Exterior completion is imminent at 530 Exterior Street, a 13-story, 151,107-square-foot rental development in northwest Mott Haven. Signature Urban Properties LLC and Monadnock Construction are behind the 157-unit project, as well as the 12-story, 136-unit building in progress next door at 491 Gerard Avenue and the 10-story Hampton Inn at 110 East 149th Street proposed directly north. All three buildings are designed by Dattner Architects.
The 240-foot-long, staggered slab rises 120 feet to a flat roof, maxing out the zoning envelope. Three bulkheads boost the structural height to roughly 130 feet. A prominent steel canopy spans the roof length. The zoning diagram at suggests that the two buildings would share a 60-foot-wide, landscaped rear yard with 491 Gerard Avenue under construction next door. The development provides 49 parking spaces. Enclosed driveways at the south end of the site provide access to courtyard parking.
The architects engaged several strategies to soften the building’s presence. The building appears as four distinct forms, articulated with dormers, staggered setbacks, a shallow façade indentation, and distinctly articulated facades. Light colored grids and vertical window pairs, separated by dark spandrels, represent a Postmodernist design tactic commonly used to diminish the presence of a large building.
The Bronx Times quotes George Tsiatis, Monadnock Development spokesman, describing the project as low- and mixed-income affordable housing. The residential portion spans 142,939 square feet, which translates into an average 910 square feet per unit.
530 Exterior Street faces the elevated Major Deegan Expressway, which separated the neighborhood from the Harlem River waterfront in 1956. The imposing structure, combined with a post-war decline in local industry, increasing crime, and a drop in population across the borough, contributed to the neighborhood’s misfortune. A dilapidated warehouse, surrounded by underused properties, occupied the site until its 2015 demolition.
The Lower Concourse Rezoning and the 161st Street/River Avenue Rezoning, passed in 2009, heralded a wave of change. In 2015, construction started on the 13-story, 66-unit rental next door at 477 Gerard Avenue, and the Exit 4 ramp across the street was extensively renovated.
A year has passed between the March 2015 filing of the building permit and the start of notable construction activity at 530 Exterior Street. Construction has progressed quickly, with the building rising to the halfway point by September 2016. The masonry frame reached three-quarters of its total height by November. At this time, the building appears virtually complete on the exterior, while its neighbor at 491 Gerard Avenue has risen halfway.
Significant progress has yet to materialize at the Hampton Inn site to the northeast. No development has been announced at the 4,105-square-foot corner lot to the north, which currently houses a billboard oriented toward the highway similar to the one that once stood at 530 Exterior. Given the current real estate demand at the block, redevelopment will likely take place in the near future.
530 Exterior Street forms the visual backbone of the emerging cluster at the foot of the 145th Street Bridge, which stretches a block to the northeast. The block is almost built out, yet more nearby development is likely to follow in the near future.
The 149th Street–Grand Concourse station on the 4 train is located two blocks east. The borough’s civic core, anchored by the Yankee Stadium, a series of parks, several municipal buildings, and the Concourse Plaza shopping center, sits a few blocks to the north. The expressway opens a 100-foot-wide corridor that allows for views of the Harlem River and Manhattan, although it may be partially blocked by a proposal on the other side of the expressway. The Special Harlem River Waterfront District would introduce several mid- and high-rise buildings nestled among a series of green promenades, connecting the neighborhood interior to the waterfront.