We got a chance to get a preview of a unique new condo development in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The condominium is called the Shaker House Condominium. It is inspired by the Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts, and it represents a new spin on housing development in our area. The building houses 6 floor-through units (2 per floor) and the overall design combines both Shaker style and contemporary elements. Currently prices start in the high 400K, and units are now available for viewing.
The condo is a limestone building that was erected in 1923. It had fallen into disrepair by the time the developer, Aaron Graf, found it. Graf, a Maryland native, Bed-Stuy resident, and the brains behind this development had taken on these sorts of projects before–he was the developer of the Faculty House Condominium in Clinton Hill (St. James near Atlantic). Graf has a strong belief that there’s no reason why Bed-Stuy can’t have condo developments that are both innovative and contextually consistent. His work has shown that he is serious about creating homes that enhance the neighborhoods in which they are placed.
Changeling: The good thing about this development is that it fits nicely on the block. So many of the new condos in the neighborhood show a complete disregard for the other buildings on the block.
Alexa11221: Yes, I like that he didn’t change much about the original facade. The building looks handsome and appropriate.
Aaron said that they will be adding a wood-burning fireplace to the main entrance of the building as well as a carpet runner along the stairs.
CH: Green is my favorite color, so I found the green and wood combo very attractive. As soon as we entered the building, I was taken by the wonderful color. I’ve been to a lot of open houses where the sellers opt for a light neutral color throughout the units because it is safe and it’ll make the space look large and it’ll avoid scaring off any buyers who might be color-phobic. It was good to see Graf making the decision to use a vibrant color. It made the entryway visually interesting.
I loved the attention to detail.Â Including the heart shaped cut-outs on the stair railings was a real nice touch.
AL: Yes, everybody wants their home to have a little heart, right?
The developers didn’t have much scope to reconfigure the floor plans–apartments are long and narrow, with the kitchen/living/dining facing Hancock, a small bedroom and full bath in the middle and a master bedroom/bath. A small balcony (connected to the fire escape) leads off the back bedroom in the upper 4 units, while the top-floor apartments also have access to a roof deck. The ground-floor duplexes, of course, have back gardens.
AL: Yes, overall the woodworking and cabinetry is beautiful. Lots of storage and it really expresses the Shaker aesthetic. I like the peg rails and how they added outlets up high so itâ€™s easy to plug in hanging lamps throughout the apartments. I also liked the seeded glass transoms: they bring light into the center of the apartment. Because of the light wells, the apartments have natural light on 3 sides, which avoids the â€œwindowless roomâ€ problem.
CH: I’ve never seen a safe that comes with a unit. Pretty cool. I don’t think Shakers kept really valuable things, at least not anything that needed to be locked up in a safe! The condo units also come with ADT security systems. Who knew Shakers were so mistrustful!?!
AL: I never wanted a safe before. But now Iâ€™m thinking maybe I should get one. I like how itâ€™s built into the wall so you canâ€™t tell itâ€™s there.
AL: The mix of thick and thin widths on the pine flooring goes with the Shaker theme. An again, the attention to detailâ€”the cut out screens over the baseboard heating and the retro radiators add a lot of character. This is definitely not your typical bland developerâ€™s box!
AL: I like the attention to detail here tooâ€”the marble floors seem to be high quality, and I like that thereâ€™s both a tub with a hand shower and a shower stall. Plus the bidet fulfills my notion of ridiculous luxury.
CH: The bathroom was simple and nice and the master bath was downright awesome.Â I agree with that there was a sense of luxury that the baths exuded. They were flooded with natural light and the space seemed large and open. I was a fan of the separate shower and clawfoot tub and Alexa, you called to my attention the attractive subway tile throughout.Â The addition of bidet to the room was cool too.Â Why havenâ€™t Americans embraced bidets? I think it’s an idea whose time has come. Let’s get with the program, people! Anyway, I loved the marble floor because it had radiant heatâ€”no cold feet when you get out of the tub or shower!
Each of the units has its own basement workroom. These are technically storage units, but renaming them workrooms to fit with the Shaker way of life was another indication that the project was thoughtfully conceived. The workrooms have intercoms that allow you to communicate with someone who is upstairs in the unit. These workrooms could in theory be used as home offices or artist studios.
There is a washer/dryer and a shared bathroom in the lower level workroom area. The second and third floor units have their workrooms on this lower level, and they access them through a common stairway. The first floor units duplexes have rec rooms on their lower level that essentially function as their Shaker workrooms.Â Their rooms have access to the common area that houses the washer/dryer units as well as to the garden in back.
CH:Â Didnâ€™t get a chance to get out on the roof (Thanks, acrophobia!), but I guess that would be nice in the warmer months.Â What was the roof like when you went out there?
AL: I liked being up so high (just the part you hated). Because the neighborhood is mostly low-rise, you can see quite a long way, including views of downtown Brooklyn and a fairly close view of the fabulous towers of the armory on Nostrand and Putnam.
CH: Aaron is a great guy, and I nearly got on my knees and begged him to keep building in Bed-Stuy. I’m so happy that he and his family (whom we also got to meet on the tour) have chosen Bed-Stuy as their home, and even happier that they were willing to do more than their share to improve the neighborhood.
Now, how did I feel about the units? What I genuinely liked about them is that they incorporated the Shaker aesthetic without giving up modern conveniences. The building is not far from the A and C trains at Throop, the units are reasonably priced, and several of them have some outdoor space as well. The units would really work well for couples with one member who works from home or one who needs a home office. I think people who would like to keep their work space separate from the living space would be especially happy with these. The only shortcoming that I saw was that the 2 units with 1.5 baths had to deal with the master bath being the only one with the tub/shower, but the remaining units had 2 full baths. If I didn’t already own my home, I would seriously consider one of these.
AL: I’m not the condo type, which is why I own a house. But I really appreciated the thoughtfulness and attention to detail throughout these units. Aaron Graf seems like a really smart guy and the contractor (NSConstruction) that did both the renovations and the new construction seems to have done a careful job. So if I were thinking about buying an apartment, I’d definitely take a look at these. There’s a lot of space and the location is good.
What do readers think of the units? Can any of you who are in the market for a home weigh in on this?
Shaker House Condominium
464 Hancock Street (between Marcus Garvey Blvd & Lewis Ave)
For more information or to view the units contact Aaron Graf at firstname.lastname@example.org