Cuny Interactive Journalism

Mayer Schwartz's art haven, the Castle Braid apartments celebrated its grand opening with a swanky art fair that pulled in a crowd and drew curios stares from Central Avenue residents.

The luxurious, contemporary 146-unit apartment, located at 114 Troutman Street off Central Avenue, is conspicuous amid the quaint low-rise apartment buildings, mini supermarkets, and dilapidated empty lots along Central Avenue and Troutman Street.

The Castle Braid comes equipped with amazing amenities - a full gym, game room, outdoor screen, a 6000 sq ft. courtyard fitted with a badminton court and playful swings (designed by Future Green Studio), yoga and fitness center, free bike rental, and much more.

But wait, there's more! Castle Braid has a unique vision to accomplish. According to their mission statement,

"Castle Braid Co. hopes to facilitate a community that evolves and grows as organically as the neighborhood itself. Castle Braid isn't just a building - it's a vision of a seamless interplay between the individual and the vibrant collective they've helped to create."

To that end, they installed a practice room for bands, free high speed Wi-Fi, a digital multimedia lab, a recording studio, classrooms for music and art lessons, and a conference room. Marketing Director, Taylor Clark, says, "One of the greatest things about the management is that they are so open to new ideas. Whatever they can put in to increase the value of the building for the tenant, they are really open to doing that."

Future residents need not even worry about looking too far off for a hot spot to socialize. Schwartz has plans to convert "the space just to the right of Willy's Market will be a cafe with a rear yard (BushwickBK)."

With the building finally ready for renters, Castle Braid, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Artillery and the Williamsburg Gallery Association organized a six-week art fair to celebrate the opening. "The first two floors of both wings of the building are going to be filled with works from various artists in Brooklyn," said Leia Doran, curator from the Brooklyn Artillery. The fair, which began Saturday 12 September 2009, will continue through 31 October 2009, celebrating 42 days of art and music.

Castle Braid and the Brooklyn Artillery sent out invitations to residents in the vicinity. "We really do want to reach out. We want to show them that we are not just landing in their territory with this monolithic building," Doran said.

William Santiago, a Bushwick resident since 1962, was positive about the changes that are bound to follow Castle Braid's presence. "It means more families and more people will come here, conditions will get better," Santiago said. "And who knows, new businesses might come too," he added with a smile, something he believes will be good for the neighborhood in this tough economic climate.

Question is, will Mayer Schwartz's vision for an art community in Castle Braid succeed. With prices ranging from $1650 to $3000, could artists actually afford to live there?

Christopher Budnick, who is in the market for an apartment, was at the opening event alongside his wife, Ashley Budnick, and friend, Richard Herold. These filmmakers were very impressed with the building and not at all daunted by the price since it offered a lot useful amenities in return. "It's definitely affordable for the demographic it is aiming to reach. But I don't know how well it fits into the neighborhood," says Christopher Budnick.

Marketing Director, Taylor Clark is confident that by the end of the six-week fair, the units will be occupied. "We are already receiving applications," he says "and a majority of them are from artists."

Whether you are looking for an artistic haven, a swanky apartment in Bushwick, great weekend music, or you just want to see/buy some great art from Brooklyn artists, then stop by the Castle Braid and check it out. The upcoming weekends are packed with fun events - DJ night, Fashion Night, and a Royal Cookoff. For more information about upcoming events, check out the Brooklyn Artillery or the Castle Braid websites.

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