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Luxury Staten Island Building Has Urban Farm, Apiary and a Pool

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 20, 2016 4:38pm
 Urby Staten Island already had nearly 70 residents move in to their first phase.
Urby Staten Island
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STAPLETON — For $1,500, Staten Islanders can rent a 538-square-foot studio apartment with access to an urban farm, apiary, pool and two-story gym.

Urby Staten Island, at 8 Navy Pier Court on Stapleton's waterfront started leasing its 571-units this summer.

So far, the building has had 70 people move in and 100 other tenants sign up, according to Laurayne Croke, managing director for the project.

The first phase of the $150 million LEED-certified complex, built by New Jersey-based Ironstate Development, has a mix of studios, one and two-bedrooms in two buildings.

"The culture is just communal spaces, getting people together, urban farms. It's not pretentious. it's about convenience, having fun," Greg Russo, principal of Ironstate, previously told DNAinfo New York.

"We're really focused on the young people that are fleeing the borough because there aren't any real cool housing options available."

Prices for studio start at $1,500, one-bedrooms at $1,933 and two-bedrooms at $2,507.

Residents get use of a pool, a two-story gym, playground, bike parking, the ability to rent an electronic-assisted bicycle and a communal kitchen with workshops hosted by chef-in-residence Brendan Costello.

The development also has a 5,000 square-foot urban farm run by farmer-in-residence Zaro Bates, a roof-top apiary, a Bodega shop in the lobby with organic produce and Staten Island's first outpost of the coffee-chain Coffeed.

The Coffeed shop and Bodega will also be open to the public — along with the newly opened waterfront park adjacent to the development — and the site will have a public farmer's market with produce grown at the spot every Saturday.

Coffeed and the pool expects to open in about two weeks when the second building gets its Certificate of Occupation, Croke said.

Despite the higher prices, some residents were thrilled at the new housing stock and shops Urby brought to the neighborhood.

"We waited so long for more residential offerings, we’re just happy that things are moving along in Stapleton," said Kamillah Hanks, a lifelong Stapleton resident and president and CEO of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership.

"My mother just came to visit from Pennsylvania and she's thinking about moving here, and she hates Staten Island."

Hanks said Ironstate has engaged the local community in the project and new residents have already started to spend money at restaurants in the neighborhood.

"It's just about time that we're starting to see our waterfront be developed like we know it should," Hanks said.

However, other residents were less positive and thought it divided the neighborhood into two sections.

"The city is creating two different Stapletons," said Ed Polio, owner of 5050 Skatepark across the street from Urby, echoing concerns brought up at a recent community board meeting.

"There’s the Stapleton that I live in towards Bay Street and then there's the Stapleton on the other side of the [Staten Island Railway] tracks."

Polio, who lives down the block from his skatepark, said the divide is shown at the Coffeed location. The spot has ample public seating and free WiFi, but also an upstairs "VIP" location for residents of Urby itself.

He also worries Urby's high rents will drive up prices around the neighborhood and force out working-class people — like his artist and mailman neighbors — from living in Stapleton.

"They're setting the tone for the rest of the neighborhood," said Polio, who worries the rent at his business will increase and force him to close the city's only indoor skatepark.

"I think it's going to ruin the rates for the area."

Ironstate Development head David Barry defended the pricing of Urby and doesn't think the criticisms are valid.

"If you compare [these rents] to 30-year-old junk projects in the middle of Staten Island, they're going to be high," Barry told Gothamist. "I think that you have to look at this as a metro area issue.

"To take an emotionally-charged argument and say, 'Oh well, this is too expensive for Staten Island, I've been in Staten Island for 40 years and, gosh, I don't approve of, you know, $2,000 apartments,' I just don't think it's a valid logic stream," Barry told the website.

The project, designed by Dutch-firm Concrete, first broke ground in 2013, a decade after the city first started looking for developers.

The development also had 30,000 square-feet that will eventually include a location of olive oil shop Carter and Cavero, Coney Island boutique Lola Star and a new restaurant from the owners of Brooklyn's The Pearl Room.

The spot will also have Surf BBQ & Grill, started by the pit master of Red Hook's famous Hometown Bar-Bar-B-Que Billy Durney, and an eatery run by New Jersey restaurateur and T.V. host Victor Riallo.