If the modern exterior with a mix of limestone, brick, concrete, and glass looks like it should be a for-sale building, there’s good reason. The property, 119th and Third, was designed for upscale buyers but was switched to rentals this past May due to the tough economy.
In 2006, Forest Hills, N.Y.-based Third Avenue Associates, with Forest Hills, N.Y.-based Muss Development Co. as the development partner, hired New York-based Barry Rice Architect to design a 12-story structure in the East Harlem neighborhood, also known as Spanish Harlem, close to the northern part of Central Park. “The neighborhood was evolving,” says principal Barry Rice. “This was planned as one of seven to eight new buildings, the first wave of new development.”
Rice’s goal was to find an architectural vocabulary that fit the low-rise scale of its mixed-use neighborhood, yet would take a step forward and appeal to buyers. He designed the stepped-back look in different materials for an intimate scale. Light-colored brick pays homage to a neighborhood material, while generous glazing brings light and views into the interior.
Ground was broken February 2008. The 90 units were marketed three months later, with one-bedrooms priced between $385,000 and $575,000. A year later, the economic downturn convinced the developer to switch to leases.
Renters are the beneficiaries of a 24-hour concierge and refrigerated storage locker in the slate-paved lobby; a third-floor windowed gym; indoor parking; and an 1,800-square-foot rooftop terrace with private cabanas. Apartment units reflect Rice’s same attention to detail with 8-foot windows; 9-foot ceilings with coffer styling; granite countertops in the loft-style kitchens; marbled bathrooms; and oak flooring.
Rent-stabilized prices are another draw. The smallest unit, a 555-square-foot studio, leases for $1,650 on a 26-month lease, and the largest—a 1,595-square-foot, three-bedroom with a terrace—goes for $4,750. Roughly 35 percent of the units are leased.