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Historic Bronx Borough Courthouse goes on market for first time in years; price cut to $35M

The Old Bronx Courthouse on Third Ave. and 161st St. in the Bronx is pictured in 2008. (Enid Alvarez for ϲʿֱ)
The Old Bronx Courthouse on Third Ave. and 161st St. in the Bronx is pictured in 2008. (Enid Alvarez for ϲʿֱ)
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A historic former courthouse in the South Bronx, abandoned since the 1970s, is for the first time in years, raising hopes that the space may finally be put to use after several false starts.

The Bronx Borough Courthouse takes up a full block at the intersection of E. 161st St. between Third and Brook Aves. in Melrose and has been for nearly 50 years. It was listed for sale in with an asking price of $40 million, which was recently cut to $35 million.

The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)
The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)

“It’s gorgeous, it’s a piece of history,” said broker Shlomi Bagdadi of Tri State Commercial Realty.

Today, the 121,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts building boasts a grand lobby, intricate stonework and new electric and mechanical systems. The granite structure was “the Gray Lady,” supposedly in honor of a on the facade depicting Lady Justice without a blindfold.

Built between 1905 and 1915, the Courthouse was once a civic hub for the borough. It three courts, a coroner’s office and a jail until 1934, when most city services relocated to the newly built courthouse on Grand Concourse. It as a criminal court until 1977 and was vacated a year later as the South Bronx .

The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)
The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)

Over the years, community organizations to acquire the Courthouse, and the city put it up for auction twice before it was by Liberty Square Realty in 1998. It has remained empty aside from a brief stint hosting an art exhibition in 2015.

In 2017, the charter school operator Success Academy to transform the property into a high school, but the deal collapsed amid that remains ongoing, according to court records.

The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)
The interior of the Old Bronx Courthouse at E. 161st St. and Third Ave. in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Tri State Commercial)

Bagdadi said zoning prohibits the building from turning residential, but he voiced hope that the city might be interested in reacquiring it.

“The only fitting buyer, in my opinion, is someone that either works with the government, a government contract or a government agency that is going to actually restore this into the use of the local community,” he said.

The old Bronx Courthouse on East 161 Street between Third Avenue and Brook Avenue. Real Estate. Bronx Borough Courthouse takes up a full block at the intersection of East 161st Street between Third and Brook Avenues in Melrose and has been vacant for nearly 50 years. It's pictured here in 1996. (Michael Schwartz for ϲʿֱ)
The old Bronx Courthouse on E. 161st St. in the Bronx  is pictured in 1996. (Michael Schwartz for ϲʿֱ)

The Courthouse isn’t the only borough landmark up for sale. The Bronx General Post Office on Grand Concourse was for $70 million, five years after a previous deal fell through.

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