The South Bronx is in the midst of a development boom, with everything from affordable apartments to waterfront megadevelopments to fancy condos sprouting up in the area. And there’s more to come: Last year, the state allocated $10 million to fund further development in the area as part of its much-touted Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Within that larger area, Mott Haven has received much of the attention, thanks to its proximity to the waterfront. A glut of luxury high-rises and condos have cropped up in the neighborhood, offering amenities comparable to what you might find in Manhattan—think pet spas, co-working spaces, and the like—but at lower prices.
“The neighborhood is growing so fast right now, it’s crazy,” says Ramona Vicenty, a real estate agent with Citi Habitats. “I grew up in the neighborhood so I know it like the back of my hand, but it’s been really electric and exciting to see it evolve.”
That influx of new development and new renters has raised concerns about gentrification among longtime residents, an issue that’s almost certain to grow as more money is poured into the area. For now, though, Vicenty (whose parents and brother still live in the neighborhood) says that people appreciate that new amenities are popping up on their doorstep.
“Anytime you have a neighborhood that is changing, there’s always going to be concern,” Vicenty says. “But a lot of residents are happy with some of the newer things, like the new South Bronx boxing gym, Crossfit, and small eateries. Instead of having to travel to Manhattan or go to City Island, you have places you can walk to and enjoy your Sunday.”
If low rents, local retail and restaurants, and easy access to Manhattan (Mott Haven is conveniently served by the 2, 4, 5, and 6 trains, and some spots are only a 20 minute ride from Midtown) appeals to you, read on.
For years, Mott Haven’s rental landscape primarily consisted of renovated walk-ups, though that’s starting to change. “I would say there’s equal play between walk-up and elevator buildings,” Vicenty says. “There are a lot of small tenement buildings that have been renovated, but there are also newer, larger buildings in the neighborhood.”
Those larger developments include 25 Bruckner Boulevard, a two-building, 130-unit project featuring high-end apartments, amenities like a gym and steam room, and a rooftop barbecue grill.
Rents in Mott Haven are rising, and fast: Zumper found that the median rent in the neighborhood has jumped by 15 percent since 2016.
What does that mean in hard numbers? According to Vicenty, a one-bedroom apartment can run anywhere from $1,900/month to $2,600/month, with apartments in renovated walk-ups erring toward the lower end of that spectrum, and apartments in luxury buildings clocking in at the higher end. Two-bedrooms run anywhere from $2,400 to $2,900/month, per Vicenty, and three-beds can range from $2,300/month to $3,000/month.
StreetEasy lists some apartments priced a few hundred dollars lower than Vicenty’s range, so it’s worth scouring rental websites if you’re looking for the best deal.
Vicenty’s favorite thing about Mott Haven is the ease with which you can access the Randall’s Island Connector, which opened in nearby Port Morris in 2015. “It’s a great place,” Vicenty says. “People play ball there, and it’s a great place to walk around.”
For nature lovers, Mott Haven itself is home to the Brook Park Community Garden, which serves as an environmental education hub for area schoolchildren, as well as a gardening spot for green-thumbed residents. Other highlights include Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen, a Southern-style eatery and brunch spot on Lincoln Avenue, an outpost of Gun Hill Tavern, and Mott Haven Bar & Grill.
Most expensive area
Since most of the new development is happening along Mott Haven’s waterfront, you’ll find that’s where more of the luxury, high-end apartments are located—and thus, the higher price points. The farther you get from the waterfront, the better deals you’ll find, especially if you’re looking at walk-ups versus condos in new buildings.
What to look out for before signing a lease
Vicenty says that since rents are fluctuating so much and so quickly, it’s a good idea to bargain with your landlord to see what kinds of incentives they’d be willing to offer, especially in slower (non-summer) rent months. “Maybe the landlord will give one month free, or come down a little on the rent,” Vicenty says. “You can always try to get an extended lease, or get a two year lease, to keep the price longer for a longer period of time.”
478 East 145th Street: This walk-up doesn’t offer much in the way of amenities, but for $1,800/month, you can rent a two-bedroom with heat and gas included, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, one bathroom, and lots of closet space. The building is located near the 2 and 5 trains at 149th Street-3rd Avenue.
459 East 135th Street: A two-bedroom apartment in this renovated walk-up includes an in-unit washer/dryer, a dishwasher, and an updated bathroom. The building, located right by the 6 train at Brook Avenue, also features a virtual doorman, a roofdeck, and a workout room. The rent is $2,500/month, though the landlord will offer one month free.
340 East 134th Street: A three-bedroom, one-bathroom unit runs $2,600/month in this pre-war three-family home, located right near the 6 train at 138th Street-3rd Avenue. Highlights include an exposed brick wall in the living area, an eat-in kitchen, and a large master bedroom with a walk-in closet. The building allows pets.
25 Bruckner Boulevard: Amenities at this luxury waterfront development include parking, a swimming pool, a gym, a shared courtyard, and a rooftop deck. A one-bedroom apartment here is outfitted with high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open-concept kitchen with stainless steel appliances. The rent is $2,842/month.