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South Bronx ‘ArtCondo’ will bring housing for artists to Melrose

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But some residents are skeptical of the plan

Vacant lot in the South Bronx Zillow

Last month, a group of New York City artists banded together to collectively purchase a prime South Bronx lot, according to Welcome2TheBronx. Their plan: to develop the $1.15 million site into a seven-story condo for artists.

Located at 368 East 152nd Street in Melrose, just off the 2 and 5 trains, the condos are meant to offer artists some permanence in a city that’s constantly gentrifying—and a neighborhood that’s poised to be the next spot where gentrification may take a toll.

Spearheaded by ArtCondo founder Michelle Gambetta, an artist who also happens to be a real estate agent, the project will include 20 units, separate workspaces for artists, and a “community facility of undetermined use,” Welcome2TheBronx reports. If all goes according to plan, Gambetta says, the project could break ground as soon as April 20th.

The ArtCondo website lays out the basics of their mission:

“ArtCondo is a community-driven real estate enterprise that helps creative individuals purchase and develop buildings collectively, in partnership with neighborhood residents. We help creative workers leverage their collective buying power and sweat equity to create mixed-income creative communities which are effectively interwoven with surrounding neighborhoods.

ArtCondo’s overall purpose is to help New York City’s working artists to become financially stable property owners anchored in their communities, so they can continue to enrich the city’s cultural heritage without fear of losing their housing and/or workspace.”

But Welcome2theBronx’s Ed García Conde, however, remains skeptical. For one thing, the units are expected to go for between $175,000 and $700,000, depending on square footage, which makes it more expensive than pretty much anything else in the area, and likely “out of reach for most Bronx artists,” as he points out.

Also, the first artists to go in on the property aren’t actually from the Bronx, though the blog acknowledges that Gambetta does have deep family ties to the borough. “Many local residents question who is this really for?” Conde writes. “Who will it benefit at those prices?”