Exclusive: First Market Rate Condos Planned for E 138th Street in Lower Concourse Rezoning Area

Condominiums slated to rise at 221 E 138th Street. 3 other developments across the street from each other stretching to the east side of 3rd Avenue are also slated to rise.
Condominiums slated to rise at 221 E 138th Street. 3 other developments across the street from each other stretching to the east side of 3rd Avenue are also slated to rise.

The gentrification of the South Bronx is in full swing despite denials by our borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr, that it isn’t happening.

Yesterday we reported on the expansion of the landmarked Clocktower Loft Apartments and today we share the exclusive story of the first market rate condominiums coming to the Lower Concourse Rezoning Area.

The old 2 story factories at 221 E 138th Street at Canal Place has been torn down and in its place will rise a 7 story, 50 unit condominium development with ground floor commercial space according to Anthony Gurino of Tahoe Development which purchased the buildings for $2,800,000 in September 2015.

When we first asked Gurino if it was going to be market rate or affordable housing, he said “it doesn’t pay to construct affordable housing anymore including mandatory inclusionary affordable housing (MIH).”

The original development on file with New York City’s Department of Buildings calls for a 10 story building but as per Gurino, “We scaled it down from 10 stories to 7, got rid of parking and decided to go condo instead.”

An offering plan has yet to be filed with the State of New York for the condominium.

MIH is the cornerstone of de Blasio’s zoning changes which his administration insists it will help spur construction of more affordable housing, however, this particular developer in the poorest congressional district in the country has indicated that it is not worth it for him financially.

It may not seem like much but this is a further blow to the proposed zoning changes and a clear indication that the vast majority of NYC residents—especially those in vulnerable, poor neighborhoods—are right in their assumption that MIH will not benefit the community and spur more market rate developments.

The building will be made up mostly of studios, 1 bedrooms, and a few 2 bedrooms according to Mr Gurino and expected to be priced at $599 a square foot. With 14 sales of condos within the past 12 months below 161st Street in the general area, the average price per square foot was $173—more than 3x less than what Tahoe Development is considering for their development.

What does this mean in terms of pricing? Although the size of the apartments have yet to be announced, the following is a rough expectation per current supplied information:

  • A typical studio is roughly 550 square feet and would be offered roughly at $330,000.
  • One bedrooms are typically 750 square feet placing it approximately at $450,000.
  • Two bedroom apartments average at 1,000 square feet putting these units at $599,000.

As you can see, these price points are well above what is available in the South Bronx (the majority of condos in the area are huddled in Melrose just a dozen blocks away).

However, these prices will appear very attractive compared to what’s happening across the river in East Harlem where the average price per square foot for condos is at $1,000.

Gurino told us that they have developed in Williamsburg before it became gentrified and several other neighborhoods, “…and now we’re here.”

While homeownership is a corner stone in stabilizing a neighborhood, sadly these units will be far out of reach from the typical Mott Haven resident who wants to stay put. Instead, it will create an affordable opportunity for outsiders who have been priced out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

This development will be the second market rate condo development after Bronx Brick lofts converted in 2007 with 11 loft apartments selling from $388,362-$789,143 (those prices are not a typo).

Across the street at 225 E 138th Street, a 96 unit, 8 story affordable housing development is rising on the site of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken at 3rd and 138th Street.

Opposite that site another TWO developments are set to rise as part of an expansion of the senior housing at Borinquen Court which will include a 12 story, 118 unit building at 2550 Third Avenue and an 8 story building with 56 units with a senior center on the ground floor.

According to Yimby, once completed the 3 buildings will be known as “Tres Puentes” or 3 Bridges for the 3rd, Willis, and Madison Avenue bridges that dominate the Port Morris/Mott Haven area.

Other developments completed or under construction in the Lower Concourse Rezoning Area are:

The aformentioned developments aren’t even taking into consideration the controversial and divsive “Piano District” development just a few blocks south in the same district with thousands of units spread across six 25 story towers planned for the waterfront.

With these developments along 138th Street, the character of this cooridor—a major gateway into The Bronx—is set for a major make over and within a few years will not be recognizable.

Gentrification is upon us folks and we must unite together or be priced out of our own neighborhoods—neighborhoods no one wanted to live in and we were left to rot in and now after planned shrinkage, disinvestment, and depopulation of the neighborhoods, the developers have returned to build not for us but those that will price us out.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.