Designer envisions Rat Island tourist getaway concept

A concept to develop a hotel on Rat Island, a tiny 2.5 acre private island off the coast of City Island and near Orchard Beach, calls for installation of several pods for sustainable living as well as a dock for boats.
Photo courtesy of Pablo Jendretzki

A rather unique concept, still in the early planning stage, calls for a hotel made out of several small pods that could house individuals for short and long stays on Rat Island, a 2.5 acre patch of land (at high tide) off the coast of City Island that is accessible only by boat.

Rat Island, located approximately a quarter mile from City Island’s north shore, made headlines in 2011 when it was purchased by Alex Schibli, who is now teaming up with design consultant Pablo Jendretzki after the designer saw the rocky patch of land’s potential for an urban getaway.

The designer said that he was intrigued by the idea of drawing up plans for lodgings on the island, currently a blank slate.

“To a designer it is like a white piece of paper with incredible potential for great design,” said Jendretzki.

Jendretzki developed an idea that calls for the use of pods, essentially small rooms that would be made of wood and concrete, that would be fabricated off site and then assembled on the island, as hotel space.

The pods would be more resilient in severe weather than one larger building, said Jendretzki.

According to the designer’s vision, several pods, about 300 to 500 square feet each, would dot one side of the island, and a dock would be constructed to handle larger boats.

An existing canal would be utilized for people travelling to the island by canoe or small boat, added the designer.

The canal would allow these visitors to step off from their craft and virtually into their own room for a stay, he said.

The concept of a development of a hotel space with living pods on Rat Island would make use of an existing canal already dug through the bedrock of the island. Canoes and small vessels could pull right up to the island, and those aboard could nearly step into one of the pods.
Photo courtesy of Pablo Jendretzki

“For me, it is important that it would be completely self-sustainable,” said Schibli, adding that the theoretical design looked interesting when Jendretzki proposed it.

Schibli himself envisions structures that are built on stilts or that float along with tides, and possibly a solar powered water taxi that could be a self-driving vehicle to ferry visitors to and from the island, said the owner.

This interesting project would leave the island as close as possible to nature and build on the ‘better’ side of the island that has less exposure to nor’easters, said the owner.

Reverse osmosis systems would collect rainwater and convert it to freshwater for the island, said Schibli.

The proposed resort would have its own self-contained compost system and sewer-related apparatus, said Jendretzki, and would power itself using solar energy.

Jendretzki believes that the idea has marketing potential.

“I think part of the interest that visitors may have is it is beautiful and isolated,” said the designer, adding he could imagine a writer, for example, spending a month there to craft an important piece or individuals learning how to spend a few days using nothing but what nature provided.

The designer believes that the project, already near another tourist destination – City Island – would give a boost in promotion of the borough.

“We do think that it may be a good thing for the Bronx because it is going to activate and generate interest and tourism,” said the designer.

One side of the island would be left mostly undeveloped, according to the concept, to protect the pods in case of a large storm.
Photo courtesy of Pablo Jendretzki

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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