New construction in the Bronx (outside of Riverdale, at least) normally comes in two forms: large subsidized buildings in the South Bronx, and smaller two- and three-family structures, generally in the northern Bronx. While there are still many large, vacant sites with liberal zoning in the South Bronx, demand and rents are generally not high enough to make ground-up construction feasible without subsidies.
Yesterday, though, we found someone who’s trying to make it work. Nassau County-based architect Shahriar Afshari filed for a new building permit at 532 East 142nd Street on behalf of developer Gac Haxhari, for a four-story building in the South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven.
The 16,250-square foot building will contain 13,000 square feet of net residential space divided among 15 apartments (surely rentals), for an average unit size of a bit under 900 square feet. The masonry structure will hit just 36 feet at its peak, and will contain eight off-street parking spaces (the minimum allowed by zoning).
The 50-foot parcel, on the south side of East 142nd between St. Ann’s and Brook Avenues, was picked up by Gac Haxhari a few months ago for $360,000, or less than $30 per buildable square foot. The developer hails from Morris Park, an ethnically mixed neighborhood farther north in the Bronx, which has a large Albanian population. The 142nd Street building’s small size and its low-profile developer and architect suggest to us that it will be a market-rate project, without the income restrictions and subsidies (aside from the standard 421-a property tax abatement) of most new buildings in the South Bronx.
This part of Mott Haven has a fair number of prewar structures still standing, but like all of the South Bronx, the building stock took a heavy toll during the decades of abandonment and disinvestment during New York City’s period of decline.
The area has rebounded, though, and is commonly cited as the first neighborhood in the South Bronx to be going through the (very) early stages of gentrification. It saw its first privately financed condo development a few years ago, at Bronx Bricks on East 140th Street, where a 2,350-square foot loft was on offer a few months ago for $900,000. There have also been a number of hotel projects nearby in recent years, including the Opera House Hotel just a few blocks north of 532 East 142nd, off of Brook Avenue.
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