On the outside, residents of the Mott Haven section of the Bronx see a small series of townhouses. Everyday people walk around and see these wonderful looking townhouses, but never see anyone go in or out. They must wonder who lives inside: do the residents only live there for part of the year? Why are there never any open windows? Is this the first sign of gentrification to hit the Bronx? The answer to all those questions, ridiculous or otherwise is that it is not a series of townhouses at all, but a substation run by Con Edison made to look like a small gated community.
Earlier this year, Scouting NY provided the first scoop on this unique urban “development,” alerting New Yorkers that not all things are what they seem.
Made to look like townhouses to appeal to the residents who were not happy with a substation being built in their neighborhood, Scouting NY reports that the substation was constructed in 2008 to meet energy needs for the neighborhood. It is one of many that Con Edison will be building around the city, due to the rise of commercial and residential buildings over the last decade. Another similar example we’ve previously reported on is the fake brownstone on Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, which hides a subway ventilator.
Con Edison brings in architects and designers to mask the substations in order to limit backlash from communities, but it isn’t always an easy sell despite its superficial exterior. In Greenwich Village, plans to make another ventilation unit look like a townhouse were met with disdain. According to DNA Info, Community Board 2 chair Jo Hamilton said, “If this were any other landlord presenting this, we’d laugh at them for presenting this in a historic district. I don’t know how we got to this — a blank, hollow concrete bunker.”
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