Greenpoint’s West Street is on the waterfront, lined with brick warehouses and factory buildings. It’s all grey and brown except for the weeds growing through the sidewalk. And except for the bright lobby, seen through glass panels, of the Pencil Factory.
“It’s a contextual building,” sales manager Hans Schenck said of the new condo development, located at 122 West Street. “It fits well with the neighborhood.”
Mr. Schenck was speaking on Sunday to two prospective buyers in a one-bedroom apartment, which was being used as a sales office. A table near the kitchen displayed about two-dozen unique stacks of floor plans. Available one-bedroom apartments range from $323,000 to $468,000; two-bedrooms range from $482,000 to $659,000.
The prospective buyers, Sarah, 22, and her fiancée, Steve, 25, who declined to give their last names, have been renting for eight months in Williamsburg. Steve works in an art gallery and Sarah works at Bloomingdale’s. Their wedding is in October. Greenpoint is located directly north of Williamsburg, but Sunday was their first time in the area.
“We like the feel of the neighborhood,” Sarah said. “You know, bars, restaurants.”
In the model apartment’s kitchen, Mr. Schenck talked about the building’s “virtual doorman” system, in which an attendant located “off site” monitors the lobby via video camera, with the power to buzz in guests and even “sign” for packages. Mr. Schenck wasn’t sure where the doorman would actually be located but said it didn’t matter.
On the street outside the building, Nelson Pereyra and his wife, Anya, said they like Greenpoint because, unlike Williamsburg, it’s “not built up.” They now live on the Upper East Side, and they’re hoping to buy in Greenpoint. They aren’t looking anywhere else. “Williamsburg and Park Slope are too expensive already,” Mr. Pereyra, 43, said. “Greenpoint is next.”
Mr. Pereyra, an engineer, also said he’s attracted to the neighborhood because Ms. Pereyra, 32, a photographer, is originally from Poland. Greenpoint historically has been home to a large Polish community. Ms. Pereyra herself lived there three years ago.
But it’s this “Greenpoint is next” idea, more than anything, that’s driving developments like the Pencil Factory. A pamphlet for the condominium calls Greenpoint “the city’s newest neighborhood of note.”
Julia Kim, 26, an accountant, sat with her broker in the Pencil Factory’s lobby. She, too, now lives on the Upper East Side. “I like to explore,” she said. “I want to try Brooklyn.” She’s been trying the borough’s neighborhoods one by one. Downtown Brooklyn is “kind of deserted.” But Greenpoint, which she was visiting Sunday for the first time, might be a winner—at least in the future.
“I think it will appreciate,” she said, while her broker nodded vigorously.
On Sunday morning, the Web site StreetEasy listed Greenpoint open houses at only three buildings. Ms. Kim and the Pereyras are evidently pioneers.
The second of the open houses, after 122 West, was at 1125 Lorimer Street, a not-quite-prewar (built in 1949) brick co-operative whose front door is bordered by understated stained glass and flanked by potted ferns. In a $299,000 one-bedroom, wall decorations included a stalk of garlic, a small gourd and a paper crown. The bookshelves were crammed with titles by Howard Zinn, P.G. Wodehouse, Salman Rushdie, Orson Scott Card, J.D. Salinger and Virgil. Standing near the open kitchen, broker Christopher Cavorti talked about the neighborhood.
“I wouldn’t compare it to the next Williamsburg,” he said. “Greenpoint has its own demographics. There’s a ton of commercial retail and also the local cafes and pubs.”
The “commercial retail,” he said, is located mostly on Manhattan Avenue. Rite Aid, Citi Bank and Starbucks accompany local laundromats, liquor stores and places like Pay-O-Matic Financial Services.
The “local cafes and pubs” are on Franklin Street, where retail options include record store Permanent Records, bookstore Word and vintage clothing and antiques store Junk. A sign on the window of Word, titled “Declaration of IndieBound,” reads, in part, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for individuals to denounce the corporate bands which threaten to homogenize our cities and our souls…”
A few blocks east are the marks of the Polish community. On McGuinness Boulevard, the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union sits across the street from Basik’s Polish American Deli. Around the corner, on Nassau Avenue, are Okruszek Polish Bakery, Polish American Community Services and Polsko-Amerykanska Apteka.
At 12 McGuinness Boulevard, a sign on the building reads, “The Oakland: Condominiums for the Discerning Individual.” On one side of the front door hangs a large photograph of a young girl raising her hand in class. On the other side is a picture of a white-haired doctor, stethoscope around his neck, surrounded on all sides by nurses, all of them looking at the camera and smiling.
In a $555,000 one-bedroom, broker Krys Kardasz said the buyers in the building have been “a very mixed crowd. We did have some local Polish people moving in, and some people from Manhattan.”
“Greenpoint and Williamsburg have been popular among the artist-musician crowd,” he said. “We’ve been drawing that kind of crowd as well.” He stressed that “Greenpoint has always had a strong Polish background. It’s always been a neighborhood. A family-oriented neighborhood.” But Mr. Kardasz admitted that the “artists and musicians” have taken an interest. “The crowd from Williamsburg is basically spilling out,” he said.
He showed a series of one- and two-bedroom apartments, explaining that because most of the building is sold out, only the highest-end units are still available. The one-bedrooms ranged from $555,000 to $625,000, the two-bedrooms from $690,000 to $905,000.
This building, like 122 West, has a “virtual doorman.” Mr. Kardasz said he’s “not exactly sure” where the attendant would actually be located when the building opens its doors to inhabitants in two weeks.
“They could be in Florida,” he said.