Hillary is coming to Brooklyn! Brooklyn Heights, specifically. As has been much reported and speculated on, a lease has been signed at 1 Pierrepont Place for what will be Clinton’s campaign headquarters. Although Clinton has not yet formally announced her candidacy for president, the 80,000-square foot office space no doubt will house her campaign’s headquarters.
Clinton Chooses “Modern offices. Brooklyn cool.” for Campaign HQ
In a curious twist of fate, 1 Pierrepont Street is located just around the corner from Clinton Street. In an equally curious turn of words, the building also markets itself as “Modern offices. Brooklyn cool,” an emphatic attempt to cash in on the borough’s status as the “it” place to live and work. The office building, built in 1988, however, predates the borough’s boom by a long shot. 1 Pierrepont has been a staple of Downtown Brooklyn’s commercial real estate inventory and housed traditional finance and civil sector offices such as those of Morgan Stanley and those of the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York for over 25 years.
(Source: Chris Murphy via Flickr Creative Commons)
Though there has been much speculation that Hillary selected Brooklyn Heights as her campaign headquarters in attempts to align herself with a younger, fresher and more progressive audience, the office’s location offers far more than that and speaks to the varied appeal of the neighborhood. Brooklyn Heights is an interesting neighborhood because it is at once one of the borough’s wealthiest and most staid neighborhoods, but also one of its most high-trafficked and commercial.
Perfect Digs for the Prez? The Heights Offers Historic Homes and Polished Setting
With its orderly tree-lined streets, Federal-style rowhouses and understated, historic grandeur, you could easily see the Heights appealing to the centrist sensibilities of Hillary and Bill. And if there’s any neighborhood in New York City that recalls the Clinton’s other New York place of residence in Chappaqua, Brooklyn Heights is likely it. The two areas probably have comparable per capita numbers of Audis, private tennis clubs and prestigious pre-schools. In fact, the average price per square foot in Brooklyn Heights is $1,634, making it one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the borough – second only to Dumbo.
In the last week, Brooklyn Heights saw both a $5.5M townhouse on Sidney Place as well as $10.75M townhouse on Hicks Street hit the market. Traditionally the housing stock has been comprised of 18th century brownstones, wood-framed dwellings and converted carriage houses – a recipe for some of the city’s most picturesque real estate. Brooklyn Heights is equally well known for its impressive, well maintained housing stock as its for its impressive backdrop and scenery, however. The Promenade is the neighborhood’s most celebrated and popular public space and offers just about the best views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline that can be found. There you’re just as likely to find locals walking their Westies, kids zooming around on scooters and tourists excitedly snapping pics – every one of them enjoying the scenery equally.
(Source: Howard Brier via Flickr Creative Commons)
Brooklyn Heights: More than Just a Bedroom Community
Despite its manicured appeal, Brooklyn Heights is far from a sleepy bedroom community. Yes, it is true – many of its residents are suited commuters traveling to and from Wall Street (the Heights was one of the earliest destinations for Manhattanites relocating to Brooklyn), but the area abuts Downtown Brooklyn and is a mecca for local commercial and civic activity. Each day diverse crowds from across the borough travel to work and visit the many municipal offices, social service agencies and courthouses surrounding Borough Hall. Court and Montague Streets – the main commercial drags in the Heights – feature lunch spots and commercial franchises like Kinkos and Ann Taylor Loft that appeal to nine-to-five crowds. These streets will also, no doubt, appeal to the coming droves of campaign staffers who will need to sate their photocopy and practical pant suit fixes. Campaigners looking for a place for to celebrate a primary victory, however, are unlikely to find many options along Court and Montague as the area tends to empty out after work. Instead Brooklyn Heights residents tend to frequent the side streets for smaller, locally owned restaurants and shops.
(Source: Brad Clinesmith via Flickr Creative Commons)
The ease of accessibility, proximity to Manhattan and extensive commercial offerings found in Brooklyn Heights all lend themselves to the wants and needs of presidential campaign staff. In addition, the Heights is a relatively safe and well protected area. The court houses and civic offices command heightened police surveillance which translates to safe streets around the clock and arguably more parking tickets much to the displeasure of double parked residents and deliverymen. Given the 24/7 nature of campaign work, it’s an added bonus to have heightened police presence as staffers are likely to be coming and going from the HQ at all hours of the night. The Heights’ commercial and civic activity has also attracted many hotels to the area which will also be of use to Clinton campaign given the number of staff, consultants and journalists who will be visiting the offices.
Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn’s New Dev Boom
Although the neighborhood has long been known for its older housing stock, the rise of Brooklyn’s commercial activity coupled with recent changes in zoning regulations have made the Heights and neighboring areas like Dumbo and Downtown Brooklyn major sites of new development. Over the last ten years, the number of housing options in the area has proliferated ranging from upscale, luxury new developments along the waterfront such as One Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Pierhouse to the chock-a-block condo towers that fill Downtown Brooklyn and Metrotech like the Toren, BellTel Lofts and 388 Bridge Street.
Demand for these amenity-laden condos is high and just this week, a two-bedroom at One Brooklyn Bridge Park hit the market listed for $2.65M. The Pierhouse is still under construction but the majority of the units sold off floorplans. Some of these buildings also offer high-end rentals like 388 Bridge Street where median rents are about $3,940/month. As demand for luxury rentals in the area has grown so has demand for rentals catering to the middle of the market demographic. The BKLYN Air at 309 Gold Street and The Brooklyner at 111 Lawrence Street were both built in the last five years and both offer no-fee rentals starting at around $2,500/month. Despite the range of new housing options in and around Brooklyn Heights, it’s unlikely the staff of the Clinton’s team will actually seek housing in the neighborhood given the traditionally low salaries of campaign interns and staffers. For less expensive Brooklyn apartments still within an easy commute to Brooklyn Heights, the staff are likely to have better luck in areas like Sunset Park or Prospect Park South where median rents are $1,925/month and $2,000/month, respectively.
What Hillary and Young Professionals Want: Practicality and a Taste of Brooklyn Cool
The higher prices found in Brooklyn Heights have done little to dissuade young professionals from moving to the area, however. In the end, it’s got just the recipe a young, financially stable and aspirational set are looking for – high quality new and old housing stock, access to transportation and Downtown Manhattan, safety and a bit of that elusive air of Brooklyn cool. The wants and needs of young profs, in many ways, align with those of the practical, eager and ambitious team behind the Clinton campaign. For those who prioritize, safety and sensibility, Brooklyn Heights will always be a wise choice.