An elevated rail line carrying the J, Z, and M trains runs just about the entire length of Brooklyn's Broadway, from the Williamsburg Bridge to Broadway Junction. It's a physical presence that, like all such structures, can fairly be described as hulking, as it casts deep shadows and rains down clatter on the boulevard below.
That much of the avenue runs along the Bed-Stuy/Bushwick border, an area impoverished and neglected for decades, only adds to the unlikelihood that the corridor would be ripe for rapid development.
And yet a recent tour confirmed that all along Broadway between the Myrtle Avenue and Halsey Street stations, and on the blocks immediately adjacent to the commercial corridor, you'll now find a wealth of new, self-styled "luxury" buildings, hotels, and active construction sites, as well as empty lots and zombie sites that increasingly seem more like opportunities than blight. (And it even got the inevitable horrible neighborhood name portmanteau—“Bedwick”—proving that change isn’t too far off.)
And this despite the downzoning of Bedford Stuyvesant North in 2012, which restricted the height of side street development to four stories unless affordable housing was thrown into the mix. It's unclear how much of the recent construction seen here was also sparked by the upcoming L train shutdown, but obviously the market value of Brooklyn housing, office space, and hotels located near actual, working subway lines is going to increase as we approach the L-pocalypse.
So far the retail on Broadway remains largely unaffected by all the new development, with dollar stores, Chinese take-out joints, and hair salons still predominating, but even here the signs of change are unmistakable, most notably with the opening of a handful of those reliable harbingers of gentrification, the pricey coffee shop.
Here's a look at what’s changed.
The triangular 1000 Broadway, with 30 apartments on the Bed-Stuy side of Myrtle Avenue, features amenities like in-unit washer/dryers and balconies facing the elevated. A two-bedroom rental was recently listed for $2,850.
The People's Garden at Broadway and Greene Avenue in Bushwick was "permanently protected" in 1999 by the Trust For Public Land.
On Greene Avenue right off Broadway, on the Stuyvesant Heights side of things, two luxury rental properties rose this year across the street from each other. The buildings include more than 100 total units, with prices topping $3,200 a month, and amenities like a fitness center with "surround music,” a furnished roof deck, and gaming lounge.
The Lexington Avenue block west of Broadway is now almost entirely new construction or "development sites for sale", all of which are designed for those seeking "trend setting style and enviable amenities" in their rental living arrangements.
Located steps from the train, as they say, the seven-story, 27-unit building at 1004 Gates Avenue started adding tenants recently. Features include upscale rents ($2,350 for a two-bedroom), a brand new Blink next door, and those divisive Juliet balconies.
Old-timers like pawn shops, dollar stores, and storefront churches still dominate Broadway's retail landscape, but organic supermarkets and artisanal coffee shops are creeping into the mix. There are also plenty of vacant storefronts along the avenue, and it'll be interesting to see what sorts of establishments move in once all of residential buildings fill up.
A nearly 40,000 square-foot hotel is going up on Myrtle Avenue right near Broadway, via Goldmine Development and Rajendra Patel. Two summers ago the block was ravaged by a "K2 epidemic" and mass overdoses.
On the Bushwick side of Broadway on Myrtle Avenue, a pair of residential buildings—one, at 1157, under active construction; the other brand new, at 1161, and boasting smoking balconies—enjoy views of the abandoned Myrtle elevated.
The entrance to the Brooklyn-Roosevelt, a Beaux Arts bank built in 1907 straddling Gates Avenue and Monroe Street that was converted into a luxury rental building in 2016, with amenities like a yoga room, 24-hour doorman, and a bike vault that's literally a vault.
The rear of the complex, once the bank's parking lot, is decidedly less sexy. The two buildings contain some 130 units, with prices starting at $1,895 for a studio.
"Luxury meets design", apparently, at 1487 Broadway, on the Bushwick side of the avenue. One-bedrooms start at $2,300/month, and amenities include two roof decks, a communal lounge, and easy access to the elevated, as you can see from the photo. A coffee shop/wine bar called City Bear opened on the ground floor in November.
This red residential building has taken over the corner on the Bushwick side of Broadway and Lafayette Avenue. Details are scant on the property, which appears to be just about finished, but note the Juliet balconies and, of course, the proximity to the subway.