Marine Park, Brooklyn: Block Parties, Bocce and Salt Air

Living in Marine Park, Brooklyn

Marine Park, Brooklyn: Block Parties, Bocce and Salt Air

Nicole Craine for The New York Times

The neighborhood of Marine Park, a compact enclave in southeast Brooklyn, has a major claim to fame. It sits next to the borough’s largest park, Marine Park, which has 798 acres sweeping across salt meadows, wide lawns and remote shoreline.

But rather than focus on that superlative, residents often cite smaller-scale features of the community when describing what they like about the place: its block parties, bocce games and backyards full of children.

“I grew up in the generation when you would play outside all day, come in the house only when the lights came on, and that’s what it’s like here,” said Shaindy Itzkowitz, 32, an adminstrator at a health clinic. Last month she and her husband, Yosef, 33, a paramedic, and their five children, now ranging from seven weeks to 10 years old, moved to Marine Park from a four-bedroom rental in Midwood, where even after 12 years, she knew few of her neighbors.

“It’s just a different mentality,” Ms. Itzkowitz said.

Besides, Ms. Itzkowitz said that in Marine Park, they were able to get a lot more square footage for the money than in Midwood or in Madison, an enclave next to Marine Park where they also looked.

Today she and her family share a semidetached house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms and ample greenery, including a patch of lawn in front, overlooked by a bay window, and a fenced yard in back. The house, which was in such good condition that it didn’t even require a fresh coat of paint, Ms. Itzkowitz said, cost $660,000.

Marine Park, Brooklyn: Block Parties, Bocce and Salt Air

1749 MARINE PARKWAY A four-bedroom one-bath circa 1925 house with a driveway and a garage, listed at $859,000. (917) 805-0783Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

If Marine Park can feel close-knit, deep roots might have something to do with it. Many residents are members of families that have lived there for generations, which can seem like an anomaly in a city where so many come and go without putting down stakes.

Phyllis Howell, 67, moved to the neighborhood as a child in 1963 from East Flatbush and today is a mere eight blocks from the house where she grew up, and where her mother still lives. Both her parents were nurses, in a neighborhood that has historically been home to many employed by the city and the state, including firefighters, police officers and sanitation workers.

Ms. Howell’s husband, Robert J. Howell, 69, a retired fire captain, has even longer connections: His family arrived in Marine Park in 1947.

Today the couple live in a 1929 detached house with four bedrooms, three and a half baths and parquet floors; the American flag flies from a pole outside. The house, on Marine Parkway, cost $287,500 in 1996. Ms. Howell, a retired real estate agent, estimated it could sell for close to $1 million today.

But in a neighborhood that can seem to revolve around tradition — Ms. Howell has attended most home games of the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team in Coney Island since its stadium opened in 2001 — escalating prices are a change some do not welcome. They have caused some first-time buyers to be frozen out of the market, Ms. Howell said, which is threatening Marine Park’s multigenerational vibe.

Still, Ms. Howell said, newcomers, who include Chinese, Orthodox Jewish and Russian buyers from other parts of Brooklyn, seem as intent on making sure their facades are maintained and grass mowed as the old-timers were.

Ms. Howell said of the neighborhood: “I think it’s relatively similar to how it was when we moved in the 1960s.”

Rectangular and flat, Marine Park, with a population of about 30,000, is bordered roughly by Kings Highway, Nostrand Avenue, Gerritsen Avenue, Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue, according to a popular definition.

Tidy blocks are lined with narrow houses, many having facades with red brick walls and sections of slate roof. Most were built in the 1920s and 1930s, and most are owner-occupied, according to census data.

Co-ops are rare. But some, with park views, turn up in a six-story complex on Burnett Street. Condominiums dot the area, like the three-story versions from the mid-1980s at Avenue V and Hendrickson Street.

On Aug. 8, had 28 properties for sale at an average list price of about $738,000. They ranged from a two-bedroom semidetached house at $479,000 to a lavishly renovated five-bedroom home with a private gym, at about $1.5 million. But the bulk of the properties were for between $600,000 and $900,000.

In the first six months, 91 single-family homes sold at an average of $591,000, according to data prepared by StreetEasy; in the same period of 2015, 81 homes sold at an average of $535,000.

Rentals included a two-bedroom for about $1,700 a month and a three-bedroom for about $2,100.

The park bordering the neighborhood, also called Marine Park, was built in part for a 1932 World’s Fair that never came to pass, according to historical accounts. It includes the Carmine Carro Community Center, a circular structure on Fillmore Avenue that offers activities including historical lectures and Zumba classes.Three new bocce courts are being built next door, replacements for popular but aged ones.

The park stages warm-weather concerts; on Aug. 24, Sha Doobie, a band that covers Rolling Stones songs, will perform.

In the more rustic sections, like behind the Salt Marsh Nature Center on Avenue U, trails wind through meadows. The nearby Wheel Fun Rentals stand rents kayaks ($15 an hour for a single), though they have to be wheeled down the block to a put-in spot.

At the park’s southern edge, in an area reached from the end of Gerritsen Avenue through a break in a guard rail, is a gentle cove whose crescent of sand held a handful of sunbathers on a morning earlier this month. (Swimming is prohibited.)

The 18-hole public Marine Park Golf Course costs $50 per person on weekends (extra for a cart), plus a $4 reservation fee.

Hardware stores, nail salons and doctors’ offices are found on some of the neighborhood’s avenues, with more substantial shopping at the Kings Plaza Shopping Center on the other side of Flatbush.

Dining options include Salvi Restaurant, an Italian place on Quentin Road, and Nick’s Lobster House, on Flatbush Avenue across from the golf course, with waterside seating.

There are two public elementary schools. Public School 222, the Katherine R. Snyder School, has about 850 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. On state exams from 2014-15, 55 percent of students met standards in English, versus 30 percent citywide, according to city data. In math, 69 percent met standards, compared with 39 percent citywide.

Public School 207 Elizabeth G. Leary has about 1,260 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. In 2014-15, 47 percent of students met standards in English, versus 30 percent citywide, while 49 percent did in math, compared with 35 percent citywide.

Junior High School 278 Marine Park, on Stuart Street, has about 1,070 students in Grades 6 to 8. From there, many students head to James Madison High School, on Bedford Avenue in the Madison neighborhood, which enrolls about 3,500. In 2015, the high school had SAT averages of 492 in math, 450 in reading and 444 in writing, compared with 466, 444 and 439 citywide.

No subways serve Marine Park, though some commuters take the B3 bus across Avenue U to East 16th Street, where there is a Q train stop. The total trip to Times Square is roughly an hour.

Other options include the BM4 express bus that runs from Gerritsen Avenue to East 57th Street in about an hour to an hour and a quarter, or to the Battery downtown, in about the same time.

While the area can seem to have few antique structures, a striking exception is the Hendrick I. Lott House, a farmhouse on East 36th Street in which the oldest section dates to around 1720. Occupied until 1989 by Ella Suydam, a Lott descendant, the property is now owned by the city. Renovation of its interiors is not expected to be finished for years, but the grounds, which open to the public sporadically, were restored this spring.

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