An Economic Ecosystem for the South Bronx The BankNote Building
Denham Wolf partnered with Taconic Investment Partners to redevelop the iconic BankNote Building in the South Bronx, transforming over 400,000 SF of industrial space into a vibrant hub for nonprofit and creative businesses. Though this major development project represented Denham Wolf’s first foray beyond our customary consulting and project management roles, it was a natural extension of our real estate work with nonprofits.
Built in 1909, the BankNote Building originally housed the American Banknote Company, a currency printing facility that was colloquially called the “Penny Factory” by Bronx residents. The historic structure sits prominently on a hill in the Hunts Points neighborhood, and is distinguished by its spectacular views of Manhattan and striking architectural details such as its large arched windows and saw-tooth sky lights. Denham Wolf envisioned this project as an adaptive reuse that would preserve an important landmark and create a thriving center of economic and cultural activity.
“Banknote represented an opportunity to achieve our values in a new way. We want to develop projects that provide affordable space to creative businesses and organizations while making a positive, responsible contribution to the communities where they are located.”
—Jonathan Denham, Co-President at Denham Wolf
From the beginning, the redevelopment of the BankNote was driven by a vision of establishing a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding South Bronx community and creating a thriving space that reflected that community’s diversity. Apart from ultimately attracting local businesses and organizations as tenants, Denham Wolf was committed to using local businesses throughout the development process itself. This Bronx-based business collaboration included a local public relations firm, caterers and other vendors, local contractors for preliminary building repairs, and establishing a list of local firms to bid out all future construction work.
“The creative energy was already there. The property's high ceilings and enormous windows provide abundant natural light that is extraordinary and especially appealing for the presentation of visual arts and other design uses.”
—Paul G. Wolf, Co-President at Denham Wolf
This community-driven mission was validated by the project’s enthusiastic and unanimous support from the local Community Board and elected officials representing every level of government. The BankNote stands as a significant complement to the city’s economic development plan, and its competitively priced rents along with extensive incentives from the City and State attract a range of business and organizations to the area. It is already home to a number of individual artists, community-based organizations, arts groups and creative businesses including Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre, BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Iridescent Science Studios, The Lightbox-NY, and Sustainable South Bronx.