At first glance, these beautiful Bronx townhouses seem like the perfect place to raise a family or invest in some NYC real estate. But look closer. There's definitely something fishy going on considering that all of the windows have been blacked out and the doors appear to be floating in the air with no actual steps leading up to them. So what is really going on behind this mysterious facade?
Located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, the too-perfect townhouses actually hide a four-story, 125,000-sq-ft Con Edison substation that cost $300 million to build. Con Ed made a conscious decision to disguise the facility after facing community opposition to its construction. The structure, which opened in 2007, actually houses two substations that provide 900 megawatts of electric power to people in the borough – all while maintaining a pleasant, albeit misleading, outer appearance that doesn’t degrade the aesthetic of the neighborhood. According to The New York Times, one duped househunter even inquired at the security gate shortly after the station was built to ask when the condos would be up for sale!
The Mott Haven Electric Substation was designed by New York-based architecture firm The Switzer Group Inc. and built by Brooklyn-based D’Onofrio General Contractors Corp. using precast concrete panels. The precast elements were fabricated by Coreslab Structures (CONN) Inc. with help from J.P. Carrara & Sons, William E. Daily Precast LLC, and David Kucera (GFRC producer). The precast concrete specialty engineer on the project was Tampa-based LEAP Associations International Inc.
The substation’s prefabricated elements allowed it to be constructed in an extremely tight timeframe and also “present a believable residential presence such as a classic New York City rowhouse street.” “Speed of construction was the most significant factor in deciding to use total precast concrete construction,” said Michael Corcoran, senior architect for Con Edison. “It allowed the construction team to maintain a tight schedule by paralleling the fabrication of precast elements with the excavation and construction of the cast-in-place cellar and foundation.”
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda