This week has been one for the books for the South Bronx. First we heard about the loft building at 2417 Third Avenue in Port Morris being under contract for $31 million, then we reported about the “Banksy” building being developed into market-rate rental apartments. Now we have 4 additional developments on the radar.
Alexander Avenue in Port Morris is about to get 3 brand new loft buildings — all on one block and all market rate. Joshua Weissman, president of JCAL Development Group LLC, is no stranger to the neighborhood. He’s developed 62 two-family homes in Mott Haven near St. Ann’s Avenue since 1999 and most recently he finished 55 Bruckner Boulevard just last year which was his first foray into the market-rate rental development in the area. The latter development was designed to fit in with the neighboring mixed use townhomes along this stretch of “Antique Row” on Bruckner.
Much like 55 Bruckner Boulevard, Weissman is looking to make sure the new buildings blend in with the existing architecture of the area.
The first to go up will be 136 Alexander Avenue at the corner of 134th Street and the Major Deegan Expressway and will be a 4 story building with a retail unit occupying the ground floor and 6 units above (2 units each per floor although Weissman is contemplating having 5 units with 1 unit occupying an entire floor. The units will approximately be around 650 square feet each (not sure I’d call that a loft except the 1,300 square foot one being considered). Some basic amenities will be indoor bicycle storage (which will come in handy for those wanting to commute to work by bike since the site is 2 blocks from the 3rd Avenue Bridge or simply enjoying the possible development of the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront 1 block south which has been given priority status by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (you can still submit testimony in support of this project by clicking on this link) or the new Randall’s Island Connector scheduled to open by Summer 2015. The 2nd floor unit will have a private deck and the 2 top floor units will have exclusive access to the rooftop decks.
Weissman has not come up with concrete numbers for what the rents but they will be in line for what the immediate area is commanding. According to LiveLovely.com Port Morris has the 2nd highest rents in The Bronx averaging at about $2,100/month. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as we announced a few months ago that the lofts at the Clocktower — just one block away — were renting 1 bedroom lofts for $1,775 and 2 bedroom lofts for $2,500.
Directly across the street and adjacent to the popular Ceetay restaurant are two additional lots which Mr. Weissman will begin to develop as well within the next 6 months or so. The buildings will be identical to 136 Alexander Avenue except one will have 9 units since it will sit on a bigger lot. Combined, both buildings will have 3 ground floor retail spaces.
When asked what he thought about the effects of adding additional market rate apartments to a neighborhood that is already considered to be gentrifying, Weissman said that he wants to work with the community and hopes that people from within the community can be a part of it all. “The community needs to grow from within not from the outside”, added Weissman.
To that end, he’s currently seeking a tenant for the retail space at 55 Bruckner Boulevard but is willing to work with local groups and organizations to utilize the now empty space as a pop-up shop until a tenant is found.
Area resident Alex Brown, who lives just a few blocks north of the new developments and alerted us to the construction had his own mixed-feelings about what’s going on in the area:
“At first, it is exciting to see an empty lot being filled with more housing but I still got a chill up my spine. My first thought was fear and anger. As soon as [Borough President] Diaz got the waterfront plan in motion with all the re-zoning and marketing, the spread of development moved like wildfire. The exact feeling I was terrified of. I want to see my community develop, become even more cohesive and continue to work with each other on community needs, but my feelings are the newcomers are not going to enjoy its current charm. I noticed the construction sign while on my way with my camera to document what seems like a new movie being shot over at Club Miami. Another indication that The Bronx has opened all doors. I plea with the future residents of Alexander Ave Lofts to open their eyes and understand we have plenty of kind hearted souls contributing to this borough each and every way they can and to understand they need to be active. Consumer culture is atrocious. Be a citizen! Most importantly do not attempt to change what we have because you think it is better for my Port Morris and Mott Haven communities. We are loud, boisterous, very eclectic and refuse to submit to a homogenous, suburban lifestyle of Starbucks ice coffee. We are not and never will be Williamsburg, we are different. We have our own character. We got to know each other and share our ideas. We plan for fights against what we believe is not in our best interest, like the battle against Fresh Direct. “
Second Market Rate Condominium Development Coming To Mott Haven?
2610 Third Avenue sold earlier this year for $1.1 million and is a 4 story mixed use building with ground floor retail. It also happens to be on the same block as Bronx Bricks which was the first market rate condominium development in the South Bronx (and earlier this year also home to the $900,000 listing for one of the units — which was eventually pulled off the market). According to conversation with a local developer who preferred to remain off the record, the new owners are planning to convert the 4 story building into full floor market rate condominium units. Attempts to reach the new owners have been unsuccessful thus far but it wouldn’t be too far fetched considering all that is going on in the area.
What do you think about all this recent flurry of activity going on in the South Bronx? It’s rather ironic that last week I wrote a small piece for Curbed.com (which I called, Sometimes It Seems To Happen All At Once) for their coverage on gentrification’s 50th anniversary as a term and Curbed’s 10 year anniversary covering the ever changing face of NYC.
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