326 Melrose fits well with its neighbors, a former factory and new rental building. The units are flooded with sunlight. — Photo, left, by Jeremy Sapienza, all others courtesy of AptsandLofts.com
It was just about a year and a half ago when the condominium at 326 Melrose Street was caught in the maelstrom we’ll euphemistically call The Janet Corona Incident. In the crossfire, the development itself was dubbed by some “the Hep of Poop” after some of the fevered ravings of the agent then in charge of sales. It’s a shame, too, because it is nothing of the sort — it’s a lovely, bright, well-laid out collection of apartments. Obviously, Ms. Corona is off the job, and the ubiquitous AptsandLofts are on. The building, once to be called Lumbini Garden, now simply goes by its address. Agent Jennifer Lee said she’s not aware of the Corona controversy, so sadly we have no further details.
At only eight units, it’s small — contextual, one might say — and aside from the facade’s modern design, it fits well on the block with such buildings as a brick former factory, older tenements, and another new rental building right next door. The area has been full of construction activity in the past few years, with developers utilizing lots that had been vacant for decades, including nearby condominiums, market-rate rental infill, and subsidized homeownership and rentals built by local community-based organization Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizen’s Council.
In addition to a large ground-floor studio for $299,000, the building mostly comprises one-bedrooms with modern appointments, including central air and washer and dryer in-unit, priced from $295,000 to $449,000. Oversized moldings and other classic details ground the high-ceilinged spaces and warm up the contemporary kitchen fixtures. The bedrooms, though small, have a wall of glass that opens onto an ample balcony which on the upper floors affords sweeping views of Bushwick and Manhattan in the distance. The rear ground-floor unit is a duplex with a private yard, and the front top-floor apartment has a large roof deck and double-height ceilings with skylights over the kitchen area.
Web designer Christoff Frazier recently signed a contract for a unit at 326 Melrose, having stumbled upon the building after seeing a development nearby.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about Bushwick before I found the apartment,” he said. “I really love the neighborhood, it reminds me a lot of home — San Francisco.”
Frazier thinks 326 is higher quality than similar developments he’s seen in Brooklyn, and the builders’ “attention to detail” — plus the fact that the apartments have gas in the kitchen, a rarity in new construction — sold him on the place.
If it seems strange for the developer to follow through with selling these units instead of, like the Castle Braid, reverting to rentals, AptsandLofts has inspiration in the nearby 38 Wilson. Four units there are now closed and seven more are under contract, thanks to the current and previous White House’s doctoring of the mortgage markets. FHA backing, which Lee says 326 Melrose is now seeking, allows buyers to put down just 3.5% and pay a low interest rate, and it is only available for units under $729,000 — making Bushwick condominiums attractive to people working with a small down payment.
So while the economy continues to seek its equilibrium, it still makes sense to buy for those who plan to stick around in New York for a while, especially with the current government incentives. Time will tell if these programs are simply blowing air into a still-deflating bubble, but in the meantime, relatively affordable — and very attractive — Bushwick condos like 326 Melrose will probably sell out.