It takes two
New York Post The Two Bridges area remains gritty, but here come the condos By Janet Huege Published January 22, 2006
WHAT’S to like about Two Bridges, the tiny Manhattan nabe around the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge?
“It’s the only neighborhood left in Manhattan that doesn’t have a Starbucks,” says 39-year-old Guns N’ Roses guitarist and Two Bridges resident Richard Fortus.
Indeed, with its gritty, hidden-in-plain-sight kind of vibe, Two Bridges might just be Manhattan’s last frontier.
But blink and you could miss the bargains. Though the area is dominated by 1880s tenements and low-and middle-income housing projects, numerous new condos are transforming the nabe.
Along with the new housing is an ever-increasing influx of young hipsters, artists, professionals and those being priced out of the rest of Manhattan — all of whom are helping put this once virtually uncharted territory on the map.
“It’s a unique area,” says Barrie Mandel, senior vice president at the Corcoran Group. “It feels like SoHo 10 years ago. It has a great cultural mix.”
And for now — like SoHo 10 years ago — Two Bridges remains relatively cheap.
“The prices in Two Bridges and its fringes are about 10 to 20 percent less than the Lower East Side,” says Rob Gross, senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman.
In many cases, however, you get what you pay for.
“Most of the apartments are small walk-ups with not a lot of closet space and, like the Lower East Side, you could have a tub in the kitchen,” Gross says.
The new condos, of course, are changing that. Among the new residences in Two Bridges are 142 Henry St. ($535,000 to $1.8 million) and the Two Bridges condominium at 48 Canal St., with units from $660,000 to $1.6 million. Adding to the gentrified feel is the newly renovated Seward Park and the nearby East River waterfront promenade.
The area is bounded by the East River, the Brook-lyn Bridge, St. James Place, East Broadway and Montgomery Street. (Technically, the neighborhood might more accurately be called Three Bridges; the heart of the area is between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, but the area also includes part of the space between the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge.)
The area has historically been a settlement for immigrants, first Jewish and European, then Puerto Rican and Chinese. Now, however, the newest residents are the young professional set.
Gypsy Lovett and her husband, Stephen Coates, a law student, purchased their newly updated three-bedroom co-op three months ago for about $1 million.
“It’s such a great, quiet and diverse neighborhood that isn’t too far, but just set enough away from it all,” says the 30-year-old cookbook publicist.
But because the neighborhood is an up-and-comer, it has its drawbacks.
“I wish there were more conveniences like gyms and bodegas and things open late,” says 32-year-old personal trainer and two-year Two Bridges renter Cindy Sherwin. “It can also be kind of dirty, and I wish there weren’t so many rats. But all in all I love living here.”
But not everyone is happy with the gentrification the neighborhood is seeing.
“Two Bridges is a neighborhood in transition,” says Victor Papa, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council director and lifetime resident. “Part of what attracts people here is its character, but I’m afraid we’re fighting a losing battle.
“Developers are discovering treasures of buildings and converting them to expensive condos,” he adds. “They stop by here all the time and ask if a building is for sale, but I tell them we’re not going anywhere.”
And he might be right —to a certain extent.
“There has been development, but it has been slow,” says LoHo Realty president Jacob Goldman. “Gentrifica-tion does happen around low-income housing. Look at Chelsea. But in Two Bridges it will take longer because the area is much smaller.”
Says Eamon Roche, president of Broad Channel Builders and the developer of 48 Canal St.: “What will begin to happen are assemblages of older buildings. People wil buy three buildings and knock them down and build something now.”
But for now, Two Bridges is “the last deal in Manhattan,” says guitarist Fortus, who lives in a recently renovated two-bedroom with his model wife, Jennifer, and 2 1/2-month-old daughter, Paisley. “It is a great community that feels like a town. Everyone knows everyone. It’s ideal for families.”
And with the F train at East Broadway right there, it is very convenient to Midtown and also within walking distance of the Lower East Side, East Village and SoHo.
“Nightlife and other amenities like bars, stores and restaurants are not exactly right here, but close enough,” says James Vaughn, leasing manager for Hudson Companies, who handles The Crossroads, Two Bridges’ only luxury rental building, located at 10 Rutgers St. “It is steadily improving. And with more people moving in demanding certain services, the neighborhood can only improve.”