 15th Street, a multipurpose athletic and educational center with a basketball court and track that underwent a $16.2 million renovation. In addition, eight classrooms were built apart from the recreation area for youth and family fitness classes, and other after-school, summer camp and community programs.
It's like a backyard for the community, says Sharon Tepper, a mother of two and owner of Brownstone Nannies Inc., a child-care referral service. As many as 80 strollers can be lined up at the armory on any given day, says Ms. Tepper, who moved to the South Slope in 2001 from downtown Manhattan.
|Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal|
Thistle Hill Tavern
"You don't even need to make a play date anymore—you just go to the armory and the whole neighborhood is there," she says.
Other amenities are on their way: The 103-year-old Park Slope Library, which closed in October 2009 for renovations to improve accessibility, is set to reopen next year. Meanwhile, construction continues on the lot of the old William Butler School for a new school for the area.
Priced out of the North Slope, new restaurants are moving south. Thistle Hill Tavern, a gastro-pub run by neighborhood residents David Massoni and chef Rebecca Weitzman, opened in October. Similarly, locals Peter Sclafani and his wife, Kristen Hallett, have been steadily expanding their mini-restaurant empire. They opened Provini, a European café and wine bar, last year, joining their nearby Italian restaurants, Bar Toto and Bar Tano.
"Restaurants aren't leading indicators—they're following indicators," says Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, a volunteer neighborhood association.
"There's very little commercial space on the northern end for any price and entrepreneurs are going where they can find reasonably priced space."
Amid the development and revitalization of the neighborhood, Mr. Cairl says it's up to the residents to make sure Park Slope "preserves its existing character."
For that reason, Mr. Cairl is leading the Civic Council's efforts to expand part of the neighborhood's existing historic district designation to include eight square blocks between Seventh and 15th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
"We don't want huge developments in the neighborhood or buildings that look out of place," he says. "Landmark designation will preserve Park Slope for future generations and allow the city and community to consider the amount of density the neighborhood could support."
The group was successful in 2003 and 2005 in lobbying the city to restrict construction of new buildings to 55 feet on the side streets and 70 feet on Fifth and Seventh avenues.
The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to make a decision on the area's historic district expansion in 2011.
Write to Shelly Banjo at email@example.com