Real Estate

This month in real estate history

therealdeal.comThe Metropolitan Life Insurance Company filed its plans for the first buildings in a massive Bronx housing complex 78 years ago this month. Parkchester came to include about 50 building “clusters” on a 129-acre site, housing some 40,000 people. It was also the first development built using a private-public model. The “garden” community embodied the avant-garde of urban planning at the time, an example of the towers-in-a-park ideal touted by architects like Le Corbusier and later reproduced at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Befitting a garden, the existing street grid was ignored and through traffic was limited to two diagonal boulevards. MetLife’s chairman at the time touted it as a “completely balanced community,” which would include “stores, schools, churches, parks, playground,” but he insisted on racial segregation. While MetLife held on to Stuy Town until 2006, it sold Parkchester in 1969. The buyers, a group of investors headed by Harry Helmsley, converted the rental apartments to condos.

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