A year ago, when Donald Brennan first brought to market the three townhouses he planned to construct on Strong Place in Cobble Hill, he ran into difficulties. “The purpose of the marketing was to see if I could pre-sell just one of the three houses,” he recently told The Observer. “I had no intention of getting all three into contract. I brought them to market in order to mitigate some of the risk associated with the development.”
Two couples expressed interest—each in a different townhouse, units 2 and 2A—but because the homes did not actually exist yet, Mr. Brennan said, “it took quite a bit of both imagination and trust by the buyer to commit.” To compensate, the buyers demanded discounts that Mr. Brennan considered too steep. “I could not move forward because of that,” he said. “They were taken off the market because we learned that we were asking a little bit too much of the buyer pool.” (Mr. Brennan, whose firm Brennan Realty is acting as both developer and broker, was then asking in the vicinity of $4 million for the units.) But now Mr. Brennan has entered contract for 2A with buyers whom, he said, have submitted an unsolicited offer close enough to the elevated ask of $4.475 million for him to pull the trigger. Mr. Brennan was cagey about the precise amount of the contract, but allowed that “the deal was good enough—the price was good enough—to move forward with the deal.”
No. 2A stands between unit 2—a corner property with a detached carriage house, at a slightly higher price point—and unit 4, which, Mr. Brennan said, resembles exactly 2A. With five bedroom and three-and-a-half baths, the home sports both modern luxury detailing—chef’s kitchen, radiant heating in white oak floors, Carrara marble—and a classic exterior appearance befitting the neighborhood’s historic district. “Our townhouses are the most historically, contextually correct of new town homes,” Mr. Brennan said, the partial result, no doubt, of architect Brendan Coburn, of CWB Architects, being involved with the project. (Mr. Coburn grew up on Strong Place, where his mother still resides.)
The buyers, whom Mr. Brennan described as a professional, Manhattan-based couple with children, had, he believed, sprung for the home because of the same factors that inspire many of his clients. “Very often people are in search of more outdoor room. They may feel more comfortable in a little bit of a lower-density environment,” and Brooklyn provides a compromise between city life and wholesale retreat to the suburbs.
Five or six months from completion, the house is a shell, with the beginnings of interior framing, but it is nonetheless tangible—no longer the stuff merely of imagination and trust. As it turns out, buyers tend to be reassured by a little evidence that their dream homes might be more than, well, dreams. That, and the apparently unsinkable New York real estate market.