Real estate tsunami Barbara Corcoran lit the fuse on the Red Hook bomb, a bomb that?depending on your belief system?either went off, sputtered out, has yet to go off, or will never go off. In April 2005, Babs famously purchased 293 Van Brunt Street for $1.075 million, a building with two apartments and a storefront. Two years later, the storefront still sat empty after a hefty pricechop. The New York story on Red Hook degentrification reported that Barbara finally rented the space out at the reduced tally of $1,800/month, but has the process soured her on the Hook forever? We asked, and she responded, rather candidly:
I'm still holding the property and will for a long time to come. I paid a lot for it and sat with an empty storefront for over two years reducing the commercial rent inch by inch. I finally rented it a few months back to nice tenants who also own the wine bar ‘Tini’ farther down on Van Brunt. I have a fabulous piano player as a tenant on the top floor, which has guaranteed a high turnover on the floor below, but they’ve all been nice and have paid their rent on time. Now that I have a real paying tenant on the ground floor, which gives me a shot at breaking even, we’ve discovered a water seepage problem in the brickwork and I’ve just ok'd a $15,000 repair job in hopes of fixing it for good. It’s just great to be a landlord of an old building that sits on the water. And by the way, to get the commercial tenant I had to put in a whole new kitchen. Here’s my take on Red Hook. Stores turn over when rents go up in promising areas. Young entrepreneurs overstretch their budgets because they’re filled with optimism and they’re inexperienced. Property owners share that roller coaster ride with their tenants, or would-be tenants, or recent ex-tenants. That’s just part of the process. What I do know is I’m happy I bought my Red Hook property. Over time it’s sure to prove to be another nice, juicy retirement fund--just like the god-awful buildings I bought 12 years ago in the West Village, eight years ago in theEast Village, and four years ago in the South Bronx. Collectively, they’ve appreciated about 500% and I expect my building in Red Hook to join this happy club.