Dominique Castanheira, Contributing Photographer

Last October, 42 luxury apartments opened in East Rock — tying together the city’s past and present.

The Whitney Modern, an apartment complex hosting three buildings, incorporates elements of the former headquarters of the New Haven chapter of the American Red Cross. The headquarters — called the Abner Hendee House — were developed into apartments by Nancy Greenberg. Greenberg said she lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years and co-founded Verdigris Ventures — a company that rehabilitates older buildings — when she saw that 703 Whitney Ave. had entered the market.

“It just seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do something close to home and to restore an architectural treasure to something that’s really adapted for 21st century use,” Greenberg said.

On Monday, developer Michael Greenberg, Nancy Greenberg’s brother, cut the ribbon on the new apartment community. He told the News that he views the Whitney Modern as a link between the old world and the new one in New Haven.

Developer Michael Greenberg cuts the ribbon at the celebration of the Whitney Modern (Photo: Dominique Castanheira, Contributing Photographer)

“The city is really moving forward as a biotech hub in the Northeast, which is an incredible thing,” said Michael Greenberg. “It’s finding its footing in a modernist world as a leader, with the help of Yale … this structure reflects that rebirth.” 

Michael Greenberg said that the architecture team was key to harmonizing the unique elements of the three buildings on the property. Fernando Pastor, who specializes in historical preservation renovations, renovated the Abner Hendee House into a seven-apartment complex called the Cottage. Pastor worked in tandem with a team from GLUCK+, who envisioned an entirely new 35-apartment building named the Modern. GLUCK+ also transformed the existing Carriage House into an amenity building, which is a community space exclusive to residents outfitted with a gym, a conference room and a private garden.

Architect James Petty of GLUCK+ said the two architecture teams had weekly meetings to coordinate on-site efforts such as power and water lines. Throughout the design process, Petty said he focused on preserving the history of the site while adapting it for modern residents. 

“Whitney Avenue has such great access to the city, and a lot of people use it as their commute home every day,” Petty said. “We had to work with that and fit with how New Haven is moving forward as a city.” 

Nancy Greenberg told the News that the range of tenants includes families and singles who are downsizing as well as people moving into New Haven for work. As the apartment complex is situated in the Worthington Hooker School Zone, Nancy Greenberg said she expects that when schools resume full in-person classes, more families with children will move into the building.

The team of developers partnered with bankers at People’s United Bank to finance the construction of the project, according to Nancy Greenberg. Victor Galati, the senior vice president of commercial real estate finance at People’s United Bank, said he has seen a lot of people move into New Haven because it is a “very livable community.” 

“This was a perfect project to finance: it was a redevelopment of a previously unused property, which was repurposed to bring the population to the city,” Galati said. 

The project was projected to open last summer, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We couldn’t get refrigerators,” Nancy Greenberg said. “They weren’t available for months.”

The Whitney Modern began leasing in October 2020 and 31 of the 42 apartments are currently filled. The seven units of the Cottage are already completely occupied, according to Nancy Greenberg. Nancy Greenberg said she envisions the complex as an amenity for the neighborhood, where people can “live and enjoy.” 

“It’s sites like this that help us move our city forward in a direction that can benefit everyone in our city,” Mayor Justin Elicker said at Monday’s ribbon cutting.

The Whitney Modern sits at 703 Whitney Ave., opposite the First Presbyterian Church of New Haven.

Dominique Castanheira | dominique.castanheira@yale.edu