One Man’s Bold Quest to Lure Cool New Yorkers to the City’s Least-Hip Borough

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CAN A NEW $150 MILLION DEVELOPMENT TURN STATEN ISLAND INTO A GENUINE RESIDENTIAL DESTINATION? HMM.

BY CAITLIN MOSCATELLO

Staten Island is one of New York’s five boroughs, but it seems like another world. Nobody goes there except for tourists who want to ride the free ferry and residents commuting home. The cool kids across the river have long laughed at the perennially unhip borough, treating it–if they ever think about it at all–like some loud, embarrassing cousin who you pray doesn’t show up at your birthday party and hit on your Warby Parker-wearing friends. The stereotypes can be ruthless: Mob Wives, tanning, SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!, hair gel. Three members of the Jersey Shore cast were actually Staten Islanders. But here’s the thing: how many smug New Yorkers who mock that land on the other side of the ferry have actually spent any time there? What if Staten Island secretly has the potential to be…kind of cool?

FC Barry

That’s what David Barry is banking on, anyway. The 48-year-old co-president of real estate development company Ironstate is investing $150 million in a new residential project being built along the North Shore of Staten Island, and he’s specifically targeting the sort of cosmopolitan millennials who typically head directly to the sexier parts of Brooklyn. The project, set to open in fall 2015, is the first of Ironstate’s Urban Ready Living (URL) developments, which have been created with the help of Dutch design firm Concrete. The 571 initial units, with another 300-plus scheduled for phase two of construction, will be affordable–at least by New York standards, where the median price for an apartment tops $3,100 a month, according to data from the real estate research firm REIS. Pricing for the project isn’t finalized yet, but Barry says that 400-square-foot studios will start around $1,600, 550-square-foot one-bedrooms around $2,000, and 700-square-foot two-bedrooms around $2,400. That’s roughly $45 per square foot. Compare that to Williamsburg, Brooklyn–still the epicenter of NYC hipness–where studio apartments now cost an average of $2,632 a month, per the latest Brooklyn Rental Market Report.

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