Keith Rubenstein’s Somerset Partners, the developer behind last year’s now-infamous “Bronx is Burning” party, closed yesterday on the $47.5 million sale of a 16,000-square-foot building in Mott Haven that he thinks will become the next Chelsea Market.
Rubenstein told The Real Deal that he’s been scouting the South Bronx property for a while, as it will complement the residential complex he’s building with the Chetrit Group across Bruckner Boulevard. That project, six 25-story residential structures abutting the Harlem River, should break ground in about one month.
Depending on your political orientation, the impeding Bruckner Market will have you giddy or gagging. The building, a 1930s warehouse, could enlarge its footprint up to 30,000 square feet to host food kiosks, restaurants, produce vendors, and possibly a microbrewery with a beer garden. Rubenstein estimates that it should be complete in the next 12 to 18 months.
This is not the first, or last, food venture planned for the area. To brand the area effectively for potential tenants and investors, Somerset Group has backed a hip coffee shop and an Italian restaurant close to their towers. Others are riding the wave: Acclaimed chef Massimo Bottura announced this week that he’s working on a Bronx dining hall with Robert De Niro that serves meals made from leftover ingredients. Just north, Youngwoo & Associates is developing the disused Bronx General Post Office into a mixed-use space with dining options.
Will the neighborhood’s expanded dining options sate the throngs of museum-goers who will surely flock to Mónica Ponce de León’s addition to the Bronx Musuem of Arts, or herald a heretofore unprecedented displacement of local businesses and residents? Or both? At least there will be spaces to ponder the South Bronx’s changes over a sandwich.