By  on November 12, 2007

As the number of new families continues to rise, the DUMBO area gets serious about kids.

Call them DUMBO's "New Kids on the Block."

The DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood, an artsy and fashionable Brooklyn enclave, is trying hard to cater to its youngest residents. More families have been opting for the area in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline instead of places like TriBeCa, SoHo and the Upper East Side. DUMBO, which is on the East River, offers more space and it has that most valuable commodity — positive buzz.

"It was definitely word of mouth for us," said new mother Halley Bysshe, four-year-plus resident of the Sweeney Building, one of the converted warehouse buildings that are part of DUMBO's appeal. "People in New York are looking for alternatives, they don't want to move to the suburbs and the money just went so much further here."

She said the proximity to Manhattan is one of the neighborhood's biggest attractions. "It's a nice community along the water, and honestly, it's just a very cool vibe."

New mothers can certainly do some retail damage in DUMBO. Fashionable specialty stores, such as Bluberri, Zoe and Loopy Mango have moved in. Other new merchants include shops such as Jacques Torres Chocolate, ABC Carpet & Home and West Elm. Restaurants such as the renowned River Café, Grimaldi's Pizza and Bubby's Ristorante also cater to DUMBO residents.

And, of course, children's stores are sprouting to keep up with the growing number of young families making their way into the neighborhood. About 4,000 people live in the area, according to the Dumbo Improvement District.

"We're finding that a lot of residents are well-educated, young professionals — it's definitely a very family-focused community," said Jane Kojima, communications and development manager for the organization. "As far as the business climate goes, we're seeing primarily niche market businesses, including specialty women's and children's boutiques, and you'll find that many of the other retailers and restaurants easily accommodate children and strollers."

Neighborhood residents, Bysshe added, "make a point to support local businesses. It gives everyone a feel of solidarity to the community — we're all vested here."

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