For developer Henry Weinstein, the old Bronx courthouse on 161 Street and Third Avenue, was love at first sight.
“Just look at it! It's a wonderful building,” exclaimed developer Henry Weinstein.
The lofty temple of justice served the borough until it was abandoned in the late 1970s and left for ruin. Inside, remnants like cracked marble stairs and broken stained glass offer a window into the courthouse's glory days.
The long-time neighborhood advocacy group, Nos Quedamos, instrumental in the renaissance of the Melrose section of the South Bronx, fought to acquire the now-landmarked property, but the Giuliani administration put it up for sale.
In 1998, Weinstein purchased the courthouse for $300,000 in a real estate auction.
“We've spent probably more than a million dollars doing demolition, plans, and putting in gas, electric, water, and all the necessary utilities,” he said.
A wide range of tenants, from fitness clubs to banks to food vendors, has expressed interest in the more than 80,000 square foot property, spread out across six levels. Weinstein says there have been many false starts; most recently, plans for a charter school fell through. So the wait for the right anchor tenant continues.
“We could have turned it into self-storage 10 years ago when we first purchased the building, but we didn't feel that it was an appropriate use for such a beautiful structure,” Weinstein said.
In Queens, our stately courthouses get the condo treatment: