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Wild about Wallabout

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Developers have sparked a gold rush in Wallabout. What? You’ve never heard that name applied to the area north of Myrtle Avenue? Don’t worry, you will.

With the gentrification of the former “Murder Avenue” gaining steam — and sky-high prices continuing in Fort Greene proper — developers are no longer bashful about staking their claims on the other side of Fort Greene’s long-held northern boundary.

“Before, Wallabout was kind of an outsider, but now it really belongs to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill,” said Antonio Calvo, who is developing four lots on Adelphi Street, one of a dozen new buildings that are rising in the long-beleaguered area between Myrtle Avenue and the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway.

The reason for the land rush is clear: there’s land.

“If you find a 20-foot-by-100-foot piece of property in [the other part of] Fort Greene, you’re lucky,” said Calvo, who built a luxury building at 92 Adelphi St., where large, three-bedroom apartments will rent for $2,200 to $2,700 a month.

He’s hardly the only developer who’s seen promise in the area.

Developer Craig Axelrod has invested in a 16-unit building at 80 Adelphi Avenue, dubbed “Verdi on Adelphi,” with studios starting at $350,000. He expects “single, young profession­als” to occupy the units.

“It’s a little bit of a walk to the train, but services [on Myrtle Avenue] have improved so much,” said his Corcoran agent, Kara Kasper.

Developers are rushing to get their shovels in the ground before height limitations on new buildings go into effect this fall. Some residents say the “downzoning” is coming just in time to block new buildings such as 88 Clermont Ave.

“We’re feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the buildings going up,” said Gary Hattem, a 30-year Wallabout resident and local activist. “I have a seven-story glass and steel building going up where a two-story building used to be.”

Not everyone who opposes development is acting civilly.

When Russell Boyle opened a Washington Avenue vintage store called Repop 95% Recycles in July, the shop was vandalized with the message, “Go back to Williamsbu­rg.”

Despite the rude welcome, Boyle (who is actually from Park Slope) believes the neighborhood is “on the brink of something.”

But old-timers aren’t sure they want that special “something.”

“You always felt this was your secret neighborho­od,” said Hattem. “The more mainstream it becomes, [the more] you risk it losing its edginess.”

Updated 4:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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