The demolition of an abandoned bakery has been completed at 2409 Arthur Ave., the future site of a new student housing project. According to the developer, AB Capstone, construction of the actual building will take place throughout the coming months. Completion is scheduled for the summer of 2016.
In a clear gesture to Belmont’s ethnic heritage, AB Capstone has christened the new building Artù Viale, which means “Arthur Avenue” in Italian. It will rise six stories, including retail space on the first floor, community space on the second floor and four floors of student housing. Contrary to reports earlier this fall, the building has not been designated as a community center and will be constructed in accordance with the R6 zoning laws for the area. Joseph Zanzuri, who is spearheading the project for AB Capstone, said that the company had hoped to partner with Fordham in order to gain the community center designation and build higher, but the university declined to participate.
“We would have loved to affiliate ourselves with Fordham University,” he said, “but Fordham did not agree to be part of the program.”
Regardless, the company is forging ahead with the $30 million project. When completed, the Artù Viale will offer a number of amenities, including a gym and rec room, a 4,000-square-foot outdoor terrace and even “specialized vending machines” stocked with fresh food, Zanzuri said. In addition, the company is investing in a $400,000 security system for the building.
Apartments will range from studios to three-bedroom units, and all will be completely furnished.
“It’s strictly student housing. It’s luxurious,” said Zanzuri. “We’re bringing something fresh and vibrant to students.”
Although the actual pricing is still undetermined and subject to shifts in the housing market, Zanzuri said that rents should be comparable to the current rents of other apartments in Belmont — about $850-$1000 per bed.
Before beginning the project, AB Capstone completed extensive market research on the housing stock in Belmont. Although Artù Viale represents the company’s first foray into student housing, they concluded that a brand-new development for students in the neighborhood would be a feasible venture.
“We realized that Fordham University needs it,” said Zanzuri. “There’s enough students off campus that they need something a little bit safer, a little bit more secure, a little bit newer, so that’s what we’re offering.”
In addition to new student residences, Artù Viale will also create more retail space and bring in new businesses as a result.
Although some businesses have already expressed interest in moving into the space, AB Capstone has not confirmed any tenants yet. Zanzuri stated that the company will try to rent to businesses that fit the unique character of Arthur Avenue.
“We don’t want to create bad competition for our neighbors,” he said. “The neighborhood needs to be able to support it.”
The community reactions to Artù Viale have been positive so far, especially since it will replace a long-abandoned building on Belmont’s main thoroughfare.
“The entire community has been very, very happy to see that building go,” Zanzuri said.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Anna Cutugnino, who works at Tino’s Deli, across the street from the project. “I think it’s going to be good also for the business … but not only for Tino’s Deli, I think for all the businesses and for the neighborhood itself. It’s going to look more inviting.”
Students, too, have expressed excitement about the project. For Kate FitzSimons, FCRH ’17, the idea of an off-campus building where students can gather — both those who live there and those who don’t — sounds appealing.
“It’s kind of like a school away from school that’s not actually affiliated with your school, and I see that as being really attractive,” she said. “There’s nothing really around here that I can think of off the top of my head that’s like that.”
Gaby Gutierrez, FCRH ’15, points out that many students’ attitudes toward Belmont are changing, making them more likely to move off campus into something like Artù Viale.
“Generally, the neighborhood is getting safer, or the perception at least is changing,” she said.
Artù Viale may also have a ripple effect on the local housing market. Currently, many landlords and management companies market their buildings to students. Rafael Labour, a real estate agent at LandSeAir Real Estate Group on Arthur Avenue, points out that the many amenities the new development will offer could cause other landlords to update their units to stay competitive.
“It’s going to bring up the caliber of units that you see in this neighborhood,” he said.
With rents and the cost of building skyrocketing across the city, affordable Bronx neighborhoods like Belmont represent a golden opportunity for developers like AB Capstone, and Zanzuri noted that Belmont may see more new buildings in the near future.
“Development is going to continue for one main reason: because people have no other place affordably to buy something,” he said. “So you are going to see a lot of things going on in the next couple of years.”