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New Residence, Workspace for Artists to Replace Vacant Lot in South Bronx

By Eddie Small | February 7, 2017 5:12pm
 A vacant lot in the South Bronx will turn into a building where artists can live and work.
A vacant lot in the South Bronx will turn into a building where artists can live and work.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MELROSE — For Yvonne Troxler, a 54-year-old pianist and composer, surviving as a musician in New York has been "insanely hard," particularly when it comes to affording both living space and rehearsal space.

"Here in New York, it feels like, oh my God, I have no choice. I have no rights. I have a lot of 'no,'" she said.

But her struggle may soon come to an end, as Troxler is now planning to move from East Harlem to the South Bronx, where she will reside in a new space for artists to live and work that she calls "a dream come true."

The classical music group Glass Farm Ensemble, which Troxler directs, was part of a group of artists that banded together to find a piece of land they could turn into affordable art studios, and the group recently found a spot in the South Bronx at 368 E. 152nd St.

"It definitely feels very empowering," she said.

The 6,400 square foot vacant lot will turn into a 7-story building for artists that features studio work spaces, timeshares for artists not from the area, space for a nonprofit and space for artists to live.

Michele Gambetta, a real estate agent and co-founder of ArtCondo — the organization behind the project that aims to help artists live and work in New York City — said the space was in an ideal location, close to the Bronx Documentary Center and a community garden.

It is also in a section of The Bronx that is still relatively affordable, she said.

"The market farther south is appreciating so fast, we were running after the market," she said, "and it’s really hard to buy anything when you’re running after the market, so this was an area that was attractive."

Artists will have the option of just living in the building, just working in the building or doing both, but Gambetta said most people she had spoken with so far are very excited about using it as a workspace.

"Once it becomes too residential, you don’t want to really work," she said, "so it’s kind of this funny balance."

The building will feature 11 foot ceilings and a freight elevator, and Gambetta hopes to start construction in April or May and have the building ready for people to move into in 2019.

She estimated between 35 and 40 people would be able to use the building in some fashion, as it will feature about 20 units between 650 and 1,300 square feet, 10 spaces solely for commercial work and community space for a nonprofit.

Move-in day can't come soon enough for Troxler, who said she is excited to start experiencing the unique environment of the project.

"I’m always very much inspired by visual arts, and so I’m looking forward to having visual artists there," she said. "That’s a big plus."

People interested in living and/or working in the new development can email Gambetta at artcondo2013@gmail.com or call her at 646-245-9801. She can also be reached through the website www.artcondo.com.