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City Living: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

If Prospect Heights was ever in the shadow of Park Slope, its ritzy neighbor across Flatbush Avenue, those days are long past.

The neighborhood, a mix of 19th-century brownstones and pre-war co-op buildings, has long been home to a staggering array of cultural offerings, including the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park. An extensive network of subways makes it easy to get to virtually every block around.

Ellen F. Salpeter, director of Heart of Brooklyn, the cultural partnership group, said that the 2004 renovation of the museum's entrance made it much more inviting, and has helped draw visitors to the area.

"It's the gold coast of Brooklyn, in a sense, with these institutions grouped together," she said. "It has a diverse housing stock and an extraordinarily diverse group of residents, too. It weaves together a wonderful community."

James Cornell, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, said the appeal of Prospect Heights, which still has grubby auto shops and distressed buildings in the east and north sides, is not necessarily the cost.

"You see different kinds of people moving in; we'll see a lot of writers, artists and self-employed people who may not feel comfortable amidst the stroller brigade in Park Slope," he said. "Vanderbilt Avenue is hipsterville these days."

Prospect Heights has a very strong Caribbean presence, a fact reflected in the annual West Indies parade that ends there. The looming Atlantic Yards project in the neighborhood's northeast corner has the potential to upend sections of the neighborhood for years to come.

Partly as a result of the rapid pace of change there, Mary Beth Betts, director of research for the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, said this month that Prospect Heights is at the top of the list of potential historic districts the commission is examining.

While taking a wait-and-see attitude on Atlantic Yards, Salpeter said she was confident that retail will follow the residential boom that has brought condos to once empty lots.

"I think Brooklyn in general, and Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, in particular, really provide visitors with a real authentic New York City experience," she said. "Then you combine it with world-class cultural offerings you've got, and it's a slam dunk."Find it

Atlantic Avenue to the north, Washington Avenue to the east, Eastern Parkway to the south and Flatbush Avenue to the west.

Transportation Subway: B, Q, Atlantic Ave, 7th Ave, 2, 3, 4, 5, Atlantic Ave, 2, 3, Bergen St, Grand Army Plaza, Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum

Bus: B25, 26, 45, 65, 69, 71

Crime The 77th Precinct, which also covers Crown Heights and Weeksville, has had 10 murders, 16 rapes and 211 robberies this year, compared to 16 murders, 18 rapes and 225 robberies at this time last year. There were a total of 23 murders, 22 rapes and 354 robberies last year.

Schools P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Ave., P.S. 316, 750 Classon Ave., M.S. 340, 227 Sterling Place, M.S. 571, 80 Underhill Ave., H.S. 499, 561 Grand Ave., Bedford Academy, 1119 Bedford Ave., International High School, 883 Classon Ave.

Post offices 542 Atlantic Ave., 950 Fulton Ave.

Banks Citibank, 1650 Bedford Ave., Chase, 401 Flatbush Ave., North Fork, 856 Washington Ave., Sovereign Bank, 2 Grand Army Plaza, Washington Mutual, 290 Flatbush Ave.

Real Estate Prospect Heights may not command as many million-dollar homes as some of its neighbors, but it's nothing to sneeze at, especially close to Eastern Parkway and the west end of Vanderbilt Avenue.

"It's lagging compared to Park Slope, but in the future it'll get a big bump," said Marc Wisotsky, an associate broker and senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman. "It's just a matter of time until things catch up."

On average, apartments rent for $1,000 a month for a studio, $1,500 a month for a one bedroom apartment and $2,500 a month for a three bedroom.

According to James Cornell, senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, one-bedroom co-ops are selling for about $400,000, whereas two-bedroom apartments are going for $495,000 to $695,000. Prices drop to as low as $295,000 for a one bedroom when you cross over into neighboring Crown Heights and shoot up as high as $1.5 million for a 1,200 square foot, two bedroom apartment in the brand new Richard Meier building at Grand Army Plaza.

Many new developments have sprouted up alongside car-repair shops on Washington Avenue, but he said the jury is out on the sale numbers there.

"A lot of that land was very cheap, and the people saw the dollar signs," he said. "They saw the Atlantic Yard project was coming, and they figured 'This is my time.' We're watching to see how it does; it's not quite the garden spot that everyone wants it to be."

To Buy -A 1,100-square-foot studio on Dean Street between 6th and Carlton avenues: $626,000

-A one-bedroom apartment on Dean Street between 6th and Carlton avenues: $513,970

-A two-bedroom apartment on Prospect Place between Underhill and Washington avenues: $588,000

-An 800-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on Eastern Parkway between Underhill and Washington avenues: $595,000

-A 1,000-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on Sterling Place between Underhill and Washington avenues: $525,000

- A three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom apartment on Eastern Parkway between Underhill and Washington avenues: $925,000

-A 1,320-square-foot two-unit townhouse on Dean Street between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues: $625,000

-A 3,192-square-foot three-unit townhouse on Carlton Avenue between Dean and Bergen streets: $1.56 million

To Rent -A studio on Prospect Place between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues: $1,350 a month

-A one-bedroom apartment on Prospect Place between Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues: $1,550 a month

-A one-bedroom apartment on St. Marks Avenue between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues: $1,850 a month

-A 550-square-foot one-bedroom apartment on Washington Avenue between St. Johns and Sterling places: $1,450 a month

-A 1,250-square-foot two-bedroom apartment on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues: $2,500 a month

-A two-bedroom apartment on Butler Place between Sterling Place and Plaza Street East: $3,000 a month

To Eat Café Shane The owner cheerfully admits that he opened this charming two-room cafe to take advantage of the crowds who cannot get into the nearby legendary Tom's Restaurant, but don't be fooled. With an eclectic menu that features dishes from Cornish hen to chicken and grits, it's a destination in its own right. 794 Washington Ave., 718-399-9001

Tom's Restaurant When you're really hankering for a cherry lime rickey, this more-than-70-year-old landmark is the place to go. Consistently ranked as one of the best breakfasts in Brooklyn, the diner is so old-fashioned, it's not even open on Sundays. Coffee and orange slices provide sustenance for those waiting on line, and the reward is a seat in a diner straight out of the 1950s. 782 Washington Ave., 718-636-9738

Ginger Root Cafe It's quiet and unassuming, with seating for maybe 10, on a block that's still pretty quiet during the day. But like many businesses on the block, Ginger Root is open late on first Saturdays, to keep the masses from the Brooklyn Museum sated with ginger shrimp, codfish cakes, English-style fish pies, paella and a host of other dishes. 702 Washington Ave., 718-857-1274

The Islands Fitting for a restaurant that serves up jerk shrimp, escoveitched snapper and okra and codfish, this tiny joint's seating arrangement is like a boat, with patrons scaling stairs to a dining room. 803 Washington Ave., 718-398-3575

Aliseo Osteria Del Dorgo Get to this cozy little "shabby chic" Italian restaurant in the warmer months, and you'll have the option of sitting out back in an equally intimate garden. On the way, you'll pass one of the herb gardens used for dishes like Maltagliati alle Zucchine. Be sure to also visit Amorina, a sister restaurant across the street 665 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-783-3400

Bon Law's Seafood A fried catfish sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese will only set you back $7 at this longtime favorite, and if that's not enough, a fiver will let you finish it off with a slice of heavenly red velvet cake. 637 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-789-4060

Le Gamin Although this adorable cafe with all things French adorning the walls is a fine place to relax with a cafe au lait or Francais, the full menu is not to be missed either. Quiche, escargots, crepes ratatouille and sandwiches like croque-monsieur are all available for less than $15. 556 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-789-5171

To Play Beast Abandoned for 35 years before reopening as Beast two and a half years ago, this tapas bar, lounge and restaurant features an exquisitely restored bar, gargoyles staring down at patrons from behind the bartender, and an eclectic selection of beers on tap like Wachusett Blueberry Ale, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Peak Organic and Krusovice. Oh, and an antique "Tapper" video game, for those who want to spend a quarter to pour their own. 638 Vanderbilt St., 718-399-6855

Soda A pioneer among hip bars in Prospect Heights, this 5-year-old joint expanded a few years ago into an adjoining space, and the result is a threefer: an old timey-style bar, a lounge replete with purposely mismatched furniture and a double-wide backyard garden, a perfect spot for munching on a kasha and bacon pierogi. DJs spin on weekends. 629 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-230-8393

Bar Sepia Is it possible to be both off the beaten path and in the center of it all? This unpretentious neighborhood pub would say yes, as it's less than a block from Grand Army Plaza and yet tucked away on a largely residential block in the shadow of Richard Meier's giant glass tower. This is where locals drink. 234 Underhill Ave., 718-399-6680

Mooney's Pub Steps away from the Q train on the Park Slope border, Mooney's is an unpretentious Irish dive with darts, a decent jukebox and bartenders who can pour a good pint of Guinness. 353 Flatbush Ave., 718-783-6406

Well Lounge All you need to know about this relative newcomer (they opened in March) are the sponsors for its kickoff party: Courvoisier, Jordache and a local BMW dealer. With its exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, loft-like ceilings and optional bottle service, it's perfectly situated where Park Slope meets Prospect Heights at Flatbush and Seventh Avenue. 329 Flatbush Ave., 718-789-7896

Freddy's Is it really a dive bar if it holds art openings? The question may soon be moot for one of the city's most popular "dive bars," as the well-worn booths, side room used for live performances and touches like a jackalope on the bar that make Freddy's so appealing sit in the path of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development. No surprise then that the former speakeasy is ground zero for anti-Ratner news. 485 Dean St., 718-622-7035

To Shop Pieces Boutique A husband and wife team have been peddling high urban men's and women's fashion here since the millennium and have even expanded to a location in Harlem. A fall preview party held Sept. 20 featured designers Brian Wood and Allesandra Goka. 671 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-857-7211

Red Lipstick It's tiny and quirky, and stocked to the gills with hand-made knitwear, Japanese toys, scented objects, 22-karat gold and costume jewelry and accessories of all types. 560 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-857-9534

The Forest Floor The stock here changes with the seasons, but as a general rule, antique furniture, home decorations, gardening bric-a-brac, candles and cards make up the year round offerings, along with, for some reason, a basket full of $15 plush squids. 659 Vanderbilt Ave., 718-398-7380

Gureje Steps away from the rumbling trucks on Atlantic Avenue are the hand-dyed shirts, pants, skirts, dresses and accessories of owner Babatunde Gureje, a Nigerian native who also hosts monthly performances at the boutique. 886 Pacific St., 718-857-2552

Pursuitables When you just have to have a dish with a robot on it to serve peanuts at your next house warming party, or you're ready to try raspberry chipotle sauce on your ribs, this shop has you covered. If the condiment isn't eccentrically flavored or the serving ware vibrantly colored, they don't want it. 285 Flatbush Ave., 718-230-5236

To See Brooklyn Botanic Garden Go figure. In a borough known for everything big, its 52-acre botanical garden is perhaps best known for its C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, one of the most extensive collections of the dwarf potted trees in the country. Little else is small about the gardens though; in the spring, it's a destination for lovers of cherry blossoms. They've got 220 of them, in 40 different varieties. 1000 Washington Ave., 718-623-7200

Brooklyn Museum In terms of size, only the Metropolitan Museum of Art can be considered a peer to this five-floor behemoth. A glass-encased front entrance added in 2004 has made the classic beaux-arts structure a bit more approachable, and their "First Saturday" of the month free parties have become must-attend events. Which is good, because there are 1.5 million objects in the collection waiting to be viewed. 200 Eastern Pkwy., 718-638-5000

Prospect Park New York City's most populous borough has only one forest, and it's here, tucked within 585 acres of space that, while smaller than Central Park, is regarded by many as the masterpiece of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who designed both parks. The Prospect Park Zoo makes its home here, as does the nation's first Audubon center. The 90-acre Long Meadow, nearly a mile long, is thought to be the longest stretch of unbroken meadow in any U.S. park. Grand Army Plaza, 718-965-8951

Soapbox Gallery Unless you're snooping around for anti-Atlantic Yards graffiti, you'll probably never run across this small storefront gallery that sculptor and gallery-owner Jimmy Greenfield set up last June as a response to the Atlantic Yards redevelopment project. The space, which can be seen through plate glass at street level, features new exhibits every two weeks, and works are often political and controversial in nature. Admission is obviously free. 636 Dean St., www.soapboxgallery.org

The Buzz There is no bigger issue facing Prospect Heights than Atlantic Yards, the Frank Gehry-designed development that is being spearheaded by Forest City Ratner.

A tiny section of the plan, which calls for the construction of 8 million square feet of residential and commercial space in 16 buildings on 22 acres, is in Park Slope. But roughly 95 percent of the project, including a new 20,000 seat home for the Nets basketball team, is a five block, U-shaped parcel between Flatbush Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street.

While 40 percent of the land to be used is atop Long Island Rail Road yards, 60 percent of it will involve private houses, businesses and city streets. In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by opponents challenging the state's condemnation of a dozen homes and businesses that have not already sold their property to Forest City Ratner.

Develop, Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the neighborhood coalition that has lead the fight against the condemnations, is appealing the verdict.

Q&A Omar Augustin, 22, has lived just off Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights for the past 10 years, when his family moved from Flatbush.

What do you like best about Prospect Heights? I can walk outside, go to the park, walk up the block and go to the library or go to the museum. I also really like that the West Indian parade passes right by here. The music used to wake me up.

What would you change if you could? So far, things are getting better; there's more cops patrolling around here. I guess because they put this new condo (Richard Meier on Prospect Park) around the corner, they don't want any trouble. I kind of like the way it is. There are a lot of diverse people around; I remember during the blackout, it was good, everyone was out barbecuing.

What are some pros and cons of the area? Pros -You've got the biggest library around the corner. -You've got the world-famous Brooklyn Museum. -They've got concerts in Prospect Park; and when the last Star Wars movie came out they had a big projector up late at night for the old movies. There are a lot of events going on around here.

Cons -The rents have gotten really really high; I think you can rent a two-bedroom apartment for two grand -The kids that hang around outside, they don't respect anyone; they'll sit on anyone's car; I got a nice one, but I don't like parking here.

What's one neighborhood gem? The West Indian Day Parade. People were talking about moving it to Manhattan, and I remember thinking it would never work there, because people wouldn't take the train all the way to Manhattan. I don't think there'd be as much freedom either; here we can actually walk with the float; with some parades they don't even let you do that.

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