Manifest Destiny in the Outer Boroughs

“I think Manhattan-style brokerage has come to Brooklyn,” said Mr. Minsky. “I’m proud to be a part of that. … This could be the third plateau that Jerry Minsky recollects as a monumental plateau,” he said, referring to the outpouring of new development (which follows the dot-com and post-9/11 booms). “It’s different than the first two because it’s on a more monumental scale.”

He talked to a reporter while waiting for a Sotheby’s International Realty broker, who was bringing the jeweler David Yurman to see a $3.5 million carriage house on Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene. “Twenty years ago, no Sotheby’s broker would have wanted to talk to Jerry Minsky,” he said.


OUTER-BOROUGH NEIGHBORHOODS aren’t the same when Manhattan brokers or the Manhattan style settle in. Take Riverdale, where Halstead Property opened the Bronx neighborhood’s first big-name branch two years ago. Brokers spent two years calling up the corporate headquarters of Starbucks, asking the company to open up a Riverdale café. “And the reason is,” said director of sales Vasco Da Silva, “we had a lot of Manhattan buyers. … They would always ask us, ‘Where’s the nearest Starbucks?’”

So, of course, Riverdale’s first Starbucks is opening this autumn, which may very well help the brokers sell condos at the area’s six new developments, and in the three that haven’t opened yet. And then more brokers will come: “I’d say somewhere on the horizon, when there’s a critical mass of development up in that area, we’d probably look up there too,” said Mr. Gerringer from Elliman, talking about the Bronx.

Even Brown Harris Stevens, the well-heeled Manhattan firm that goes back to 1873, is adding 2,500 square feet to its Brooklyn Heights office and doubling its Park Slope branch this year, according to executive vice president Chris Thomas. But he said that Manhattan ostentation doesn’t necessarily spread when Manhattan brokers move into new neighborhoods. “That kind of flamboyance is less likely to play well in the Brooklyn marketplace, simply because the orientation of the marketplace is different.

“It’s more focused on what the play-dates are going to be than which new development has the best hors d’oeuvres, or who’s giving out the best goodie bags.”

Mr. Minsky invests more passionately in Manhattan’s realty sheen. “When you’re selling something for the prices I’m selling for, serving things at your open houses, which I’m known to do, and doing a bang-up job, it is par for the course.”

Likewise, executives like Mr. Rutter from Stribling think up golf simulators, teenage video-game rooms, and yoga centers for developments like One Brooklyn Bridge Park (now luxury lofts, once a Jehovah’s Witness center).

“We’re not saying that if we didn’t have these things the buyers wouldn’t come,” Mr. Rutter said, “but when you’re competing with other projects and trying to provide as many amenities as you can, anything that gives a project an upper hand is what we’re trying to do. … That’s a Manhattan mentality, but we’re starting to see that more.”

“Now this is all new stuff to Brooklyn over the past three, four years,” said Mr. Gerringer from Elliman. “That’s why there are a lot of offices opening up in the boroughs, and you’re going to see a lot more offices.”

Manifest Destiny in the Outer Boroughs