/ Buildings / “The Bronx Vibe,” a New, 155-residence, Luxury Rental Development Opens with a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony in the Bronx’s Concourse Village Neighborhood

“The Bronx Vibe,” a New, 155-residence, Luxury Rental Development Opens with a Ribbon-cutting Ceremony in the Bronx’s Concourse Village Neighborhood

Parul Dubey on July 10, 2024 - in Buildings, News

IMC Architecture drew inspiration for the 12-story Bronx Vibe building’s street-facing façade from the nearby Bronx Court building, which is a new structure with a modern façade that features vertical triangular projections. Photo by RARE Photography

 

IMC Architecture, Classic Image, Ray Builders, Complete Development and CORE Consultant complete construction of the first upscale multi-family building in the area

Bohemia Realty Group serves as the exclusive leasing firm for the property

 

The Bronx, NY­­–Elected officials and the project team of developer Bronx 161 LLC, lead architect IMC Architecture, interior designer Classic Image and general contractor Ray Builders cut the ribbon for the newly completed Bronx Vibe, an upscale, amenity-rich, 155-unit residential rental property located at 299 East 161 Street in Concourse Village. Bohemia Realty Group is the exclusive leasing and marketing firm for the property. Webster Bank provided debt financing for the project.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, New York State Assembly Member Chantel Jackson and NYS Senator Luis Sepúlveda’s Chief of Staff Hennessy Reyes joined the project team in the building’s opening ceremony.

“The Bronx Vibe is a welcomed addition to our borough, offering high-quality accommodations and amenities for our residents and families,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “I want to thank Bronx 161 LLC, IMC Architecture, Classic Image, Bohemia Realty Group and Ray Builders for their work on this project, and we look forward to welcoming tenants to this building.”

 

Elected official, developer Bronx 161 LLC, lead architect IMC Architecture, interior designer Classic Image, general contractor Ray Builders and exclusive leasing firm Bohemia Realty Group cut the ribbon for the newly completed Bronx Vibe, an upscale, amenity-rich, 155-unit residential rental property located at 299 East 161 Street in the Concourse Village section of the Bronx, NY. Right to left: IMC Architecture Principal Eugene Mekhtiyev, AIA; Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson; New York State Assembly Member Chantel Jackson; and Bohemia Realty Group Principal Sarah Saltzberg. Photo by Peter Wilk/Wilk Marketing Communications

 

“We are thrilled to unveil our latest development, a beacon of positive impact in the heart of Concourse Village. This first-of-its-kind, highly amenitized building not only raises the bar for modern living and future developments in the area, but also fosters a vibrant community spirit. The overwhelming interest from prospective residents underscores the allure of this property, where tenants will thrive, connect, and create lasting memories,” shared Jack Weiss, Partner at Bronx 161 LLC.

“I am very happy to inaugurate the Bronx Vibe just steps away from my district office. The building offers incredible amenities, including a co-working space, outdoor terraces, and 47 affordable units. Congratulations to IMC Architecture, Bohemia Realty Group, and Ray Builders on completing and opening this beautiful property,” said New York State Assembly Member Chantel Jackson.

“The collaborative effort of IMC Architecture, Classic Image and Ray Builders resulted in the development’s completion ahead of schedule and under budget, a very rare achievement in New York,” continued Weiss. “IMC’s architectural team masterfully navigated the complexities of the property, especially the site’s size and depth, to create a visually attractive, natural light-filled, comfortable and functional building. IMC has also skillfully coordinated with various New York City agencies, including the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, allowing the project to progress quickly,” continued Weiss.        

“As the first high-end residential development in the area, The Bronx Vibe is a lifestyle statement for tenants. The 12-story building provides all the benefits of a luxury apartment complex at an affordable price and is within short walking distance of a thriving business, government services, cultural and entertainment district as well as multiple parks and public transportation hubs,” said IMC principal Eugene Mekhtiyev, AIA, LEED GA.

The property has received a lot of interest from professionals living and working in the neighborhood as well as local court workers, renters priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn and even prospective residents living as far as India, Venezuela and Texas. It is located within a 10-minute walk of Yankee Stadium, the Bronx County Family Court and Bronx County Hall of Justice, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln and Lincoln Medical Center. The building is also near some of the neighborhood’s best arts and cultural attractions, including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, three parks – Franz Sigel Park, Joyce Kilmer Park and Macombs Dam Park – and an array of dining options that reflect the neighborhood’s fascinating cultural diversity. The Bronx property has also attracted overseas and out of state tenants, some of whom come from as far as Venezuela, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Sarah Saltzberg, principal at Bohemia Realty Group, said the complex is perfect for those who are looking for a luxury residence with generous tenant amenities, but may have been priced out of Manhattan. “The Bronx Vibe aims to appeal to renters looking for not just value, but luxury in their apartments, and to have their living space be a ‘one-stop-shop,’ where many of their quality of life needs are met,” she said. “The Vibe’s tenants will enjoy being a part of a community rather than just having a place to come home to after work. The incredible scope of both indoor and outdoor amenities the complex offers encourages socializing with family, friends and neighbors within the building’s shared spaces, which is something many renters seek.”

The property, which qualified for the 421A Program, features 47 affordable units (30 percent of the total) that are available at varying affordability scales. It is also entirely ADA compliant.

The project team also included owner’s representative Complete Development Group, Inc.; zoning and permitting consultant CORE Consultants; MEP engineer Ventrop Engineers; and structural engineer McNamara Salvia.

 

The 725-square foot chic co-working space features expansive windows that look out onto the terrace, multiple seating zones, table and counter work areas and a prep kitchen. Photo by Olga Jarkowska/RARE Photography

 

Amenities

The building’s amenities were designed with community and socializing in mind and make The Bronx Vibe a place your friends will love to visit – and a place to make new fq riends. From post-work pool showdowns and outdoor movie nights to a sunny coworking lounge and a state-of-the-art fitness center, the Vibe doesn’t just offer amenities and opulent residences, it cultivates a community.

The second floor features a 6,700-square foot yard in the back of the building, which is one of several outdoor tenant amenities. The design of the yard space follows the general, contemporary aesthetic of the entire building. To make the space more interesting, the design incorporated step-bench seating designed around planters as well as a general seating area. The yard has 3,400 square feet of space for cooking and leisure. The lounge area, which features high-quality Porcelanosa pavers, is the perfect spot to have a casual after-work hangout or a quiet conversation with family or friends. The yard’s 2,300-square foot partial green roof tray system, which was supplied by Columbia Green Technologies, was delivered as a modular pre-grown tray system and includes active and passive landscaping sections, making this space a green oasis.

The 11th and 12th floors house multiple amenities, most of which are designed to take advantage of the breathtaking Manhattan views that are available from these floors. The space features a 950-square foot duplex game room/lounge that spans both floors and includes a slick wet bar, a pool table, a foosball table, air hockey, virtual reality games and a TV. The 11th floor also provides access to a terrace on the floor’s setback that offers a seating area with pavers and planters and faces Manhattan views to the south, as well as a 725-square-foot interior co-working space with expansive windows that look out onto the terrace. The chic and functional coworking lounge offers multiple seating zones, table and counter work areas and a prep kitchen.

In addition to the game room, the 12th floor includes a well-equipped fitness center that features western views. The two floors are connected via an architectural staircase.

The cellar offers access to a secure, attended 52-space parking garage for tenants that includes an EV charging station. The garage and cellar are also accessible from the ground floor. Other conveniences for tenants in the lower level also include a 200-square-foot bulk laundry area that is an addition to the in-unit washers and dryers in the majority of the apartments, a 693-square-foot bike storage room with space for 77 bikes and a 70-square-foot pet spa/dog care section.

Development History

The Bronx Vibe is located on a 17,000-square foot site along East 161 Street between Park Avenue and Morris Avenue. The site was an assemblage of several smaller sites that previously housed older homes and commercial buildings.

The site’s owner engaged Complete Development, Inc. as owner’s representative to assist with several critical activities, including financing the project, selecting team members, establishing the parameters for the property to maximize its financial outcome and overseeing the overall development process. Complete Development has extensive experience in the five boroughs of New York, particularly with multifamily properties in Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as in the commercial and retail sectors.

IMC, CORE Consultants, the Bohemia brokers, Classic Image and the engineering team collaborated with the ownership and Complete Development to create a design that would match all the required parameters for the building, most notably the need to maximize the number of rental units, make the property both functional and visually attractive to prospective tenants, and provide space for numerous amenities that are critical to attracting and retaining market-rate renters. “Selecting an experienced and collaborative team is critical to successfully completing projects such as this one, which was done on time and on budget. The developers did a great job of setting realistic budgets to achieve their long-term financial goals,” said Complete Development, Inc. owner and founder Zev Steinmetz.

This close collaboration led to locating the gym on the 11th floor to take advantage of views of the Manhattan skyline and George Washington Bridge to the south and west. Likewise, for the design of the residences, there were certain qualities that the team felt were important to have to create a quality living space for the tenants. Each room in the unit needed to have its dedicated function and the units needed to provide sufficient room in the kitchen to fit full-sized appliances and still have space for an eating area. It was also important to have ample counter space and all elements needed to include high-quality, attractive and durable finishes.        

“The architectural team went to great lengths to create a very high-quality architectural and interior design, while staying within budget. They were successful in achieving this balance of quality and economy. The building features a timeless and quality design that doesn’t incorporate design fads. There was great effort to make it look attractive and contemporary by today’s standards, but be something that will still remain timeless years from now. It was also important that each particular element was coordinated with the professionals who specialized in designing those spaces. It’s very valuable to have a continuous supply of collaborators, who know what solutions work and don’t work. We had an excellent team of suppliers, designers and experts who had this highly collaborative and supportive attitude that helped create a successful project,” added Steinmetz.

Architecture

The 144,450-square foot building has 12 stories above ground and a cellar. Since the site is deeper than a usual NYC property (146 feet deep compared to the traditional 100 feet deep), the client’s functional and design requirements focused on maximizing natural light and efficiently designing the floor plates to maximize the number of apartments and tenant amenities in the building as well as creating attractive and functional street-level retail spaces.

After analyzing the property layout and zoning regulations with assistance from CORE Consultants, IMC came up with an ingenious solution that addressed all requirements: a T-shaped footprint for the building above the first floor, with the top of the T facing 161 Street. The expansive front-facing elevation creates an impactful architectural statement on the street side with a visually attractive façade design and maximizes the retail/commercial frontage on the ground floor. This T-shaped footprint accomplished the goal of allowing high amounts of natural light into all of the apartments and even helped increase the allowed height of the building, while keeping with zoning requirements. In addition, this design provided space for the shared yard on the second floor, which is U-shaped, wrapping around the bottom of the building’s T-shape on the second floor and above.

“As The Vibe is the first new high-end residential property in this area, the project team set out to make it a benchmark for other developers in the future to follow when it comes to quality, amenities, and architecture. Stylistically, we drew inspiration for the building’s street-facing façade from the nearby Bronx Family Court building, which is a new structure with a modern façade that features vertical triangular projections,” explained Mekhtiyev.

The Vibe’s rainscreen-type, light and dark gray façade features Porcelanosa porcelain tiles in a Boston Bond color with darker Boston Stone accents that provide a monumental look and feel to the building, while being economically viable and energy efficient.

The IMC team incorporated reverse concave sections near the windows, which add a three-dimensional texture and interest to the facade and depict a reverse design of the triangles on the nearby court building. All these architectural elements make a strong, eye-catching architectural statement in the neighborhood and are intended to visually define and guide the future development in the area that will likely feature a modern design.

According to Mekhtiyev, “Since the 116-foot-long street facade is fairly expansive, we broke up the massing into sections to make it visually lighter and more appealing. The left side features a narrow tower with a lighter stone-look facade and the right side includes a vertical band of darker tile that is slightly set back and continues on the 12th floor, where it horizontally frames a lower, lighter-colored section on the right side of the building. The other three sides of the building feature an EIFS finish.”

The building’s exterior on the ground level features expansive storefront windows of glazing in aluminum frames, as well as a residential entrance that is slightly set back to create a natural canopy.

All windows in residences are sound attenuating and feature trickle vents for energy efficiency that provide fresh air without thermal loss. With energy saving in mind, all apartments are equipped with highly efficient electrical VRF heating and cooling units. The rainscreen system includes a continuous air barrier that creates a sealed building envelope for high energy efficiency.

The building’s first floor houses a 13,000-square-foot retail/commercial space that’s flexibly designed to either be used by one large tenant or subdivided into spaces for several tenants. The architects designed this section to both maximize the street frontage to provide commercial tenants with ample visibility from passersby and maximize the retail square footage by extending this level all the way back to the rear property line. The second floor yard is located on the roof of the rear section of the retail space.

The first floor’s residential entrance leads to a vestibule and then lobby and elevator waiting area. Floors two through 10 feature the complex’s 155 rental units, which include 40 studio apartments, 83 one-bedroom apartments and 32 two-bedroom apartments. The top two floors are dedicated to tenant amenities.

                     

INTERIOR DESIGN

Meir Tessler, principal of Classic Image, led the interior design process for both shared spaces and residences. Before his firm was even retained for the project, Tessler conducted fairly extensive market research and site research, which included using a drone to take photos at various heights where the amenities and apartments would be located, so he could see the views that were afforded from those heights. He used this data to create a plan for the interior layouts that maximized all of those views, particularly on the second, 11th and 12th floors where the majority of the amenities are located.

He also researched the area and used that information to guide his decision-making on what amenities should be included in the building. He performed informal interviews with people from various demographic backgrounds, who were living and working in the neighborhood. This included speaking to justice system workers at Bronx County Family Court, property managers at other nearby residential buildings and different generations of local residents in the neighborhood, which are mostly minorities and immigrants.

This research provided Tessler with valuable insights regarding desired amenities, kitchen layouts, functional preferences and other lifestyle-related guidelines. For example, Tessler discovered that many locally residing families are achieving the middle class status. The successful younger generations aspire to a higher standard of living, while preferring to stay in the neighborhood to remain close to their parents and grandparents. The Vibe is the first building in the area to accommodate these preferences. Kitchen layouts that allow for entertaining family members and sharing meals are one of the preferences of this demographic market.

In an effort to make a statement in a community where redevelopment is starting and to attract tenants while staying within the project’s budget, the designers chose quality, sophisticated finishes that would make it an attractive space for years to come, and elements that were clean, bright, light, welcoming, contemporary, natural and timeless.

Since the design team wanted to create continuity that matched the quality of IMC’s exterior design, they selected a similar color palette and finishes for the interior work, including using Porcelanosa tiles.

“I wanted the architecture and interior design to be cohesive and match each other well, so our designers developed a similar color scheme and expanded it into a full interior palette of grays, natural stone, darker hues, natural wood and vegetation,” said Tessler.

The entrance lobby includes a ride-share bench in the entrance vestibule area, where tenants and guests can wait for rides. The lobby also houses a mailbox section with a mail island counter and an elevator waiting area.

“The lobby is the first space potential tenants encounter on the inside of the building, so it was important to make the first impression a very positive one. The design had to be sophisticated, welcoming, attractive, modern, and understated,” said Tessler.

Several creative and multi-functional design solutions were used in the lobby to account for its long and narrow shape and angles. To maximize floor space, the design team installed triangular planters with natural plants on the walls. There is also a trashcan incorporated into the counter of the mailbox section that doubles as a planter. In order to bring in more natural light, there is a full-height, oversized mirror on the wall perpendicular to the entrance door that reflects the outside views. To warm up the stone hue tile finishes, multiple millwork elements with modern and clean lines were used.

In order to make the lobby a more intimate, well-defined and functional space, chandeliers and high hat lighting were incorporated to visually define each specific area and make it appear more voluminous.

All apartments boast imported LVT flooring, recessed lighting and high ceilings, and feature fully amenitized kitchens, stacked BREDA washers and dryers in most units and oversized sound-proof windows that flood the units with light. All the rooms feature quality materials and durable fixtures. The chic and modern kitchens include a stainless steel appliance package (including dishwashers and top-notch Frigidaire and Beko appliances) and feature a sleek two-toned design with natural stone counters imported from India and clean, modern and durable cabinetry. The bathrooms, which feature porcelain tiles imported from Spain and India, include either soaking tubs or glass shower stalls with Temptrol valve fixtures constructed of solid brass, bronze, and stainless steel that feature an adjustable piston that instantly and continually balances the hot and cold water pressure.

The 11th floor amenity spaces are designed to be sophisticated, but not overpowering, and serve as an extension of a tenant’s home. The game room/lounge features a similar color scheme to the lobby and includes a millwork slat ceiling section for acoustical control. The layout of furnishings and high-quality furniture was designed to take advantage of the views to the outdoor terrace and beyond.

The skill of the design team was crucial in designing around several structural columns in the amenity space. They chose to convert those obstructions into benefits by building a seating space into the wall on the sides of the niche hiding the columns. They also added a shelving section to display artifacts that’s bordered by the columns.

The coworking space includes an acoustical ceiling to allow for sound privacy for people working there. This shared workspace extends into the outdoor terrace and features a glazed railing designed to not obstruct the view and lounge-type seating and furnishings. One of the more interesting design features of the space is a modern architectural stair with clean lines that is cantilevered from the two walls and extends to the 12th floor. The stair features glazing and natural wood finishes.

Construction

Ray Builders’ leadership team for The Vibe included Project Manager Sara Perl and Senior Superintendent Samuel Malik.

Ray Builders faced several unusual challenges during construction of the Vibe, mainly related to the project’s location and concrete structural system. According to Ray Builders Senior Superintendent Samuel Malik, “While building in the densely populated environment of New York City always involves logistical challenges, our team faced increased difficulties caused by the nearby Bronx County Hall of Justice and, even more so, the Yankee Stadium. For example, the vehicular traffic immensely increased two hours before each game at the stadium, making it very difficult for concrete trucks to arrive on schedule to deliver concrete for pouring of each floor, which is a very time-sensitive process.”

The site team coordinated the pouring around the schedule of games, which was prominently displayed on Ray Builders’ site office’s wall. “Concrete floor slabs and a superstructure require continuous pouring to achieve the required structural strength. Any delays in delivery caused by trucks stuck in traffic would cause immense problems,” continued Malik. “We addressed this challenge by obtaining extended hours work and street lane closure permits and scheduling concrete deliveries as early as 5:00am and as late as 10:00pm. This required keeping the concrete plant open late and having our concrete laborer crew, which often reached more than 100 concrete, carpentry and rebar steel workers, work on site until 1:00 in the morning to finish pouring and polishing of each new floor.”

Other challenges were related to the densely built neighborhood. “Early in the project, the foundation excavation called for an extensive shoring of adjacent structures, sidewalks and streets. To make construction even more complex, we also had to ensure that the adjacent Montefiore Comprehensive Health Care Center could operate without any disruptions,” added Ray Builders Project Manager Sara Perl. “To achieve this, we avoided erecting a scaffolding on the side of the building facing the driveway into the clinic and instead constructed an extra high bridge to protect the only vehicular access point to the medical facility.”

Despite such difficult logistics, the team completed the project in an impressively short 22 months from the groundbreaking to occupancy. “What allowed us to achieve such a short delivery schedule was a very collaborative attitude among all team members, including the ownership, IMC Architecture and consultants. Thanks to this collaboration, while technically challenging, The Vibe was one of the most enjoyable projects in my portfolio,” concluded Malik.

IMC Architecture

Three principals established IMC in 2015, following accomplished careers at leading regional and national firms: Eugene Mekhtiyev, AIA, LEED GA; Jonathan Imani, AIA, NCARB; and Dominick Casale, AIA, NCARB. Working mainly in the highly regulated urban environments of New York City and the greater New York area, the founders believe compliance and creativity aren’t mutually exclusive. In addition to architectural work, the firm offers interior design services. www.imcarchitecture.com.

Known for its quality architecture, contemporary aesthetic, technical acumen and zoning expertise, the firm works predominantly in the multi-family, commercial, workplace, education, worship, retail and hospitality markets. IMC has designed some of the most prominent recent projects in New York City and the greater New York area and is one of the pioneers of the modular design and construction technology in New York City and the surrounding region. In addition to design services, the firm also operates an affiliated zoning, expediting and permitting consultancy CORE Consultants.

The studio’s portfolio features nearly ten million square feet of architectural design and consulting projects, totaling in excess of $2 billion in construction value.

The firm’s multi-family design portfolio includes the 41-unit 550 Prospect Place and 16-unit 701-703 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn; 155-unit 289-299 East 161st Street, 21-unit 35 Kingston Avenue and 34,000-square foot Croton Residence in the Bronx, NY; 70-unit The Grand and 73-unit NewRo rental properties in New Rochelle, NY; and multiple upgrades to the 37-story, 807-unit 63-67 Wall Street rental property in Manhattan.

IMC’s commercial and institutional work includes the 90,000-square foot 15 Parkville Avenue commercial and medical office building, 36,500-square foot Center 15 medical services building, 20,000-square foot Spring Creek Towers property management office, Ascend Public Charter Schools at 1833 Nostrand Avenue and 2840 Atlantic Avenue and 28,000-square foot Persian Congregation of Flatbush, all in Brooklyn, NY; and the Elm Charter School at 79-20 Queens Boulevard in Queens, NY.

Bohemia Realty Group

Bohemia Realty Group is a boutique real estate brokerage that services New York City, with special expertise in new developments. With one of the largest portfolios of exclusive new development and multi-family rentals in the city, the firm’s core strength lies in owner representation and consultation. Bohemia’s mission is to effectively and efficiently service clients/property owners and to enrich the community.

Classic Image

Established in 2021, Classic Image is a boutique interior design firm based in Brooklyn, NY. Classic Image specializes in transforming the abstract visions of its clients into tangible realities, offering exquisite design solutions and delivering end products that exceed expectations. 

The firm designs residential and commercial interiors, including multi-family developments. Classic Image’s recent work includes the 82-unit 33 4th Street and 41-unit 375 Lefferts Avenue in Brooklyn, NY and 272-unit The Rise in Jersey City, NJ as well as multiple healthcare and workplace projects in New York City. www.classicimage.com.

Complete Development

Established in 2006 in Brooklyn, NY, Complete Development Inc. is an owner representation firm serving developers and owners of commercial and institutional real estate in New York City. The firm specializes mainly in managing multifamily, mixed-use residential/retail and healthcare projects. It assists in the development, management, and coordination of construction projects from initiation to occupancy and is known for its familiarity with rezoning procedures and guiding projects through New York City’s ULURP process.

Complete Development’s portfolio features projects spanning over 2.5 million square feet, with a total value of approximately $1 billion. Its recent projects include the 75,302-square foot, 82-unit 33 4th Street in Carrol Gardens; 400,000-square foot 2440 Fulton Street commercial building; and 118-square foot, 124-unit mixed-use 963 Atlantic Avenue, all in Brooklyn, NY.

 

Ray Builders

Established more than 25 years ago and based in New York City and Lakewood, NJ, Ray Builders is a general contracting firm focused on commercial, multi-family residential, mid-rise and high rise, high-end condominium, rental, and institutional projects. Led by Jacob Mermelstein and Richard Benedikt, the company has evolved into an exceptional construction organization that has completed numerous landmark projects in the greater New York area. www.rayconstruction.net.

The firm’s residential portfolio includes the 119-unit 123 Parkside Avenue, 131-unit 125 Parkside Avenue and 233-unit Waterview at Greenpoint in Brooklyn, NY; 130-unit Tower at Gramercy Square, 41-unit Prewar at Gramercy Park and 37-unit Modern at Gramercy Park in Manhattan; Washington Square Apartments in Lakewood, NJ; Black Creek development in Bloomingburg, NY; and Bayonne Apartments in Bayonne, NJ.

 

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