It’s fitting to find one of the few fairly affordable apartments for rent in Greenpoint appearing at 76 India Street, the famous Astral Apartment building that aspired to be a model for hygienic conditions when it was built in 1885-86. Many of its model features aimed to enhance access to running water, fresh air, and light through toilets and sinks in every apartment and windows in every room. Today it counts as unusually spacious for its price, held down by what some might perceive as an anachronism, rent regulation originating in the precedents of the Emergency Rent Laws of 1920 and Emergency Price Control Act of 1942.
Apartment A25 is on the sixth floor of the 118-unit building, and has three oddly shaped rooms, including a kitchen stationed in a large three-sided bay. It has standard rental-type cabinets and plenty of room for a dining table. (The fridge appears to be miniature but hopefully it’s an optical illusion.)
The bedroom and living room are both polygon-shaped and have attractive original wood subfloors stained dark, and each room appears to be light filled, at least in the photos. There also seem to be plenty of original doors and moldings.
The bathroom has a bathtub surrounded by white subway tile, a Home Depot special type cabinet (that appears to be installed at an unusual angle thanks to the shape of the room), black and white floor tiles, and a built-in shelf next to the toilet.
The history of the landmarked Astral building itself is a fascinating read, covered extensively by Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen. The Queen Anne-style structure was designed by Lamb and Rich, architects of Pratt Institute’s main building, much of the original Dartmouth campus, and many liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts and New York.
Its grand design and full-block scale make the building stand out in the neighborhood, which isn’t lacking for heritage. The entrance arches with brick voussoirs are interrupted by bands of Romanesque rough-cut stone and a terra cotta plaque of The Astral, topped by a high rounded recess and a stepped gable. The ground floor has commercial spaces leased to the local favorite Brooklyn Label restaurant–once a kindergarten–and a laundromat in what was once a library. Perhaps most fitting for our new Gilded Age, the whole thing was built by Charles Pratt as a philanthropic venture using Standard Oil profits to fund housing for workers at his kerosene-producing Greenpoint refinery, which left a legacy of industrial pollution in and around Newtown Creek to this day.
At $2,000, it’s almost as inexpensive as they come in this area — but you’re still technically supposed to be earning $80,000 to live in it. Courtney DiRenzo and Ivan Mijalkovic of Corcoran are listing it. Does this still count as affordable?
- Find Your Dream Home in Brooklyn and Beyond With the New Brownstoner Real Estate
- Greenpoint’s Astral Apartments: A Building Ahead of Its Time
- Tidy Fort Greene Floor-Through With Period Charm in Mansard-Topped Brownstone Asks $2,800