As living in Brooklyn becomes more cost-prohibitive, there are fewer and fewer affordable places to live that also offer a relatively seamless commute to Manhattan. Prospect Lefferts Gardens, located just south of Prospect Park and Crown Heights, is one of those standouts—though renters shouldn’t count on its affordability for much longer.
Home prices in the neighborhood have climbed precipitously in the last few years, and it’s likely that rents will follow; if you’re looking for a deal, it’s a good idea to get in now.
“It still has an outsider Brooklyn neighborhood feel to it,” says Jesse King, a realtor with Douglas Elliman who has lived in PLG for the last three years. “It hasn’t completely flipped, in terms of gentrification.”
Neighborhood highlights include proximity to the park and the express Q train, as well as the 2/5 trains at Sterling Street. PLG is also peppered with unique architecture, beautiful townhouses, and a slew of mom-and-pop businesses that help keep things feeling local. If any of that sounds enticing to you, read on.
The neighborhood’s housing stock largely consists of prewar rowhouses, single-family homes, co-ops, and rental buildings, though some new development has popped up in recent years. “The new development has been pretty consistent since 2000,” King says. “They’re not super huge new buildings—perhaps small-to-medium sized—but very creatively find themselves situated in places where there used to be a house.”
Some of these include 80 Winthrop, a new development off the Q at Parkside Avenue, and the Parkline at 626 Flatbush Avenue, a more expansive complex with the highest rents in the neighborhood. You can also find a number of rent-stabilized units here, though you may have to sift through rent sites like StreetEasy and Craigslist to score one.
There’s a lot of variety in pricing depending on whether the unit is rent-stabilized, recently renovated, or in a new development. According to King, studios could start as low as $1,375/month, with StreetEasy’s most expensive listed studio clocking in at $2,122/month. One bedrooms range from $1,600/month to $2,768/month, per StreetEasy, although King says they average out at around $2,000/month. Two-beds range from $1,850/month to the mid-$3,000s; three-beds list from $2,399 to $4,251; and four-beds go from $2,695/month to $3,600/month on StreetEasy.
Proximity to Prospect Park is a big draw here, and the Franklin Avenue Shuttle will shoot you from the bottom of the park to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, should you require some extra time with nature. “Having a park close by where you live when the weather’s nice, where you can go and reset yourself—that is priceless in my opinion,” King says.
There are a large number of West Indian bakeries and eateries, as well as some newcomers, like the Flatbush Zombie House tiki bar, farm-to-table restaurant Honey Badger, and Roman pizzeria Camillo.
And, of course, there’s the architecture. “I love the rowhouses on Parkside Avenue,” King says. “They’re so distinct.”
Most expensive area
Though you’d expect apartments closer to the park and the express Q train to have higher rents, King says that’s not really the case. “Generally, the farther away you go from a subway stop, prices tend to come down,” he says. “But over here it seems very random. And it doesn’t seem like it’s the park that generates the highest price.” Instead, rents are determined by whether or not the unit is renovated, rent-stabilized, or newly constructed, so they vary throughout the neighborhood.
What to look out for before signing a lease
While rents have started climb in Prospect Lefferts, there’s enough variety here that you may be able to negotiate with your landlord for a lower rent price, especially if the unit has been on the market for a while and is in a newer building. “If you’re a landlord and you’re not paying attention, and you’re not willing to negotiate, if you’re not willing to put more to offer on the table to negotiate, you’re just making a really big mistake,” King says. And prices do drop, if not dramatically. “A colleague of mine had a one-bed he put up initially for $2,000. He did bring the price down to $1,950,” King says.
33 Lincoln Road: A studio in the Lincoln Apartments features floor-to-ceiling windows, stainless steel appliances, and a gorgeous spa-esque bath. Building amenities include a shared roof deck with views of the park, elevators, a fitness center, and a communal lounge and kitchen, in addition to indoor parking for a monthly fee. The rent is $1,920/month.
49 Clarkson Avenue: This one-bedroom apartment comes with a spacious kitchen with new appliances, plenty of storage space, and “queen-size bedrooms.” The building itself, which is a short walk from the Parkside Avenue Q, has a live-in super and a central courtyard, all for $1,995/month.
302 Empire Boulevard: A two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit near the Sterling Street 2/5 stop is outfitted with hardwood floors, a brand new kitchen, and a washer/dryer. The building includes a live-in super, a shared courtyard, and a bike room. The rent is $2,175/month.
336 Lincoln Road: A four-bedroom, one and a half bathroom duplex in this luxury rental building features stainless steel appliances, a hip-looking kitchen, and a backyard. The building is a few blocks from the Sterling Street 2/5, and about a half mile from the B, Q, and Franklin Avenue Shuttle at Prospect Park. The rent is $3,600/month.