One of Corcoran’s biggest names in Brooklyn talks real estate, family, and growing up in Park Slope.
“When I was 16, I spent time in this exact room as a short-order cook for what was then Le Park Café,” marvels lifelong Park Slope resident and Corcoran associate broker Charlie Pigott, sitting in the real estate company’s office at 125 Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn. “It’s like stepping back in time — the very same room almost 40 years later.”
The fourth generation of a family that has been in the area since the late 1800s, Pigott is now a top sales agent and broker at Corcoran, where he works with a team that includes his 22-year-old son, George. Charlie Pigott’s grandfather owned a fruit and vegetable business with delivery by horse and wagon, and for 25 years Charlie has delivered organic produce in Gowanus and Park Slope as a side business.
As self-described “Park Slope Charlie,” he knows the difference between one house and the next on any given block. When it comes to buying and selling multi-million dollar properties, that kind of nuance matters.
Pigott shares his deep knowledge of Park Slope, how story telling is key to his success and why — after all these years — he still’s very much in the real estate “game.”
Inhabit: Where did you grow up in Park Slope?
Pigott: I spent most of my childhood in a rent-stabilized building at Second Street and Eighth Avenue, a block from Prospect Park. My father was the building superintendent, which made living there affordable. My mother still enjoys the apartment to this day.
I always aspired to own a home on or above Eighth Avenue. It was important to my mother for us to move up the hill, figuratively and literally. She put things in our view: what life could or should be like. Through the benevolence, generosity and kindness of Park Slope and its community, I now live in a townhouse on Eighth Avenue.
Inhabit: How has Park Slope changed during your lifetime?
Pigott: Below Seventh Avenue, it was a very different neighborhood in the 1970s. Garfield Place was burnt out. Now it’s beautiful condominiums. There was a bar on every corner. Near the park, it’s always been beautiful: townhouses with baby grand pianos. When I was a kid, Gov. Hugh Carey lived in a mansion a block away. He sold it to Pete Hamill, the author. I was a friend of Pete’s daughter, Deirdre, so I got to know him.
During the summer of 1977, when I was 12, I spent time with Deirdre. It was the Summer of Sam, when the serial killer known as Son of Sam roamed the streets. I remember sitting outside in the dark with candles and transistor radios during a blackout. We knew that Son of Sam was out there, but nobody knew who it was. Pete was kind enough to take Deirdre and me to work with him at the Daily News building while this was happening. He was definitely a role model. I’m no writer like he is, but I do have a knack for storytelling.
Inhabit: How does storytelling impact your work?
Pigott: As a small child, it was discovered that I have learning differences. My verbal reasoning is high, but everything is in the context of oral and visual, which helped me in studying film at Brooklyn College. That combination really lends itself to what I’m doing at Corcoran. I create narratives that sell.
I’ve been asked, “How do you sell real estate?” I say, “I don’t. I close people.” We tell stories. We connect. We build rapport and trust, and we are not frivolous with that trust. We do what’s necessary for the client to get them where they need to go.
Inhabit: What role does work ethic play?
Pigott: I come from humble beginnings, and early on, I knew what I wanted. I’m the first person to work every morning, and I’m the last guy out. It’s 90 hours a week of my choosing.
The work is rewarding. The people are rewarding. People are like oxygen for me. I’m on Community Board 6 for 10 years. I’m on the board of the Old Stone House. I’ve been a local Boy and Cub Scout leader and on the council of my church, Saint Saviour. I’m friends with the priest, the rabbi, the assemblyman. I am Park Slope Charlie. I’m connected to everyone and everything in this hood — one degree of separation from anyone.
Inhabit: What advice do you have for homebuyers looking in Park Slope?
Pigott: It’s very important to be represented by a broker on the acquisition. It’s totally worth it to have the benefit of a professional from any REBNY [Real Estate Board of New York]-member firm. He or she will know, through personal connections, how to navigate the local residential and brokerage communities.
Inhabit: What are some of your favorite spots in Park Slope?
Pigott: I love 7th Avenue Donuts, on the corner of Ninth Street. When I was 20 years old, I’d wait in there for the taxi dispatcher to assign me a ride from his stand across the street. I dropped my son off at the same donut shop this morning.
As kids, we’d go to Pino’s Pizzeria on Seventh Avenue and buy a slice and an icy through the window in summer. The original Pino sold the business years ago, but I still enjoy Pino’s. It’s the best slice on Seventh Avenue.
And then there’s the Montauk Club. When we were young, we’d go [to this private social club] as guests of affluent friends. Now we belong. I take my mom to brunch there on Sundays. So many things I dreamed have come to fruition. The dream has adapted over time and taken on its own momentum. It’s bigger than I ever could have imagined, thanks to the benevolence I’ve experienced in this community and can never repay.
Inhabit: Please complete the sentence: Home wouldn’t be home without…
Pigott: The Old Stone House at J.J. Byrne Park on Fifth Ave between Third and Fourth streets, and of course, Prospect Park.
I spent time at both as a kid. In my 40s, I led Boy Scouts at the Old Stone House, so it’s very special to me as a parent. It lights up with that yellow glow in the evenings, and Kim [Maier], who runs it, is so kind.
Prospect Park used to be a forgotten place. Now it belongs to the world. I always associate it with Adele [Froelich], who ran Adele’s Playgroup there for decades. She had a sliding scale, and I’m certain we didn’t pay much. She gave me so much when we had so little.
When I was a kid, the park’s band shell was abandoned. We’d scooter or skateboard around and flip baseball cards there. Now it’s home to BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, an incredible summer-long music series.
In midlife, I began spending Saturday afternoons at the park, watching my kids play baseball and reading The New York Times — the real estate section, of course. Now I walk the park loop a few days a week, even in the pouring rain. Doing what? Listening to audiobooks about negotiations and real estate.
I’m still — and will always be — a student of the craft. I love the game. I’m always getting ready for the next pitch, the next narrative, the next win.