The corner of 78th and First Avenue was once home to a pair of low-rise brick buildings. Their former owner tore them down in 2013 with a plan to build a 12-story condominium. The lot sat empty for ten years thereafter, mired in controversy, lawsuits, and rats. Lots of rats.
So many rats that the lots located at 1491 and 1493 First Avenue became known locally as a “rat park.” It racked up 59 inspections for rat activity since 2015 between the two addresses. According to the city’s Rat Information Portal, No. 1491 passed its last inspection on January 31, 2023, but bait was applied as recently as March 6 at No. 1493.
Despite the rodent infestation, a group of Upper East Siders hoped to turn the park into a community garden. It even had the support of local lawmakers who asked Mayor Eric Adams to investigate conditions at the site. It is unclear if the city ever took any action beyond setting out bait on various occasions. What is clear is that the plan for a community garden is not going to happen, at least not on this particular corner of the neighborhood.
It is anticipated that the future residential building will top out at 209 feet. Its 94 condo units are expected to be about 1,900 square feet on average, and there’s also going to be a 7,120 square foot retail space and a cellar level.
It is not known yet when construction will begin, but the project is expected to be complete by spring 2026.