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June 6th, 2004, 10:53 PM
June 6, 2004


Albanian? Now, That's Italian


The sign outside says Giovanni’s, but the pizza dough is flipped by George Dedvuka.

AROUND a table dotted with espressos, a 34-year-old Albanian construction worker named Bajram Camaj was enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon with three well-built men with olive skin and thinning, slicked-back hair.

Sitting outside their regular hangout, the Gurra Cafe, one of the few Albanian-style restaurants tucked among the garble of Italian bakeries and cheese stores that line Arthur Avenue, they chatted about food, girls, growing up in Kosovo and the recent war in the former Yugoslavia. The conversation about the war quickly segued into a discussion of "The Sopranos."

"If you want the real stuff," said Mr. Camaj, nibbling at a plate of dried meat and Albanian cheeses, "you have to watch 'The Godfather.' "

Elvir Muriqi, a 25-year-old boxer who this day was wearing a skintight shirt and mounds of shiny jewelry, and, were it not for his goatee, could stunt-double for Sly Stallone, chimed in. "Italian culture, the food, it's very comfortable," said Mr. Muriqi, who emigrated from Kosovo to the United States in 1996. "My managers are Italian. They're my second family."

In most neighborhoods, the arrival of a new ethnic group brings noticeable and sometimes disruptive changes. But in Belmont, the traditionally Italian neighborhood where the music of Caruso still streams from local restaurants whose owners go by nicknames like Uncle Nunzio, a recent influx of younger Albanians has blended in with surprising ease. Like the Italians who preceded them a century ago, they are not only opening Italian-themed restaurants; they also employ Italian help and have adapted Italian customs like sitting for hours in cafes nursing little cups of strong coffee.

"You can't even tell Italians from Albanians; we all look the same," said Hilmi Haxhaj, a 39-year-old building superintendent from Kosovo who lives on nearby Pelham Parkway. Some of Belmont's younger Albanians also speak a little Italian, particularly Italian slang, and often give one another Italian-sounding nicknames, slapping an 'o' or an 'i' onto their first or last names; Gjevat, for example, becomes Gjevato.

Although Albanians have already begun gobbling up businesses and properties long owned by Italian immigrants, most local restaurants that have changed hands, like Giovanni's and Tony and Tina's pizzerias, have retained their Italian names, not to mention pasta-heavy menus, red-checkered tablecloths, etchings of Sicily on the walls and other trappings of Italian restaurant.

The only hints of Albanian ownership are the occasional bust of the Albanian war hero nicknamed Skanderbeg, pictures of Mother Teresa (also an ethnic Albanian) and the ubiquitous double-headed eagle (Albania's national symbol, which looks a little like the Ferrari logo).

Albanians and Italians, separated only by the narrow Adriatic Sea, share a long, if checkered, history. As far back as the 15th century, Albanians began flocking to Italy's shores, leading to tension but also cultural similarities between the two countries. Even today, a few residents of the Bronx's Little Italy resent their Albanian neighbors for assimilating too much.

"A lot of them try to pass for Italians," said a local barber who would only speak anonymously, citing relatives who have ties to organized crime. "Because the two countries are close, Albanians always follow Italians around. Maybe it's because we took care of them during the time of Mussolini."

But most of the longtime Italian residents sympathize with their Albanian neighbors. Many of the Albanians are fellow Roman Catholics who fled via Italy during the 1980's as the country's Communist dictatorship began to unravel. En route, they picked up the traits, cooking styles and language of Italians. They settled in Belmont in part because, as one Albanian put it, the place felt "comfortable."

Peter Madonia Sr., 80, who used to run the Madonia Bakery, which employs a team of mostly Albanian cashiers and bakers, says Albanians make great customers (though they prefer their bread with softer crusts) but even better businesspeople. "They're not afraid to own businesses or buy property," he said. "They advance themselves."

But no one seems worried that the Bronx's Little Italy will turn into Little Albania. "We've got better food than anybody else," said Uncle Nunzio, a k a Nunzio Sapienza, over a cup of coffee from the corner of Emilia's, the restaurant he owns. "After all, who ever heard of someone going to Albania looking to eat?"

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 7th, 2004, 02:06 AM
The few Albanians I know in this area are all great f'in guys and all own businesses and/or real estate. It's a nice little community and seems to be growing. Good, I would like to see some more, new, European immigration to the city.

April 27th, 2005, 12:16 PM
South Bronx, The Bronx:

April 2005

The (South) Bronx is up: a neighborhood revives

By Tom Acitelli

During a 1977 World Series game at Yankees Stadium, television commentator Howard Cosell directed the cameras away from the Yankees and Dodgers on the diamond toward a burning building a few blocks from home plate. "Ladies and gentlemen," Cosell announced to the nation, "the Bronx is burning."

It wasn't much of an overstatement.

Much of the borough's lower regions--that collection of neighborhoods roughly below the Cross Bronx Expressway known as the South Bronx - had been in disrepair and decline for decades.

By the late 1970s, landlords craving insurance money--and other arsonists-- regularly torched South Bronx buildings, sparking fires that sometimes consumed entire blocks, scarring the region with emptiness and inviting comparisons to bombed-pocked German and Japanese cities at the end of World War II.

Barely a generation later, gentrification is replacing conflagration in the South Bronx. While it's far from becoming the next East Village or Williamsburg--crime remains high and air quality low, for instance - the population of the once-emptying region is growing, and the real estate scene is evolving as more people discover a cheaper alternative to Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Randy Lee has watched the South Bronx real estate market since the 1960s. Lee, CEO of Leewood Real Estate Group, said middle- to high income homes are going up in the South Bronx, although only 10 years ago developers stuck mostly to building low-income housing. That fresh housing, Lee said, is being snatched up by people who would've left the South Bronx after a raise at work or starting a family, as well as by people who are returning to an area once synonymous with urban blight.

"What I see is that, where developments were a dime a dozen even five years ago," Lee said, "the competition today from as far down to the 140s is hot."

The South Bronx's population increased 11.8 percent in the 1990s, according to the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems at New York University, which spearheaded a policy study of the region in 2004. That's a greater population increase for the decade than the borough, the entire city and the state. With an approximate population of 523,000 as of 2000, the South Bronx is home to 40 percent of the borough's population. The demographics there are shifting, with the percentage of African-Americans in the South Bronx dropping in the last several years and the Latino population increasing by double-digit percentages.

Artists and musicians are now part of the mix as they head north across the Harlem River in search of cheaper real estate. These reformed Manhattanites have rejiggered their new neighborhoods so much that the local media now speak of the South Bronx as a potential "next East Village." That lower Manhattan neighborhood was once synonymous with drugs, crime and squatting, and is now the site of $2,000-a-month studios and $500,000 walk-up one-bedroom apartments.

Could the South Bronx ever commonly command such prices? Short answer: No. Long answer: Yes, but it'd take a while.

A brownstone dating from the late 1880s recently went on the market in Mott Haven for $470,000, a much lower price than a similar property would command anywhere in Manhattan. Many detached, framed houses sit snugly among the South Bronx's public housing buildings and still-vacant lots, and, generally go for well under $1 million. Rentals mirror prices available in much of Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island. A two-bedroom for under $2,000 a month is not uncommon in the South Bronx. Rezoning by the Bloomberg administration will soon make considerable amounts of industrial space available for commercial and residential use.

Lower rents are a draw for artists moving into the region, said Barry Kostrinsky, a co-founder of the Haven, an art space on 141st Street in Mott Haven. He has worked in the South Bronx since the early 1980s and lived there in the 1960s. Part of the region's allure for artists in addition to being cheap is its accessibility to galleries in lower Manhattan, Kostrinsky said.

"The express subway stop on 138th means it takes 20 minutes to get to 14th Street, to the galleries there," he said. "I've gone to 86th Street in 10 minutes."

Also, because of its bad reputation for so many years, time forgot some areas of the South Bronx, Kostrinksy said. Development ebbed to a trickle, and industrial areas converted into art spaces now serve as islands of quiet in which artists can produce.

"So, the South Bronx," Kostrinsky said, "it was terrible, right? That's what people said. But it started to clean up 20 years ago."

Still, crime rates remain higher in the South Bronx than in much of the rest of New York despite a more than 70-percent drop in major crimes over the past 12 years, according to the New York Police Department. The area's crime-ridden reputation, established decades ago, lingers.

Crime, asthma, unemployment -- not exactly strong selling points to lure new buyers and renters. Couple these with the resistance of some current residents who reject a gentrified South Bronx as another homogenous, expensive enclave, and real estate brokers have a clear challenge touting the region to outsiders, even with lower prices than much of the city. "

It would be trite to say it's an up-and-coming place," Lee said, "but I think it's certainly a comeback place."

Perhaps if (or when) the Yankees host another World Series in the South Bronx, a successor to the late Howard Cosell will gaze over the borough's southern environs and declare, "The Bronx is gentrifying."

Copyright © 2003-2005 The Real Deal.

May 3rd, 2005, 02:52 PM
Port Morris, The Bronx:

Rebuilt for Comfort, Not for Speed
The South Bronx is going upscale—but don’t expect an Armani store to move in just yet.

By Alec Appelbaum

Near the Third Avenue–138th Street stop on the 6 train, the Bronx neighborhood known as Port Morris looks frozen in the seventies. Forlorn-looking public-housing towers face one-story delis and Hub Cap City across Lincoln Avenue, and other bleak towers block views of the midtown skyline. There’s a steady hum of traffic over the Harlem and East River bridges.

But walk a few blocks to the west, crossing under the Major Deegan Expressway, and you’ll see the first flickering signs of what Bronx officials have promised for decades. Young women in knit hats and pale fellows with delicately messy hair slouch by. A brick five-story building called the Clocktower (pictured) stands near the Third Avenue Bridge on-ramp, and there are satellite dishes bolted to a few of its windowsills, marking, like pins in a map, where residents have replaced factory workers. The Bruckner Bar and Grill, under the on-ramp to the highway, resembles a set for a mid-budget movie about Irish cops—cops who eat portobello sandwiches, that is. Is the South Bronx’s reinvention for real? Is Port Morris going from gritty to “gritty”?

Yes, but slowly. The Bloomberg administration and the Bronx borough president’s office are pruning the zoning rules here, to encourage a modest yuppie influx without bumping out the factories and small businesses that make their homes at this nexus of expressways. If they pull it off—and despite reports of tofu on sale at the Western Beef on Morris Avenue—boho in the Bronx isn’t going to take its usual home-wrecking, mesclun-strewn path.

Port Morris’s shift began in 1997, when a big local nonprofit called SOBRO spearheaded streetscape improvements—installing sidewalk benches and the like, planting trees—to coax antique dealers to Bruckner Boulevard. Around that time, the city rezoned five blocks near the water to allow residential as well as light-industrial use of vacant properties. Artists started moving into the lofts; a gallery, Longwood, now showcases local creatives.

Now they’re bracing for company. On March 9, the City Council voted to expand the mixed-use district another eleven blocks toward the river. “Our aim here,” says Purnima Kapur, the Department of City Planning’s Bronx director, “is to take an area that seems very well situated and increase its potential.” When I speak to Adolfo Carrión Jr., the thoughtful borough president, he admits to drawing inspiration, and early-adopting residents, from that other revitalized B-borough.

One of those early adopters, Melissa Calderón, is now a coordinator for the Bronx Council on the Arts. “A lot of people came from Williamsburg and Dumbo in the past year,” she says. A visual artist, Calderón took loft space in nearby Mott Haven in 2002 and recently opened a gallery, Haven Artspace. “Now there’s food-shopping runs to Fairway so you can get the good stuff,” she says.

To that end, some of what’s going on is the usual upscaling story. The Clocktower, at Lincoln Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard—in the area rezoned in 1997—symbolizes one of Port Morris’s potential futures. It’s a former knitting factory that contains 75 lofts, all but two now rented as residences. Isaac Jacobs of Carnegie Management, whose father started the Clocktower project, says the company bought the building and adjacent lots for $4.75 million in 2000 and finished it this year. He’s charging $900 to $1,600 for units of 700 to 1,200 square feet—sized for professional-class apartment-dwellers, not artists who need space to stretch canvas or weld. The tenants are aesthetically alert, judging by the sculptures outside a couple of their doors, but most of them probably have day jobs. Carnegie even has plans to raze three buildings facing the Clocktower and build another 150 apartments.

The nearby blocks up for rezoning are mostly low- and mid-rise warehouses, all of which could see conversions. Some of them already have artist tenants, living illegally on commercial leases. They withhold their names and worry that rezoning would spur costly adjustments to their space, pricing them out. Representative quote from a resident: “It’s important to look out for the artists, and when someone like you writes an article, it’s a death knell.”

So far, it sounds like Soho in 1974 or Williamsburg in 1992—and we all know how those neighborhoods changed next. But something’s different in the Bronx. The usual gentrification script calls for manufacturing businesses to vanish from a neighborhood as residents pour in, and this part of the Bronx just isn’t headed down that road. Ask Allison Jaffe, a real-estate agent selling single- and multi-family houses for under $500,000 a few blocks inland, on Alexander Avenue. “Port Morris always sat at the crossroads of New York’s commercial routes,” she notes. “So this neighborhood will always retain a kind of mixed culture.”

Unlike prior loft-to-luxe neighborhoods, Port Morris isn’t half-deserted—it has an active, noisy working waterfront. Waste Management runs the borough’s transfer station in the Harlem River rail yards. Other big employers include a New York Post printing plant and the more olfactorily appealing Zaro’s Bread Basket bakery. The Bruckner runs right through the area. “The real issue,” says SOBRO senior vice-president Neil Pariser, “is going to be how residential fits in with industrial.”

The area’s proximity to Manhattan and airports attracts small offices and manufacturers like Antoine Debouverie, a 31-year-old importing laser-cut steel gazebos. Debouverie lives in his 3,000-square-foot Third Avenue loft, soaking up the local character when he’s not traveling on business, and sees the area growing organically. “If you don’t speak Spanish here, you’re not going to have good food,” he says. “The first grab [for housing] is going to be by Bronx locals.” Though the rezoning could theoretically open up the river to a cluster of blah towers, like the ones edging the Queens waterfront and planned for Brooklyn, that’s not likely in the Bronx’s political climate. “I’m not worried about displacement” of businesses, Carrión declares. “I’m more worried that we not create an enclave for high-income-earners only.”

So far, that worry seems somewhat academic. The area still lacks the services and buzz that would stoke speculative construction. Even so, neighborhood residents like Calderón are talking about organizing for low-income set-asides in new developments, and people like Carrión are taking the idea seriously. In short, the borough president is trying to simultaneously bring about change while managing it and making it prettier. His office and nonprofits like Sustainable South Bronx and the Point are trying to fund waterfront greenways and a footbridge to Randalls Island. “The Bronx is bearing the ball and chain from the 1970s,” says Carrión. “Development like this is going to break that chain.” It may. Just not all at once.

Copyright © 2004 , New York Metro

May 3rd, 2005, 03:06 PM
Riverdale, The Bronx:

Riverdale Confronts Change

Published: May 1, 2005

WITH its mix of mansions, attached houses, highly regarded private and public schools, colleges, religious institutions and the pastoral Wave Hill public garden, Riverdale seems set off from the rest of the Bronx - indeed from the rest of the city.

But while it may seem bucolic, it is a cauldron of controversy, a stage on which the major dramas of real estate - preservation versus growth, public interest versus entrepreneurship, trees and rocks versus roads - are playing out. Even the question of whether basketball hoops ought to be permitted in front of the stately homes of its Fieldston section can raise hackles.

But, more urgently, the accelerating pace of construction, particularly for tall apartment buildings, concerns some residents of Riverdale who fear the loss of something special.

"We are a shellshocked community," said Anthony Perez Cassino, chairman of Community Board 8, whose district includes Riverdale. "People cannot believe how quickly things are changing before their eyes. There are lots of big holes in the ground."

Bradford Trebach, an associate broker and general counsel with Trebach Realty, a family firm in business there for 33 years, agreed. "I have never seen this pace of development in the more than two decades I have been living and working in Riverdale," he said.

There is considerable resistance from civic organizations, government officials and residents like Eleanor Maute, who is constantly fending off offers - including one for $2 million - for her three-story stone-and-stucco Tudor in central Riverdale. An 82-year-old widow and great-grandmother, she is determined to stay, no matter how great the temptation to sell. "I am comfortable here," she said. "What would I buy by myself?" Nevertheless, her neighborhood is changing; a seven-story condo is under construction at the edge of her property.

There have been, of course, apartment towers in Riverdale, but until now, they were concentrated on the Henry Hudson Parkway, where they do not loom so markedly over houses like Mrs. Maute's.

Now it is impossible to drive around without coming upon one construction site after another or hearing speculation about the conversion of existing buildings.

All told, 11 condominium projects and a rental development of five three-family town houses are in various stages of planning or under construction. In addition, many schools, nursing homes and other institutions are pressing at their boundaries. All of that ratchets up the tension between proponents of growth and advocates of the status quo.

"Riverdale is a hotbed because it has an affluent, intellectual and verbal community and several platforms for debate including two community newspapers that compete and keep the dialogue going," said Charles G. Moerdler, chairman of the community board's land use committee. Among the more controversial developments are the projects being put up by Shmuel Jonas and Joseph Korff.

When it became clear last fall that a new zoning regulation was about to pass that would limit new construction to eight stories in parts of central Riverdale, both developers raced the clock to get their foundations in the ground under the old rules.

David Mandl, the architect of the Jonas project called Arlington Suites, a 13-story building going up on an irregular parcel between Arlington and Netherland Avenues, recalled how the developer managed to get the building going before the new rules took effect. "We compressed six months of work into 45 days, digging out bedrock, excavating and pouring 18,399 square feet of foundation," he said. "On Sept. 27 I went to the Buildings Department myself and got the last permit at 3:45 p.m. They shut the permit window at 4 p.m. The next morning the City Planning Commission voted to change the zoning, restricting heights to 70 feet."

Though he encountered several challenges to the project's eligibility for coverage under the old code, which requires that the foundation be virtually complete, he did get a stamp of approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals.

"It is all over," Mr. Mandl said triumphantly. "This is the last tall building in Riverdale."

Well, not quite. Mr. Korff's condominium project on a mostly vacant parcel at 237th Street and the Henry Hudson Parkway will rise to 19 stories. The new regulations limit building heights in a 30-block area of central Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil. They also confine new construction in north Riverdale to single-family and semidetached dwellings.

Developers working in other parts of Riverdale will not have those restrictions - at least not for now. But rezoning is being considered for other areas.

Some of the new projects sit on land occupied until recently by small homes, inciting arguments about scale, context and scarcity of parking. Others are going up on vacant lots, raising environmental hackles. In fact, regulations governing the Special Natural Area District, which was created in 1975 to protect the topography and plant and marine life, were tightened in February..

Four houses came down to make way for Arlington Suites, the Jonas building at 3220 Arlington Avenue. Originally Mr. Jonas, who is the 23-year-old son of Howard Jonas, a telecommunications magnate, wanted to put up a 32-story tower. He approached St. Gabriel's Church next door offering to buy 5,000 square feet of its land and about 42,000 square feet of air rights for what he says was about $3.7 million.

As word got out and parishioners began to object, the plan collapsed. "It is hard to diagnose why, but you can always count on vocal opposition to any development," said the Rev. Thomas R. Kelly, pastor of the congregation. "We decided it was not in the interest of the parish to pursue this development."

But, he added, "this does not preclude future development."

As an alternative, Mr. Jonas decided to build a 17-story building. In a subsequent compromise reached with Mr. Moerdler, who was representing the community board, four more stories were lopped off.

When it is completed sometime next year, the building with three setbacks will contain 26 large three- and four-bedroom apartments. Although he cannot begin marketing the apartments until the offering plan is approved by the attorney general, Mr. Jonas said he anticipated that prices would run from more than $700,000 to $2 million.

Though Mr. Jonas said he is not planning to market the building specifically to Orthodox Jews, he said that it will have a "Sabbath elevator," programmed to stop on all floors without buttons being pushed.

Arlington Suites has come to represent the change that people dislike in Riverdale. "This building is the line in the sand," Mr. Perez Cassino said. "People feel inundated by the newer developments, and 1,600 signatures were collected opposing it."

Though Patrick Boyle and Norman Danzig, founders of a group called Concerned Residents of Riverdale who collected the signatures, say they are pleased that the height has been reduced, in their view that it is not enough. "In a neighborhood that has only seven-story buildings, we will now have a 13-story eyesore," Mr. Danzig said. "I am sure it will be architecturally fine, but 13 stories is still out of context."

Mr. Mandl disagreed. "Virtually the entire neighborhood is six stories built right out to the property line with heights of approximately 75 feet," he said. "Thirteen stories set back gives the area architectural variety rather than another boring six-story building."

The Korff building on 237th Street also aroused protest. When Leah Kaplan, a physical therapist who lives across the street, learned that every tree in the lot was being chopped down, she went out with a petition.

"We feel that a needle of a building is being thrust onto a small piece of land and it feels like a tower in the wrong place," she said. "What also riles the community is that he knew full well that the zoning code had a good chance of passing, so he broke ground to rush his foundation. That is a slap in the face to the community."

Mr. Korff denied that the height would be obtrusive. "It will have a great deal of light and air, but will not cast shadows impacting our neighbors to any great extent," he said.

He has been interested in the site since 1986. "As a result of the burgeoning real estate market and pricing in Manhattan and the attractiveness of Riverdale as a community, I decided this would be the time to attempt the risk of building luxury apartments," he said. Mr. Korff expects the project to be completed next spring.

In the view of G. Oliver Koppell, the area's City Council representative, such buildings "are out of scale and not a positive addition to the community."

But he added: "Will they be fatal or overwhelmingly ruinous? No, both are in areas that are already built up. They are not going into virgin territory."

To residents, every house torn down for an apartment is another domino falling. Nowhere is that more deeply felt than on Tulfan Terrace, a tiny cul-de-sac that sits high on a bluff in central Riverdale in an area that was not rezoned.

Three of its eight houses were demolished in March to be replaced, pending the approval of the Buildings Department, by a 20-story condo with 30 units to be constructed by D.J.C. Realty. Initially the Tulfan Terrace owners banded together, contacting public officials and hiring an urban planner. But one by one, three owners on the south side of the street gave in, tempted by breathtakingly high offers, fearful of being engulfed by a large structure and after hearing rumors, unfounded as it turned out, that everyone else was selling.

"I did sell my house after much protest and many misgivings," said DiAnn Pierce, a widow who lived in her house for 36 years. "The neighbors all told me, 'They couldn't offer me enough money to sell.' But one by one they caved in and the houses on either side of me went. I was afraid I would live between two construction sites."

She told the broker for the buyer, Stephen Eldridge, that she would reconsider. "They just quietly offered me more money until my price was met," she said. "That is the way business is done and it is very sad." Mrs. Pierce would not divulge how much she got.

Robert Wagner, a partner in D.J.C. Realty, said the houses were bought at fair market prices, without any pressure, "from the owners who were happy to sell to us."

Philip Friedman, a mechanical engineer, bought his house on the north side of Tulfan Terrace for $650,000 in July 2002. "It had been on the market for 18 months and at that time, developers were not interested," he said. "A week after I moved in, I was told that one of my neighbors was trying to sell a vacant lot, and I made an offer to buy it for about $275,000, intending to build a house for my mother." The neighbor sold it instead to Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Friedman is determined to stay put, no matter what. "I moved here because I wanted my kids who are 5 and 7 to grow up in a small community," he said.

The same determination motivates Mrs. Maute, whose husband, a retired firefighter, died last year. She raised five children in her house and plans to stay. "I have lived here since 1948 and my brother lived here before that," she said. "As the years went along, one house after another was sold and apartments gradually came about. The last house next door to me sold a year and a half ago, and a seven-story apartment building will go up adjoining my house."

The developers of that project, whom she declined to name for fear of antagonizing them, have been among her more ardent suitors. "My house will determine how they build there," she said. "If I sold to them, they could be secure that the windows facing me would not be shut off if another apartment house goes in."

"They offered me an amount up front with an agreement that I could stay but they would take complete control of the house," she said. "I told them, 'Absolutely not.' "

Not all the controversies roiling Riverdale revolve around apartment towers. In Fieldston, there has been enough concern about so-called McMansions to prompt efforts to have the enclave given landmark status. It is being reviewed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

With some residents either tearing down or expanding their houses, Mr. Trebach said, "they are regarded as a little too close to the neighbors, a little too new looking, too plain faced given the number of Tudor, Federal and Georgian-style houses that are common or a little too garish."

Even more worrisome, residents say, is the prospect of a cluster of houses planned for Chapel Farm, a pastoral 16-acre site abutting Fieldston's northwest border.

John E. Fitzgerald, a lawyer and developer, acquired the property in 1990. Since then he has been jousting with opponents, including the Fieldston Property Owners Association, and has filed lawsuits against various parties in both federal and state court.

Mr. Fitzgerald, who has changed the name of the complex to Villanova Estates in honor of his alma mater, said he intends to build 15 mansions - Tudors and colonials among them - measuring at least 10,000 square feet each.

Though Marc Odrich, chairman of the Fieldston Property Owners Association, which is being sued by Mr. Fitzgerald, said he could not comment while litigation was pending, the bone of contention appears to be access through the streets of Fieldston, which are privately owned.

In addition, said Mr. Moerdler, the chairman of the community board's land use committee, "I've gotten call after call objecting to the fact that the owner has removed half or more of all the trees, even where he is not going to build."

But the hostility may run deeper. "What you are seeing is legal maneuvering on both sides," Mr. Perez Cassino said. "People just don't want to see it developed."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

May 16th, 2006, 11:57 AM
Riverdale, The Bronx:

New Residents, New Developments Change Riverdale

By A.L. GORDON - Staff Reporter of the Sun
May 11, 2006

Even the name Riverdale evokes the natural beauty of the Bronx neighborhood separated from Manhattan by the Harlem River, and from the New Jersey Palisades by the Hudson. Its steep grades and lush greenery make it seem a world apart from Manhattan, and in fact, many people assume it is not part of New York City.That's about to change.

Riverdale is on the cusp of a transformation, driven by young professionals looking for value and amenities that other tipping point neighborhoods such as Fort Greene or Harlem lack: quality public schools for students from kindergarten to 12th grade (an important moment for Riverdale was when it got its own public high school in 1999); parks; and convenient transportation to Manhattan by bus, subway, and commuter rail.

"For people who are thinking about having a family, it's very desirable," a 34-year-old Web designer, Hal Siegel, said.Mr.Siegel and his wife, Stephanie, a graphic designer who is 29, are preparing to start a family, and recently bought a three-bedroom condominium in Riverdale for $600,000. The unit is in Arlington Heights, a five-story building that is expected to be ready for occupancy in early summer. Mr. Siegel plans to commute to his office on 26th Street using the no. 1 line, a trip that will take 40 minutes each way. Mrs. Siegel works from home.

The Siegels are leaving behind the trendy Smith Street shops and restaurants they live near now, in Carroll Gardens, but they're charmed by what they have found in their new neighborhood. "There's a sense of neighborhoodiness," Mr. Siegel said. "I like the fact that there are places that have been there for years and years."

The condo the Siegels bought is one of many in development in Riverdale. And while there are many up-and-coming neighborhoods in various parts of the city, few can compete with Riverdale on price.

"Riverdale values are tremendous," a real estate broker with Atlantic Realty Partners, Peter Bobotas, said. "In Riverdale condos are a new phenomenon, people are just getting the word, while in Brooklyn and Queens that kind of market is there and developing for some time." Mr. Bobotas's firm handled sales at Arlington Heights, where two of the nine units are available.

Before young professionals started moving to the area in greater numbers, the influx of Orthodox Jewish families had already begun, and that has made the existing housing market tighter, driving up property values.

Fortunately for prospective buyers, developers have entered the market with a vengeance, with at least one building, Arlington Suites, marketed to Orthodox Jews, and others taking more of a cue from the luxury condos going up in Manhattan.

Almost everywhere you turn, a construction site is bringing noise and dust to the tree-lined streets, which are peppered with a motley blend of single-family houses and red brick apartment buildings.

The most popular spot for the new condominium developments is near the shopping center on Riverdale Avenue. The center features a Chase bank branch, a locksmith, a grocery store that delivers, an independent bookstore, and a handful of places to eat that offer pastries, sushi, kosher steak, and Italian subs.

Another condo development, the seven-story Cambridge Mews, is expected to be ready for occupancy in early summer. It contains 31 units with one-bedroom apartments starting at $329,000 and three-bedroom units starting at $800,000. Designers of the Mews tried to give the building an old, English-style look, adding a stone parapet that echoes the stonework at the 1926 walk-up co-op that is situated up the block, Fieldston Garden, where units rarely come on the market.

Across the street is Westwood Terrace, which aims to provide the luxury and amenities seen in new developments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It in fact is designed by the same team that worked on the Chelsea Club and the Gretsch Building: designer Andres Es cobar and architect Karl Fischer.

The building with the sleekest look is the 20-story, 65-unit Solaria, which offers floor-to-ceiling glass apartments, most with balconies. When it is completed this fall, the Solaria will be the tallest building in Riverdale. It will also be one of its most expensive, with fivebedroom condominiums costing as much as $3.75 million. Contracts have been sent out for 20% of the units, with the developer marketing the units to a select list of potential tenants. (The sales office isn't open to the general public.) "The building is a great place for growing families, empty-nesters, and individuals looking for Manhattan quality in Riverdale," the president of Marketing Directors Incorporated, Adrienne Albert, said.

The feel of the neighborhood has already changed, with the sidewalks filled with many more children than there were four years ago. The 1970s style Chinese restaurants may not be around for long.

But because the new arrivals are drawn to the new construction,perhaps the lives of current residents will not be too disrupted. These are the teachers, nonprofit and arts administrators, and waiters at the Four Seasons who live in the massive white and red brick buildings.A one-bedroom in these buildings, now co-ops, sells for about $180,000 these days - an increase of 150% over the past five years.

And there will be significant price hikes in the luxury developments that have filled in right along the water's edge, where in small numbers, affluent professionals and empty nesters have been finding refuge from and proximity to Manhattan for years.

Riverdale also has super-wealthy areas with stately castle-like homes. In Fieldston, which recently received landmark status, houses sell for prices between $7 million and $10 million. Parents like the proximity to the elite private schools in the neighborhood: Fieldston, Riverdale Country School, and Horace Mann.

Newer residents are likely to feel most at home near Manhattan College and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, an area with bars - such as the Irish pub An Beal Bocht - that appeal to a younger crowd. But there are a few things lacking in Riverdale. There's no BAM, for instance, and there is no chic restaurant scene. As a resident of one of the historic mansions in the neighborhood, Susan Morgenthau, said, "When we have guests, we go into Manhattan to eat."

One place Mrs. Morgenthau hasn't tried yet is the River City Grill on Riverdale Avenue. It's the restaurant that developers feature on their Web sites to market the neighborhood and their new buildings. The restaurant itself is pictured with signage and decor that, more than any other Riverdale spot, could meet the standards of the hipsters of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

"Riverdale used to be the best-kept secret," the restaurant's owner, Bob Albert, who also owns a stake in the Zagat-rated Jake's Steakhouse in nearby Kingsbridge and has lived in the area since 1978, said."It's definitely not a secret anymore. I've never experienced anything like this."

© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

May 16th, 2006, 12:05 PM
City Island, The Bronx:

Close-Up on City Island, the Bronx

The Seaport of the Bronx

by Jessie Pascoe
May 3rd, 2006

"Round here we don't die; we just dry up and blow away." Or so goes the New England adage evoked by a 1939 guide to New York in describing the robust inhabitants of City Island. Today, you can still find traces of the old pioneering spirit across this 230-acre neighborhood. And although wooden boats are crafted no longer on the self-proclaimed "Seaport of the Bronx," its aquatic legacy continues to be channeled, if in a more a recreational vein. Now the island is home to various dive shops and Jet Ski rentals, and an abundance of seafood restaurants along the main thoroughfare.

Vintage bungalows and Cape Cods freckle the quiet lanes. Yacht clubs cling to the water's edge. But a generic Wisteria Lane this place is not, with City Islanders tending more toward the Jolly Roger. Locals have long referred to themselves as "clam diggers" and outsiders as "mussel suckers."

Today, developers are erecting new condos, causing established residents to worry that their urban fishing village will shrivel away and live only as souvenirs in one of the local antique shops or as exhibits in the nautical museum. Take heart: City Island has a way to go before it becomes another Soho.

Boundaries: Located in the western part of Long Island Sound, south of Pelham Bay, City Island is connected to the Bronx by the City Island Bridge.

Main Drags: City Island Avenue is the sole major artery, lined with numerous shops and restaurants.

Transportation: Getting here by car is a million times easier, but taking the 6 train to Pelham Bay and then transferring to the BX29 can be your personal MTA adventure. During the weekdays, the BxM7B express ($5 each way) runs from Midtown.

Average Price to Rent: On average, one-bedrooms go for $850-$1,000; two bedrooms for $1,400 to $1,600; three bedrooms for $1,800 and up; and cottages and bungalows for around $2,000.

Average Price to Buy: Again, the water matters. One-bedroom houses are rare. Two-bedroom cottages go for $350,000, and three-bedroom houses rent for $500,000 to $800,000.

Cultural Institutions: Galleries and museums dot the small island. Focal Point Gallery (321 City Island Avenue, 718-885-1403) exhibits contemporary art, with a strong emphasis on photography. Starving Artist Café and Gallery (249 City Island Avenue, 718-885-3779) blends coffee with local art and performances. For a taste of the municipality's salty past, take a turn off the main street to City Island Nautical Museum (190 Fordham Street, 718-885-0008). Here you can peruse archives of all things boat related, including old World Cup sailing photos.

Shopping: A visit to City Island would not be complete without a stop at Mooncurser Records (229 City Island Avenue, 718-885-0302). A one-man local institution, owner Roger Roberge has over 100,000 records for customers ranging from first-time vinyl shoppers to serious collectors. Get your fix for memories of times past at Silver Arrow Antiques & Things (275 City Island Avenue, 718-885-1598) or Midtown Antiques (310 City Island Avenue, 718-885-2820).

Restaurants and Bars: City Island's seafood restaurants are a piscatorial paradise. Visitors flock to Johnny's Reef, on the southern tip of the island (2 City Island Avenue, 718-885-2090). Here you can wash down inexpensive fish and chips with a piña colada or Mai Tai. If you like to mix and match, head to Artie's Steak & Seafood (394 City Island Avenue) and have your lobster with some cow. For late-night dining, try Sammy's Fish Box (41 City Island Avenue, 718-885-0920. Manhattan sophisticates fear not! The concept of brunch is alive and well here. Prime spots include The City Island Diner (304 City Island Avenue), which hosts a traditional Irish Seisun, and the Black Whale (279 City Island Avenue, 718-885-3657), which has a back veranda. Both are good choices for vegetarians. Nightlife is mostly absent on the island, but the recently opened Sixmilecross Saloon (288 City Island Avenue, 718-885-1664) hopes to shake things up with weekly events including "Tattoo Tuesdays," and "S.I.N. on Sundays."

Crime Stats: As of April 23, 2006, the 45th precinct, which serves both City Island and Co-op City, reported one murder, three rapes, 69 robberies, 28 felonious assaults, and 91 burglaries.

Politicians: City Councilmember James Vacca, Assembly Member Michael Benedetto, Representative Joseph Crowley, State Senator Jeff Klein, all Democrats.

Copyright © 2006 Village Voice Media, Inc.

October 25th, 2008, 03:35 AM
Living In | Crotona Park East, the Bronx

Out of Blight, a Step-Up Neighborhood

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/26/realestate/26livi-600.jpg Todd Heisler/The New York Times
CONVERGENCE Shoppers navigate the intersection of Southern Boulevard, Boston Road and 174th Street, a business hub in Crotona Park East. New construction has replaced blight in many parts of the neighborhood. More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/23/realestate/20081026LIVINGIN_index.html)

By C. J. HUGHES (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=C. J. HUGHES&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=C. J. HUGHES&inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 24, 2008

IT would be hard to get much emptier than the landscape of Crotona Park East in the late 1970s.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/24/realestate/26livi_OTMTH.gif (http://javascript<b></b>:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/10/24/realestate/26livi_OTM.html', '1004_496', 'width=1004,height=496,location=no,scrollbars=yes, toolbars=no,resizable=yes'))


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/10/23/realestate/20081026LIVINGIN-B.JPGSlide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/23/realestate/20081026LIVINGIN_index.html)Living in Crotona Park East, the Bronx (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/10/23/realestate/20081026LIVINGIN_index.html)

After being eviscerated by highway projects, poverty, public health crises and crime, this square-mile South Bronx neighborhood took its final blow in the form of arson, both by tenants and landlords, which helped to reduce rows of tenements to rubble.

The ruined streets conjured fear when used as film locations, whether for horror movies (“Wolfen”) or police dramas (“Fort Apache the Bronx (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/bronx/?inline=nyt-geo)”).

They also served as a different type of media backdrop when, 31 years ago this month, President Jimmy Carter (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/jimmy_carter/index.html?inline=nyt-per) paid a visit, describing the area as America’s “worst slum.”

In the intervening decades, much has changed. Once-desolate lots now have housing, whether rebuilt two-families or luxury condominiums.

One lot that Mr. Carter visited is now the site of Intervale Green and Louis Nine House, a $46 million complex with 173 moderately priced apartments, built with planted roofs and leafy courtyards by the nonprofit Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation. It is to open to renters next month.

Some new homes in the area make use of materials that are sensitive to Crotona’s high asthma rates. In fact, 28 new brick-and-stone two- and three-families with nontoxic rugs and paints built by the Blue Sea Development Company, won a city environmental award in September.

Other burned-out lots in this neighborhood of 33,000 residents have become Charlotte Gardens, a 1980s subdivision of raised ranches with deer lawn ornaments and covered boats in driveways. One resident is Elizabeth Jurden, who said that when she checked out Crotona more than 20 years ago, it didn’t look much different from the way it had when she watched Mr. Carter’s visit on the news.

“Rats were running across the street,” said Ms. Jurden, a retired transit worker, who moved here from a two-bedroom rental on the Upper West Side. “But I figured if it’s the pits now, it can only go one way, and that’s up.”

Her 1,500-square-foot home, with three bedrooms and one and a half baths, as well as grass on all sides, cost $50,000 in 1983, she said. Today, owing to its suburb-in-the-city feel, it might sell for $400,000, even in the downturn.

As tranquil as parts of Crotona might look, however, they still have their share of crime, as the barred windows on Ms. Jurden’s block suggest.

There have been 12 killings this year in the 42nd precinct, of which this neighborhood is a part. This is four more than in 2007. But from 1990 to 2007 murders here fell by 85 percent. Robberies are keeping pace with last year’s total, with 288 reported so far in 2008, about the same as late October 2007. And high unemployment persists, city officials say.

Yet now that Crotona’s long-term build-out seems to be nearing completion, attention can be focused more fully on social issues in this mostly black and Hispanic area, says Peter Williams, president of the Mid Bronx Desperadoes, a nonprofit developer and community organization founded in 1974 by women who patrolled to stop arsonists.

“Our next phase is human-capital development,” said Mr. Williams, whose group has worked on 121 local buildings, including Charlotte Gardens.

“We always believed this community could be revitalized,” he said, “and that dream seems closer.”


The Cross Bronx Expressway forms Crotona’s northern border. The Sheridan Expressway frames it to the east.

To the west lies Crotona Park, which in the 1980s was known for its crime. Today, through an $11 million Parks Department project, the 127.5-acre expanse is receiving new sidewalks, a pool house, tennis courts and a soccer field.

To restore Indian Lake, workers are removing concrete banks. A 500-seat amphitheater is to open in May. Among other events, hip-hop concerts will be held there on Thursdays in July, said Steven Cain, the park’s administrator.

Crotona Park East’s southern boundary, which touches Morrisania, is open to interpretation, but in terms of housing stock, there’s little distinction.

Both have squat vinyl-sided homes tucked in between three-story brick tenements that survived earlier eras. In Crotona, examples line Hoe Avenue, and Simpson and Home Streets.

Along Bryant Avenue, yellow-brick row houses feature terra-cotta inlays of cherubs. Some are in rough shape, with graffiti-scrawled doors, cracked stoops and plywood-covered windows.

In places, sneakers dangle from power lines. Sizable spray-painted murals also punctuate the area, like the eulogy to Mad Mark on East 167th Street (“the only M & M that will melt your heart”).

Early-20th-century apartment towers face Crotona Park. Their residents, like most in the area, are renters — many in Housing Authority buildings.

But the area has its share of owners, who live in single-family homes or in buildings where they rent out the upper floors, brokers say.


Even though many rents are set low, they’re slipping out of the reach of some residents, says Nancy Biberman, the president of Women’s Housing, citing its Intervale project, where the most expensive three-bedrooms are $1,089 a month.

“We’re having trouble filling it, which is extremely unusual,” she said. She guesses the problem is the current economic climate.

Otherwise, the rental market is fairly tight, with only about 75 apartments out of 3,000, or 3 percent, changing hands every month, brokers said.

Sales inventory, on the other hand, is escalating; it is currently at about 200 homes — three per block. Buyers, many of them investors, typically pay $360,000 for three-families whose units have two bedrooms, a bath and 900 square feet each, said Leslie Bhagwandin, a broker with Nardin Real Estate in Baychester. That price is off 20 percent from 2007; most of the decline occurred in the last 90 days. Older row houses on Bryant Avenue average about $425,000.

Still, “this is a step-up neighborhood,” for first-time buyers who ultimately settle in areas like Throgs Neck or Pelham Parkway, Mr. Bhagwandin added.

One troubling sign is the recent spike in foreclosures in a place where “for sale by bank” signs are not uncommon. Foreclosures have tripled since 2005, Mr. Bhagwandin said.


The commercial strips are Southern Boulevard and Boston Road; under a flaking trestle sit auto-body shops, storefront churches and bodegas.

For groceries, most residents head to the New Horizons mall on East 174th Street, which offers a Pathmark, a Radio Shack and a Hollywood Video. At El Despertar restaurant nearby, $6 buys a plate of chicken, beans and rice.

On Bristow Street, at the quarter-acre Model T Senior Citizens Garden, volunteers grow figs, squash and beets, and tomatoes the color of plums.

People can pick what they need, said Tina Espinell, as she sat at a picnic table under wind chimes, “and it’s just a nice place to come for peace of mind.”


Crotona’s many public schools receive mixed reviews; one of the better-performing schools is Public School 61, the Francisco Oller School, which teaches prekindergarten through fifth grade. On state proficiency exams, 45 percent of fourth-graders there met standards in English, 83 percent in math. Citywide, percentages were 61 and 80.

For Grades 6 through 8, many head to Intermediate School 98, the Herman Ridder School, which enrolls about 500. On the 2008 state exams, 24 percent of eighth graders met standards in English, 57 percent in math, versus 43 and 60 citywide.

In recent years, the city has replaced large dropout-plagued schools with smaller specialized ones; South Bronx High School in Morrisania, for example, gave way to three schools, among them Mott Haven Village Prep. This year, averages at Mott Haven were 377 in reading, 355 in math and 369 in writing, versus 488, 503 and 475 statewide.


The Nos. 2 and 5 trains, which share elevated tracks through Crotona, have stops at Freeman Street and 174th Street, though the 5 skips those stops during the morning rush.

Most morning commuters take the 2 and transfer at 149th Street-Grand Concourse to the 4 or 5, to arrive in Midtown in 35 minutes.

Buses include the Bx11, Bx17, Bx19, Bx21 and Bx36. There is also the Bx35, which runs to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station.


The area’s hip-hop legacy is notable, says Mark Naison, a professor of African-American studies at Fordham.

Joseph Saddler, known as Grandmaster Flash, inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame last year, grew up on Fox Street, just south of Crotona, and gained fame as a D.J. at parties at Public School 63. A block away lived Theodore Livingston, a k a Grand Wizard Theodore, who is said to have invented turntable scratching, Mr. Naison said.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

July 25th, 2009, 12:35 AM
Silver Beach Gardens: Private Bronx 'hood is hidden gem

BY Jason Sheftell

July 23rd 2009


For those who think Bronx neighborhoods are loud, busy, and filled with retail, prepare to be shocked.

After walking through the estate section of Riverdale and thinking I was in rural Vermont, and climbing Staten Island like it was the hills of San Francisco, nothing equipped me for what I would see and hear in Silver Beach Gardens, the Bronx.

A tight-knit waterfront co-op community where references count more than finances, Silver Beach felt like some white-picket-fence fairytale land where nothing bad could happen — a combination of an island in Maine without telephones, a sleepy Nantucket beach road and small-town U.S.A.

Sitting on a 50-foot bluff staring at the Manhattan skyline, a visitor might feel like this neighborhood of brick and wood one-, two- and three-story homes is a movie set plunked down in New York.

Even I feel bad letting people know it exists. Why? One, I may want to go back someday, and two, I don’t want to disturb the most peaceful neighborhood I’ve seen yet.

This place is so quiet you can hear an acorn drop and a squirrel climb a tree. In eight daylight hours, all I heard was the occasional laugh of a child swimming in a private cove, the bark of a dog, a laundry buzzer, a Jet Ski on the East River, the turning of a book page, the sizzling of a cheeseburger and the bristling of leaves.

When I arrive upon a little park, a simple headstone reads “Never Forget, 9-11-01,” pointing past the Whitestone Bridge to where the twin towers once stood. There are other private memorials, one to World War II, closer to the center of this little neighborhood that has 1960s “Slow, Children Playing” signs scattered about. On a bench overlooking the water, a young man pushes a baby carriage.

“The only way I can describe it is like that movie, ‘Pleasantville,’  ” says the man, a Queens native who moved here with his wife, who grew up in the neighborhood. “Once you come off Pennyfield Ave. to enter the Gardens, you’re somewhere that you don’t think can exist. It’s like stepping back in time. Living here has been the best experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
Kindly, the young man, whose name I don’t want to mention because of possible reprisals from his co-op board, who refused to talk to the Daily News, points out places of interest.

“Go down to the swimming beach,” he says, “and check out the Silver Beach Deli on Plaza Drive. That’s our neighborhood store. Then just walk around. It truly is unbelievable.”

Reachable via an hour trip in traffic on the BXM9 express bus from 51st and Madison Ave., the neighborhood is ideally situated between the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges.

While the Great Depression devastated most areas, it created others. Silver Beach Gardens in the north Bronx was a waterfront summer resort on a curved cliff facing the Manhattan skyline when the stock market crashed.

Known as the Irish Riviera, its residents were affluent Irish New Yorkers who used their small wood and brick beach homes seasonally. In the fall, they boarded up the windows and went back to the city. After losing everything in the crash, some residents sold their city homes and winterized their Silver Beach houses to live there permanently.

Records show that in 1973, residents formed the Silver Beach Gardens Corp., making the area private. To live there today, inhabitants must have three letters of recommendation from co-op members as well as the necessary finances to purchase a home. The co-op arrangement means that homebuyers purchase shares to own the land.

While there are no manned gates or fences, and I didn’t see any “No Trespassing” signs, there is a sensation that these are unlike other city streets. Residents whisper “Hello” as they pass. Some were kind enough to help with directions, everyone was friendly (but kept to themselves), and no one asked who I was. Romantic couples may get away with a quiet walk, but I do not recommend large groups going there. In fact, please don’t.

Unlike Manhattan co-ops, which normally rise or fall in value based on market prices, these home prices remain stable, ranging from $300,000 for cottages in need of renovation to $1.2 million for waterfront homes that have four-level wooden decks cascading down a cliff. Michael T. Nagy Realty, a local leader in property sales, has the exclusive listing on a four-bedroom home for $329,000.

Just outside of the Gardens, where you do not need references, a smaller three-bedroom attached home on Pennyfield Ave. near the bus stop and a small tennis club lists for $470,000.

“The garden co-op tries to keep home prices affordable,” says a local source. “Fireman, policemen, good people can still afford to live here as long as they know someone. It’s not about making money when you move away. It’s about living here all your life. Houses don’t come up for sale until someone passes away.”

Some new buyers tear down the older historic homes to build three-story houses with windows facing the water. The co-op board, however, has strict design guidelines. Recent houses are Cape-style wooden structures with three stories and fences.

Indian Trail is the neighborhood’s main drag. It’s called a trail because it is one. About 5 feet wide with enough space for two people to walk side by side, Indian Trail is marked by wooden street signs with jagged edges. Cars can’t fit and bikes are not allowed. All street signs are wooden in Silver Beach Gardens, with most roads named after local trees or flowers. Linden, Acorn, Beech and Cedar intersect Magnolia, Plaza and Poplar.

Because of the views and the tiered docks, Indian Trail has the most coveted real estate in the neighborhood. Almost all the small lawns are well taken care of, with rose bushes, azaleas, wooden lighthouses, fake seagulls and a copper-rusted birdbath. The shades of homes are drawn, more to keep cool than for privacy.

Most homes have flagpoles, one of which has a blue-and-white Yankee flag below the red, white and blue. On one lawn, a young child cleans a totem pole. On a wooden deck, a couple lounge in a hot tub.

At the end of the trail, a woman walks a collie on a green space under the Throgs Neck Bridge. Behind the park, large research vessels from the nearby SUNY Maritime College campus put an exclamation point on the constant “whoas” associated with this Bronx neighborhood.

As I leave, a Wiffleball bat rests on a manicured lawn next to a tennis ball. A shirtless man in a bathing suit paints his wood siding navy blue. A couple sit on their stoop, petting a relaxed St. Bernard. I may have seen 30 people the entire day.

Around the corner, a sign on the ground reads, “Cherish Life’s Simple Pleasures.” It’s clear these people do. I just wish they’d share them a little more.

http://www.nydailynews.com/real_estate/2009/07/24/2009-07-24_silver_beach_gardens_private_bronx_hood_is_hidd en_gem.html

July 31st, 2009, 11:23 PM
Living In | Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens, the Bronx

Co-ops Galore, but Not a High Rise in Sight











THE streets of Edgewater Park, a community on the southeastern edge of the Bronx that could easily be mistaken for a seaside village, didn’t even appear on official city maps until about 20 years ago.

Real estate agents say that many clients they encounter still have no idea where Edgewater Park is. And that seems to suit its residents just fine.
Marjorie White, a real estate agent who moved to Edgewater Park as a child in 1962 and has reared her own children there, said, “As a kid, I actually thought it was kind of cool that it wasn’t on the map because nobody could find me.”

Even now, residents do not use the street names, clinging instead to an old system that divided the 60-acre community into sections labeled A through E, as in, “We live over in A section.”

Ms. White describes Edgewater Park as close-knit and “great for kids, because everybody sort of looks out for one another and we all know who they belong to. It’s really a community within a community.”

Quiet enclaves of summer bungalows post-conversion to year-round homes, Edgewater Park and its neighbor on the other side of the Throgs Neck Expressway, Silver Beach Gardens, have an out-of-the-way, distinctly un-city-like feel to them. The streets have no sidewalks; some are little more than lanes leading toward Long Island Sound, on the Edgewater side, and wooden stairways to the East River, in Silver Beach.

What really sets both communities apart from the nearby streets of Throgs Neck is that they are cooperatives — Edgewater Park has 675 single-family homes, Silver Beach Gardens 451 — whose residents own their homes but lease the land from owners’ collectives. Each owner pays a monthly maintenance fee for the upkeep of the streets, beaches and common areas and the signs that proclaim: “Private Property, No Trespassing, No Soliciting, No Loitering.”

Neither place is open to just anyone, either. Potential homeowners are required to submit letters of recommendation from three current residents.
“Both places are kind of nestled where people don’t know about them,” said Diane Capone, an agent with Claire D. Leone Real Estate in Scarsdale who has listings in both communities. “They’re unusual, too, because people think of co-ops as big apartment buildings, not as single-family homes.”


Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens each have one main entrance and have closed off other streets into the communities. Silver Beach has a part-time guard at the entrance gate, and both co-ops have a part-time security foot patrol.

The co-ops began in the early 20th century as summer colonies on sprawling waterfront estates, whose owners leased lots to city dwellers looking for a summer retreat. The original mansion in Silver Beach now houses the co-op association, but residents still refer to it as “the mansion.” Edgewater Park’s stone mansion is now the headquarters for the Edgewater Park Volunteer Fire Department. Brokers say many of the co-op members in both places are city workers, particularly for the police and fire departments.

Neither co-op has a simple street grid or regularly sized lots, although most lots are about 25 by 40 feet. Some homes have modest backyards and others have small front yards, but few have both. Although most started off as two-bedroom ranches with unfinished basements and small attics, many now have additional bedrooms and bathrooms, either on a second floor or in a finished basement.


The homes in Edgewater Park run the gamut in price from $39,000 for a house that needs a gut renovation, to almost $200,000 for a two-bedroom ranch, to as much as $375,000 for a renovated cottage on the water. Prices in Silver Beach are a little higher, with two-bedrooms starting just below $240,000 and an expanded duplex on a double lot asking $539,000. Brokers estimate that as in much of New York City, prices in both communities are about 20 percent lower than they were a year ago.

Maintenance in Edgewater Park is a flat rate of $232 a month; in Silver Beach it depends on the number of shares a homeowner holds, but is about $280. Any work to expand a house or to remodel the exterior must be approved by the co-op board.

Parking is allowed on the wider streets; the communities also have free parking lots for residents, and covered garages for which there are long waiting lists. In addition to the three letters of reference required from current residents, each place requires a co-op board interview. Silver Beach has a minimum down payment requirement of $30,000, and Edgewater Park requires $20,000 or 10 percent of a sale price, whichever is higher.


Edgewater Park and Silver Beach have very active resident organizations that plan holiday events geared toward families with children. The beaches in Edgewater Park, none of which have lifeguards, look out on Long Island Sound and across to Long Island. Silver Beach sits on a bluff, with stairs leading down to beaches that look across to Queens and the Manhattan skyline in the far distance, and it has a lifeguard at its largest beach.

Edgewater Park opens every summer season with a Memorial Day parade led by the Edgewater Red Coats, the community’s fife-and-drum band. Other big events include an Easter egg hunt, swimming races on Labor Day, a Halloween party and a Christmas tree lighting hosted by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the volunteer fire department. Edgewater Park also has an Over 40 Club that has weekly bingo games, a craft club and a Social & Welfare Association that holds fund-raisers “to help the less fortunate who are running on hard times,” according to a notice in the most recent edition of the community newsletter, the Edgewater Park Gazette.

Amelia M. Lewis, a broker who rented a home in Edgewater Park in the 1960s and then moved to Silver Beach when it went co-op in 1972, said both places were wonderful for young families. “It’s like a Shangri-La, where the kids can live in bathing suits all summer long,” she said.

Silver Beach Gardens, like Edgewater Park, has many child-oriented activities throughout the year. Ms. Capone spent a lot of time in Silver Beach as a child because her father ran the Silver Beach Restaurant and Tavern, a local catering hall that burned down in 1984. She has many relatives who still live in Silver Beach; she brings her children from Westchester for the egg hunts and Labor Day festivities. “It’s a real warm community,” she said, “with a lot of children always running around and keeping busy.”

Both communities have delis where residents can pick up sandwiches and last-minute groceries, but most residents take a short drive to East Tremont Avenue in Throgs Neck for more substantial shopping.


Both communities are zoned for Public School 72, on Dewey Avenue in Throgs Neck. Its test scores are about on a par with comparable public schools elsewhere in the city. In 2007-8, 66 percent of fifth graders met standards in English, 72 percent in mathematics; percentages for city schools with similar demographics were 63 and 75.

A nearby middle school, No. 101, is also in Throgs Neck, on Lafayette Avenue. The school has a gifted-and-talented program, and test scores reflect that. In 2007-8, 86 percent of eighth graders met state standards in English, 95 percent in math. The percentages for similar schools were 72 and 84.

At Herbert H. Lehman High School, on Tremont Avenue in Pelham Bay, 2008 SAT averages were 415 in reading, 436 in math and 405 in writing, versus 438, 460 and 433 citywide.

Many families in Edgewater Park and Silver Beach send their children to St. Francis DeChantal School, a parochial school that runs from kindergarten through eighth grade.


With no traffic, it can take as little as 40 minutes to drive to Midtown Manhattan from either Edgewater Park or Silver Beach Gardens. An express bus that stops inside Edgewater Park and just outside Silver Beach takes about 50 minutes to make the trip. It runs every 5 to 10 minutes during rush hour.


Edgewater Park was once the estate of an Irishman named Richard Shaw, who created a summer campground in the 1910s, renting lots to people who would pitch tents to enjoy the waterfront. The tents gave way to summer bungalows in the 1920s, and by the 1930s, during the Great Depression, were inhabited year-round. The community became a co-op in 1988.

Silver Beach was once the estate of the Havemeyer family, which made its fortune in sugar refinery in the 19th century. It followed a similar trajectory, becoming a co-op in the early 1970s.


September 1st, 2009, 05:50 AM
Faces in the Rubble


audio slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/08/19/nyregion/bronx_gonzalez/index.html)

By the rivers of Babylon
There we sat down and wept
When we remembered Zion.
Psalm 137

THE afternoon sun dipped low over the empty lots around Charlotte Street. There in the long shadows stood three boys against a backdrop of smashed bricks, crumpled beer cans and a busted bike wheel. Behind them, past the tall weeds of this urban prairie, loomed decrepit apartment buildings.

Yet the trio were grinning, their faces friendly, even goofy. Look closer at the picture and you can see why they smile: A scrawny mutt’s snout peeks out from their huddle.

Thirty years ago this summer, I returned to the South Bronx, where I grew up, with a Yale diploma in one hand and a beat-up Pentax camera in the other. Raised to get a good education, become a doctor and escape, I had instead come right back to teach photography — on Charlotte Street, no less, the world’s most famous slum.

In the four years I had been away, the South Bronx had gone from anonymous to notorious, a brand name for urban decay and despair. The landscape of my childhood had vanished, its buildings abandoned, stripped and incinerated.

Private tragedies became public humiliation in 1977. Howard Cosell damned the place, declaring, “The Bronx is burning,” as the cameras showed fires flickering beyond Yankee Stadium. Looters picked clean Tremont Avenue’s stores during that summer’s blackout. President Jimmy Carter made an obligatory pilgrimage — as Ronald Reagan would during his campaign in 1980 — for a photo-op amid the rubble.

The only way I could even try to confront this confusion was to slice it up into snapshots, each frame giving the illusion of a neat answer to inexplicable questions. For five years, I wandered from Fordham Road to Mott Haven, taking thousands of pictures in parks, street fairs, stores and even empty lots.

The negatives ended up stuffed in a closet. And the South Bronx was quietly transformed in the late 1980s by community campaigns that created new homes, community gardens and smaller schools. I became a journalist and traveled to Latin America, where I confronted poverty that made New York’s worst look tame.

But I always came back to the Bronx. I have spent much of my professional life chronicling the same streets I photographed as a young man. Six years ago, I moved back for good, with my wife and son. Some people thought I was crazy; cynics swore it hadn’t changed much from the Bad Old Days of 1979.

This year, I dug out the old pictures. The images may be black and white, but to look back upon them now is to discover that their secrets are revealed in shades of gray. In a landscape that was written off as uninhabitable — if not unsalvageable — you can see creativity, faith and even a kind of innocence.

Click. In the middle of a Mott Haven street, a lone couple hugs tightly and twirls to the music of an unseen orchestra. Squeegee boys dart out among the land yachts rolling off the Deegan to cadge a quick quarter.

Click. A couple with faces etched by lines depicting a tough journey rest for a moment, she with her groceries and he with a beer. An artist fills an abandoned building with lithe torsos made from the charred wood that had choked its apartments. A blind guitarist sings boleros from a faraway island.

The Bad Old Days?

Where some saw only rubble, life persisted in all of its ordinary glory. Where many fled in despair, others made a valiant stand. And where outsiders trembled, those who knew what this had been — and might one day become — clung to an affection that defied all logic.


Youngsters scramble about a schoolyard, a jumble of shapes and shadows. Close up, one plays with a toy gun. Now, look past him, beyond the fence.

Community School 61 was about the only occupied building on Charlotte Street when I arrived in September 1979 to teach photography. It was an old-style red-brick schoolhouse, unlike the Brutalist concrete learning factories that had become popular that decade.

The classroom overlooked a heartbreaking panorama of rubble, on streets that had incongruous names like Suburban or Home. One week, a Hollywood film crew descended on a nearby block and built a wood-frame church. Just as quickly, they torched it, so it could serve as a suitably charred ruin for their movie, “Wolfen.”

The plot revolved around wolves reclaiming the urban wasteland. Right. Then again, if wolves had actually roamed this area centuries before, one could see why they were upset with how things had turned out.

Some afternoons, buses rolled down the street and unloaded their nervous cargo. One by one, tourists stepped out, snapped a few frames of the devastation and retreated to the safety of their seats behind tinted windows. Off they went, with snapshots that became props for their tales of derring-do back home.

The pictures taken by my students were anything but despairing. They clicked happily away in the schoolyard, acting out superhero stories. They snapped their mothers cooking or their kid sisters sleeping. On Halloween, they ran around in costumes improvised from baggy skirts and jackets, their faces hidden behind Groucho glasses.

Before the devastation, this neighborhood had been a familiar backdrop to my own childhood. A music shop where my father bought guitar strings was on Southern Boulevard. The furniture store where he paid his weekly tribute for our plastic-covered sectional sofa was on Prospect Avenue. The five and dime where my mother worked the lunch counter was on Westchester Avenue.

No matter how far north or west my family moved to outrun the fires, we kept going back to the South Bronx. When we lived north of Crotona Park we trekked past Boston Road to visit friends and relatives on our old block on Beck Street.

Halfway between these two neighborhoods, on Southern Boulevard, was the Freeman Theater, which featured musicals by Mexico’s singing cowboy, Antonio Aguilar. To a boy like me, raised watching the broken-English bumbling of mustachioed banditos, Aguilar was a revelation. The Mexicans were the good guys, and Aguilar was the most heroic of the bunch, proudly singing atop his noble steed. In Spanish.

Freeman, indeed.

The Freeman went dark in the 1970s and was sealed shut with bricks. The blocks around it grew silent, too, as people left and buildings crumbled. Yet the South Bronx was anything but quiet. Fire alarms and sirens became so frequent that a friend joked that you could dance to their frenzied rhythm.

The Walkman was born the year I returned, 1979, but no one wanted a private soundtrack. Music was communal, binding rebellious teenagers or nostalgic parents. This was the granddaddy of file sharing: blast it out on the streets.

Old men with accordions and guitars would set up outside bodegas, playing for beer and companionship. Teenagers with boom boxes perched atop one shoulder like a bazooka bopped onto subway trains, drowning out the noise of grinding wheels as the No. 5 train made its tight turn onto Westchester Avenue.

Down by the Hub, the commercial crossroads where several streets cut through Third Avenue, loose-limbed dancers with fat-laced Puma sneakers and helmetlike Kangol caps ruled the streets and playgrounds. Felt letters on sweatshirts declared their allegiances — Rock Steady Crew, Rockwell Association — announcing to the world the nascent B-boy culture that would help launch hip-hop’s global assault.

Inside a graffiti-slathered storefront — where a spray-painted gravedigger walked among the tombstones — B-boys and graffiti writers from the Bronx mingled with artists and writers from downtown. This common ground was Fashion Moda, an alternative gallery that became world famous.

The South Bronx was abuzz with creativity, even as policymakers wrote it off. City officials suggested a policy of gradually cutting services to the worst neighborhoods. They called it planned shrinkage. It sounded more like thinning out your family by feeding the kids less each day.

Small surprise that the art from that era mocked the conventional wisdom. Along Charlotte Street, an artist wrote BROKEN PROMISES on the same buildings that served as stage sets for politicians who visited to troll for votes.

Inside a tenement near the Hub, a sculptor repopulated the building with figures made from garbage. The effect was startling: sticklike phantasms leaned against walls. Their heads were cardboard boxes, painted with big eyes and fierce teeth, like a shaman’s mask. Instead of incense to invoke the spirits, there was the pungent funk of mold and garbage, mixed with the burnt aroma of arsons past.

A guitarist, his face obscured by sunglasses and a hat, croons tropical love songs outside a shoe store. Behind him, a mannequin’s arm lifts her skirt, frozen in a pirouette. In case passers-by were unmoved by the music, his guitar was emblazoned with “I Am Blind.”


He was El Cieguito de Lares — the Little Blind Guy from Lares. His Puerto Rican birthplace was where islanders rebelled against Spain in 1868. It was fitting that he was on Fordham Road, since that was the Bronx’s Maginot Line, where businesses, not bunkers, would stop the creeping tide of arson.

Unlike Tremont Avenue, which had been picked clean by looters, Fordham Road bustled. The movie theaters had yet to be converted into discount clothing stores. Alexander’s — its huge sign immortalized in the opening moments of “The Wanderers” — stood sentry.

A few bookstores managed to stay open, as did some old-style candy stores with fountains. Old Irish ladies with no-nonsense cloth coats, and Jewish ones with babushkas and beat-up sandals, chatted in the vest-pocket park across the street from Cye Wells, which probably clothed their sons.

Lapels were wide and pointed, shirts were tight and garish, and none had a strand of natural fiber. Halfway up the Concourse from Alexander’s, a barber did brisk business giving young men identical Tony Manero disco haircuts, kept shell-hard with hot blasts from a dryer and dizzying clouds of hair spray.

Yet on the edges of this world were troubling signs. At playgrounds near Webster Avenue or parks on Jerome Avenue, young men rushed up to strangers whispering, “Pillow, sess, nickels and treys,” as they offered fat little manila envelopes stuffed with pot. Some sales were finalized in restrooms, with the seller offering a free hit.

The fires that everybody worried would rip past Fordham Road never happened — at least not the ones that incinerated buildings. Within a decade, thousands of smaller fires — the kind that set rocks of crack aglow — exacted a deadlier price.

“Hey, mista! Take a pickcha!”

Five boys jostled into the frame, all faces and hands, plastic water pistols jutting out at odd angles. Minutes later, four girls stood in the same spot, smiling coquettishly.

Those two pictures were taken on Aug. 10, 1979 — the day I turned 22 — as my friend Rafa Ramirez and I spent an afternoon at a Mott Haven street fair showing off the work of other Puerto Rican photographers. We did this a lot, bringing art to the people as part of our work with En Foco, the Latino photographers’ group that had hired me to teach at C.S. 61.

The children we encountered that day were like so many others from those years. They would ask — if not demand — that you take their picture. They all had their poses, filled with mock bravado or impish charm.

I have no idea what became of them. Maybe the boys got caught up in the insane violence that swept the area when crack wars broke out on those same streets, riddling hallways and passers-by with volleys of bullets. Maybe the girls became mothers before they became high school graduates.

Then again, maybe not.

The projects and tenements that lined those streets were home — even in the Bad Old Days — to people who worked and studied. Others might find it hard to believe, but lawyers and doctors came from there. Yes, there was poverty and violence. But there was also life that defied death.

Of all the stories told by these images, there is one that runs through all of them — my own. They chronicle how I made peace with the past as I figured out the future.

In the Bad Old Days of 1979, I was an exile in the land of my birth, ashamed of my neighborhood and myself. When my father died the next year, one of his friends quietly asked me at the wake, “How’s medical school?” — stunning me with the realization that Papi never had the heart to admit I had forsaken medicine for photography.

Three decades later, I’m still making pictures, with both words and cameras. The landscape is cleaner and safer. For sure, money, health and hope can be in short supply on some blocks.

But life lingers. Kids play in the street. Music blares from windows. And while new faces are in old buildings, a few people still remember me. At churches where I once fidgeted in pews, I drop in for morning Mass, the priest nodding at me from the altar as I settle in.

A battered trash can rests outside 858 Beck Street, below the window that was my — and my parents’ — room. My earliest memory is of sitting on the floor right by that window. I couldn’t see the garbage. I was too entranced by Papi playing his guitar.

Whether through sheer luck or providence, the buildings from my childhood survived the 1970s crucible. Some days, I can drive through every neighborhood I ever called home, knowing that by the end of my journey, I am happily and exactly where I should be.
In the Bronx.


September 25th, 2009, 09:21 PM
Living In | Mount Hope, the Bronx

Easy on the Wallet; on the Eye, Too



SYMMETRY Beaux-Arts row houses along Morris Avenue are part of Mount Hope’s historic district.


1754 Topping Avenue

111 Henwood Place

The Lewis Morris apartment building at 1749 Grand Concourse

Topping Avenue

Clifford Place

80 steep steps that connect Clifford Place to Grand Concourse

Julius Richman Park


O'Brien Oval is a tiny city park sitting where East Tremont and Valentine and East 176th Streets come together

Mount Hope Playground is at Walton Avenue and 177th Street

NATURE has abhorred vacuums along Walton Avenue in Mount Hope, a diamond-shaped neighborhood in the occasionally rough central Bronx (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/bronx/?inline=nyt-geo).

In the early 1980s, when torched or abandoned apartments were razed — particularly in the East 176th Street area — patches of tall grasses and flowers quickly took their place. In many ways, the hardy meadows probably resembled those that blanketed the area until the mid-1800s, when the advent of the New York and Harlem Railroad station down the street began encouraging development.

It is only within the last few years that a new wave of apartment building has swept across Mount Hope, snatching back those green spaces again for human settlement — in this case, low-income renters.

Radiance Brown sees the repopulation as marking a return to the Mount Hope of 1973, when she moved from Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) to Morris Avenue, into a two-family Beaux-Arts row house whose bowed facade and bracketed cornice evoke the South End in Boston.

Back then her husband, Charles, paid $65,000 for the home, plus $10,000 in renovations. The roof and windows were replaced, as well as the plumbing and electrical systems, but the plaster moldings are still in place.

Today, Ms. Brown said, the building might sell for $650,000; she bases her estimate on a recent listing on her block. Both also now sit in a city historic district.

Mount Hope’s improvements represent a personal victory for Ms. Brown, who organized neighbors to clean sidewalks when the city wouldn’t. As she put it: “We grabbed brooms and went where the garbage was. It was work, work, work.”

The Mount Hope Housing Company, which she helped found in 1986, symbolizes her determination. Today the company, which creates affordable housing, has 32 buildings in its portfolio, most of them in Mount Hope.

Almost all the units in those buildings are low-income rentals. But the company is about to strike out in a slightly new direction, with New Hope Morris, a 39-unit condominium scheduled for occupancy in February.

Though its units, too, will have income restrictions, they will be among the few new homes for sale here in years, brokers say.

Attracting buyers should be a priority for Mount Hope, said Glen Hardwick, who as a local homeowner knows that homeowners tend to take better care of their property than renters.

“We need a middle class here, because it’s all low-income now,” said Mr. Hardwick, as he leaned on a cane by a row of green peppers in the 176th Street Community Garden.

His theory is that there is so much affordable housing in Mount Hope that it is depressing the value of his two-bedroom co-op, which he said his mother bought for $4,000 in 1981.

Not that he is nostalgic for those times, which he remembers as dominated by gangs hanging out across the street. Nowadays, he said, “a lack of a parking is the only major problem we have.”


As its name suggests, Mount Hope sits on a rise. Its 80 blocks are bounded on one side by the Cross Bronx Expressway and cut down the middle by the Grand Concourse.

Much of the housing stock consists of six-story Depression-era apartment buildings interspersed with attached wood-frame homes, whose derivative Queen Anne styles — as seen along Anthony Avenue by Prospect Place — occasionally have flourishes like turrets topped with domes. Multiple electric meters on their facades suggest that they are multifamily dwellings.

Meanwhile, the two-family houses along Townsend Avenue, near Clifford Place, dress themselves up with peaked lancet-arch doorways and a medley of brick courses. And Topping Avenue’s slightly sagging row houses, near the rush of the expressway, have friezes adorned with garlands and shields.

There are also residential towers, like the enormous 1880 Valentine Avenue, erected as part of a 1970s urban-renewal project. It has 167 units, ranging in size from studios to two-bedrooms. They start at $739 a month, and can be subsidized through Section 8 vouchers, according to the building’s rental office.

All told, rentals make up 96 percent of the housing units in this neighborhood of about 46,000 people, according to census data. That compares with 70 percent for the city as a whole. Almost all of Mount Hope’s rental housing is subsidized, according to local officials.

Much of the population is foreign-born, census data show. Forty-one percent said they were from the Dominican Republic; there were also contingents from Jamaica, Ecuador and Guyana. And among the 31 percent who described themselves as African were populations from the western countries of Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The 46th Precinct, which encompasses Mount Hope, continues to struggle with crime.

From 2001 to 2008, the murder rate dropped by 12 percent, from 17 to 15; the city as a whole recorded a 19 percent drop. Over that time, grand larceny actually increased by 7 percent in Mount Hope, to 450 from 422, while it went down 5 percent citywide.

The statistics tell only part of the story. “Is it in-your-face kind of stuff? No,” said Xavier Rodriguez, the district manager of Bronx Community Board 5, which represents the area. “But indoor drug-dealing is horrendous.”

A more fundamental challenge, Mr. Rodriguez said, is that Mount Hope has four homeless shelters. One of them, Susan’s Place, is in a one-story building at 1921 Jerome Avenue; another, at 115 Henwood Place, is in a 14-story high-rise. They add a transient population that doesn’t have the neighborhood’s best interests at heart, he explained.

“We don’t have that many homeless people in the Bronx,” Mr. Rodriguez said, “so the city must ship them here from elsewhere in the four boroughs.”

But the city’s Department of Homeless Services disagrees. Kristy Buller, a spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail message that while “37 percent of families entering intake come from the Bronx,” 35 percent of shelters are in the Bronx.


Because there are so few homes to buy and sell in Mount Hope, analyzing the market is difficult.

In the first six months of 2009, for example, only two homes sold, according to StreetEasy (http://www.streeteasy.com/), the real estate research company. The average price of those two homes — one single-family, one two-family — was $222,000.

Likewise, only two homes — both two-families — sold in the first six months of 2006, near the market’s peak. Their average price was $500,000.
Rental prices are fairly consistent. At the 104 income-restricted units of the new Walton Henwood Apartments, studios start at $691, a sign in front says.

Across the street, at New Hope Walton, which began leasing in June, one-bedrooms start at $800. Those rents are comparable to what people pay in older buildings, give or take $100 a month, brokers and community leaders say.


At Public School 28 on Anthony Avenue, 68 percent of fourth-graders met standards on the state reading exam last year, while 88 percent did in math. Citywide, the figures were 69 percent and 85 percent.

Intermediate School 117, also known as the Joseph H. Wade School, was less successful: 36 percent of eighth-graders met standards in reading, 60 percent in math, versus 57 and 71 citywide.

For the next step, the William Howard Taft (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/william_howard_taft/index.html?inline=nyt-per) Educational Campus is nearby and houses six high schools. Only three have been open long enough to have recorded SAT scores, and averages are considerably lower than the city’s as a whole. At Bronx Expeditionary Learning, for example, averages last year were 333 in reading, 338 in math and 328 in writing, versus 435, 459 and 432 citywide.


The 4, B and D subway lines serve Mount Hope, delivering passengers to Midtown in about 20 minutes. Two buses, BxM4A and BxM4B, run express down the Grand Concourse to Midtown.


Women and children walked hand in hand down East Burnside Avenue on a recent Saturday afternoon. They passed Fino, a clothing store that offered three suits for $200, and Rehoboth Fish Market, which displayed plastic bins full of shrimp on ice. Pastel-colored bird cages filled a pet store window.

In Julius Richman Park, huge outcroppings form an eye-catching backdrop for recreation.


The Grand Concourse, which opened in 1909, was one of the first “grade-separated” roads outside of a park, according to Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx historian.

Mount Hope had very few buildings when the road went in — although the flatiron-shaped No. 1882, at East Tremont Avenue, had already gone up. It was once the borough’s tallest building, Mr. Ultan said.


February 5th, 2010, 10:03 PM
The Bigger Little Italy



PASTEL PARADE Houses along Hoffman Avenue are typical of Belmont, which in addition to its well-known Italian-themed Arthur Avenue has Puerto Rican and Albanian influences.

Fordham University

more photos (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/07/realestate/20100207-living.html?ref=realestate#1)

THE other day in the Belmont section of the Bronx, two women carrying shopping bags conversed excitedly as they ambled down Crescent Avenue. One wore black winter gear from head to toe; her companion had on jeans and stylish black boots. Something marked their conversation as unusual: half was in Italian and the other in Spanish. But they clearly understood each other.

So it is in Belmont, now and perhaps forever known as the Little Italy of the Bronx — or, to some, “the real Little Italy” — and the subject of longstanding lore. The neighborhood was the breeding ground for Dion and the Belmonts in the 1950s and the setting for Chazz Palminteri’s “Bronx Tale,” a childhood memoir that he has toured the country to perform. (Robert De Niro’s film version came out in 1993.)

To this day Arthur Avenue, Belmont’s main artery, remains a thriving marketplace of menuless trattorias and pork stores par excellence.
“On any Saturday or any holiday, any given weekend, you cannot walk,” said Ivine Galarza, the district manager of Community Board 6 for the last 15 years. “It is so congested. People come from all over — Jersey, Connecticut — to get their meats.”

But what is it like to live there?

Outside Arthur Avenue and its sister commercial strip, East 187th Street, the neighborhood’s Italian standbys become sparse; instead, there is Tu y Yo Unisex Salon and La Iglesia Que Se Va.

An influx of students from Fordham University, just north of Belmont across Fordham Road, makes up a sizable part of the population, alongside communities of Puerto Rican and Albanian immigrants. (The restaurant Rozafa on Crescent Avenue serves both chicken marsala and Albanian speca te mbushur, a type of stuffed pepper.)

Yet, far from a museum piece or a shopping mall, the area is a functioning community where people get along.

“A lot of people say, ‘Move!’ No. I like it here,” said Marie Riolo, 90, who moved to Belmont early in life and has lived in the same building since 1941. Now the secretary of the local community board and chairwoman of its senior citizen committee, Mrs. Riolo is friendly with the students in her building on Lorillard Place and still visits all the same shops she has for years.

On the other end of the spectrum is Thomas Conroy, 21, a Fordham senior from Maryland who lives in a Hoffman Street apartment with five roommates, for which he pays about $600 a month. After two years of frequenting local shops, he has learned to follow the local loyalty rules when it comes to meats and cheeses.

“You feel like you’re betraying them if you go somewhere else,” said Mr. Conroy, a devotee of Tino’s Delicatessen on Arthur Avenue. “It’s my ritual now; I go there once a week.”

Roughly eight blocks long at its longest point and nine blocks wide at its widest, Belmont is hemmed in to the east by Bronx Park. But on other flanks, it has seen enough shifting of boundaries over the last few decades that there is no longer any firm definition of where it ends and where the rest of the Bronx begins. The southern border is generally thought to be either 182nd or 183rd Street; the dividing line then snakes up Third Avenue, at some point turning north to hit Fordham Road, the clear northern boundary.

Outside of the area around 187th Street and Arthur Avenue, where a new business improvement district was recently approved, Belmont consists largely of two- and three-family houses, though apartment buildings appear here and there. Some homes are in pristine condition, decorated to the nines for whatever holiday is approaching. A few are boarded up or have sat empty since construction.

Busy Fordham Road winds west into Fordham Plaza, a frenetic shopping area with all the staple chain stores and also the neighborhood stop on the Metro-North Railroad. There is talk in Belmont both for and against the idea of a new 13-story mixed-use building on Fordham Road; community hearings took place last week.

Belmont doesn’t contain an excess of green space, perhaps because Bronx Park is close by, but a small community garden called Belmont Little Farmers is in operation on Belmont Avenue. On East 188th Street, children swing to and fro at the Ciccarone Playground, which had $2.7 million in renovations in 2007.

Crime remains a concern. In 2009, the precinct that includes the neighborhood had 7 murders, 383 robberies and 362 felony assaults, according to the police CompStat system. A few well-publicized crimes last year did not help matters, including the early-morning murder last August of a former area lounge owner behind the Arthur Avenue Retail Market.

Like many Bronx neighborhoods, Belmont has had its share of foreclosures and short sales in recent years; the phenomenon has had the effect of dragging down prices.

“Right now nobody knows where the real estate market is,” said Pasquale Perretta, a former Fordham professor who owns a rental agency called Belmont Realty. “It’s still a very precarious situation. There is an abundance now, a glut of housing.”

Perhaps the best way to find property for sale is to wander the avenues and look for houses with for-sale signs attached. Few brokerages outside of rental agencies focus on the neighborhood, which makes Internet searches difficult; those with units on the market are typically based elsewhere in the Bronx or even farther afield.

Properties for purchase are by and large two- or three-family houses; if there is an apartment to be had, it is most likely for rent. In general, said Jennie Ng, broker and owner of ERA Champions Realty, single-family houses can be found starting in the $200,000 range, and two-family semidetached houses sell for about $400,000.

“The same two-family brick homes would have sold for $440,000 or $460,000 a year ago,” Ms. Ng said. Last year, she sold a single-family house on 183rd Street for $220,000. Comparable-sales reports from recent months show the price per square foot in the neighborhood hovering around $140.

The area also has a dose of “For Rent” signs, thanks in part to its still-growing student population. Two-bedroom apartments close to the Fordham campus generally cost about $1,400 a month, less if they are below 187th Street. One-bedrooms can be found for around $800.

A study released last March by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University found that Belmont, coupled with the nearby neighborhood of Morrisania, had the city’s third-lowest homeownership rate. The study also found that the area’s median monthly rent, when combined with nearby East Tremont’s, was $655, perhaps owing to the neighborhood’s supply of low-income housing.

If you’ve stocked up on all the soppressata, pecorino Romano and zeppole you can handle on Arthur Avenue, venture east toward Southern Boulevard, where the Bronx Zoo, Bronx Park and, a bit farther north, the New York Botanical Garden all reside. Also northward, at Fordham University, continuing education courses on offer include medieval studies and anthropology.

Last year at Public School 32, the Belmont School, on East 183rd Street, 94.7 percent of students met standards in math, 77.1 percent in English. At Middle School 45, the Thomas C. Giordano School, on Lorillard Place, 61.6 percent met standards in English, 75.1 percent in math. SAT averages at Belmont Preparatory High School on Fordham Road were 357 in reading, 357 in math and 360 in writing. The most recent statewide averages were 531, 563 and 535.

Among the private possibilities in Belmont are two Catholic schools: the all-girl Aquinas High School on East 182nd Street and St. Martin of Tours School for prekindergarten through Grade 8.

The nearest option for commuting into Manhattan is the Fordham Road Metro-North Railroad, near Third Avenue. The ride into Grand Central Terminal is about 20 minutes; one-way peak tickets are $7; a monthly pass is $164. The closest subway is the Fordham Road station on the B and D lines, about a 15-minute walk from the area.

Belmont was once the province of the Lorillard family, for whom a street is named. After moving its tobacco operations to the Central Bronx from Lower Manhattan in the late 18th century, the family greatly expanded its property in the area, with its land known as the Belmont estate. But after the Lorillards decamped for New Jersey in 1870, the city acquired part of their land for Bronx Park; another section was divided into the streets that form Belmont today. (The Lorillards are still in business, as anyone who smokes Newports or Kents might tell you.)


March 12th, 2010, 07:03 PM
City Moves to End a Bronx Olfactory Nightmare


The city is moving to end its contract with the New York Organic Fertilizer Company in Hunts Point.

Barbara White no longer dries her clothes outside. Lucretia Jones has stopped holding backyard barbecues. Tanya Fields keeps her windows shut tight year-round.

For years, these neighbors in Hunts Point in the Bronx have battled a common plague: an acrid stench that hangs over the area like a black cloud, clinging to clothing, keeping children home from school, choking neighborhood life.

Some compare the smell to a filthy toilet, others to rotting meat; but everyone agrees that the stench comes from behind the gates of the New York Organic Fertilizer Company. The company’s Hunts Point plant processes sludge from 14 of the city’s sewage plants, amounting to nearly half of the city’s waste, and converts it into high-grade fertilizer pellets.

But now, after years of lawsuits, protests and complaints, beleaguered residents seem poised to win a major victory: City officials say they plan to cancel the $34-million-a-year contract with the company, effective June 30.

Caswell F. Holloway, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the city could save roughly $18 million a year by sending the waste to landfills instead. “We plan to make this happen this year and aggressively pursue more cost-effective beneficial reuse of biosolids,” Mr. Holloway said during testimony before the City Council earlier this week.

The company’s contract runs through 2013, but a spokesman said the city planned to end the contract by June 30.

“This is a huge victory,” said Representative José E. Serrano, who has fought for years to close the plant. “It was horrible — the smell, the stench. People living in the poorest congressional district in the nation, in many cases with very little education, knew this was something they could not tolerate.”

Community advocates have fought the plant for years. In 2008, the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the plant on behalf of a community group called Mothers on the Move along with 10 local residents. Last year, the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, also filed a public-nuisance lawsuit against the company. A settlement is being negotiated, said Albert Y. Huang, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mark McCormick, a senior official at Synagro, the plant’s parent company, said the settlement would include upgrading the plant’s technology in an attempt to mitigate the smell.

Everyone in the Hunts Point area has stories about the inconvenience and distress caused by the smell. It worsened children’s asthma, they say. It forced grandmothers to leave their gardens untended, families to cancel picnics, and schools to hold recess indoors.

“It smells like a decaying body,” said Wilfredo Gebre, who noted that the smell was especially bad on hot summer days.

But the stink was more than just a nuisance. For many, it became a symbol of the city’s disregard for Hunts Point, a neighborhood made up predominantly of low-income and minority families.

The New York Organic Fertilizer Company “meant everything that was unfair about the treatment of the Bronx,” Mr. Serrano said.

Wanda Salaman, executive director of Mothers on the Move, said the plant was just another instance of the city’s treating Hunts Point as a dumping ground.

“Would they build something like that next to Mayor Bloomberg’s house?” she said inside her group’s office, from which she can sometimes smell the Oak Point Avenue plant a mile away. Her colleague, Thomas Assefa, nodded his head. “It’s an issue of race and class,” he said.

Mr. McCormick of Synagro said they were still hoping to find a resolution with the city.

“We’re going to reach out to the city and see what we can do short of terminating the contract,” he said, adding that the plant employs about 50 people. “At this point, we’re open to discussing anything to help them out, whether it’s volume or price or other ways we can help work with each other.”

While the city maintains that its decision has been made, local advocates cautioned that it was not yet time to celebrate. Even if the city voids the contract as planned, the plant operators could still sign a new deal with a different municipality to process even more sewage sludge.

“Our struggle doesn’t end just because the city has a different strategy,” Ms. Salaman said. “They could just take it to another poor neighborhood somewhere else. Just because it’s not in our backyard doesn’t mean that the problem is over.”


March 27th, 2010, 03:15 AM
Protecting an Array of Gems in the Bronx


Manida Street

IN the 1970s, when the Hunts Point section of the Bronx became associated with drugs, crime and prostitution, a group of bow-front row houses in the 800 block of Manida Street remained an oasis of tranquillity.

Now, some residents of the block would like to ensure that the houses remain intact. They are thinking of seeking landmark status.

There are about 40 of the homes, which were built around the turn of the last century, though the borough’s historians have not determined an exact date. Semidetached two-families, they were built in a Flemish architectural style that would have been familiar to the Bronx’s overwhelmingly Germanic population at the time.

The brick homes are a most unexpected gem in Hunts Point, a small peninsula separated from the rest of the South Bronx by the Bruckner Expressway. Properties there are mostly industrial buildings and low-income housing developments that in the last decades of the 20th century were plagued by arson and other problems.

“When I first started doing walking tours in the 1970s,” the architectural historian Barry Lewis said, “there were two neighborhoods I wouldn’t go into: Hunts Point and Red Hook. They were peninsulas, and you couldn’t get out if a gang confronted you.”

That sense of danger notwithstanding, the two-story row houses endured, and Mr. Lewis was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon them one day while visiting a nearby community group called the Point Community Development Corporation.

“Around the corner was this lovely row of town houses, some of them beautifully restored,” he said. “You would think you were in Park Slope.”

Residents of the block have long known they had something special, and a number of them take extra pride in their homes. Cybeale Ross bought her 2,792-square-foot home in 1958 for $16,500; she has preserved the high ceilings, French doors, bay windows, Gothic arches and stained-glass skylight, though she did turn a dumbwaiter shaft into a closet. She calls the 800 block of Manida Street a “little oasis.”

“We never sold our home,” Ms. Ross said. “When the Bronx was burning, people were running like it was the plague. I said, ‘No, I live in the Bronx, I work in the Bronx, the Bronx is my home.’ ”

Other longtime residents include Jeannette Johnson, the wife of the Big Band-era bandleader Buddy Johnson, and Cynthia Phillips and Orrin Hercules, who describe the block in the ’50s and ’60s as one of elegance and refinement, populated by doctors, lawyers and musicians. Ms. Phillips, who bought her 2,624-square-foot home for $17,000 in 1961, said some of them had been modified a bit.

“Some of the owners made changes,” she explained. “The back entrance would be a bedroom in most of the houses, but the gentleman who owned my home prior to me made a kitchen at the back. Most of the homes have kitchens in the middle of the house.”

Mr. Hercules said he installed wooden paneling and drop ceilings in his home in the 1970s. He is now removing those elements.

“I guess at the time, people wanted to conserve heat,” he said. “But now I’m taking out the drop ceilings and paneling, and going back to the original walls, because these are beautiful structures. They all have French doors separating rooms, and upstairs have skylights, and there are patios in the back.”

Maria Torres bought her home in 2006, and said she knew of at least one person who bought a home on the 800 block of Manida Street more recently, hoping to restore it.

According to Sidney A. Miller, a director of the Haven Heights Group in the Bronx, a real estate brokerage, values in the 800 block of Manida Street can be widely divergent, depending on how much historic detail remains in the home, whether the basement is finished or whether there is a garage.

(In general, homes on the west side of Manida have garages; those on the east side do not.)

At the online real estate marketplace Zillow.com, homes on Manida were valued as high as $533,000 at the residential real estate market’s height in late 2008. Now they are closer to $370,000.

Ms. Torres, who moved to the neighborhood to work at the Point, said the Longwood Historic District was right on the other side of the Bruckner Expressway from Manida Street. “This block probably should be landmarked,” she said.

Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian, agreed, though he said finding historical data about the 800 block of Manida Street had not been easy.

The homes were built around 1900 on subdivided estate or farmland at a time when the suburbs of New York City were being developed to alleviate congestion. At the time, the Bronx’s largest population was of German ancestry, Mr. Ultan said.

“The second-most-spoken language in the Bronx was German,” he said.

The homes may have been built by Henry Morgenthau Sr., a prolific Bronx real estate developer who also served as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire and was the grandfather of Robert M. Morgenthau, the longtime Manhattan district attorney. There is, however, no record of a direct tie to the elder Mr. Morgenthau, Mr. Ultan said.

The bow-front homes on Manida Street may be the only example of this type of Flemish architecture in the entire city, similar in spirit but not identical to the Bertine Block Historic District on East 136th Street in the South Bronx, where the architecture is inspired by northern Germany, Mr. Ultan said.

“There are a lot of hidden treasures in these areas that most people think are devastated,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get any real historic background, though. But I think there is a good claim for these homes to be landmarked.”


April 5th, 2010, 12:28 AM
An Enclave Passed Down to Generations



WATER VIEWS Homes along Country Club Road look out at Eastchester Bay.
Properties for sale in this Bronx neighborhood aren’t always advertised, but rather made known quietly among family and friends.


ON certain afternoons in Country Club, a small waterfront neighborhood near the Throgs Neck peninsula in the Northeast Bronx, small groups of men congregate in kitchens for the beloved ritual of the sauce. After the tomatoes and the seasoning are wedded together, the mixture is poured into jars and wrapped in a blanket to cool — an essential step on its way to the top of many a pasta dish.

In this neighborhood, thoughts of Prego or Ragú are akin to heresy. The same groups of guys who make the sauce often head up to nearby Pelham Bay Park for boccie contests. Here, a few empty boxes of grapes on a curb indicate that a neighbor may soon come by to share his latest vintage.

“They say, ‘You’ve got to try this one — this year, it’s a little different,’ ” said Marcia Anne Pavlica, a longtime Country Club resident and president of the local civic association. “It just enforces the community feel,” she added. In the 2000 census, 60.1 percent of residents in the neighborhood and surrounding area reported Italian ancestry.

Country Club is a neighborhood which is often treated to the sight of mounted police officers clip-clopping through en route to their training facility in nearby Pelham Bay Park. Basketball hoops abound, as do jungle gyms and (of late) “Easter Bunny: Stop Here!” decorations. The area is filled with families, many of whom live within baby-sitting range of Grandma and Grandpa.

“We have many parts of Country Club where the mother will live here and the daughter will live six or seven blocks away,” said Councilman James Vacca, who represents the area. “People know each other for years.”
The neighborhood has no subway station, and is more than 10 miles from Midtown Manhattan; remoteness has its charms but also its setbacks.

Sidewalks are often intermittent, and one area still lacks sewers.

Frank Menillo, who has lived in the same house on Rawlins Avenue for more than 50 years, is fed up with the shoddy condition of nearby Lohengrin Place. Until recently, the street was not on city maps. It is in poor shape, with oversized potholes.

“I’ve been after it for about four years, maybe longer,” said Mr. Menillo, whose quest received some attention in the local news media and help from Councilman Vacca last fall. As of now, he said, “They have not paved that street.” But the councilman’s office says paving will start in June.


A midmorning stroll through Country Club is one of nearly utter quiet, save for chirping birds and the occasional plane on its way to La Guardia Airport.

Decorations and statuary are out in force, from the large lions flanking one door on Baisley Avenue to a plaster likeness of Mike Piazza (in Mets uniform) on Country Club Road. Some streets are winding, others are straight; a few, like Parsifal Place and Valhalla Drive, are hints that the area’s street planner may have been a Wagner enthusiast.

House styles are varied: little Tudoresque cottages; boxy midcentury town houses; larger homes on Stadium Avenue; and a collection of late-20th-century stucco houses called the Estates at Country Club Homeowners Association. There is one co-op, at Stadium and Layton Avenues, though nothing else tall is expected, given local zoning.

“We are not looking for more homes, although the developers would really love it,” Ms. Pavlica said.

According to the 2000 census, the area including Country Club and Spencer Estates has a population of 8,489. Some of those people reside at Providence Rest, a long- and short-term care facility on Waterbury Avenue. Ms. Pavlica gave Country Club’s borders as Interstate 95 to the west; Eastchester Bay to the east; Layton Avenue to the south; and Spencer Drive to the north.

There is a commercial area, consisting of a pizzeria, a small supermarket, a laundromat, a dry cleaner and a chiropractor, all on Layton Avenue. Many locals venture to nearby Spencer Estates, where a small commercial strip is home to Barino’s, a popular Italian market. Otherwise, the stores of Bay Plaza Shopping Center near Co-op City are a short drive away; Westchester County shopping isn’t much farther.

A subject of considerable concern these days is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s recent vote to eliminate the Bx14 bus, which until now has been the only public transportation within Country Club. The M.T.A. voted in late March to cut 34 bus routes, though a compromise was reached to reroute the Bx8 bus through part of the neighborhood, where it will stop on its way to the Pelham Bay Park station on the 6 subway line.

“We got half a loaf,” said Mr. Vacca, who heads the City Council’s transportation committee. “They did consider our geographic isolation to a degree that made the cut a little more livable.”

The sewer issue, too, is on its way toward resolution. The streets in the southwest portion of the neighborhood that still lack them should see the start of work next year, Ms. Pavlica said.


Real estate is taken seriously; brokers are invited to meet with the civic association to discuss their philosophy and marketing plans. When houses come on the market — and there is often a fair number — some do not appear on any real estate Web site. Instead, the word is passed quietly among friends and family.

“There are a lot of people who just want to give it to someone they know who also lives in the area,” said Dorothy De Marco, an independent broker whose company is called Phoenix I.

But prices over all are down 20 percent from the highs of the last few years and show no indications of budging, Ms. De Marco said. Rosanna Robustelli, an agent with Kravitz Ann DeSantis Realtors, put the average for single-family homes in the mid-$400,000s.

If a large house on the waterfront is listed, said Carol Sportello, an agent at Scovotti and Company, a Bronx real estate and insurance agency, it might be priced as high as $1.3 million. But over the last year, she said, houses sold at $400,000 to $700,000, with higher prices being paid for multifamily homes. For example, Ms. De Marco is listing a house on Agar Place with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, on a 55-by-150-foot lot, for $689,000.

As for rentals, there is a range — given the mix of housing styles and the by-owner nature of many leases. One-bedrooms generally start around $1,000, two-bedrooms around $1,300.


The vast open spaces of Pelham Bay Park, New York City’s largest green space at 2,766 acres, begin just a few blocks away. Within the park are playgrounds, tennis courts, a dog run and a nature center. The park is also home to the Pelham Bay and Split Rock Golf Courses, both open to the public.


Some elementary students are zoned to attend the Senator John Calandra School, Public School 14, on Bruckner Boulevard, where 94.6 percent met standards in math and 79 percent in English in 2009. For middle school, some go to the Urban Institute of Mathematics, a few blocks southwest of the neighborhood on Hollywood Avenue. In 2009, 80.6 percent met standards in math, 76.9 percent in English.

At Herbert H. Lehman High School on East Tremont Avenue, about a mile from Country Club, SAT averages in 2009 were 420 in reading, 439 in math and 411 in writing, versus 480, 500 and 470 statewide.

Country Club is home to Villa Maria Academy, a Catholic school for prekindergarten to Grade 8. The school’s orientation booklet lists annual tuition for a family’s first child in kindergarten through eighth grade as $5,500.


Residents can venture on foot to the Middletown Road or Buhre Avenue station on the 6 subway line, but both are about a mile from certain points in the neighborhood. From there, Midtown is about 40 minutes away. There will soon be the rerouted No. 8 Bronx bus to the Pelham Bay Park station on the 6, the northernmost on the line, where connections to other buses are available. The BxM7A express bus stops along Bruckner Boulevard at Jarvis and Baisley Avenues in the mornings, taking commuters down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The BxM9 express bus stops along Layton Avenue. A one-way fare on either is $5.50; a seven-day unlimited Express Bus Plus MetroCard is $45.


Country Club was once, indeed, a country club, or at least part of it was. The Country Club of Westchester occupied part of the area from 1881 until it burned down in 1922, an event during which “fashionable women left dance hall and dining room to form bucket brigades” to help fight the fire, according to an account in The New York Times. Parts of the land were owned by families like Lorillard Spencer’s, whose estate was parceled into 1,200 lots and in 1922 sold at public auction.


May 1st, 2010, 06:58 PM
Two pictures I took in the Bronx:

This is in the Morsianna section, one of the few stretches not destroyed by housing projects.

This is right off the Grand Concourse which has without question the best architecture in the Bronx. The building is actually triangular shaped but this perspective makes it look sliver thin.

May 15th, 2010, 04:21 AM
An Enclave at the Bronx’s Border With Westchester



The elevated subway line clatters northward through the Bronx above White Plains Road, coming to an abrupt end in Wakefield.


Carpenter Street


233rd Street

slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/05/16/realestate/20100516liv_ss.html?ref=realestate#1)

THE elevated subway line that clatters northward through the Bronx on White Plains Road comes to an unceremonious stop, just before the city line, at 241st Street. After the hulking metal tracks end, there is nothing overhead but sky. Two more blocks up, at 243rd Street, the street signs change from green to blue, and Westchester County begins.

Wakefield, the Bronx neighborhood around the 241st Street stop and one of the northernmost places in the city, shares more than a little suburban character with its neighbor across the border. Residential streets are green, and the physical and psychological distance from Manhattan is marked. Single-family houses predominate; many have driveways and homey touches like wind chimes and flower beds.

It is details like these that have drawn families from denser parts of the city for decades and still do. Debbie Brown, a nurse who grew up in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, recalled spending summers with family in Wakefield as a child. “It was almost like a little vacation for me,” she said.

Now in her 40s, with a 13-year-old son, Ms. Brown recently bought a house on Murdock Avenue, four blocks from the city line. Many of her neighbors are part of the area’s large and well-established West Indian community, like herself, Ms. Brown said, and many have been living in the area for decades. Census data indicate that of the 68,000 people in the 10466 ZIP code, which roughly corresponds with Wakefield, about 72 percent are black, 12 percent white and 20 percent Hispanic of any race.

Nearby, on Seton Avenue, Awilda Ruiz, a public administration student, and her husband, a police officer, are busy renovating a house where they plan to live with their young son and daughter. They now live in Mott Haven, in the South Bronx, and Ms. Ruiz said they had been seeking a safer, more residential neighborhood with good schools. Wakefield fit the bill, and was within the family’s budget: In March, they paid a little over $350,000 for their three-bedroom house.

Nareema Baksh, the broker who sold Ms. Brown and Ms. Ruiz their houses, describes a multicultural mix of people who value a family-friendly ambience.

“You have a lot of career people in this area,” she said. “A lot of nurses — people that are working. Also, I think the area has been well maintained over the years — not a lot of foreclosure. It’s a sense of pride in owning a home.”

The Rev. Richard Gorman, a Catholic priest who is chairman of Community Board 12, which represents the area, described Wakefield as a stable neighborhood with good churches, populated largely by the “homeowning class.”

Though crime has been a concern, especially near the elevated tracks on White Plains Road, he said community and police efforts to stabilize that part of the neighborhood had paid off. As in most of the city, statistics in the 47th Precinct, which covers Wakefield, show a steady decline in most crime over the last two decades.

The area’s charms, Father Gorman said, far outweigh its problems.

“Many of the tree-lined streets,” he said, “people would say: ‘That’s really the Bronx?’ Indeed it is. It’s a very pastoral, peaceful part of the Bronx.”


The hilly northern part of this 1.5-square-mile neighborhood, and the streets west of White Plains Road, on a slope that leads down toward the Bronx River Parkway, are a mix of wood-frame two- and three-story houses, attached brick houses, and small apartment buildings. The area’s leafiest section is east of White Plains Road and south of Nereid Avenue, on a grid of streets tilted 45 degrees on the map from the rest of the neighborhood.

There are places to eat and small businesses on 233rd Street, but the main commercial strip is White Plains Road, a bustling stretch of Caribbean restaurants, pizza places and discount stores under the elevated tracks. Business there has struggled in recent years, Father Gorman said, in part because of competition from big-box retail development nearby in Westchester.

The community board, he said, has been working with civic groups and government agencies to improve the retail corridor. The police have increased patrols; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is painting and refurbishing train stations; and the board has secured city money for new street lamps. In the future, Father Gorman said, there are plans to plant trees and work with the Department of Transportation on improving traffic flow.

An important step, he said, will be persuading the disparate businesses on the strip to work together. There is an emerging merchants’ group, he said, but “the message we’ve got to get out there is that when you help each other, you help yourself. Making a better business district makes a better business.”

Father Gorman said residents were also concerned about several proposed facilities for the homeless and other people with special needs. One, on White Plains Road, would contain about 60 units of housing for homeless people; another, on Bronx Boulevard, would have 100 units of transitional housing.

Father Gorman said the board wanted more say in the process for locating such facilities, and “more equality and fairness” in the way that they are distributed around the city.


Latrisha Asante, an agent at Coldwell Banker, said the recession had not hit the area as hard as some others, though there had been a “little handful” of foreclosures, slightly more to the south.

Ms. Baksh, the owner of Nareema Baksh Real Estate, says one- and two-family houses predominate. For the former, she said, buyers can expect to pay around $350,000, depending on size and condition.

Data provided by Dorothy Namdar, a broker at Better Homes and Gardens Rand Real Estate, did show listings and recent sales in the mid-$300,000s, but there was wide variation, with some houses listed at $250,000 or below and some above $400,000.

Ms. Namdar’s data showed many two-family houses either listed or recently sold for $450,000 to $550,000. An average two-family house, Ms. Baksh said, might sell for $525,000 to $550,000. Brick houses tend to fetch higher prices than wood-frame ones, she said, because of a general preference for them among Caribbean people.

There are few rental units in Wakefield, though apartment buildings do exist, especially along the busier roads, and it is possible to rent all or part of a detached house. In general, one-bedrooms rent for just under $1,000 a month, two-bedrooms for around $1,200. A recent check of Craigslist revealed several three-bedroom house rentals for $1,500 to $2,000.


Just to the east of the neighborhood is Seton Falls Park, a 35-acre former wetland that has walking trails, an artificial waterfall and a playground. The park has had drainage problems, and in the 1970s and ’80s it was used as a dumping ground by car thieves. In recent years there have been public and private restoration efforts — including a $905,000 city improvement bid.


There are five public elementary schools. To the west, at Public School 16, 70.6 percent met standards last year in English, 88.3 percent in math. At Public School 103, percentages were 56.3 in English and 80.8 in math.

To the east, at Public School 68, 69.1 percent were proficient in English, 86.8 percent in math. At Public School 87, percentages were 71.7 in English and 84.7 in math.
To the south, at Public School 21, 59.2 percent were proficient in English, 75.9 percent in math.

For middle school there is No. 142, to the east, where 46.4 percent demonstrated proficiency in English, 55.9 percent in math. To the west, at the Globe School for Environmental Research, 56.4 percent were proficient in English, 59.7 percent in math.

There are no public high schools, though the all-boys’ Mount St. Michael Academy, on Murdock Avenue — one of several area parochial schools — has more than 1,000 in Grades 6 through 12.


The No. 2 train runs on the elevated tracks along White Plains Road, stopping at 225th Street, 233rd Street, Nereid Avenue and 241st Street. (The 5 also runs, intermittently only.) Local service through the Bronx is slow; the trip to Midtown takes about an hour. To the west, the Metro-North Harlem Line runs along the Bronx River Parkway. The Woodlawn and Wakefield stops are at 233rd and 241st Streets, about 25 minutes from Grand Central Terminal. Bus lines also serve the area.


The Encyclopedia of New York City says Wakefield, named for the estate where George Washington was born, was annexed to New York in 1895. It grew in the 1920s when Interborough Rapid Transit built the elevated tracks. Irish, Italian and African-American families bought houses after World War II; people from the Caribbean, mostly Jamaica, began arriving in the 1980s.


July 10th, 2010, 12:54 AM
A Quiet Neighborhood Talks About Policing Itself


The streets of the enclave called Country Club in the northeast Bronx have names plucked from Wagnerian operas —Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegfried and Valhalla. They enhance the neighborhood’s air of civility, and that aura has been strengthened for many years by a low crime rate. The last murder in the 45th Precinct, which includes Country Club, was in January 2009.

But safety is a slippery and subjective thing to measure, and as residents made clear at a meeting on June 23 with Capt. Dimitrios Roumeliotis of the 45th Precinct, they are angry about crime. They emphasize that there is crime in Country Club — the occasional burglary, a purse snatching, drug deals, teenage rowdiness and worse — and that, low-level as these activities may be, they still produce anxiety.

Resident after resident at the meeting, which was conducted by the Country Club Civic Association, also accused the police of not responding promptly to their complaints, or of ignoring them entirely.

The concern is widespread enough that Mike McNerney, a brawny 32-year-old who is the civic group’s vice president, has proposed the revival of a tool reminiscent of the city’s high-crime era: a civilian crime patrol. What’s more, most residents at the meeting said they welcomed the idea.

Mr. McNerney said the volunteer patrol would use basic observational methods — taking down license plates and car models, for example — to provide “an intelligence force” that the police would get to know and trust.

He also said that the patrol members would carry no weapons more dangerous than cellphones.

“We’re not talking about running around like vigilantes with baseball bats,” he said. “We’re talking about a formidable community presence. At least people will know there’s someone out there watching.”

Mr. McNerney was alluding to the occasional charges of vigilantism against such patrols, like the accusations that followed the arrest in 1996 of some Hasidic patrol members on charges that they had beaten a black man in Crown Heights, a site of disturbances involving blacks and Orthodox Jews in 1991. But Captain Roumeliotis said a civilian patrol, assuming that it behaved properly, could be beneficial, because “it’s a good reason for people to assume responsibility.”

However, the captain also said major crime in the precinct was down 5 percent this year compared with the same period last year, and was down 20 percent since 2001. He acknowledged that burglaries when residents were at work remained a problem, but when a woman complained that squad cars did not patrol regularly, he said the happy reason was the neighborhood’s low crime rates.

“What you’re saying is not false, because officers go where the jobs are,” he said.
Country Club, population 4,000, is set on Long Island Sound midway between the Throgs Neck Bridge and Pelham Bay Park.

Its housing stock is mostly clapboard and brick two-story homes with bedsheet-size front yards. Several grander houses stand along the water, but typical Country Clubbers are barbers and house painters, merchants and civil servants, many of Italian descent. Residents fly American flags year-round from their porches, and grow tomatoes and figs in their backyards.

The neighborhood has a decidedly suburban feel. Some homes still lack sewers, and the police use the area’s quiet streets to train the department’s mounted units. There are a half-dozen stores — a pizza parlor, a small supermarket — and two major institutions, Villa Maria Academy, a Catholic elementary school where the June 23 meeting was held, and the 200-bed Providence Rest geriatric nursing center.

No one seems to know how the Wagnerian street names came about, but the neighborhood itself was named for the Westchester Country Club, whose land was sold to developers after a fire in 1922.

Residents regard the community as so desirable that they quickly tell their children or grandchildren about houses for sale. Marcia Anne Pavlica, the association president, said her next-door neighbor’s four sons all own homes in Country Club.

“It’s an indication of deep feeling,” she said.

But now, these residents say their beloved streets are at risk. Ms. Pavlica, 67, a retired schoolteacher, cautioned that the patrol proposal was at an early stage, yet she recalled that inhabitants also formed a patrol in the 1970s, right after the first Son of Sam killing.

The victim, Donna Lauria, 18, was found dead just blocks away from Country Club, on Buhre Avenue in Pelham Bay.

That patrol functioned for eight years, Ms. Pavlica said. There were about 40 volunteers, and every night four cars equipped with CB radios cruised the streets, on the lookout for trouble. Local politicians pitched in, defraying gasoline and other expenses.

As often as not, Ms. Pavlica said, the patrol had little more to do than escort women coming home late from work.

“If there was anything we observed, we called it in to the 45th Precinct and they took it from there,” Ms. Pavlica said. “We never confronted anybody.”

Robert DeTiberiis, 49, is one of the current residents who favor reviving such patrols. “We need some eyes and ears in the streets,” he said.

Anita Masiello, 64, wants crime addressed, too. At the meeting, she told of finding bags of marijuana outside her house in the morning, and of seeing groups of kids calling drug dealers on cellphones.

“You call up the police and you’re told it’s not an emergency,” she said.

While several residents blamed intruders from across the Bruckner Expressway for the trouble, Captain Roumeliotis cautioned that traveling into Country Club is not a crime.

“It doesn’t matter where they live,” he said. “It’s how they behave.”

After the meeting, Mr. McNerney said he hoped to have a patrol of about 20 people running within a year.

“We’re striving for perfection,” he said. “A low crime rate is good. We want no crime rate.”


July 17th, 2010, 03:28 AM
University Heights, the Bronx



Davidson Avenue

Bronx Community College


University Woods

Devoe Park

Jerome Avenue

University Avenue

Buchanan Place

Grand Avenue

Fordham Hill Oval

LAST September, when Mary Robison was paying $1,550 for a one-bedroom apartment in Hell’s Kitchen with a view of an alley, she got her introduction to the Bronx. Through a mutual friend she met a man who lived in Fordham Hill Oval, a sprawling gated community of co-ops and rentals in University Heights, a neighborhood overlooking the Harlem River in the northwest Bronx.

They began dating, and Ms. Robison, 45, a librarian and archivist eager to buy her first New York apartment, began viewing units in the complex. In February, she paid $112,500 for a one-bedroom on the 12th floor, from which she can see the Empire State Building, La Guardia Airport and most of her new borough.

Last week she had six friends, five from Manhattan, over for a dinner party.

“I’ve never been able to entertain so many people,” she said the day before. “They’re all coming up from Manhattan with very detailed directions.”

On her friends’ next visit, they might want to consider a look at the neighborhood’s architectural gem, Bronx Community College, with its stately limestone buildings designed by Stanford White. “One should not be in New York without knowing this campus,” said Carolyn G. Williams, who is in her 14th year as college president.

Two who would agree are E. Denise Perry and her husband, Ken. They live on the campus’s south side, in a five-bedroom three-bath home on 180th Street. Mrs. Perry, a dance instructor, was brought up in the house, which her parents bought in the early 1950s because of the relative privacy and quiet the college afforded — since there were no houses across the street.

Her father, Mrs. Perry recalled, saw the college as a safeguard against overdevelopment. As she put it, “He knew the college would never be torn down.”

In 1894, the institution opened as New York University’s uptown campus. For the next eight years, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City, “the university dominated the neighborhood, much of which was covered by the campus and its many residential buildings.” In 1973, N.Y.U. sold the campus to New York State, to be used by Bronx Community College, which had previously been at a nearby location. The college is part of the City University of New York system.

“Our campus is a real oasis,” Dr. Williams said. “We think that’s part of the attraction, the fact that we are a traditional college. And for nontraditional students that’s important.”

By nontraditional, she meant that many of the 11,500 undergraduates have jobs and families, and not all of them traveled a direct route from high school. The average age is 24, and students take four and a half years, on average, to obtain an associate’s degree.

Behind the Hall of Languages, one of Stanford White’s buildings, is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, a colonnaded neo-Classical walkway displaying bronze busts of prominent men and women. Founded in 1900, it is believed to be the first hall of fame in the country, and includes authors, teachers, scientists, soldiers, jurists and statesmen.


University Heights covers an area less than a square mile; it is bounded to the north by West 190th Street, to the east by Jerome Avenue, to the south by West Burnside Avenue, and to the west by the Harlem River. According to census data, it has more than 41,000 people.

Beyond the college’s limestone and quadrangles, streets are chiefly lined by apartment buildings and multifamily attached houses, with a few single-families. University Avenue, a residential artery, unspools for long stretches uninterrupted by side streets; it is flanked by six-story brick apartments, facades crisscrossed with fire escapes.

A lively street life was evident on a recent sweltering afternoon, with groups of people spread out on folding chairs on the sidewalks, grilling hamburgers and watching as youngsters opened up the fire hydrants and sprayed water on playmates laughing in the streets.

A handwritten sign posted on the door of a bodega read, “Don’t come in if you are wet, thank you.”

“There’s not a lot of gentrification, which adds a lot of diversification to the neighborhood,” said Nathan Herber, an agent with Argo Real Estate. Noting the supply of mom-and-pop stores — many on West Fordham Road and under the elevated tracks along Jerome Avenue — Mr. Herber described his lunchtime ritual: stepping out for a deli sandwich with chips and a soda, for $4.50. “That’s $10 in Manhattan,” he said.

The neighborhood has one of the largest concentrations of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees in the five boroughs, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. On Andrews Avenue North sits a house painted a strikingly bright shade of yellow, wedged conspicuously between modest, plain neighbors. It is the Vietnamese Buddhist Association of New York.

Among other houses of worship in the area is St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church, at West Fordham Road and Andrews Avenue; it offers Masses in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. In March it was damaged by a fire that investigators called suspicious.

In the northern section, a crop of tall white-brick buildings make up the Fordham Hill Oval, with its co-ops and rentals. Of 1,118 units, most are one- and two-bedrooms, said Lynn Whiting, the vice president of Argo Real Estate.

Affordability and space helped entice Ashley Fernandes to the Oval from Manhattan. She and her boyfriend, Jairo Veras, had been paying $1,250 a month for a studio on the Upper East Side when they saw a listing in the Oval on trulia.com. Now they rent a one-bedroom there for $1,150.

A Toronto-area native, Ms. Fernandes, 25, appreciates the green space around the complex and in Devoe Park nearby.

The move did mean leaving behind Manhattan restaurant options and lengthening her commute to Herald Square, where she works in human resources at Foot Locker’s corporate headquarters. But the benefits more than made up for any inconvenience.

“As far as what you get for your price, it’s so much better,” Ms. Fernandes said. “The actual living room is bigger than my whole studio was.”


Mr. Herber of Argo Real Estate said sale prices this year had averaged $340,000 to $360,000, up from $300,000 to $320,000 last year. Rentals account for a lot of the market; one-bedrooms range from $800 to $1,200; two-bedrooms from $1,000 to $1,400, he said.

At Fordham Hill Oval, one-bedrooms sell for an average of $115,000, according to Mr. Herber. The average for two-bedrooms is $165,000.

Latrisha Asante, a broker with Coldwell Banker, said the average length of time on the market was 120 days — slightly longer than last year. A large percentage of people buying in University Heights are former renters familiar with the area, she said.


Public School 279, Capt. Manuel Rivera on Walton Avenue a block outside neighborhood boundaries, serves kindergarten through Grade 8. In 2009, 45.4 percent of eighth graders met standards in English and 81.3 percent in math, versus 57 and 71.3 citywide.

University Heights High School serves Grades 9 through 12. The SAT averages last year were 411 in reading, 393 in math and 406 in writing, versus 406, 416 and 401 citywide.

For 25 years the high school was housed on the college’s campus, but starting this fall it will move to the South Bronx, at CUNY’s request. Some parents and students are upset. “Our enrollment has grown to a point where we’re just strapped for space,” said Dr. Williams, the college president, citing a rise to 11,500 from 8,400 five years ago. “We’re growing faster than we can get our new buildings.”

Dr. Williams and a city education spokesman said they planned to continue programs to link the college and the high school, like having college faculty members teach advanced high school courses and having high school teachers as college adjuncts.


In addition to its sporting events open to the public, Bronx Community College each May sponsors the Annual Hall of Fame 10K Run and 2 Mile Fitness Walk. The events were started in 1978 by Roscoe C. Brown, a Bronx Community College president. The local branch of the New York Public Library is on University Avenue at 181st Street.


University Heights is adjacent to the Major Deegan Expressway; the elevated 4 subway has three local stops on Jerome Avenue: Burnside Avenue, 183rd Street and Fordham Road. The trip to Midtown takes about half an hour.

Among several buses is the 12, which runs along Fordham Road and across the University Heights Bridge to Inwood, Manhattan, and eastward across the Bronx to Pelham Bay Park.


A British fort occupied University Woods, a local park, during the Revolution. The British used it to defend their hold on the city.


September 17th, 2010, 09:38 PM
Morris Heights, the Bronx








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MORRIS HEIGHTS was not first, second or even third on the list of neighborhoods where David Klaw and his fiancée, Jill Sunderland, considered buying a house.

This small, hilly community in the West Bronx, with a troubled past and an optimistic future, was actually fourth in line and came into play only after deals fell through in Brooklyn and Queens. The couple considered buying in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick, but Ms. Sunderland, a 29-year-old teacher at Manhattan School for Children, said neither area felt safe enough for the price.

“Brooklyn just wasn’t working out,” she said. “We obviously weren’t looking to buy brownstones in Park Slope.”

The couple’s solution came last month in the form of a three-bedroom attached brick house on Undercliff Avenue in Morris Heights, which they bought for $310,000.

“The block is beautiful,” said Mr. Klaw, 35, an art teacher at the Theatre Arts Production Company School in the Bronx. He was charmed by the architecture, the old church across the street and the views of Manhattan. “You also have views of those giant project towers,” he said, “but you know, that’s O.K.”

The buildings Mr. Klaw mentioned are the River Park Towers, and they are among the area’s many public housing projects. So, would the couple call their new neighborhood up and coming?

“If it is,” Ms. Sunderland said, “it’s right at the beginning.”

The progress of Morris Heights might best be defined not in terms of how far along it is, but how far it has come.

Though in the West Bronx along the Harlem River, it had the same troubles that gave the South Bronx notoriety: crime, drugs and arson.

“It was blight,” said Verona Greenland, the chief executive of the Morris Heights Health Center, which opened on Burnside Avenue in 1981. Ms. Greenland started working in the neighborhood 32 years ago. She remembers often seeing fires, and says the drug of choice back then was heroin. “The ills of poverty permeated every facet of this community,” she said.

Today, Burnside Avenue is a small but lively commercial strip where one recent afternoon Mary Felic sold live stone crabs (4 for $10) from the back of her red pickup truck. The once devastated street has a Chase bank, a Dunkin’ Donuts and several food markets.

Ms. Greenland considers Burnside Avenue a sight to behold. “A lot of people walking through our community can’t see that,” she said. “But if you could step back in time, you can see how transformed the neighborhood is.”

The 2000 census estimated that 38 percent of families in the 10453 ZIP code were living below the poverty level. The 46th Precinct, which includes Morris Heights, has recorded 8 homicides, 17 rapes and 293 robberies this year.

Although poverty and crime undeniably remain a problem, Xavier Rodriguez, the district manager of the local community board, is another who notes significant changes for the better.

“This is a community that is beginning to stabilize,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who cited the $20 million renovations to Roberto Clemente State Park, the new building for Public School 204, and the several improvements to the housing situation, including Washington Bridge View, the neighborhood’s first affordable co-op for income-restricted buyers, which went up this year.


Morris Heights is less than half a square mile in area. Its borders are Burnside Avenue to the north, Jerome Avenue to the east, the Cross Bronx Expressway to the south and the Harlem River to the west.

There are several five- and six-story rental apartment buildings in the neighborhood undergoing renovations. Most require prospective tenants to meet income restrictions.

The co-ops at Washington Bridge View, which has income restrictions of its own, represent the first such housing available for neighborhood buyers. It was built by Mastermind Ltd., and brochures advertise high-end apartments at below-market prices, all within walking distance of Manhattan.

The building has 48 one- and two-bedroom units for low- to moderate-income families; 18 of them were sold through a lottery system. Some have views of the Manhattan skyline. All have dishwashers and wiring for cable and Internet. Indoor parking is available for purchase. Applicants with incomes of $40,000 to $102,000 are eligible.

Among the entities financing the project are the city’s Housing Development Corporation, the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, Bank of America and the Bronx borough president’s office.

As rents continue to climb on the other side of 181st Street in Manhattan, Radame Perez, Mastermind’s chief operating officer, hopes people will consider living across the bridge.

“We believe that that’s what our building represents,” he said, “an opportunity to capture the audience of homeowners that have been priced out of Washington Heights.”

According to Samantha Magistro, a senior project manager with Bronx Pro Real Estate Management, an affordable-housing developer, migration from Washington Heights has already begun. She is convinced that Morris Heights is well situated to profit.

“I’m hoping those 181st Street artsy types start needing to move across the water,” was how she put it. There is no real “art scene” just yet, she added, but “I think people didn’t ever think they’d go into some parts of Brooklyn they go in now, so you never know.”

As for multifamily homes, many were built or rehabbed in the ’90s, when the Department of Housing Preservation and Development was trying to revamp the Bronx, said Jennie Ng of ERA Champions realty.


Allison Jaffe, an agent with Key Real Estate Services, found that 18 houses sold in Morris Heights this year. Twelve of those were two-family homes, and they ranged from a foreclosure of $215,000 up to $490,000. Two-families usually start in the mid-$300,000s, brokers say.

Nadia Hussey, an agent with Houlihan Lawrence, represented the property that Mr. Klaw and Ms. Sunderland bought. In Morris Heights, she said, blocks of single-family homes are few. These properties start in the high $200,000s and peak in the mid-$300,000s.
According to Ms. Ng, properties are spending nine months to a year on the market, versus six months last year. There are 56 listings in the ZIP code; Ms. Ng estimates that prices have risen about 10 percent since last year.

A recent Craigslist search showed one-bedroom rentals available from $850 to $1,075 a month.


Area schools include Public School 109 Sedgwick, where, in tests earlier this year, 39.4 percent of students met standards in English, 60.5 percent in math. At Middle School 331, Bronx School of Science Inquiry and Investigation, 19.4 percent met standards in English, 26.9 percent in math. Citywide, percentages were 42.4 and 54.

The schools in Morris Heights have had their share of ups and downs. This school year, Public School 204 Morris Heights moved into a brand-new educational facility with a gym and a library.

But University Heights High School, which had been on the campus of Bronx Community College, relocated farther away, to the South Bronx. Mr. Rodriguez, the district manager, is not pleased. “I want my high school back,” he said recently in a phone interview.
SAT averages at University Heights in 2009 were 411 in reading, 393 in math and 406 in writing, versus 406, 416 and 401 citywide.


Shopping is limited, but there are areas of commercial activity along Burnside, University and Tremont Avenues.

Roberto Clemente State Park, along the Harlem River, is one of the area’s natural amenities. Rachel Gordon, a regional director of New York State Parks, said that in addition to the ball fields, the park offered weekend concerts, summertime movie nights and plenty of space to grill out.

The park was given $20 million from the city’s mitigation fund, as part of the Croton Water Filtration Plant Project. The money went into a gut renovation of its 1973 aquatics center. The Olympic pool was supposed to have been open this summer but was delayed. There are also to be new locker rooms, a dive tank and a children’s spray park.


The No. 4 train runs along the eastern border at Jerome Avenue. The ride to Midtown Manhattan takes 40 to 45 minutes. On the west side, Morris Heights has its own Metro-North Railroad stop, on the Hudson Line.


On Sedgwick Avenue, No. 1520 is one of several sites in the New York area that describe themselves as the birthplace of hip-hop. D. J. Kool Herc had parties there in the early 1970s. The area takes its name from an early landowner, Richard Morris, the second chief justice of New York State.


November 12th, 2010, 08:58 PM
A Slow Renaissance for a Struggling Neighborhood


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FOR those who neither live nor work in the South Bronx, its most enduring images are of buildings aflame in the 1970s and the crime-infested, rubble-strewn streetscape of the 1980s, when the area’s infamous 41st Precinct was popularized in a Hollywood movie as “Fort Apache, the Bronx.”

But add to this highlight reel a more hopeful recent image: the day two months ago when contemporary co-op living came to Fort Apache, complete with private terraces and an energy-efficient roof. On Sept. 9, Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned to the Longwood neighborhood of his youth to cut the ribbon on a 50-unit government-subsidized affordable co-op building bearing his name.

“I know this section of the Bronx very well,” Mr. Powell told the crowd. “And I have watched with pleasure and admiration as the neighborhood has seen a renaissance.”

For an area whose residents are primarily renters struggling with the city’s highest poverty rate, the General Colin L. Powell Apartments represent a watershed homeownership opportunity. With a target resident pool of middle- and lower-income buyers, most of the units were awarded by lottery; current residents of Longwood and Hunts Point were given preference for half.

One winner was Damian Griffin, the education director for the Bronx River Alliance. He and his wife, Nancy, live with their two children in a walk-up rental in Longwood’s historic district. In their eight years there, Mr. Griffin, who is of Irish descent, and Mrs. Griffin, who is from Honduras, dreamed of putting down deeper roots by buying a home in the area, which is predominantly Hispanic. Apartments in the Powell building, which were offered below market price because of city and state support, were the first that the couple could afford.

Citing “changes for the positive,” Mr. Griffin said, “My work is education, which is informing and hoping to make a place better. That can be in any community, but in this community I feel like I’m part of that.”

When they move into their $160,000 two-bedroom, the Griffins will be able to look out from their terrace and from the plant-covered roof to see some of the changes that have Mr. Griffin feeling so optimistic.

Because his 3-year-old daughter is something of a swing fanatic, the Fox Playground across the street, which reopened last month after a $2.5 million renovation, is a welcome improvement on what Mr. Griffin called the “ugly feel” created by the men who drink in another nearby park. And Barretto Point Park, opened in 2006 on the heavily industrial shoreline of Hunts Point, typifies the improved waterfront access that the community has pushed for.

Such rejuvenation was all but unimaginable in the 1970s, when the area was beset by arson and abandonment and nearly 60,000 residents, roughly two-thirds of the population, either fled or were forced out.

By 1981, Longwood had an almost post-apocalyptic character, according to Orlando Marin, the chairman of Bronx Community Board 2, which covers Hunts Point and Longwood. That year, he recalled, when a young woman asked him to pick her up at her home on Kelly Street, she cautioned that “when you get off the train you have to walk in the middle of the street; there are no lights, no sidewalks, the buildings are abandoned, and someone might drag you into a building and do something to you.” Sure enough, Longwood Avenue was pitch-black; Mr. Marin found the area so frightening and chaotic that he turned tail and left.

He returned in 1992 to buy a multifamily town house in the Longwood Historic District, and in the ensuing years witnessed a slow-motion renaissance.

Debris-littered lots on Longwood’s western edge had already been redeveloped with two-family homes, and by 1994 blighted stretches of Longwood Avenue were handsomely filled in with rows of government-subsidized two-story red-brick dwellings. Crowned with green dentil cornices, today they still look as impregnable as the no-nonsense home built by the third little pig.

Reconstruction has accelerated in the last decade, as the city has sought to restore population by shifting its emphasis from promoting ownership of small houses to subsidizing income-restricted rental apartment buildings. Under its housing plan, 26 new buildings have been financed in the area since 2003.

Although developers say that tight credit has put the brakes on additional co-op construction, and although prostitution is a problem in Hunts Point, the area has nonetheless stabilized.

“This is a growing, vibrant community that is rebuilding itself,” Mr. Marin said. “Yeah, we’re Fort Apache, but Fort Apache is no longer a war zone. It’s a neighborhood where people are proud to live.”


Hunts Point and Longwood are joined by a community board but separated by the thundering equator of the Bruckner Expressway. Although not firmly delineated and at times a subject of disagreement, the overall boundaries of the roughly two-square-mile area are: Westchester Avenue on the north; the Bronx River on the east; the East River on the south; and East 149th Street and Prospect Avenue on the west.

The Longwood Historic District, southwest of Longwood Avenue, has a cohesive collection of high-stooped, semidetached two- and three-family neo-Renaissance town houses. Villa Maria, on Longwood’s western fringe, is a pleasant development of two-family homes built around 1990. Elsewhere, rows of tired-looking prewar apartment buildings are interspersed with shinier, government-subsidized rental buildings and row houses. A crowded shopping corridor runs along Southern Boulevard.

The residential district of the Hunts Point peninsula is concentrated to the north. Along the Bronx and East Rivers, the peninsula is dense with commercial and industrial facilities including a 329-acre wholesale food distribution center, a vast wastewater treatment plant, a freight-rail terminal, a gas pipeline and about 18 waste-processing sites. More than 10,000 trucks a day visit the peninsula; the childhood asthma rate has been found to be many times the national average.

The extraordinary environmental challenges heaped on Hunts Point have helped galvanize local groups.

“I do think this is a fiery community with a lot of resilience,” said Kellie Terry-Sepulveda, the executive director of the Point Community Development Corporation. Along with Sustainable South Bronx, the Point has worked with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to plan the South Bronx Greenway, intended to link new and older parks through a “green necklace” of waterfront and street routes. Work has already begun on some proposed improvements, including a landscaped median on Hunts Point Avenue.


Allison Jaffe, the broker-owner of Key Real Estate Services, said that two town houses in the Longwood Historic District had sold this year for around $475,000 each. Over all, the median sale price of two-family homes in the past year was $335,000 in Longwood and $320,000 in Hunts Point. There are 14 homes on the market. Applications are being accepted for income-restricted units in the Prospect Macy Cooperative Apartments, a government-subsidized co-op under construction on Macy Place. The e-mail contact for the Blue Sea Development Company is info@blueseadev.com.


Area schools include the Vida Bogart School for All Children on Bryant Avenue, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade, and Public School 62 on Fox Street. Each received a B on its most recent city progress report. Among nearby middle schools are the School of Performing Arts on Fox Street, which received an A on its progress report, and the Hunts Point School, which earned a B.

Banana Kelly High School and the Holcombe L. Rucker School of Community Research, also a high school, share a building on Longwood Avenue. SAT averages at Banana Kelly in 2010 were 377 in reading, 382 in math, and 368 in writing. Rucker’s were 374, 362 and 366. Citywide the averages were 439, 462 and 434.


The social outreach program of Cirque du Soleil conducts circus workshops for children at the Point. Rocking the Boat, beside the gorgeous Hunts Point Riverside Park, offers boat-building courses. The BankNote complex, a former currency printing factory, is home to the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. Iridescent’s New York Science Studio provides mentoring to children.


The Nos. 2 and 5 trains run along Westchester Avenue, stopping at Prospect Avenue, Intervale Avenue and Simpson Street. The No. 6 train travels Southern Boulevard, making stops on East 149th Street, and Longwood and Hunts Point Avenues. Midtown Manhattan is roughly 25 minutes away.


Hunts Point is named for Thomas Hunt, who in the 17th century built a stone mansion on the grounds of what is now Joseph Rodman Drake Park.


February 18th, 2011, 07:52 PM
A Promising Space-to-Price Ratio




White Plains Road


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WHEN Xian Edwards began house-hunting over a year ago, he was looking for something not easy to come by in New York City: space, and lots of it.

Mr. Edwards, 32, a program coordinator who moved to New York 10 years ago from Jamaica, bought a two-family home for $430,000. Although it looks small from the front, he says, it has almost 5,000 square feet of space. (Not that he has access to all of it; the renter occupying the other part pays him $1,500 a month.)

In addition to the side yard, where Mr. Edwards grows flowers and vegetables, the four-car garage in the back has a terrace atop it. Last summer the terrace was the site of a party for 100.

“If I could take what I have in the back and put it in upper Westchester,” he said, “it would be the perfect dream house.” Someday he might live in Westchester. But for now, for a single guy working two jobs, Williamsbridge in the Bronx is the answer.

Typing “Williamsbridge” into a Craigslist apartment search yields several results on Williamsbridge Road, but that street doesn’t even go through the neighborhood. The popularity of a similar-sounding part of Brooklyn doesn’t help matters: if you Google “Williamsbridge condos” the search engine might respond by asking if you meant “Williamsburg condos.”

Condominiums are not the dominant form of housing in Williamsbridge, though a few have popped up in recent years. Instead it is mostly single- to three-family homes, few of them more than 50 or 60 years old.

One evident ethnicity is Caribbean. Immigrants from Jamaica and other islands began moving to Williamsbridge in the ’80s, and today their influence is tangible up and down White Plains Road, a commercial strip under elevated train tracks. In addition to Caribbean restaurants, there is a dizzying number of African hair-braiding salons.
Caroline Sinclair has worked at the Kingston Tropical Bakery on White Plains Road for 31 years and can remember a time when there was only one nearby competitor. That is definitely no longer the case.

Shirley Fearon, 65, and a vice president of the Williamsbridge branch of the N.A.A.C.P., describes Williamsbridge as a work in progress. Drugs and crime remain a problem, she said, adding, “We’ve never had a lot of wholesome activities for our young people.”

Ms. Fearon, who lives in a single-family attached brick house for which she paid $26,500 in 1971, is working with local politicians on bringing an intergenerational center to the area, where retirees could mentor youths, and adults could take classes toward the graduate equivalency diploma.

Over the last seven to eight years, said the Rev. Richard Gorman, the chairman of Community Board 12, which covers the area, the 47th Precinct has stepped up safety efforts. Before that, he recalled, “It was getting bad.”

Still, he argued, crime occurs everywhere. “I was mugged once in the Woodlawn area of the community board,” which he described as “basically all Catholic, and I’m a Catholic priest.”

Father Gorman would like to see better lighting on White Plains Road, and zoning to protect architecture. He sees a work in progress: “I think you could have a very vibrant, alive, mixed community that will be a nice place to live.”

One couple who are recent arrivals already seem to see the place that way. Adrian Munroe and his wife, Shelly Bryce-Munroe, who had been renting nearby for 11 years, especially appreciate the shopping and transportation options. They closed last month on a three-family detached house on Willett Avenue, paying $475,000, and have already rented out one of the units. Mr. Munroe, 40, moved to New York 17 years ago from Jamaica; he works as a retail manager in Fairfield, Conn. “Two or three years ago in the housing boom,” he said, “we weren’t able to afford what they were offering. With interest rates as low as they are now, it was time to get into the market.”


A north Bronx neighborhood about a square mile in size, Williamsbridge sits just east of the Woodlawn Cemetery and south of Wakefield. It straddles parts of three ZIP codes; one of them, 10467, has almost 95,000 people, according to a 2009 census estimate.

City boundaries are invariably subject to interpretation, and those of Williamsbridge are no exception. In the words of Father Gorman: “Do I live in Williamsbridge? Or did I sneak into Wakefield? Do I live in Williamsbridge? Or did I sneak into Olinville? People would be fluid about that.”

Bearing that fluidity in mind, Williamsbridge is often described as being bounded by Gun Hill Road to the south; 233rd Street to the north; the Bronx River Parkway to the west; and, to the east, Eastchester and Boston Roads and Laconia Avenue. Some of the area’s single-family detached homes have architectural details like turrets and second-floor outdoor porches. Among other commonly seen properties are attached red-brick multifamilies dating to the 1970s, with monochromatic awnings.

The housing is mostly 35 or older; of the properties for sale, many are advertised as needing “T.L.C.”

But Allison Jaffe, a broker with Key Real Estate Services, describes a building boom of multifamily properties from 2000 to 2008. So much so, in fact, that the community board has asked that zoning be reviewed, to prevent overbuilding, said Karl Stricker, chairman of the land use committee.

“We want to maintain what the community is, one- and two-family houses with setbacks and space between the buildings,” Mr. Stricker said. “We want a suburban-type atmosphere.”


Manny Pantiga of the Pantiga Group, says co-ops on the market in the area range from $74,900, for a one-bedroom, to $125,000 for a three-bedroom in an elevator building with a doorman. Single-family homes range from $149,000, for a two-bedroom detached frame house, to $370,000 for a brick four-bedroom.

According to Ms. Jaffe, 67 two-family homes have sold in Williamsbridge since about this time last year, with an average price in the mid-$300,000s.

Dorothy Namdar, an agent with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, said that over the last three years, houses in Williamsbridge had taken an average three months to sell.
A recent Craigslist search of rentals in Williamsbridge found a two-bedroom unit off White Plains Road listed at $1,400 a month, and a newly renovated three-bedroom apartment for $1,600.


The neighborhood is almost an hour by subway from Midtown Manhattan on the 2 or 5 train. It is close to thoroughfares, including the Bronx River Parkway, the Hutchinson River Parkway and Interstate 95. It also has a Metro-North Railroad stop.


Between Williamsbridge and the Bronx River is a strip of green known as Shoelace Park. Fifteen years ago the river was in bad shape, and many wouldn’t have considered the area a park at all. “It was a sea of asphalt and some metal guardrails,” said Maggie Greenfield, the deputy director of the Bronx River Alliance, a nonprofit.

Thanks to the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bronx River Alliance, Shoelace Park now has a new entrance at 219th Street and another in the works at 211th Street.

Goals include linking the 1.5-mile park path more closely to the Bronx River Greenway.

Judy Hutson, a Williamsbridge resident who is an avid runner, remembers feeling solitary 15 years ago in the park. “Now, even in the winter,” she said, “you’ll see the die-hard runners, and we know each other and we say hi.”

Last fall Ms. Hutson helped found Friends of Shoelace Park. The group hopes to draw attention to the area and promote further improvements to it. They are planning their first 10-kilometer run/walk for the end of April.

In 2006, a launch for boaters down by the river was renovated. “It’s really beautiful, even if you don’t canoe, just to sit on that launch and to look down that river,” Ms. Hutson said. “You don’t even think you’re in the city.”


Primary schools include Public School 21, which got a C on its progress report. Of fourth graders, 29.4 percent met standards in English, 42.8 percent in math, versus 45.6 and 58.4 citywide.

Middle School 113 was closed for poor performance in 2007 and now houses four schools, including the Forward School, which got a B on its progress report. Of eighth graders, 26.7 percent met standards in English, 19 percent in math, versus 37.5 and 46.3 citywide.

Williamsbridge was once served by Evander Childs High School, which had a dangerous reputation. In 2002, its graduation rate was 30.7 percent.

By 2008 the school had been replaced with six smaller ones, among them Bronx Lab School and High School for Contemporary Arts. The average 2009 graduation rate was 80.3 percent.

Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said in an e-mail, “The Evander campus is one of the best examples of our strategy to replace large, failing high schools with rigorous small schools.”

At Cardinal Spellman High School, a private school in nearby Baychester, annual tuition is currently $6,800. Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Supreme Court was valedictorian of the class of 1972.


Williamsbridge is named after a bridge built over the Bronx River in Colonial times by a local farmer named John Williams. In 1841 the area was connected to Manhattan by the New York and Harlem Railroad.


April 26th, 2011, 04:44 AM
People Care, and It’s Starting to Show


Morris Park Avenue, Van Nest's main commercial strip


MANY New York neighborhoods once considered tough have followed a similar script in recent decades: Crime fell. Blocks got cleaner. People moved in instead of out.

By some measures, Van Nest, a middle-class enclave in the eastern Bronx, bucked the trend, with crime dropping more slowly than in the rest of the borough, according to police statistics. And whether one dismisses it as gentrification, or praises it as renewal, the neighborhood didn’t get the gloss of new homes, parks and outdoor cafes that so many other corners of the city did over that span.

Van Nest is not yet completely out of its time warp. Graffiti can be seen in some areas; drugs are a concern. But in the last few years, residents have begun to feel Van Nest, too, should have a shot at rejuvenation — a sentiment that gave rise to the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, founded two years ago by residents who had had enough.

Made up mainly of people who have lived in the area for years, the alliance seeks to recapture the spirit of Van Nest’s heyday, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the streets were safe enough for children to play in, members say.

Before the alliance, “it was like nobody cared,” said Camille De Vitto, a member who rhapsodizes about her childhood in the neighborhood.

Some of those fond memories involve Ms. De Vitto’s helping her mother, Theresa, with her business, which was stitching veils for girls receiving their first communion. She recalls being awarded a quarter for every dozen veils she packed in a box.

Today she runs the business, now expanded into rosaries and chalices. It operates out of the ground-floor space in her three-story building, which has a total of five apartments. Ms. De Vitto lives in one of them, a two-bedroom.

The building cost her parents $10,000 in 1959, but was recently appraised at $600,000. That’s an improvement over what it might have been worth a few years ago, she guesses, because stepped-up police patrols have scared away sidewalk drug dealers.

Nor, residents say, are drug users a presence at tiny Van Nest Park, which recently changed its name to the James A. Romito Triangle, for a Port Authority police chief who died on Sept. 11, 2001. On a recent afternoon, children excitedly scrambled up climbing equipment under the watchful eyes of parents.

Those betting on Van Nest’s turnaround aren’t just longtime residents. Sharlene Mendez relocated to the area last year with her husband and four children when they outgrew a two-bedroom rental in Parkchester. And they did so after a drawn-out search. “There is definitely still work to be done,” said Ms. Mendez, a mental-health professional. But it was the tight-knit families — three generations often living under one roof — that won her over. “People have real connections,” she said, “and that’s rare in this day and age.”

And historic houses at discount prices don’t hurt either, added Ms. Mendez, who owns an 1899 row house with original moldings and a fireplace, and soon, she hopes, a backyard full of night-blooming flowers, so as to provide fragrant evening breezes through her kitchen windows.

The house, which cost $408,000, will require work; like many in Van Nest, it was built for one family but later divided for others, so it has bathrooms in odd places. But Ms. Mendez’s taste runs more to antique than contemporary, which is why she declined to buy a newer home in the Eastchester section not far away. “They just don’t give me the same feeling of security,” she said.


While many agree that Van Nest is staging a comeback, there isn’t all that much agreement on borders. The alliance takes a narrow view, describing the eastern boundary as perpendicular to the end of Van Nest Avenue, and most blocks beyond that point as Morris Park, a more upscale area.

Others say Van Nest is larger, because the whole area was developed in a wave, after the late-1800s opening of the Van Nest station on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, whose track beds are used by Metro-North Railroad today.

Businesses confuse the situation. Morris Park Pizzeria, for instance, is at Unionport Road and Morris Park Avenue, on a block that everybody basically agrees is Van Nest.

That larger Van Nest, with about half a square mile and 15,000 people, is notably Italian, as evidenced by numerous green, white and red striped flags, like the pair flapping about a tile store on Bronxdale Avenue.

From a distance, that flag can resemble Mexico’s, which may be fitting. Recent arrivals from abroad have included many from Spanish-speaking countries like the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Mexico, according to census figures.

Condominiums and co-ops are scarce, as are rental complexes. Houses, attached and standalone, but topping out at three stories, are far more common. Many of these, built at the turn of the 20th century, have slightly bowed facades.

But historical pedigree can be hard to discern, because some of these structures are missing important architectural elements. The cornices have gone missing from four of five adjacent row houses along Holland Avenue, near Rhinelander Avenue, for example, giving their roof lines a bald look.

Modern intrusions include vinyl and other synthetic siding, which can take the form of clapboards, bricks or pebbles, as along Amethyst Street, whose residents have even used siding on their stoops.

Though Van Nest is only a small part of the 49th Precinct, it registers crime statistics. There were 10 murders last year, versus 5 in 2001, though those same numbers indicate this year will probably be less violent than last.


In mid-April, 25 homes were for sale, at an average of $445,500. They ranged from a 1910 two-family, for $275,000, to a three-family with a garage for $524,999, according to data from the Empire Access Multiple Listing Service provided by Justin Stuckey, a sales agent with the Today Realty Corporation.

Predictably, prices and activity have declined since the boom. In 2010, 19 two-family homes, the most common kind of property, changed hands in Van Nest at an average of $375,000, said Andrew Fernandez, the broker and owner of Re/Max Voyage. That was down from 2007, when 23 two-families sold at an average of $547,000, he said.

There are abandoned homes, as on Van Nest Avenue near Van Buren Street, where an otherwise well-kept Queen Anne sits with plywood in its windows.

Some of these ghostly structures were victims of foreclosures, Mr. Fernandez said. Since last year, short sales and foreclosures have accounted for 15 percent of all sales, which has depressed values, he said. But buyers can benefit, especially if they qualify for a special Federal Housing Administration renovation loan. “They can get very good deals here,” he said.


Cars on Morris Park Avenue, the main commercial strip, honk their greetings as passers-by peruse hardware and furniture stores and supermarkets, as well as Riviera Ravioli, which sells gnocchi and other Italian fare.

The recent bank-branch wave skipped Van Nest, though after 15 years’ complete absence, an outpost of Cross County Federal Savings will open this spring near Barnes Avenue.


In a blow to many alumni and parents, the Archdiocese of New York recently announced that after 58 years it would close St. Dominic School, which teaches prekindergarten through eighth grade, at the end of this school year.

At Public School 83 on Rhinelander Avenue last year, 63 percent of fourth graders met state standards in math, 43 percent in reading. Averages citywide were 58 percent and 46 percent. At the middle school that shares the address and the number 83, 50 percent of eighth graders met standards in math and 47 percent in reading, versus 46 percent and 38 percent citywide.

Christopher Columbus High School, at 925 Astor Avenue, has an enrollment of 1,100. SAT averages last year were 373 in math, 354 in reading and 350 in writing, versus 502, 485 and 478 statewide.


The Nos. 2 and 5 subway trains stop at East 180th Street station, a former railroad headquarters that has landmark status and is undergoing a major renovation. They deliver riders to Midtown in about 35 minutes.

Bus lines that serve the area include the BxM10 express, though during rush hour it can take an hour to get to Midtown. Tickets are $5.50.


If some Van Nest homes look as though they were surrounded by dry moats, it’s because of the rocky soil. The houses were there in 1913, when the city decided to run sewers to the area but found the bedrock too thick to penetrate. Instead, workers raised the streets, using leftover rock from the blasting of the Jerome Park Reservoir, and put the pipes in the new raised-up layer, said Nicholas Di Brino, a historian and former resident.


July 23rd, 2011, 11:29 PM
Wearing the Green, in More Ways Than One



Martha Avenue at 237th Street, framed in foliage, exudes the calm that typifies Woodlawn.
The area’s Irishness, stronger today than ever, dates to the 1840s, when recent arrivals built the Old Croton Aqueduct.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/07/21/realestate/liv-gazz/liv-gazz-popup.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

WOODLAWN’S name is a pretty good example of truth in advertising: forested parks, lots of trees, thickets of greenery around the low stoops of century-old houses. Yet in this quiet corner of the Bronx along the Westchester border, the landscape feature that truly stands out is the bluestone in the sidewalks.

Slightly mottled, like the color of a stormy sky, these slabs are attractive and plentiful. Some line Van Cortlandt Park East, offering a contemplative place to stroll under boughs of London plane trees. Others, fringed with grass, front Kepler Avenue near East 237th Street. And pieces that have buckled because they sit atop ancient roots add charm to busy East 233rd Street (though be careful not to trip).

This “blue gold of the Catskills,” as it used to be called, adorned many New York sidewalks until concrete rendered it obsolete, but Woodlawn may always have had more than most, historians say, because of Woodlawn Cemetery (http://www.thewoodlawncemetery.org/site/), which opened in 1863 along its southern border.

Bluestone is a significant element of the many artful mausoleums in Woodlawn’s parklike expanse, according to Susan Olsen, the cemetery’s historian, who lives nearby in a one-bedroom apartment. And because so much was stockpiled in local stone yards, along with marble and granite, it was deployed for residential uses. “The supply was right across the street,” she said.

In the early 1840s, Irish immigrants showed up to dig the Old Croton Aqueduct, which sliced beneath what is now Van Cortlandt Park. Twenty years later, Ms. Olsen said, Irish laborers built the roads that wind through the cemetery, establishing a village outside its gates.

Ever since, there has been a substantial Irish presence in the neighborhood; today it is at a peak, with 44 percent of its 7,500 people claiming Irish descent, according to the American Community Survey, conducted by the United States Census Bureau from 2005 to 2009.

The data also reveal that of the area’s foreign-born residents, about half are from Ireland — a trend that has intensified as the collapse of the Irish economy led to a diaspora in search of overseas work, according to the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, an outreach agency. According to its research, the number of Irish immigrants in Woodlawn is up by 25 percent since 2009.

By many measures, thriving Katonah Avenue could also be called “Little Ireland.” Brogues are heard; green trim and shamrock motifs adorn the bars; and jars of pickled beetroot, a staple back home, are found on the shelves of specialty food shops. The avenue is also home to the headquarters of Local 147 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, a local for miners, many of Irish ancestry, whose work on a decades-long water tunnel replacement project earned them the nickname “sandhogs.”

One sandhog who for years commuted to work 50 stories under Van Cortlandt Park is Chick Donohue, who in 1977 traded a two-bedroom apartment on the Grand Concourse for a three-bedroom rental in a two-family house in Woodlawn. Two years later he bought the whole house, a detached brick Victorian with stone foundations, for $55,000. Real estate deals in Woodlawn, often occurring between family members and without the help of brokers, can seem like a game of musical chairs. Indeed, in 2005, Mr. Donohue sold his property for $400,000 to a daughter, Audra O’Donovan, though she later relocated to a larger property down the block and now rents out the first house.

Today Mr. Donohue, 70, spends most weekends in the Catskills. But during the week, he works on Dyer Avenue in Manhattan running a “hog house,” where miners clean up after their shifts. At night, he stays in Woodlawn, in a bedroom in the basement of his daughter’s home, which helps him stay connected.

“Where else can you go to the corner deli and get a loaf of bread from Dublin?” Mr. Donohue asked. “And I can go into a pub and have rashers,” he said, referring to Irish bacon, “with my Guinness.”


Originally named Woodlawn Heights, to differentiate it from the graveyard next door, the neighborhood is squeezed into a quarter of a square mile of land shaped something like a shoe. It has about 3,800 apartments and houses, according to census figures. Most are wood-frame buildings dating from 1900 to 1920, often with a stacked pair of front porches.

Many homes are detached, though often the space between them is barely wide enough to drag trash cans through, which means that private parking is cherished, said Margaret Fogarty, the former president of the Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association, a 500-member civic group. But with the community generally sweeping its own streets, she added, drivers are not obliged to observe the city’s alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules. Ms. Fogarty is an Irish émigré whose three-bedroom home with a two-car garage cost about $100,000 in 1984 but — “oh, my gosh,” she said — would be worth about four times that today.

There is also a supply of six-story red-brick apartment buildings, some of them co-ops. A notable high-rise is the hulking 4260 Katonah Avenue, an income-restricted Mitchell-Lama building that originally sought veterans as tenants but that today has a long and varied waiting list. Newer and attached multifamily homes, with simple facades and garages tucked in basements, can be seen on East 233rd Street.

Condominiums, so far, are nonexistent.


The insider market in the neighborhood can make it appear as if nothing much was selling, brokers say. Indeed, just six houses were on the market in Woodlawn in mid-July, according to the Empire Access Multiple Listing Service, which serves the area, and they were all roughly similar in style, age and price point.

The cheapest, a flat-fronted three-bedroom built in 1901, was listed for $235,000, and the priciest, a detached brick five-bedroom from 1925, for $539,000, according to the listing service.
Among non-insider transactions in 2010, five single-family homes sold, for an average of $388,000, while five two-families sold, for an average of $466,000, according to the listing service. Also, 16 co-ops sold, for an average of $138,000.

In contrast, in 2007, at the market’s peak, 24 single-families sold, for an average of $423,000, and 15 two-families sold, for an average of $517,000. There were 37 co-op sales, averaging $154,000.

The fact that single-family homes were down in value by less than 10 percent, in a city where they might be off by twice that amount in other neighborhoods, does not surprise Elizabeth Brosnan, a sales agent with Century 21 Brand who lives in Woodlawn. “The market is very, very vibrant,” said Ms. Brosnan, adding that one reason was the property taxes, which are low compared with those across the county line in Yonkers.


On a recent weekday afternoon, members of New Horizons, a social club affiliated with St. Barnabas Church, a mainstay, were boarding a bus for the Belmont Park racetrack in Long Island.

In Van Cortlandt Park, a wood-chip-covered trail follows the Old Croton Aqueduct, and a nearby Gaelic football field is a popular spot. Woodlawn Cemetery, whose 400 acres were accorded landmark status in June, stages concerts and readings in locales like the Woolworth Chapel.


On Katonah Avenue, Public School 19, also known as the Judith K. Weiss School, covers kindergarten through eighth grade. Enrollment last year was 525. On state exams in 2010, 52 percent of fourth graders met standards in math, 41 percent in English. Citywide, those percentages were 34 and 41.

The nearest high school is DeWitt Clinton. SAT averages there were 440 in math, 425 in reading and 417 in writing, versus 516, 501 and 492 statewide.

Parochial schools are well attended. One of them, St. Barnabas, offers prekindergarten through 12th grade for boys and girls, as well as a 230-student girls’ high school.

One way to reach Midtown Manhattan is via Metro-North Railroad, from the Woodlawn stop on the Harlem line. Five trains depart each morning from 6 to 8, arriving at Grand Central Terminal 22 to 33 minutes later. Monthly tickets are $178.

There are 67 parking spaces at the station, 52 of which require permits costing $358.30 a year. The waiting list for a spot has 90 names on it. But the station is about a 10-minute walk from most points in the neighborhood.


The cemetery figured in one of the 20th century’s highest-profile crimes, the kidnapping of the aviator Charles Lindbergh’s baby in 1932.

John Condon, a retired school principal, volunteered to act as a go-between and deliver ransom money to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the man eventually convicted of the kidnapping, who named a meeting spot at the Jerome Avenue gate of the cemetery. However, the actual exchange of money, $50,000, took place a few nights later, at St. Raymond’s Cemetery, in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx.


September 2nd, 2011, 10:24 PM
Potential Awaits Its Moment






slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/04/realestate/20110904_Living_MottHaven.html?ref=realestate#1)

DECADES have gone by, but all around Mott Haven in the South Bronx, certain physical characteristics provide an echo of the bad years in the 1960s and ’70s. Of the scores of lots emptied by fires and neglect back then, some have been transformed into lush community gardens, and some have been rebuilt into tidy subsidized town houses by nonprofit developers. Others are just empty, with signs on their fences advertising developments that never materialized.

They are as good a symbol as any of the area’s current state, which enthusiasts describe as challenging but filled with potential. Public housing projects, more than a dozen in all, dominate the landscape, but in between are intimate blocks populated by recent immigrants, by adventurous and relatively prosperous newcomers, and by families who have been in the area for generations.

A move to gentrify late in the last decade stalled as the larger economy did, but officials and residents of Mott Haven, which is generally considered to cover about one and a half square miles between the Harlem River and the Bruckner Expressway south of East 149th Street, say the conditions are right for another resurgence.

Housing stock and the income levels of the neighborhood’s 48,000 residents are gradually diversifying, said Cedric Loftin, the district manager of Community Board 1, which represents the area. In particular, he said, the main commercial corridor, East 138th Street, is seeing new life. Also, the city’s rezoning of industrial areas on the neighborhood’s western edge, near the Grand Concourse and the river, represents an effort to promote new housing and to create access to the Harlem River.

Combined with the area’s ample public transportation and proximity to Manhattan, Mr. Loftin said, that is reason for optimism.

“Housing stock is up, it’s not that expensive, and there are a lot of opportunities here,” he said.

Even a few years ago, those assets were in sufficient evidence to attract Yonette Davis, a Brooklyn native who is a geriatrician. Dr. Davis bought her three-story brownstone on East 140th Street for less than $200,000 in 2001, and moved in after a renovation and the birth of her daughter in 2007.

Given the South Bronx’s reputation, her family feared for her safety. The reality, once she settled in, was different. One neighbor sweeps her sidewalk when she is away at work, and there are annual events and plenty of children for her daughter to play with.

“I keep telling people, it’s the first neighborhood that I’ve lived in that feels like a neighborhood,” Dr. Davis said. “The residents seem to be really close to each other.”

One reason for that closeness, she said, may be a history of shared adversity: Almost half of the area’s families, according to census figures, have incomes below the poverty line. And, while crime is far less prevalent these days, Dr. Davis says late nights on area streets can feel unsettling.

Still, she said that she had not felt out of place and that the neighborhood had revealed itself to her gradually, as her bond with her neighbors grew.

Whether she will remain, though, is an open question. She works in Brooklyn, commuting 40 minutes by car, and weighs going back. She says she may not be ready to part with the house, or the area.

“It reminds me of Fort Greene years ago, before Fort Greene became this really expensive place to live,” Dr. Davis said. “It has that feeling of something about to happen to it.”


There are three small historic districts: one, on Alexander Street between East 137th and East 141st, has a row of finely detailed brownstones, two churches, a police station and a library; another, on parts of East 139th and 140th between Willis and Brook Avenues, has 19th-century brownstones; the third, on 136th near Willis, is marked by two rows of yellow-faced brick town houses.

On East 138th and to the south is a fledgling artist community, Mr. Loftin said. Adrian Thompkins, an agent at Halstead Property who has sold in the area, says the scene reminds him of the Lower East Side, when he lived there years ago.

“It’s a very sort of insular community, where a lot of things may not be broadcast to the entire five boroughs,” he said. “But people in Mott Haven know. A lot of painters are there, a lot of photographers — a lot of them are having exhibits out of their own homes.”

To a casual visitor, their presence may not be apparent. Though East 138th Street at times teems with people, the focus of that activity is inexpensive retail and restaurants — some Puerto Rican, Dominican and Mexican. Elsewhere, public housing towers stand on vast blocks; street life is sparse.

Still, Mr. Thompkins said, the newcomers do have their hangouts. Gradually, businesses are opening.

“Everything from florists to pet shops,” he added. “There’s a lot there, and I think that when the market picks back up, this is going to be one of the first places that people look to that’s still a bargain.”

Kouma Kpabla, an associate broker at Re/Max Voyage Homes, sees similar improvement. “The place is quiet now,” Mr. Kpabla said. “Crime is down. Nights, there’s no noise.”


Inventory has been low recently, brokers say, as property owners seeking to ride out the slow market hold onto their buildings. Mr. Thompkins says comparable-sales data is scarce, and prices can be hard to predict.

“The prices are a little bit all over the place now,” he said. “A lot of the times they have to do with what a person can afford to sell for, rather than trying to establish a market value.”

That means there are bargains. “I think if you can get a beautiful house that’s in move-in condition and has an income unit, for under $500,000 or $600,000, tops, that’s going to be attractive in any economy,” Mr. Thompkins said, adding, “That would definitely be for a premium, move-in condition home, generally three units.”

Mr. Kpabla puts the average price for a two-family house around $425,000, and Patricia Rodriguez, an associate broker at Exit Realty Success, says prices can be far lower: about $275,000 for a one-family house, $300,000 for a two-family, and $400,000 for a four-family. One- and two-family buildings predominate, she added. Many went up in the late 1980s.

Two-bedroom rentals on Craigslist tend to range from $1,300 to $1,800 a month. One-bedrooms, which vary in size and can include spacious lofts, are in the same range — though there are smaller units, listed for $1,000 or less.


The 6 train runs under East 138th Street, stopping at Third, Brook and Cypress Avenues, and then turns north to East 143rd and 149th Streets. The 4 and 5 stop on the Grand Concourse at East 138th and 149th Streets. The 2 has two area stops.

According to Mr. Loftin of Community Board 1, express service to Midtown takes 10 minutes or less.

Mott Haven is ringed by highways: the Major Deegan Expressway to the west and south, and the Bruckner Expressway to the east. Both connect to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, with easy access to three other boroughs.


Among the hangouts cited by Mr. Thompkins are Alexander’s Café, at the foot of Alexander Avenue near a cluster of antiques stores. The Bruckner Bar and Grill, a popular spot for burgers and beers, is two blocks to the west.

Since 2002, the Bronx Council on the Arts has run a free trolley-style bus through South Bronx neighborhoods including Mott Haven, to promote arts events and organizations along the route. It runs on Wednesdays once a month, and some Saturdays; Mr. Thompkins says at least one of his real estate clients was specifically interested in buying near the trolley route.

St. Mary’s Park, with 35 acres of hills, lawns and athletic facilities, lies to the northeast. Its southern end is rocky and partly wooded, like the north end of Central Park. Farther north, it has an indoor pool and a running track.


Public elementary schools have struggled. They include No. 154, on East 135th Street, where last year 23.2 percent of tested students met standards in English and 43.5 percent in math, and No. 43, on Brown Place, where 39.7 percent met standards in English and 53.6 percent in math.

A number of charter schools have opened in recent years, including the Bronx Charter School for Children, the Bronx Success Academy, and, for students in the child welfare and foster care system, the Mott Haven Academy.

Among middle schools is No. 203, on Morris Avenue, where 11.4 percent of tested students were proficient in English and 13.6 percent in math.

Public high schools include Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/07/X655/default.htm), where in March students staged a demonstration to lobby for federal “turnaround” financing. SAT averages last year were 370 in reading, 385 in math and 354 in writing, versus 439, 462 and 434 citywide.


The neighborhood was named for Jordan Lawrence Mott, the owner of the J. L. Mott Ironworks, established in 1828. German and Irish populations predominated a century ago; these were largely supplanted by Puerto Ricans by midcentury. Many of today’s residents are from Mexico or the Dominican Republic.


January 7th, 2012, 09:01 AM
In the City, but Not of It


A pond between Fieldston Road and Waldo Avenue in Fieldston, a privately owned enclave in Riverdale.
Residents pay a homeowners' association for security and street maintenance.


THE grand houses of Fieldston — about 260, all single-family — are mostly generations old, devoid of the uniformity in other parts of the city and in suburban subdivisions. Nearly a century after it was conceived, this flowing suburban community in the northwest corner of the Bronx retains its dash of country, as well as its easy access to city life, having kept faith with its developers’ original vision.

Most of the original homes remain intact. Transportation to Manhattan is simple, and many nearby destinations — parks, restaurants and the subway — are within walking distance.

“It’s the best of all worlds,” said Howie Ravikoff, who arrived in August from the Upper East Side, paying about $1.3 million for a 1928 Tudor with three bedrooms. “It’s suburban, but an urban version of suburbia. It’s very much a walking community. You need a car, but you can do things without.”

And historic designation, granted in 2006, represents an even more formal guarantee against significant change anytime soon.

Bert Trebach, the owner of Trebach Realty, whose home and office are just outside the neighborhood, said he expected the designation to increase Fieldston’s appeal in coming years, although it had not yet had a significant impact.

“It preserves a jewel,” Mr. Trebach said. “Over time, people would have made McMansions and monstrosities.”

Mr. Ravikoff, 39, whose family owns a real estate company that manages properties in Westchester, said he had harbored some concerns about the designation when he moved in, especially about whether making changes to the home would be too cumbersome. But those worries have largely been alleviated. When he and his wife, Randi Maidman, wanted to build a fence, Ms. Maidman downloaded the two-page application from the landmarks commission and filled it out herself. Within two weeks they had approval.
“The experience may vary,” Mr. Ravikoff said, “but our experience was very smooth.”

Fieldston is considered a section of Riverdale, along with North Riverdale, Central Riverdale, South Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil. But there is an important distinction: it is privately owned.
In practice, that means an entity called the Fieldston Property Owners’ Association, rather than the city, maintains streets and sewers. Also, in addition to the city’s 50th Precinct, the area is policed by a private security patrol; it issues passes for parking on the street. These services cost homeowners an annual fee of a few thousand dollars over and above city property taxes (the specific amount is pegged to lot size).

On the edges of the area are three elite private schools: Horace Mann, Ethical Culture Fieldston and Riverdale Country. Manhattan College is also on the border. It is the schools more than anything, Mr. Trebach and other real estate agents say, that draw prospective buyers.

And once they move in, many do not leave for decades. Barbara Muhlfelder moved to Fieldston in 1979, when she and her husband, Tom, paid about $130,000 for a Gothic Revival-style home with three bedrooms and three baths. She estimated that her house was worth about $1 million now.

The area is “as beautiful now as it was 30 years ago,” she said, “and people take pride in it.”


It feels as if you were a bit off the grid here, and there is a reason for that. The developers, using a layout finalized in 1914, made a point of avoiding straight streets and square blocks. No two angles look the same, because the streets maneuver around hills, large trees and outcroppings.

Over all, Fieldston covers 140 acres, or about a fifth of a square mile. According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the area is circumscribed by Henry Hudson Parkway to the west, Manhattan College Parkway to the south, Tibbett Avenue to the east and 250th Street to the north.

The homes come in an appealing mix of styles, including Colonial Revivals, Tudors and even formal modernist houses. They are generally large, but lot sizes vary: half an acre is considered large.
The vast majority of residents are white, according to census data. But there are some Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans. Orthodox Jews are represented.

When talking about a house, its residents will often cite its architect. Owning one designed by Dwight James Baum, who built dozens of homes in Fieldston in multiple styles, is a point of pride — as well as a selling point.

Dara Caponigro, the editor of Veranda magazine, was one buyer attracted by the Baum name. When Ms. Caponigro and her husband, David Steinberger, bought their house in early 2010 (for a price she declined to disclose), the inside was a wreck, she recalled. But since Baum was a “master of proportion,” she said, particularly with the dimensions of rooms and windows, it helped make the renovation worthwhile.

After living in Manhattan for 30 years, she thought the move to the quiet and spacious Fieldston might be tough. Not so, she said. “It’s been a shockingly easy adjustment for both of us.”


Prices have not escaped the general downturn in real estate. Ellen Feld, an agent for Sotheby’s International Realty, said prices had generally fallen 10 to 20 percent since their peak a few years ago.

Still, buying does not come cheap. Most houses sell for at least $1 million, and some reach or exceed $3 million. According to Ms. Feld, one of the main factors driving prices is the cost to update the house, since many require renovations.

Susan Baldwin, an agent with Robert E. Hill in Riverdale, said that more houses were on the market now than before the downturn, in part because they are staying there longer. It is difficult to know exactly how many listings there are, because owners often list exclusively with a single broker and not on a listing service.

Also, few sellers have qualms about taking a house out of the running. “There’s not a panic in Riverdale for sellers,” Ms. Baldwin said. “If the market is not bringing them the attention they want, they are often even willing to take it off the market.”

Although the vast majority of homes are owner-occupied, there are some available for rent. Mr. Trebach said rental prices usually ranged from $7,000 to $14,000 a month.


Fieldston is purely residential, but shops and restaurants are a short walk away, along Riverdale and Johnson Avenues, just to the south.

Van Cortlandt Park, to the east, has more than 1,100 acres with athletic fields, trails and even a public golf course. To the west is Wave Hill, a 28-acre public garden with views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, on a site once leased by Mark Twain.


With the private schools a big factor in home purchases, it’s no surprise that many parents in Fieldston send their children to one of them. Even so, the local public schools beat citywide averages. Public School 81, which enrolls over 600 and runs through fifth grade, recently had fourth-grade competency standards of 68 percent in reading and 65 percent in math, versus 51 and 62 citywide.

Middle School/High School 141, also known as the David A. Stein Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, has over 1,300 students in Grades 6 through 12. On recent state tests, 41 percent of its eighth-graders met standards in reading, 62 percent in math, versus 35 and 53 citywide. SAT averages in 2010 were 475 in reading, 479 in math and 470 in writing, versus 437, 460 and 432 citywide.

Other nearby private schools include Salanter Akiba Riverdale, which offers prekindergarten through Grade 12, and St. Margaret of Cortona School, which runs through Grade 8.


Transportation options are plentiful. Ms. Caponigro, for example, says that when there is no traffic, she can drive to her office at the Hearst Building, in Midtown, in about 15 minutes, thanks to the Henry Hudson Parkway, which passes Fieldston on its western flank.

Some days, though, she says she takes the No. 1 subway; the Van Cortlandt Park-242nd Street stop is about a 10-minute walk from her house. Because it is the northernmost stop for that line, she says, a seat is always available. She reaches Midtown in about 40 minutes if she remains on the local train, and a little less time if she transfers to the express.

Several express buses also stop nearby, making frequent trips to and from Manhattan. Metro-North Railroad trains stop at the Riverdale station on the Hudson Line. The trip to Grand Central takes about 20 minutes.


Like the rest of Riverdale, Fieldston has been called home by a variety of prominent people. The singer-songwriter Carly Simon, for example, grew up here; the architect Dwight James Baum lived in a Colonial Revival-style house that he designed; and Fiorello H. La Guardia, the former mayor of New York, lived on the area’s northern edge.


January 10th, 2012, 12:35 AM
Driving up the Grand Concourse from the Fordham area into Bedford Park, into Norwood and ending in Woodlawn. Same video, different music.

http://vimeo.com/32304009 Bugs Bunny Music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Zgvz_sJrjI&amp;feature=plcp&amp;context=C3ada129UDOEgsToPD skLQ7aIgN3ySUkBCDAVToU1W Live Grateful Dead

March 24th, 2012, 06:25 AM
Fluid Reasons for a Constant Allure



Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/03/21/realestate/20120325LIVINGIN.html)

THE landscape in Throgs Neck, in the southeastern corner of the Bronx, has been transformed over the last several decades. Before, open fields flanked areas of three-season bungalows overlooking Long Island Sound and other expanses of water. Now the area is mostly bustling and built up — and sewn into the city fabric by expressways.

But when it comes to residents’ reasons for choosing Throgs Neck, they haven’t changed much at all. Largely a working- and middle-class neighborhood, home to many city workers including firefighters and police officers, it is relaxed and friendly — and those qualities have also made it magnetic.

In 1963, John and Theresa Scuoppo moved into a two-family brick home that they bought for $31,500, because they found the area quaint as well as convenient to their jobs in Manhattan. They live in the same home now.

In 1986, Jack and Marie McCarrick moved into an attached single-family home that they bought for $159,000, and knew they were in a family-oriented neighborhood easily accessible to many parts of the region. Mr. McCarrick had spent much of his childhood here, enjoying swimming off the shore. When he married, he said, he had no doubt where to look for a home. And the McCarricks have been in it ever since.

Last year, Felicia and William Frestan moved into a three-bedroom condominium with water views that they bought for about $300,000, thankful to find a friendly and well-situated neighborhood. Ms. Frestan, 54, a former postal worker who moved from just up the road in Baychester, says she plans to stay in her home “till the end of my days.”

“First, I fell in love with the area, then I fell in love with the apartment,” she added. “You feel blessed when everything is at your reach.”

Water is very much within reach — on three sides of the neighborhood. Although the beach-club atmosphere of the summer months dissipates each fall when the summer-only residents depart, brokers say the sea remains a strong pull for many buyers.

The two square miles of Throgs Neck are home to about 30,000 people, according to census data. The area has traditionally been an enclave for Italian-, Irish- and German-Americans, and that still is the case. But these days there are substantial numbers of African- and Asian-Americans, as well as Hispanic-Americans from a variety of countries, distributed throughout.

The area has also become more desirable because of a sharp drop in crime. In the 45th Precinct, which encompasses Throgs Neck, crime has fallen more than 30 percent in the last 10 years and nearly 70 percent since 1993, according to city statistics. “It’s rather idyllic here,” said Mr. Scuoppo, 83. “It’s not a hassle for commuting, shopping or education. That’s what makes it a congenial community.”

Still, communities require involvement. To protect the area’s perceived architectural congeniality during the real estate boom, the Throggs Neck Homeowners Association, which has about 700 members, had its work cut out. Developers were tearing down one-families and building much larger multifamilies on the same lots. As the buildings became bigger, traffic and parking troubles were popping up.

The group pushed for zoning changes to limit the size of future homes, and the city made those changes in 2004.

Residential construction these days is mostly stalled; the biggest development of any kind is on the far west side at Ferry Point Park, a 400-plus-acre former landfill. In January, the city approved a deal to have Donald J. Trump manage a new 18-hole golf course at the park. The course is to open next year, and green fees of up to $125 are planned.


About the name Throgs Neck: Many residents, and the homeowner association, insist that the correct spelling is with two g’s, even though the city uses only one. But as the area is in fact named after an early settler who spelled his name John Throckmorton — no g’s at all — maybe there simply isn’t a correct spelling.

Shaped kind of like a stingray, with the State University of New York Maritime College as the tail, Throgs Neck has Eastchester Bay and the Long Island Sound on its east side, the East River to the south and Westchester Creek to the west. Layton Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard are generally considered to make up the northern border.

When it comes to the housing, name it and the neighborhood probably has it: single- and multifamily, detached and attached, brick and wood-framed, apartments, condos and bungalows. On the western side, there is also a large public housing complex.

Many of the lots are 25 or 30 by 100 feet, but there are some double lots scattered around. Street parking is plentiful, but it’s often not essential: many homes have driveways, if not garages.

There are also two distinct co-op enclaves near the water — Silver Beach Gardens on the southwestern side and Edgewater Park on the eastern. Each has only one main road leading in and out, and inside are hundreds of single-family homes, about 1,100 in total, mostly winterized bungalows.

Lynn Gerbino, the president of the homeowner association, lives in Silver Beach. “We have a lot of people here who get waterfront property without paying waterfront prices,” she said.


The market has picked up in the last year, said Benny Diasparra, the owner/broker of Exit Realty Search. But he also said that it was still a buyers’ market, with prices down about 15 percent from the peak a few years ago.

If priced right, however, homes are moving much faster now. “When a seller is willing to adjust to fit the market,” as Mr. Diasparra put it, “there is a lot of movement.” Many of these realistic sellers, he added, receive multiple offers within a month of posting their listings.

About 45 single-family homes are for sale, according to a recent search. In general, prices range from $350,000 to $500,000. About 30 multifamily homes were for sale, ranging in price from about $450,000 to $700,000.

Homes to the east of East Tremont Avenue are slightly more expensive than those to the west, partly because homes on the eastern side are generally newer.

Mr. Diasparra said his company rented out about 300 units last year, many in two- or three-family homes. There are also some larger rental buildings. One-bedrooms rent for about $1,100, Mr. Diasparra said; two-bedrooms run $1,500 and three-bedrooms up to $2,000.


There’s water here, and lots of it, in practically every direction. That makes boating, fishing and other water activities popular warm-weather pastimes. But there’s plenty to do on dry land, too.
Restaurants and shops line East Tremont Avenue, and the locals gush about dining options. “I could eat a different cuisine every night of the week,” Ms. Frestan said, “and it would all be good.” But often, when prodded, residents give the highest grades to the Italian offerings — particularly the menu at Tosca Café and the pizza at Tommy’s.

There are also ball fields, one at the Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park.

Schools include Public Schools 72 and 304, which serve students in prekindergarten through fifth grade. At the former, 37 percent of fourth graders met standards in reading and 49 in math; at the latter, percentages were 64 and 82. Citywide percentages were 51 and 62.

Middle School X101 has about 400 students in Grades 6 through 8. Among eighth graders, 69 percent met standards in reading and 68 in math, versus 35 and 53 percent citywide.

Herbert H. Lehman High School is just to the north of the neighborhood. SAT averages in 2011 were 414 in reading, 442 in math and 395 in writing, versus 436, 460, and 431 citywide. The neighborhood also has several private schools, including St. Frances de Chantal School, The School of St. Benedict and Preston High School.


Practically everyone has a car here, and for good reason. The Cross-Bronx Expressway, the Hutchinson River Parkway and the Throgs Neck Expressway all pass through the area, making relatively short work of driving to Westchester, other parts of the Bronx, Queens and even Manhattan. Driving to Midtown can take 30 minutes or less.

Still, many people use public transportation to commute. An express bus, the BxM9, runs to and from Midtown all day. On trips to Manhattan, the bus picks up passengers in three different spots, and a one-way trip during peak times takes about an hour.

The area is also served by local buses like the Bx8, Bx40 and Bx42. They make their way to the No. 6 train along Westchester Avenue. The ride to Grand Central Terminal takes roughly 40 minutes.


Some successful capitalists in the 19th century owned estates in Throgs Neck. One of them, Collis P. Huntington, “owned so many railroads that he could go cross-country without leaving his own property,” according to a text by the Bronx Historical Society. Another, John A. Morris, known as the “Lottery King,” made a fortune running the Louisiana State Lottery.


May 5th, 2012, 12:02 AM
A Fieldston House Sells Once a Generation


Fieldston, a privately owned enclave in the northern Bronx, was developed as a planned suburban-style community in the early 20th century.

Frederick Law Olmsted and James R. Croe made recommendations for its layout. The noted architect Dwight James Baum, a former resident, designed many of its houses. Those houses, built in a mix of styles including Colonial, Arts and Crafts, Tudor and Mediterranean, were gracefully spaced against a woodsy landscape of tall trees, stone outcroppings and winding streets.

A century later, Fieldston appears nearly intact, a 140-acre time capsule tucked away between the Henry Hudson Parkway and Van Cortlandt Park. Its 258 houses, ranging from "mini-mansions to mansions," according to Herb Hirsch of Fieldston Properties, are a strong draw for young families and professionals seeking stately homes in a bucolic setting—a suburban lifestyle without suburban taxes.

Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal
Horace Mann School, in Fieldston in the northern Bronx, above, one of several private schools in the area.

"If you go to Westchester, prices are maybe a little less but taxes are exorbitant," Mr. Hirsch says. "It's a country within the city. During the week you're 30 minutes from 42nd Street."

Prices in Fieldston, where around 15 houses are currently on the market, range roughly between $1 million and $3 million, brokers say, and are often shown by appointment only. The homes tend to change hands only once in a generation, so many of those that do come on the market can be in need of renovation.

People "tend to stay there a long time," says Brad Trebach, associate broker and general counsel of Trebach Realty.


In addition to New York City taxes, Fieldston residents pay annual fees of a few thousand dollars—depending on their house lot size—to the Fieldston Property Owners Association. The fees pay for such services as a private security force and street and sewer maintenance. The community is also patrolled by the New York Police Department's 50th Precinct.

Residents have several options for commuting to Manhattan: express buses; the No. 1 train, which has its first stop at 242nd Street; Metro North Railroad, which travels between Riverdale and Grand Central Terminal in about half an hour; or their own cars. The drive to Manhattan can take as little as 15 minutes without traffic, brokers say.

There is no commercial activity within Fieldston, but the nearby strips of Riverdale and Johnson avenues in Riverdale offer a multitude of shopping and dining options. Many residents are also attracted to the area by the proximity of several well-regarded private schools, including the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Riverdale Country Day School and the Horace Mann School. The playgrounds, ball fields and vast green space of Van Cortlandt Park lie along the area's eastern border.

Fieldston is part of Riverdale's Special Natural Area District, which seeks to preserve the region's natural topography, including its sloping hills and rock formations. The neighborhood was also granted landmark status in 2006 after a contentious debate, in which some homeowners opposed the designation for mostly financial reasons.

Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal
A sign at an entry gate

Mr. Trebach, a former member of Community Board 8's land-use committee, says the goal of the landmarking was to prohibit homeowners from destroying distinguished houses and rebuilding larger structures out of context with the area. One house has been built in Fieldston since the landmark rules took effect, Mr. Trebach added.

"There's a distinctive aesthetic character in Fieldston that's worthy of preservation and protection," he says. "There are a lot of period homes located in a leafy and winding enclave, and it makes the area a real gem. You know as soon as you enter Fieldston that you're entering a special place."

Parks: Fieldston borders Van Cortlandt Park, which at 1,146 acres is New York City's fourth-largest and includes playgrounds, ball fields, horseback riding trails, a public golf course, the Van Cortlandt House Museum and a freshwater lake. The tranquil Indian Pond is at Indian and Livingston roads. Wave Hill, a garden and cultural center whose offerings include art workshops and yoga classes, is nearby.

Schools: The neighborhood is part of District 10, and local public schools include P.S. 81, the Robert J. Christen School, an elementary school with about 700 students that received a C grade on its 2010-11 city progress report. Another public school, the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, is a combined middle and high school with 1,300 students; the high school received an A from the city last year, and the middle school a C.

Local private schools include the Riverdale campus of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, with about 1,700 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade; and the Horace Mann School, also with about 1,700 students in nursery through 12th grade.

Restaurants: Though there are no shops or restaurants within the boundaries of Fieldston, several eateries are along Johnson and Riverdale avenues, including Yo-Burger, a recently opened yogurt and burger joint; and Palace of Japan, a sushi and Japanese restaurant with a cocktail bar.

Shopping: Everyday shopping is available in Riverdale. Two Fairway Markets are a short distance away, in Harlem and Pelham. Westchester's Ridge Hill, in Yonkers, offers mall shopping, with stores including Whole Foods and Lord & Taylor. There is a Target on West 225th Street.

Entertainment: Wave Hill offers cultural programs. There is a multiplex movie theater at Ridge Hill.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304743704577382294267169760.html?m od=WSJ_NY_RealEstate_LEADNewsCollection

June 9th, 2012, 02:44 AM
People, Shops and Roads Converge Here


149th Street crosses Melrose, Willis and Third Avenues


NO matter which neighborhood a Bronx resident calls home, most have been to the Hub, a convergence of streets in the South Bronx that is one of the borough’s most dynamic commercial centers. For Michael Reed, it was when his parents took him shopping for Easter clothes as a boy.

“Whether it was because Hearns was where your parents shopped, or because all the main banks were there,” Mr. Reed recalled, “at some point you ended up in the Hub.”

Though sometimes referred to as the Times Square of the Bronx — and it once had its share of theaters and burlesque houses — the Hub also has housing, a proportion of it city-sponsored projects. An area of only about a third of a square mile, with a population of about 15,500, it consists primarily of walk-up tenements, wood-frame houses, new town houses, and small elevator buildings, said Sid Miller, the owner of the Haven Heights Group, a real estate brokerage.

“It’s a hodgepodge of different types of housing,” Mr. Miller said. “That lack of uniformity makes it not pleasant to look at.”

This lack of curb appeal is partly the result of the rough times of the 1970s, when the area was a nexus of burning buildings and Fort Apache-style crime.

The rebirth of the South Bronx has been particularly slow to catch on here, said Vincent Valentino, the executive director of the Hub Third Avenue Business Improvement District (http://www.shopthehub.com/), and a retired city police detective who recalls his time here as a rookie beat cop.

“The sergeant would tell you when you went on post, if you’re chasing somebody make sure you don’t drop your gun, because it will never hit the sidewalk,” Mr. Valentino said.

When he retired and returned to the Hub in 1995, it was still charred and scarred. “There was garbage all over the place,” he recalled. “People were dumping, crime was rampant.”

The improvement district has worked with local officials and residents in cleaning up the area, aided in the process by city-sponsored initiatives to develop thousands of subsidized housing units in the Hub and surrounding neighborhoods like Melrose.

John Valverde works in the neighborhood, and with his wife, Maria Soto, will be moving from Queens into a two-bedroom co-op at a subsidized housing development called Via Verde (http://www.phippsny.org/pdf/ViaVerde.pdf). Living here wouldn’t have occurred to him, he said — until Via Verde opened his eyes.

“We were initially looking to move within Queens,” he said, adding: “We saw Via Verde as a real commitment on the part of the developer and architect to build community in an area that has this stigma and negative reputation. That’s really what it’s all about for us.”

Every outspoken Bronx resident has an opinion on how far the Hub fans out from the intersection of Third Avenue and East 149th Street. Some say not at all. Others say the neighborhood roughly spans the box made by an axis along Third Avenue from 145th Street to 156th Street and an axis along East 149th Street from Morris Avenue to the St. Mary’s Park area. Many residents of the Melrose neighborhood to the north consider the Hub to be Melrose’s commercial center.

Mr. Reed, who works as a sales agent for Via Verde, described its Brook Avenue location as falling squarely in the Hub. An eco-friendly collection of single-family town houses alongside a 20-story high-rise with several green roofs, all oriented around a verdant courtyard, it is probably the neighborhood’s most upscale development


Many people fail to associate housing with the Hub because of its reputation as a crossroads of commerce: Third Avenue has even been called the Broadway of the Bronx. At the center of it all is Roberto Clemente Plaza, a small pedestrian area with several large planters and nearby bike lanes. Other major roads with thriving retail businesses converge upon the area, including Melrose, Willis and Westchester Avenues.

National chains like Duane Reade, Staples and Bank of America sit alongside typical outer-borough businesses like Cookie’s The Kids Department Stores, Pretty Girl and Dr. Jay’s. Scattered liberally among them are discount furniture stores, cellphone outlets, jewelry boutiques, electronics shops, Latin pizzerias, discount clothing boutiques, dental and medical storefronts, delis, 99-cent shops and botanicas. Foot traffic is heavy, with more than 200,000 pedestrians passing through daily, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

People are “coming back to the area, because they have jobs, and they can afford to pay for these new co-ops and apartments,” Mr. Valentino said. “And we welcome them back into the fold as shoppers. My daughter — she lives upstate — comes down to shop.”

That’s great news for businesses like Yolanda’s Italian Pizzeria and Restaurant, a 52-year neighborhood institution on East 149th Street, said Neil Calisi, its owner, who immigrated from Italy at 10 with his mother, the original Yolanda.

“The image of the Yankee World Series in the Bronx, the helicopters focusing on the Bronx burning — that wasn’t a good image for the Bronx,” Mr. Calisi said. “But since then it’s changed drastically and dramatically. The Bronx — especially here, the Hub — it’s blossoming into a flower.”

In concrete terms, that means changes like the restoration of the former Bronx opera house on East 149th Street into a boutique hotel. As work progresses there, a giant rubble-strewn lot across the street has been chosen for a city-subsidized mixed-use complex. It is to have retail stores, a family restaurant and a charter school.

The Bronx Documentary Center (http://bronxdoc.org/), a gallery on the ground floor of a historic building on Courtlandt Avenue, is relatively new to the Hub. The owner restored the building with city assistance, adding several apartments upstairs.


Most residential property is rent-stabilized, apart from some new two-family houses, said Barry Susman, the broker and owner of the Susman Realty Company on 149th Street. Many building owners rent rooms by the week, typically for $125 to $150, he said.

A studio would rent for $750 to $850 a month; one-bedrooms range from $850 to $1,000 a month; and two-bedrooms start in the $1,200 range, said Khayan Harris, an agent with K & K Room Finders, a state-licensed apartment-sharing agency on Melrose Avenue.

There are also some condos or co-ops; they typically start at $150,000 to $160,000, for a one-bedroom, Mr. Harris said. A two-bedroom co-op at Via Verde is priced at $146,032, for a family of four earning $56,250 to $124,500 a year.


Many Hub residents take advantage of nearby St. Mary’s Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/stmaryspark), the largest park in the South Bronx, which has a running track; handball, tennis and basketball courts; a baseball diamond; and an indoor swimming pool. It has a summer concert series that is very popular with families, Mr. Reed said.

The neighborhood is not far from the new Yankee Stadium or the Gateway Center Mall, a destination for big-box shoppers, said Martin Robert Holland III, a director of capital markets for Prudential Douglas Elliman.


The only public Montessori charter school in the Bronx opened this year on Willis Avenue in the Hub, joining the Bronx Charter School for Children, also on Willis, in offering alternatives to a handful of public elementary schools.

A higher-achieving elementary is Public School 018 John Peter Zenger on Morris Avenue. It got an A on its most recent city progress report, with 28.3 percent of tested students showing mastery in English, 52.5 in math.

The Hub has a handful of middle and high schools, including South Bronx Preparatory on East 145th Street, where SAT averages in 2011 were 413 in reading, 424 in math and 389 in writing, versus 436, 460 and 431 citywide.

The John Cardinal O’Connor Campus of the College of New Rochelle is in the heart of the Hub on 149th Street.


The Hub is all about transportation. Both the 2 and 5 subways stop here, making the rest of the Bronx and Brooklyn accessible along with the Upper West and East Sides of Manhattan. The ride into Midtown takes about 30 minutes. Metro-North’s Harlem line also stops at Melrose, about a 15-minute walk. Local and limited bus lines from the Hub include the B33, B15, B19, B2, and the BxM1, BxM2 and BxM18.


Starting in the 1850s, many Germans immigrated to the Bronx, living in villages around the Hub — which didn’t yet exist — with names like Morrisania, Melrose, Bensonia, Wilton and Eltona, said Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian. Many attended what is now the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Just down 151st Street, the Church of Our Lady of Pity served the Italian immigrants, most of whom came from the tiny island of Ponza off the west coast of Italy. San Silverio is their patron saint, and they began holding a festival on his feast day with a procession up Morris Avenue, Mr. Calisi said. The celebration still occurs each June 20, with Italian-Americans taking part. Today the population is mostly African-American and Hispanic; many are originally from Puerto Rico.


June 9th, 2012, 10:49 PM
1559715598These two photos are looking at each other. First photo is e233rd st looking west. The second photo is looking from Woodlawn towards Wakefield. That's e233rd in the upper middle, the green train platform above the street is where the first photo was taken.

August 26th, 2012, 04:37 AM
Where Aerobic Fortitude Is a Big Plus


Ángel Franco/The New York Times
The public staircase at Heath Avenue and West 229th Street is one of a series in Kingsbridge,
whose steep hills and circuitous roads make pedestrian shortcuts very handy.


THE Harlem River curves by Kingsbridge, a middle-class neighborhood of 47,000 folded into a valley in the northwestern Bronx. There’s also a busy highway, the six-lane Major Deegan Expressway, that slices through the area. And mature trees shade many sidewalks — as along Tibbett Avenue, which is named for a brook buried long ago.

But the feature that makes the most lasting impression is the series of open-air public stairways running up neighborhood hills; they seem as steep and geometric as lines on a graph.
One staircase, squeezed between midrise apartment houses, connects West 231st Street with Naples Terrace. Another links Bailey and Heath Avenues. And Ewen Park, an expanse of lawns at Kingsbridge’s edge, even has a staircase reminiscent of the magisterial Potemkin Stairs, in the Ukrainian seaport of Odessa (though not anywhere near as wide or as long); they climb up, and up, and up, promising a heart-pounding shortcut to Riverdale.

“They’re really important, because the roads zigzag so much,” said Dean Parker, a resident, referring to all the stairs. “It would take too long to get around without them.”

For new arrivals, adjusting to the neighborhood can be like a strenuous stair climb: It requires a little work and some faith, maybe, but the payoff can be extraordinary, residents say.

For Mr. Parker, who works as a composer, Kingsbridge offered the chance to buy a house large enough to include a recording studio — which would have been unthinkable in many city neighborhoods, especially in the two-bedroom co-op he used to own in Riverdale.

His seven-bedroom, 2,300-square-foot house, bought in December, also has room enough for an office for his wife, Tanya Krohn, an SAT tutor, and plenty of space for the couple’s two sons.

The 1910 wood-frame home, with a gambrel roof and metal siding, and views of the Jerome Park Reservoir from the third floor, cost $250,000, about a third of what it would have sold for in Riverdale, Mr. Parker guesses. But it definitely was not in move-in condition: at some point, pipes broke, raining water down on walls. Mr. Parker took care of some renovating himself.

The upside was the area, with its interesting mix of residents — quite different from Bronxville, in the Westchester suburbs, which Mr. Parker recalled as homogeneous. “I like a diverse economy, diverse cultural backgrounds,” he said. “I think it keeps everybody polite.”

There also seems to be a golden rule in effect about working together to solve problems. Mr. Parker, for instance, recently aided a neighbor’s house-painting job by letting him set up a ladder in his yard. “Everybody realizes that it’s better off to be connected than isolated here,” he said.

Judging from the local attitude toward various new commercial developments in recent years, people also appreciate their importance in providing a needed jolt to the somewhat ragtag shopping strip along Broadway.

Tears were shed in 2009 when Stella D’Oro, the cookie company, closed its longtime factory on West 237th Street, but many are looking forward to a 118,000-square-foot BJ’s, of big-box fame, which is set to rise in its place.

Also, a 133,000-square-foot shopping center is to go up on a city parking lot on West 230th Street. And, under plans being weighed by the city, the castlelike Kingsbridge Armory, long empty, could someday have shops inside.

They would join River Plaza on West 225th Street, an eight-year-old mall with a Target store, which Urvashi Rangan is fond of. But she often has to drive to Yonkers in Westchester (where she works as a toxicologist) for big grocery purchases, which is why she’s in favor of new supermarkets.

“If we were living in the country and somebody was going to stick a big development next to me,” Ms. Rangan said, “I don’t think I would like it. But we live in a very dense area already, and everybody needs to eat.”

Though some blocks may be shoehorn-tight, that doesn’t mean they lack for square footage, or style. A case in point: Ms. Rangan’s home, a four-story Queen Anne that soars from a skinny lot, boasting cedar clapboards, pocket doors and a turret. In 2002, it cost $410,000. But it, too, needed major fixes, including a new boiler, kitchen and roof.


Ms. Rangan’s house is in Marble Hill — which, though contiguous to the neighborhood and on the same side of the Harlem River, is not officially part of the Bronx at all, but a part of Manhattan, to which it was geographically connected before the river was reoriented in 1897, cutting it off.

Yet just as Marble Hill telephones use the Bronx’s 718 area code and the area is represented by the Bronx’s Community Board 8, Marble Hill residents don’t cross the river every time they go shopping. Boundaries are one thing, convenience another, as Ms. Rangan’s approach makes clear. Describing the sometimes annoying way salsa music blares from cars and echoes up the hills, she said, “There’s a vibrancy here that’s made me appreciate the Bronx.”

Kingsbridge is a patchwork of smaller neighborhoods, each with a personality all its own, spread over barely 0.75 square miles.

Kingsbridge proper sits in the crease of a valley. Along Corlear Avenue, a row of bungalows look as though they could be on a waterfront. And at the turn of the last century West 230th Street was actually an oxbow of the Harlem River, before it was diverted and the riverbed filled.

Close by are attached brick homes from a more modern era, some of which seem tiny beside glassy high-rises that have recently shouldered their way in.

Terraced across the eastern ridge is Kingsbridge Heights, where row houses have security gates on their windows, as on Heath Avenue. The crime rate in the 50th Precinct, which includes upscale Riverdale, is relatively low: there were four murders in 2011, versus eight in 2001, and one so far this year.

Van Cortlandt Village, which flanks the reservoir, is dominated by co-ops: to be precise, the Amalgamated Cooperative Houses, a Tudor-esque complex developed by a garment workers union in 1927. It has 1,500 units in 11 buildings.

In 2004, a city rezoning made it harder to build tall condominiums.

As for the reservoir, it is dry now, but will be refilled by next summer, according to the city Department of Environmental Protection; at that point a water tunnel being built next door in Van Cortlandt Park will be complete.


Eighty-five percent of the housing stock is rentals, census figures show. That means there is never a lot on the for-sale market. This month there were 30 listings, among them houses, co-ops and condos, asking an average of $246,000, according to Streeteasy.com.

They ranged from a co-op studio in a seven-story brick building on Kingsbridge Terrace facing the reservoir, at $69,900, to a postwar two-family row house, with a total of five bedrooms and updated kitchens, at $795,000.

Sales volume has plunged since the recession, though prices have since stabilized. In 2007, at the height of the market, there were 119 sales of market-rate houses, co-ops and condos, at an average price of $267,000, according to Streeteasy data. In 2011 there were just 27, though the average was virtually unchanged.

The market is relatively resilient because Kingsbridge is “close to everything: transportation, good schools, parks,” said Maria Moragianis, a broker with Weichert Realtors House and Home, who lived there for 25 years. “It just works all around.”


Irish bars are scattered along Broadway, though the area is about 60 percent Latino today. And Gaelic Park stadium, where Gaelic football matches were once regularly played, is today mostly used by Manhattan College students for soccer.

In 2011, after delays, the Kingsbridge Library opened in a new glass-walled home on West 231st; a sunken rock garden offers a place to relax with a book.


Those who work on the West Side of Manhattan can hop on the No. 1 train at West 225th, West 231st or West 28th Street. Times Square is about a 25-minute ride.

East Side commuters can take Metro-North Railroad, from a Marble Hill stop on the Hudson line. On weekdays from 6 to 8 a.m., six trains leave for Grand Central Terminal, arriving in about 20 minutes. Monthly passes are $178.


Public School 95, in Van Cortlandt Village, is one option for kindergarten through eighth grade. On state exams last year, 46 percent of fourth-graders met standards in English, 62 percent in math. Citywide, those percentages were 51 and 62.

Next door is the public AmPark Neighborhood School, a six-year-old grade school with a more arts-focused curriculum. It enrolls 280 students.

The John F. Kennedy High School (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/10/X475/default.htm) enrolls about 1,150 students. SAT averages last year were 348 in reading, 355 in math and 331 in writing, versus 437, 460, and 432 citywide.


The neighborhood is named for the first bridge connecting Manhattan to the mainland, erected in 1693 in honor of King William III of England. Tolls applied to all people, and cows, crossing it.


November 3rd, 2012, 02:05 AM
No Nonsense, on Prices or Parking

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Clason Point, a peninsular neighborhood with affordable real estate and a strong
Hispanic presence, retains vestiges of a past as a resort in Harding Park, an area of bungalows converted for year-round use.



CLASON POINT, in the southeastern Bronx, is arguably the least known of a trio of peninsulas that jut into the East River across from Rikers Island and La Guardia Airport. Of the other two, Hunts Point is the city’s food distribution hub and Ferry Point received some attention recently when it was discussed as the site of a new public golf course operated by one of Donald Trump’s companies.

A drive through the nearly one-square-mile area makes it clear that anonymity is just fine with the people who live there.
Most properties, no matter how close to their neighbors, are fenced in; few people are seen on the streets; and the loudest noise comes from airplanes flying so low on approach to La Guardia that airline logos are easily made out from the ground.

Residents live with the roar of jet engines because they value the neighborhood’s reasonably priced real estate, the parking that can be readily found on the street, and — when the weather doesn’t turn traitor the way it did last week with Hurricane Sandy — the views over the water.

A mix of multifamily brick buildings, single-family homes and new condos south of the Bruckner Expressway, Clason Point is bisected by Soundview Avenue, which has bodegas, a Foodtown grocery store, a hair salon or two and a scattering of auto repair shops. Residential areas lie to either side.

Without a link to the subway, Clason Point seems isolated. But it also has a quirkiness derived from its early 1900s past as a resort.

One vestige of that is Harding Park, a subneighborhood along the waterfront, made up of 236 former summer bungalows, now weatherized for year-round living.

Of course, no amount of weatherizing could have protected against the recent stormwaters, and Elbin Mena, the president of the homeowners association for Harding Park, noted on Tuesday that about a dozen homes in its southernmost section had been flooded.

Elsewhere in the larger neighborhood, trees were down and there was scattered power loss, he said, adding that neighbors were doing what they could to help one another in the aftermath.

According to census data on the population of Community Board 9, of which Clason Point is a part, almost 58 percent are Hispanic and 30 percent are black or African-American, with whites and Asians splitting the rest.

Harry Rodriguez, a court officer in Criminal Court in the Bronx, moved into his Harding Park bungalow with his wife, Angie, four years ago after originally searching in Warwick, a community in Orange County where the properties are big and the prices lower than those in New York City.

Mr. Rodriguez said he fell for the locale right away. But when he took his wife for the first time, “she said absolutely not.” The house needed a lot of work and was very small.

Then she saw what Mr. Mena, of the homeowner association, had done with his property, and she changed her mind.

She was impressed with his back deck — a wide wooden expanse with a bar, umbrellas, a fountain, a dock, and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance.

Since the Rodriguezes bought the bungalow a few doors down from Mr. Mena’s place, they have slowly updated it and are now adding a room.


Homes in Harding Point do not come up for sale often because families tend to hold onto them, brokers say. Just outside Harding Park is a newer development, Harbour Pointe at Shorehaven, a private gated community of 488 modest condos and 156 two-family homes built on the site of a former beach club.

This development started to go up in the late 1980s and has continued in phases. Most recently, ground was broken for 71 two-family homes near Clason Point Park, where Soundview Avenue dead-ends at the water.

Rafael Torres of Team Tower Realty, the exclusive broker for Harbour Pointe, said people who bought there are teachers, nurses, police officers and other civil servants who like the security and resortlike amenities that the development offers.

Contrasting the Bronx’s vibrant, busy reputation with Shorehaven’s quiet, insular one, Mr. Torres said, “A lot of people talk about the Bronx, but life here is not like that.” Each unit comes with a parking spot; visitors must be announced at the gatehouse; and residents have access to basketball courts, a gym, a swimming pool and a day care center, he said.

Outside of Harbour Point and Harding Park, the housing consists mainly of brick duplexes and single-family homes on side streets that intersect with Soundview Avenue and White Plains Road.

Ariel Pena, a real estate agent at Re/Max Voyage, says two-family homes are in demand because they provide rental income to defray mortgage costs. Buyers are often young couples looking for their first home or people who have rented in the area and who now want to own, he said.


Reasonable real estate prices are what draw people to Clason Point, said Luis Fernandez, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, who sees potential buyers from Brooklyn and other parts of the city.

“Its selling points are that it is still affordable for the average person and, perhaps, you could get something that is newer than the rest of the Bronx for almost the same price,” Mr. Fernandez said.

He has a listing for a two-unit attached home in Shorehaven built in 2002. It has a two-bedroom apartment over a three-bedroom duplex and is priced at $500,000. He said a similar property in the Throgs Neck neighborhood of the Bronx would probably would sell for $700,000.

According to the real estate Web site Trulia.com, which aggregates multiple listings, 218 properties were for sale in Clason Point the last week of October. An overview of market trends on the site said the average sale price of houses for a two-month period ending Sept. 12 was $334,000, a decline of 33.4 percent when compared with average sales in the neighborhood in 2007.

But Mr. Fernandez has noticed the market picking up. “Inventory is being consumed faster than even a year ago,” he said. “It now moves in four to six months, which is almost a real market, while we used to see 10 to 12 months.”

“It’s urban but not as urban as the rest of the Bronx,” Mr. Fernandez said. “You don’t see high-rises, and it’s not like you’re in the middle of the Grand Concourse and you can’t park. Living here, you find parking everywhere.”

Mr. Rodriguez bought his Harding Point bungalow for $250,000 four years ago. After renovations, he said, it recently was appraised at $370,000.

At Harbor Pointe, two-bedroom condos sell for $340,000 to $375,000, three-bedrooms for about $475,000, Mr. Torres said. Owners also pay a monthly condo fee ranging from $275 to $359.


For residents with direct water access like Mr. Mena and Mr. Rodriguez, kayaking is a favorite pastime. People also fish from the rocks at Clason Point Park or off a jetty that can be reached from the Harding Point area.

Clason Point encompasses Soundview Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/soundviewpark), which is at the confluence of the Bronx and East Rivers. The park has sports fields and more places to fish.

For shopping, Bruckner Plaza, with big retailers like Kmart, Old Navy and Toys ‘R’ Us, is a short bus ride or drive up White Plains Road.


A longtime neighborhood institution is the Holy Cross Parish Elementary School, which serves students through eighth grade. Public School 69 New Vision School, with 575 students, received an A on its most recent city progress report. The larger P.S. 182, which has 900 students, scored a B.

A nearby option for older students is the Adlai E. Stevenson educational campus, which houses two middle schools and seven small high schools.


With no direct subway service, residents who take public transportation rely on two bus lines. The BX27 takes riders to the 6 train at the Morrison/Soundview Avenues stop, while the BX39 connects to the 6 at the Westchester Avenue/E 177th Street stop. At rush hour, it can take about an hour to get to Grand Central Terminal.


In the early part in the 20th century, Clason Point had dance halls, bathing piers and Kane’s Casino, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. Its popularity waned when the last ferry service from College Point, Queens, ended during World War II.

After the war, the casino property was converted into the Shorehaven Beach Club, a private club with a saltwater swimming pool, tennis and handball courts and live entertainment. Pat Loehmann, 68, who has lived in Clason Point her whole life, remembers sneaking into Shorehaven to swim in the pool and later working there as a teenager.

She said children used to play outside until the streetlights came on. These days, she said, it is quieter. Looking out the window of her Beach Avenue home, which was once her grandmother’s, she said, “The kids don’t go out.”


January 18th, 2013, 09:32 PM
A Place for Renters to Buy In


James Estrin/The New York Times
Haffen Park offers a pool and a range of other recreation. Baychester, a home base for new arrivals
from the Caribbean, has affordable real estate. It also happens to be a popular place to buy a car.

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SAVVIER Bronx residents have known for years that the place to go for a car is Boston Road in Baychester, but this rather unassuming neighborhood in the North Bronx has other attractions, among them affordable places to live.

A working-class area of modest single- or two-family homes, many with backyards, as well as a lot of shopping options, and a handful of parks and good schools, Baychester has gained a reputation for stability that has drawn young couples and former renters seeking a foothold in the world of homeownership.

“People are coming here from other parts of the Bronx, a lot of them converted renters,” said Danny Collins, a real estate agent who specializes in Baychester with the brokerage Exit Realty Search. “They may live on the outskirts of the Bronx, but know about the Baychester area, or drove through, or know the mall, and they’re looking to live over here.”

One couple of recent buyers, Yanick Hanchard and her husband, Craig, knew Baychester well, having rented locally for the five years leading up to their purchase. The Hanchards paid less than $380,000 — 5 percent below the asking price of about $400,000 — for a two-family house on Gunther Avenue near Haffen Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/haffenpark/). They live with their two young children in the upper three-bedroom unit and rent out the lower one. The house has a deck, a backyard, a driveway and a basement.

“We looked at a lot of homes,” Ms. Hanchard said. “We found homes that were definitely at the top of our budget, but we wanted to negotiate. Some were willing; some weren’t.”

Ms. Hanchard notes that there is a lot of renting going on right now, even in single-family houses. “More people need help with their mortgage,” she said.

Baychester was a rural area up until the post-World War II years, when thousands of single-family homes were built for returning soldiers and city residents migrating up to the Bronx.

The population then consisted primarily of Irish, German and Italian immigrants. Today Baychester is predominantly home to families from Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Grenada, as well as African- and Italian-Americans.

Many are white-collar professionals, particularly in the medical industry and education, along with government workers, according to Renee Patterson, the president of the Baychester Quality of Life Council and a resident for 30 years. “We’re professionals — nurses, doctors, technicians, you name it,” Ms. Patterson said. “My family is basically education people. So we have a strong middle class.”

According to census data, the mean household annual income in the Baychester area is nearly $70,000.

Even as late as the 1970s, Baychester was “a very residential, almost countrified, area,” said Richard F. Gorman, the chairman of Community Board 12. Development became rapid in the 2000s, with teardowns of single-family houses to build two- and three-families, town-house clusters, condominiums and small apartment buildings, Mr. Gorman said.

The Community Board fought for a rezoning and in 2011 succeeded in protecting pockets of single-family homes, like those on Tillotson, De Reimer, Givan and Mickle Avenues.


Baychester is one of the more uniform parts of the Bronx in terms of housing: there are no pockets of high-priced homes in historic districts or adjoining parks. Most are modest, made of brick or siding, and topped by pitched roofs. There are also three high-rise public housing projects: Edenwald, with about 2,040 apartments; the Baychester Houses, with about 440; and Boston Secor, with about 540.

Although boundaries can often be a source of contention, many see the neighborhood as the approximately 80-block chunk defined by Interstate 95 to the east, Boston Road to the west, East Gun Hill Road to the south, and East 222nd Street to the north. In this relatively tight interpretation of the neighborhood, according to the Census Bureau, the population is about 67,000.

Residents draw a distinction between Baychester and Co-op City, the residential giant to the east, which not only has its own identity, but is isolated by Interstate 95 and has its own separate high-rise architecture and culture.

West of I-95, Baychester once stood out as an almost pastoral area, Mr. Gorman said. “The city did a tremendous disservice to this neighborhood by turning around and allowing the amount of development that it did,” he said.

“Most of our green areas disappeared, and many of these houses that were developed are the same ones that are now having problems with the mortgage crisis.”


The Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors lists more than 1,100 houses on the market.

Because housing is so uniform, pricing is fairly predictable. Single-family houses are in the $300,000s, ranging from about $330,000 to about $365,000, said Mr. Collins of Exit Realty. Multifamilies are often priced in the mid-$400,000s, he said. The newest homes, however, can reach the mid-$700,000s, said Polly Watt, an associate broker with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.

Then there are the deals, of which plenty remain. Mr. Collins says buying a multifamily with the intention of renting out one of the units to pay the mortgage, as the Hanchards did, can be one way of gaining a foothold in Baychester.

In the current financial climate, he added, “it’s been relatively difficult to qualify for a loan” for a single-family. “So I’ve worked with customers who purchased a multifamily, had a renter, did well — and then five years later, they came back and purchased a single-family, and they still have the multifamily as an investment property.”

There are plenty of rentals in Baychester, “ranging from an entire three-bedroom house listed from $1,800 to $2,000, down to a one-bedroom in a multifamily starting from $900 to $1,200,” Ms. Watts said.


Parochial and charter schools (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/c/charter_schools/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) occupy a prominent place here. Catholic schools include Cardinal Spellman High School (Grades 9 through 12); Mount Saint Michael Academy (6 through 12); and Nativity of Our Blessed Lady and Holy Rosary Schools (both prekindergarten through Grade 8). Among notable Spellman graduates is the Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Ms. Hanchard, whose children attend Public School 97 (kindergarten through Grade 5), plans to move them to Holy Rosary School next year. P.S. 97 got a B on its most recent city progress report, with 55 percent of tested students showing mastery in English and 67 in math, versus 47 and 60 citywide.

Co-op City provides a public secondary option, Harry S. Truman High School. SAT averages last year were 386 in reading, 397 in math and 368 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.


Baychester is served by the 5 subway, which has stops at Gun Hill Road and Baychester Avenue and goes express during the morning and evening rush hours. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s schedule, peak-hour service to Midtown takes less than 40 minutes, but Ms. Patterson says that the wait can sometimes be long, and that it typically takes her well over an hour to get to her job at a housing agency in Lower Manhattan.

On weekends, she says, service is spotty and even slower, so she rarely leaves the neighborhood. “We used to say that they’re holding us hostage up here,” was her assessment.
Bus service is plentiful: the Bx31, the Bx28, the Bx38 and the Bx30, along with a number of buses that circumvent Co-op City. There are also two express buses into Manhattan, the BxM10 and the BxM7.

But most people in Baychester drive. I-95 is easily reached from Baychester, making the commute into Midtown by car much quicker than the subway, when traffic cooperates.


Among shopping centers nearby at Co-op City is Bay Plaza. In 2014, once its expansion is complete and the center officially becomes the Mall at Bay Plaza, a 780,000-square-foot structure will enclose a Macy’s, some 100 specialty stores and a food court. The area also has small commercial strips, primarily along East Gun Hill Road and Boston Road, where car dealerships are plentiful and it’s not unusual to spot vintage cars. There are lots of restaurants, many of them Caribbean like Jackie’s West Indian Bakery.

The nine-acre Haffen Park has a playground, tennis courts, ball fields, basketball and a swimming pool. Nearby Seton Falls Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/setonfallspark/), at 36 acres, is mostly a wetlands preserve. There is also Pelham Bay Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/pelhambaypark) and, just to the south, Orchard Beach and City Island.


“What most people today call Baychester is taken from the fact that you have a Baychester Avenue there,” said Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian, adding: “The original Baychester was located just south of the southernmost part of Co-op City. It was sort of a small fishing village, and Baychester Avenue led to it.”


February 16th, 2013, 01:16 AM
Affordability, and Pride of Place



Uli Seit for The New York Times
Houses on Van Cortlandt Park West, framed by apartment buildings, typify the real estate in this hilly perch just north of the Jerome Park Reservoir.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/02/14/realestate/20130217_Living_VanCortla.html)

When Kristin Hart bought a house five years ago in Van Cortlandt Village, a Bronx neighborhood that has a long history of community activism, she was soon drawn into local politics.

Having paid about $400,000 for their house, an attached four-bedroom colonial built in 1912, Ms. Hart and her family gut-renovated it.

“Then I found a note in my mailbox saying come to a hearing because someone wanted to build a 120-unit housing facility across the street,” she recalled.

Ms. Hart not only attended the meeting — and fought to have the development project killed — but soon ended up as the president of the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association.
The area, etched into a hill descending from the Jerome Park Reservoir, has nearly 16,000 residents, according to census data; it is a terraced niche of narrow, winding streets originally laid out by the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect, along with Calvert Vaux, of Central and Prospect Parks.

Now a tranquil enclave of leafy streets, steep stairways and picturesque single-family homes — including ornate neo-Tudors and Georgian-style “garden houses” — the neighborhood also has a collection of brick apartment buildings.

It is on the wedge of land framed by the 1,146-acre Van Cortlandt Park, Interstate 87, and the open land surrounding the Jerome Park Reservoir, which totals about 125 acres, according to the Jerome Park Conservancy.

The reservoir, which has been empty and under repair for the larger part of a decade, is fenced off from the public for safety reasons, but the adjacent area has become a magnet for joggers, said Robert Fanuzzi, the chairman of Bronx Community Board 8. The city has agreed to create a jogging path that will run about halfway around the reservoir along Sedgwick Avenue, he said, adding that the reservoir would most likely be full again come fall.

“This is a jewel of a neighborhood,” Mr. Fanuzzi said. “To have a neighborhood built around a park like this — Van Cortlandt Village is a little gem.”

The activism of Ms. Hart and others underscores the level of local agreement with Mr. Fanuzzi’s assessment. A 2004 rezoning sought to protect the community’s low-lying charm but, Ms. Hart said, didn’t go far enough. In her view, the area continues to see developers proposing high-rise apartment buildings on lots unsuitable for development — including the one across the street. “This is a very stable neighborhood, where people stay for a long time,” Ms. Hart said. But “it’s also a very fragile neighborhood,” when it comes to fending off developers.

Neil Fitzgerald, a teacher on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, bought his 750-square-foot one-bedroom here three years ago, after he discovered it during a run.

“Van Cortlandt Park is famous for its cross-country course,” he said, “so there are races just about every weekend during the fall, and I came up this way and thought this was kind of a nice area.”

Mr. Fitzgerald wouldn’t disclose what he had paid, but comparable apartments now on the market nearby are listed for $125,000 to $135,000.

What You’ll Find

Neighborhood boundaries can be a subject of disagreement, but Van Cortlandt Village is generally seen as defined by Van Cortlandt Park to the north; Dickinson and Sedgwick Avenues on the east; Perot Street and Albany Crescent to the south; and Bailey Avenue to the west.

At the northern end is the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative, founded in 1927 by members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, who were mostly European Jewish immigrants. With about 1,500 units in 11 buildings, the Amalgamated, as it is known, has a much more diverse roster of tenants nowadays, but continues in its role as a community anchor, with a nursery school, playgroups, crafts workshops, art exhibits and social gatherings, among other offerings.

Standing out among the well-maintained brick and frame homes farther south is a similar place, a cooperative called the Sholem Aleichem houses, with about 230 units. With about 15 Tudor buildings set amid well-tended lawns and gardens, it is the focus of a local effort for landmark designation, Ms. Hart said.

What You’ll Pay

Only a handful of single- and multifamily houses are on the market at any one time.

They start around $200 a square foot, said Peter Segalla, an associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence. Most date to the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

“If these properties were in Brooklyn, in Park Slope,” Mr. Segalla said, “they would be $1 million and over. This is a huge opportunity for young families to still live in New York City at a price range that’s half a million dollars or less.” Also, he pointed out, the area has many of the assets of Westchester County without its heavy tax burden.

Prices did not significantly increase before the housing crash of 2008, said Joan Kuzniar, an associate broker with Robert E. Hill, so prices have fallen only about 10 percent. “Houses may sit on the market longer,” Ms. Kuzniar said, “but I wouldn’t say there have been a lot of foreclosures or distressed sales.”

About two dozen co-ops were listed earlier in February on the Hudson Gateway multiple listing service; prices ranged from $109,000 to $310,000. They tend to be spacious and to draw Manhattan buyers, brokers said.

“We are seeing people sort of widening their search,” Ms. Kuzniar said, “starting in maybe Washington Heights and Inwood, and then coming up to this area.”

The Commute

There are no subway stops in Van Cortlandt Village, but the No. 1 subway train has stops a short walk away in Kingsbridge, at 231st and 238th Streets. The trip to Midtown usually takes about 40 minutes, residents said. On the east side of the reservoir, the No. 4 subway has stops at Bedford Park Boulevard and Mosholu Parkway.

Van Cortlandt Village is served by bus lines including the Bx1, the Bx2, the Bx3, the Bx10, and the BxM3 Manhattan express.

What to Do

Lehman College, on the southeastern side of the Jerome Park Reservoir, serves as a cultural force in the area, with institutions like the Lovinger Theater offering high-caliber performances, Ms. Kuzniar said. “They have, for example, Tito Puente’s band, and the Russian ballet,” she said. “Just a lot of great programs that are affordable and accessible.”

Sedgwick Avenue has a few shops and a library, but most residents shop along Broadway in Kingsbridge. By the end of the year a new center, Riverdale Crossing, is to open on Broadway near 236th Street, anchored by a BJ’s Wholesale Club.

The Schools

In 2006, the AmPark Neighborhood School 344 opened in a building owned by the Amalgamated. With about 300 students through Grade 5, it is serving as a welcome alternative, some parents say, to Public School 95 Sheila Mencher, the area’s longstanding elementary and middle school.

AmPark got a C on its latest progress report; 68 percent showed mastery in English, 75 percent in math, versus 47 and 60 citywide. P. S. 95 got a B, with 43 percent showing mastery in English, 56 percent in math. (Progress reports are based on the relative improvement in performance.)

A top public high school, the Bronx High School of Science — SAT averages last year were 632 in reading, 688 in math and 649 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide — is across Jerome Park. Also nearby, DeWitt Clinton High School averaged 419 in reading, 426 in math and 410 in writing.

The History

In a report commissioned by the neighborhood association, the architectural historian Anthony W. Robins recommended the creation of a small Fort Independence Historic District, to cover an area bounded by Orloff Avenue and portions of West 238th Street, Cannon Place and Giles Place. The area was the site of a major Revolutionary War fortification called Fort Independence.


February 17th, 2013, 12:20 AM
"A 120-unit housing facility" - is that the same thing as an apartment building? God, I can't stand NIMBYists, and this article doesn't help any. "Now that I live here, I don't want anyone else to!"

March 28th, 2013, 08:17 AM
Name to Get Its Meaning Back


Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
High Bridge, a pedestrian crossing into Manhattan in disuse since the early ’70s, gave this neighborhood its name.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/03/26/realestate/20130331_Living.html)

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Straddling a high point in the Bronx, High Bridge takes its name from a near-forgotten pedestrian crossing into Manhattan, closed off in the early 1970s. But in recent years, given plans to reopen the restored High Bridge next year, both it and the neighborhood have been rediscovered by growing numbers of would-be buyers and renters.

Nor is the bridge the only alluring new landmark. In 2009, just to the east, the opening of the new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium further bolstered the name recognition of this neighborhood, which spans about a square mile and has about 38,000 residents, mostly Puerto Rican and African-American, along with large numbers of newcomers from the Dominican Republic and West African nations including Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Gambia.

It is not only very close to Manhattan, but also endowed with a large amount of income-restricted housing — as well as some market-rate properties priced much more affordably than comparable real estate in Harlem. Since 2003, dozens of three-family houses have gone up, said Allison Jaffe, the owner and broker of Key Real Estate Services. Despite the housing growth, 2010 census data indicate that more than 95 percent of residents are renters. That trend may stem from a ’70s-era history of serious blight. High Bridge used to be among those areas of the South Bronx where crime, drugs and arson ran rampant.

Ocynthia Williams, a founder of Taqwa Community Farm, a garden cultivated on undeveloped land originally belonging to the city, has lived in High Bridge for three decades and recalls how the area’s derelict condition back then drew her into a life of community activism.

“I thought this was one of the most dilapidated communities that I’d ever seen in my life,” Ms. Williams said. “It was so dirty, and crack was an epidemic, and all the buildings were burnt out.”
Taqwa, one element of a communitywide effort to create green spaces, has helped the neighborhood undergo a “complete transformation,” said Ms. Williams, who describes herself as tickled at the number of small farmers’ markets now operating during the warmer months.

A precipitous drop in crime rates has dovetailed with the other changes: homicide rates in the 44th Precinct (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_044.shtml), which covers High Bridge, along with Concourse Village, East and West Concourse and Mount Eden, fell 91 percent from 1990 to 2012; there were 8 murders last year, according to police data. Similarly, over that period robbery was down 79.4 percent, with 451 robberies reported in 2012.

Residents see the reopening of the High Bridge next year as an important symbol of prosperity and reconnection with the rest of the city, said Chauncy Young, who has lived in the area seven years.

The bridge crosses over to the 130-acre Highbridge Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/highbridgepark), home to the distinctive Highbridge water tower set along magnificent cliffs — as well as one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in New York City.

“Even though the bridge has been closed for 40 years,” Mr. Young said, “kids have been jumping over the fence of that bridge for decades to get over to that park. So it’s important for the High Bridge to open.”

What You’ll Find

High Bridge, defined by a ridge running along the Harlem River, has several steeply stepped streets. Boundaries are rarely above debate in the city, but the neighborhood is generally described as stretching from the river on the west to Jerome Avenue on the east, and from Macombs Dam Bridge on the south to the Cross-Bronx Expressway on the north.

It has many six- and seven-story brick apartment buildings dating to the 1920s and ’30s, along with tracts of two-, three- and four-family homes either built or rehabbed in the 1990s and 2000s. There are also small pockets of single-family homes, most notably along Woodycrest Avenue.

“There’s a bunch of surviving Victorian-era homes,” said Ms. Jaffe, the broker. “Some of them may still be legally single-family homes, but it would certainly not be unusual for those single-family homes to be split up.”

What You’ll Pay

Mr. Young, who works as lead community organizer at the Highbridge Community Life Center, describes apartments available from the Housing Development Fund Corporation as being very reasonably priced — though buyers do have to meet income restrictions. He said he bought his two-bedroom Development Fund co-op for $95,000 around the time he moved here.

“That’s about what an apartment in our building goes for to this day,” he added, “and there are some H.D.F.C. co-ops in the neighborhood that are less than that.” He mentioned a friend who bought a two-bedroom in a different building three years ago for $50,000.

Bakary Camara, a broker with Besmatch Real Estate who lives and works in High Bridge, says that because many of the Development Fund co-op buildings in High Bridge are in financial straits, most banks won’t lend to prospective buyers. One-bedrooms, however, are selling for no more than $50,000 if in good condition, he added.

A recent Trulia.com search turned up 60 market-rate properties for sale. Single-family homes have sold in recent months in the $300,000-to-$500,000 range, Ms. Jaffe said, adding that two-family sales have ranged between $400,000 and $500,000.

According to Mr. Camara, rents are often higher than the typical monthly mortgage payment. The rent for one-bedrooms is about $1,100 a month; for two-bedrooms, $1,300 to $1,400; and for three-bedrooms, $1,500 to $1,800.

The Commute

Once the High Bridge reopens, residents will be able to walk into Upper Manhattan. As it is they can drive, via the Alexander Hamilton or the Macombs Dam Bridge.

Yankee Stadium has a subway station for the B, D and 4 trains. The 4 runs up River and Jerome Avenues, with stops at 167th Street, 170th Street and Mount Eden Avenue. The commute into Midtown generally takes about 25 minutes, Mr. Camara said. Buses include the 13, 11 and 35, and the express BxM4 stops on Grand Concourse and goes to Midtown.

What to Do

In 2010, the High Bridge Branch of the New York Public Library reopened after an extensive renovation; it has become the pride of the community. There are several small parks and playgrounds scattered throughout High Bridge, although some need work and suffer from frequent closures because of a lack of parks funding, said José Rodriguez, the district manager of Community Board 4.

Macombs Dam and John Mullaly Parks, both nearby, are popular with residents, and a greenway stretching along the east bank of the Harlem River will open along with the High Bridge next year.
The main commercial strip is Ogden Avenue. Residents speak favorably of the Paradise Cafe, which serves Dominican food.

The Schools

High Bridge is served by several elementary schools — among them Public Schools 11, 73, 114 and 126 — but only recently have any middle schools opened in the area. The New Settlement Community Campus opened last year; it is home to P.S. 555/Mount Eden Children’s Academy and Intermediate/High School 327. And in September, M.S. 361/Highbridge Green School, the city’s first public school with a green roof, will open for Grades 6, 7 and 8, though only sixth graders are being accepted for the coming school year.

SAT averages last year at Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School, east of High Bridge, were 394 in reading, 400 in math and 364 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

The History

In 1842 the High Bridge opened, lending character to what was then a tiny village on the east bank of the Harlem River. The bridge was a landmark, attracting sightseers like the Prince of Wales and Edgar Allan Poe. It was built by Irish workers, whose descendants were joined in the 1920s and ’30s by European Jews, according to a short history called “Collective Inspiration.”


April 14th, 2013, 05:38 PM

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June 14th, 2013, 07:11 AM

Thanks, Nexus :).

How to Fill a Melting Pot


https://www.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif https://www.nytimes.com/images/2013/06/16/realestate/16livingin-map/16livingin-map-popup.png

Niko J. Kallianiotis for The New York Times
Houses along Astor Avenue in Allerton, whose diversity is hard to top even in a place like New York.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/06/16/realestate/20130616-LIVING.html)

New York has immigrants from 148 countries, at least by the city’s count, and it seems a number of the more successful ones eventually make their way to Allerton, whose diversity stands out even in an extremely multicultural field.

“It’s a neighborhood full of hard-working immigrants, and they all take so much pride in their homes,” said Shasa Rogers, explaining why her mother, Audrey, who is originally from Jamaica, bought a two-family home on Radcliff Avenue in Allerton eight years ago.

The neighbors are Italian, Chinese and Barbadian, and “everybody pitches in and helps one another,” said Ms. Rogers, who lives in Jersey City but drops in often.

In fact, an Italian neighbor helped build several benches in the yard. “The man from Italy speaks very little English,” she added. “It was one of those things where both families said, ‘This is what New York is all about.’ ”

With about 58,000 residents, Allerton is so large geographically — almost a square mile — that it really has two areas with distinct characters, though both are long on diversity. The western portion of the neighborhood, settled early last century by East European Jews, has one of the oldest co-ops in the city, a rent-stabilized complex now called the “Allerton Co-ops.” The eastern portion was populated over the same time frame mostly by Italians, along with a mix of Irish, Jewish and Greek immigrants.

That diversity has only increased. Though African-Americans predominate in the western portion, there is a sizable Puerto Rican community, along with groups from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Albania, Cambodia and other Asian nations, and various African countries. Eastern Allerton still has many Italian-Americans, along with new immigrants, particularly from the Caribbean.

Rozetta Williams-Mitchell, a 15-year resident, finds something remarkable in the coexistence of all these identities. “We have Italians on my block, Jews, Hispanics, Jamaicans, Albanians,” she noted. “It’s a little bit of everything, but it’s very quiet, and we’ve been very happy here.”

But, now eager to be nearer to relatives in the South, Ms. Williams-Mitchell has listed the three-bedroom brick home on Waring Avenue where she raised her two children. She is asking $489,000.

There is drug-related crime, mainly in western Allerton, but as for major crime, the 49th Precinct, which covers Allerton, Van Nest and Morris Park, has one of the lowest rates in the city.

In any case, as Janice Walcott, the head of the Allerton Co-ops Tenants Association, noted: “Sometimes with the crime, people say, ‘I’m moving.’ And I always say: ‘Where are you going? Where are you going to go where you can pay less than $1,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment and have the Botanical Garden you can walk to and a playground?’ ”

Not that there isn’t room for improvement. One boon, says Joe Thompson, a former police officer who has lived here 47 years and heads the White Plains Road Business Improvement District (http://www.pelhamparkway.com/), would be more groups like his. “I’ve encouraged the business owners in Allerton Avenue to form a business improvement district,” he said, so they can “have a much stronger voice.”

What You’ll Find

Because the Bronx went from rural to urban practically overnight by the standard of modern historians, residents don’t always agree upon neighborhood boundaries. In Allerton, they’re often as likely to say they live in a neighborhood associated with the closest main street, such as Pelham Parkway, Bronxwood or Bronx Park East.

In general, Allerton, which is bisected horizontally by Allerton Avenue, is often seen as stretching from Waring Avenue (though some residents say Pelham Parkway) on the south to Gun Hill Road on the north, and from Bronx Park East on the west to Eastchester Road on the east.

Boston Road serves as a dividing line. To the west are high-rises and retail shops, along with four high-rise public housing projects: the Parkside Houses (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/developments/bronxparksidehouses.shtml), with 879 apartments; the Pelham Parkway Houses (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/developments/bronxpelhamparkway.shtml), with 1,266; Eastchester Gardens (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/developments/bronxeastchesterhses.shtml), with 877; and the Gun Hill Houses (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/developments/bronxgunhillhouses.shtml), with 733. To the east are one-, two- and three-family homes on quiet, tree-lined, almost suburban streets with relatively little commercial development.

What You’ll Pay

The 2008 real estate crisis didn’t ultimately alter much in Allerton, where home prices fell by about 10 to 15 percent but have since rebounded, said Yolanda Schorr, a resident and landlord on the eastern side.

“The more expensive properties lost a little bit more than the lower-priced properties,” she said, “but they’ve all come back.”

Trulia.com lists about 138 homes for sale in the area designated “Bronxwood” (after a local thoroughfare), which roughly corresponds to the Allerton neighborhood. One-, two- and three-family homes run from about $395,000 to $635,000, said Sonny Vataj, the broker-owner of Exit Realty Power, a Bronx agency that is opening a 30-agent office in the neighborhood.

About 90 percent of the homes are rentals west of Boston Road, but there are some co-ops and condos, particularly closer to Pelham Parkway, Mr. Vataj said. One-bedroom co-ops run about $80,000 to $100,000, three-bedrooms $160,000 to $180,000, he said.

“The condos are a bit more expensive,” Mr. Vataj said, “but the maintenance is much more reasonable.” Currently, a condo building at Waring Avenue and Bronx Park East has one-bedrooms for $230,000 to $250,000 and two-bedrooms in the high $200,000s, he said.

Market-rate one-bedrooms typically rent for $1,000 to $1,150 a month; two-bedrooms for $1,250 to $1,400; and three-bedrooms for $1,600 to $1,850, he said.

The Commute

Allerton residents have access to the No. 2 and 5 subways; the ride to Midtown takes 40 to 45 minutes. Local buses include the Bx26, Bx8 and Bx39, and express buses include the BxM11.

What to Do

To the west, the 718-acre Bronx Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/bronxpark) — with the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo — is a magnet for many New Yorkers. To the east is the popular Pelham Bay Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/pelhambaypark), which has almost 2,800 acres. Connecting the two big parks south of Allerton is a 109-acre strip of greenway called Pelham Parkway, which residents use to walk dogs and cycle. There are stores on Allerton Avenue, as well as White Plains, Boston, Williamsbridge and Eastchester Roads. But the nearby Bay Plaza mall, also popular with residents, is currently under expansion.

A devotional site for some and a curiosity for others is Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at 833 Mace Avenue, a reproduction of the grotto in Lourdes, France, where some believe the Virgin Mary appeared in the mid-1850s. Pilgrims travel from all over to be cured at the grotto, said Sal Castorina, the president of the Allerton Avenue Homeowners and Tenants Association. “There are a lot of crutches there,” he said.

The Schools

Public School 89 on Mace Avenue, which runs through Grade 8, got a C on its most recent city progress report. Christopher Columbus High School on Astor Avenue teaches Grades 9 through 12; SAT averages last year were 367 in reading, 361 in math and 353 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide.

Allerton has parochial schools, including St. Lucy’s on Mace Avenue and Holy Rosary School on Arnow Avenue, both for prekindergarten through eighth grade.

The History

There was little development in the area until the 1920s, when the subway was extended up White Plains Road, said Lloyd Ultan, the borough historian. The presence of bedrock facilitated high-rise development in the western part of Allerton (which was named for an early settler); the eastern portion, its geology being less suitable for such purposes, ended up lower-slung. “Technologically at the time,” Mr. Ultan said, “you didn’t have the ability to build high-rise buildings on that kind of sandy subsoil.”


June 14th, 2013, 12:30 PM
Didn't Billy Joel do a song about this hood?

June 14th, 2013, 11:33 PM
Nope, that's "Allentown" in Pennsylvania :).

June 21st, 2013, 06:04 AM
Historic Wave Hill House, Restored to Former Glory


Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
After a $9.8 million renovation, Wave Hill House in the Bronx had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/06/19/nyregion/20wave-ss.html)

Even at 24,055 square feet, the stately fieldstone mansion in the Bronx has long been overshadowed by the more celebrated public gardens and Hudson River views just outside its door.

But in an earlier life, Wave Hill House was home to a succession of prominent New Yorkers. A young Teddy Roosevelt had the run of the place as a summer renter, and was said to have developed a lifelong love of the outdoors there.

Mark Twain, who was in his mid-60s when he moved in, used to hold tea parties in a treehouse on the back lawn. And the conductor Arturo Toscanini left behind so many belongings in an upstairs closet that it was called “Toscanini’s closet” by those who had to clean it out.

After a two-year, $9.8 million renovation that restored its rooms and paid homage to its historical and cultural significance, Wave Hill House, which was donated to the city in 1960, will reopen on July 6. On Wednesday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony there attended by Bronx elected officials and local residents.

“By restoring historic Wave Hill House like never before, this project will welcome even more visitors to enjoy the beautiful Bronx landscape and take in a wide range of excellent art programs,” the mayor said. “It is one more example of our city’s commitment to strengthening our remarkable cultural community across the five boroughs.”

By any standard, the house is luxurious. It features 13 fireplaces, some of which are hand carved from Italian marble, a terrace with sweeping river views, a medieval hall and innumerable period details like hidden cabinets, mahogany doors and brass fixtures.

Wave Hill House was built in 1843 by a well-to-do lawyer, William Lewis Morris, for his wife and their seven children. One story is that Mrs. Morris, arriving by boat to view their future home, was said to liken the rolling hillside to a wave crashing on a beach. (A competing story attributes the name to people waving at passing boats.)

After Mrs. Morris’s death, the family returned to Manhattan, and the house was eventually sold to William Henry Appleton, a publisher. He remade the house, which originally had a Greek Revival look, into a Victorian villa. He also moved the front entrance, which had faced the river, to the back to reflect the growing reliance on road and rail transport.

It was in 1870 that Mr. Appleton leased the house for the first of two summers to the Roosevelts, whose elder son would grow up to become governor and then president. As governor, Mr. Roosevelt enlisted the help of the financier George W. Perkins in preserving the Palisades just across the river.

“It’s not documented, but we like to think he gained an appreciation of the outdoors while he was here,” said Charles Day, an interpreter at Wave Hill, during a recent tour. “An impressionable age, you know.”

Just over three decades later, another famous renter moved in. Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was unfazed by the frigid winters. “I believe we have the noblest roaring blasts here I have ever known on land,” he wrote. “They sing their hoarse song through the treetops with a splendid energy that thrills me and uplifts me and makes me want to live always.”

The house was later acquired by Mr. Perkins, a neighbor who combined adjoining properties, created pathways and seeded gardens to provide a lush retreat. Mr. Perkins himself never lived in the house, but his family and friends did. His daughter removed much of the Victorian detail and turned it into an English country manor house.

Bashford Dean left his own mark. Though only a renter, Mr. Dean, a curator of arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, decided to build a Gothic-style wing for his personal collection.

Armor Hall, as it is known today, has a bas-relief fireplace depicting the Resurrection, and a vaulted ceiling made of salvaged timber from construction of the Lexington Avenue subway. The hall is frequently rented for wedding receptions and comes with a Juliet balcony from which brides can toss their bouquets.

Mr. Toscanini arrived in 1942 during the war years. He was followed by the British delegation to the United Nations, whose diplomats entertained notable guests like Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the statesman John Foster Dulles.

Today, Wave Hill is known for the artistry of its gardens, which are painstakingly maintained by workers with degrees in fine arts as well as horticulture. Martha Stewart has called Wave Hill the site of one of her favorite gardens, and “Saturday Night Live” recently used it as the ideal wedding location in a skit on perfect gay weddings.

Its ground floor became a cafe, gift store and restrooms. Armor Hall has been used for lectures and a concert series. Children’s art classes have been held in the basement, and conferences upstairs in former bedrooms.

Over the years, it has shown its wear and tear. “The building needed a lot of T.L.C.,” said Mary Weitzman, a spokeswoman for Wave Hill, a nonprofit group that manages the daily operations of the estate. “It did not have any work on it for so long, there were leaks and termite damage.”

About two-thirds of the $9.8 million cost of repairs was covered by city and state sources, and the remainder was raised through private donations. The work included reinforcing the bones of the house, replacing aging bathrooms, expanding the cafe and adding an elevator, ramp and automatic door to improve access.

Kenneth Anderson, 62, said the house was the cultural center of Wave Hill, from which much of its creative energy flowed. Mr. Anderson, a retired businessman and teacher who visits nearly every week, proposed to his wife under the pergola in Wave Hill 30 years ago this month.

“Wave Hill is a lifestyle, and the house is very much part of that,” he said. “It’s proof you don’t have to have a million dollars to live like a millionaire.”


September 7th, 2013, 01:36 AM
Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx, Defined by the Views


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/09/08/realestate/08LivingIn-map/08LivingIn-map-popup.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

Natan Dvir for The New York Times
The Villa Charlotte Bronte co-op, the best-known residence in Spuyten Duyvil, looks like a castle built into the bluff over the Hudson River.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/09/08/realestate/20130908-LIVING.html)

In what some people might consider an unlikely move, Chris Tokar and Lee Feldman recently traded their longtime Williamsburg, Brooklyn, rental for a co-op in an area with a significantly lower cool factor, Spuyten Duyvil, a section of Riverdale.

Ms. Tokar admits she had reservations about leaving Williamsburg, where the couple lived with their children, 5 and 9, in an apartment of less than 500 square feet. “I was concerned that we would be far away from the things we loved doing, that we wouldn’t fit in, that we would get restless and that we’d have to get a car, which we didn’t want,” she said.

So far the concerns are unfounded. Since their move in June, she said, the family — including “two cats and a piano” — has settled into a larger place, with three bedrooms, in a high-rise building on Kappock Street. All are enjoying the extra space, the terrace and the communal pool, where the children made friends over the summer.

And they are finding the public-transportation options — a Metro-North Railroad station in the neighborhood and the No. 1 subway a walk or short bus ride away — obviate any need for a car.
It was affordability that drew them to Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced SPY-ten DYE-vil), a hilly area set at the point where the Hudson and Harlem Rivers merge. Ms. Tokar said that when her husband had devised a computer search, factoring in the amount of space they wanted and what they could spend, Riverdale had popped up. They liked the Spuyten Duyvil section because it is pretty and green. The sale price on their unit was $435,000.

Its views of the rivers, Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and the Palisades in New Jersey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newjersey/?inline=nyt-geo) go a long way to defining the neighborhood. And the first thing New Yorkers see after crossing the Henry Hudson Bridge from Manhattan are the tall apartment buildings that hug the riverbanks.

But there is more to the neighborhood than high-rise living. Away from the water’s edge, modest seven-story brick apartment buildings with affordable co-ops share terrain with clusters of single-family homes. Along a section of Palisade Avenue, private cul-de-sacs hold estate-size homes that look out over the Hudson.

Susan Goldy, a broker and manager at Halstead Property in Riverdale who had her own firm for 35 years, cited the prime motivation of many potential buyers: Spuyten Duyvil has homes with the space they want, for less money than they would spend in other neighborhoods.

Ms. Tokar, who works for a nonprofit group in the South Bronx and whose husband is a musician and a piano teacher, describes their new neighborhood as having “a lot of ethnic diversity as well as age diversity.” (She noted that she and her husband, who are in their 40s, were “ancient” by Williamsburg standards.) In Spuyten Duyvil, they enjoy having an older generation around.

She recalled an encounter she found endearing, with an elderly woman who approached her in the Rite Aid store, offering her a cart and advising: “Don’t use that basket. Spare your rotator cuffs.”

According to a city analysis of the 2010 census that looks at Spuyten Duyvil and Kingsbridge, the two had a total of 30,000 residents — 33.3 percent of whom are white, 22.8 percent African-American, 28.6 percent Hispanic and 12.6 percent Asian.

What You’ll Find

Spuyten Duyvil has mostly co-op apartments, with a scattering of condominiums and single-family houses. Its best-known residence is the Villa Charlotte Bronte, a pair of ivy-covered 1920s-era co-op buildings that together look like a castle built into the bluff over the Hudson. A mudslide caused by Tropical Storm Irene forced the temporary evacuation of several of the villa’s 17 apartments, but its units are still selling. According to Streeteasy.com, a two-bedroom two-bath apartment there sold earlier this year for $775,000. Another prominent co-op, at 2400 Johnson Avenue, faces the Harlem River and is known locally as the Blue Building for its striking color. It is emblematic of the high-rises with door staff, pools and other amenities that are common to the area.

The neighborhood covers less than a square mile but has a large inventory on the market, mostly co-ops. A search late last month on Streeteasy.com yielded 250 listings.

The single-family houses are a kind of happy secret. A group of wood-shingled houses at the top of Edsall Avenue has the air of a village farther north in the Hudson Valley. Another eclectic cluster — Tudors, bungalows and colonials among them — is built along Edgehill Road, on a steep hill sloping toward Kingsbridge and Broadway on the eastern side of the neighborhood. Edgehill dead-ends after zigzagging down the slope, creating a very private mini-neighborhood.

What You’ll Pay

Ms. Goldy says listings in Spuyten Duyvil represent a microcosm of the range of prices found in Riverdale. On the high end are some million-dollar-plus apartments, penthouses or large combined units with Hudson views, found in luxury buildings along Palisade Avenue. At the other end are simple one-bedroom co-ops that can be bought for as little as $160,000. What makes the area particularly attractive to buyers is the sweet spot in the middle where Ms. Tokar’s new home falls. The couple had looked in Williamsburg, but found nothing larger than their rental — which, even at that size, she said, was expensive.

Ms. Goldy says prices have come down considerably from the heights of six or seven years ago. Then, two-bedroom co-ops fell in the $300,000-to-$500,000 range. Now, she said, with a large inventory out there, prices for these apartments range from $200,000 to $400,000. But, she noted, brokers have seen a rise in activity and interest this year, with some properties eliciting multiple bids.

The Commute

The Spuyten Duyvil stop on Metro-North’s Hudson line is on the water’s edge below the Henry Hudson Bridge. With service restored after a freight train derailment (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/nyregion/train-derailment-on-metro-north-track-snarls-commute.html?_r=0)near the station on July 18, a trip to Grand Central Terminal takes just under a half an hour. A monthly ticket costs $193. To get to the station, residents walk down a steep hill along Edsall Street or take a flight of stairs. Metro-North also operates a bus service to area buildings in time to meet trains. Another commuting option is the BxM2 express bus, which stops at Kappock Street and Johnson Avenue and takes about an hour to get to the Herald Square area. The closest subway stop, at 231st Street and Broadway on the No. 1 line, is a 15- to 20-minute walk, or a short bus ride.

The Schools

Ms. Tokar’s children will enroll this year in the main public elementary, Public School 24, the Spuyten Duyvil School, which has 900 students through Grade 5. According to the Department of Education’s most recent progress report, 73.9 percent met state standards in English, 83.2 percent in math, versus 47 and 60 percent citywide. The public Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy covers Grades 6 through 12 and has 1,325 students. SAT averages last year were 449 in reading, 465 in math and 449 in writing, versus 496, 514 and 488 citywide. One parochial option through Grade 8 is St. Gabriel School on West 235th Street.

What to Do

With buildings housing their own gyms and pools, many residents find activities where they live. The area’s parks include the Henry Hudson Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/HenryHudsonPark), whose main feature is a 100-foot column topped with a full-figure sculpture of Hudson, depicted as though he were standing at the bow of a ship. Ewen Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/ewenpark/), built on the slope of Riverdale and Kingsbridge, has a dog run and a hill popular for winter sledding. A shopping center on Kappock Street has a post office, a grocery and restaurants.

The History

The neighborhood’s name evokes early America, as do the breathtaking views of the Palisades, untouched by development. Spuyten Duyvil, which roughly translates from the Dutch as “in spite of the Devil” or “spitting Devil,” according to the New York Public Library, is believed to refer to the strong currents that occur where the two rivers meet. Another landmark is Edgehill Church, built in the late 19th century by the owners of the Johnson Iron Foundry for its workers.


November 4th, 2013, 09:40 PM
Want to live like a king? Buy this Bronx castle

Fieldston mansion looks down on the rabble from terraced gardens and turrets. And it's on sale.

By Gersh Kuntzman (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Gersh Kuntzman) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, November 4, 2013, 7:20 PM


A man's home is his castle, but the one at 4720 Grosvenor Ave. in Riverdale really is one.

Fort Apache? Meet the Castle.
The Bronx’ own authentic European estate — a 1926 French provincial mansion — can be yours for just $3,650,000.
That’s dollars, not francs.
The current listing is actually an increase from the May, 2012 asking price of $3 million — penalizing would-be barons who didn’t jump at the earlier price.

The Grosvenor Ave. home is set on the second highest point in the city, the better to look down on the rest of the borough.
And if you’re going to be a king, you might as well live like one: this castle has terraced gardens on two sides and a massive flagstone patio with an embedded sound system.

The interior features a modern kitchen.

Inside, the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home has been completely redesigned with a state-of-the-art kitchen, cathedral ceilings in some bedrooms, and an iPad-controlled internal intercom system.
There’s even a breakfast nook and a bedroom with their own turrets.
The house is in the uber-riche Fieldston section of already exclusive Riverdale, boasting 24-hour security beyond the normal NYPD protection.
It was built by shipping line owner Giuseppe Cosulich, whose family owns a similar castle in Croatia, albeit an actual 16th-century one.
It is currently owned by Alec Diacou and Suzi Arensberg. They bought it in 2004 for just $1.8 million, but sunk almost as much into the house, according to the Wall Street Journal, which wrote about the estate two years ago.
Diacou, a former banker, runs a nonprofit called Yes the Bronx. He and his wife have other houses and apparently used the castle as a summer home, the Journal reported.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-castle-sale-article-1.1506598#ixzz2jja9j282

February 12th, 2014, 09:21 AM
Attention Priced-Out Shoppers


The Mosholu Parkway, seen from the elevated Jerome Avenue subway. Karsten Moran for The New York Times

As Brooklyn neighborhoods grow more expensive and the city’s affordability frontier shifts to the Bronx, Bedford Park, in the north-central section of the borough, could become prime territory, being both stable and financially within reach.

Adjoining the Mosholu Parkway (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/mosholuparkway/) along the northeast, the New York Botanical Garden (http://www.nybg.org/) to the southeast and the Jerome Park Reservoir (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/virtual-tours/old-croton-aqueduct-trail/jerome-park-reservoir) to the west, the somewhat arrowhead-shaped half square mile of Bedford Park has attributes that New Yorkers love — good public transportation, parks and interesting housing stock — while flying low on the larger real estate radar.

Brokers see its prominence increasing as more buyers are priced out elsewhere. “People are discovering it,” said Oscar Cabrera of Keller Williams Real Estate, describing the area as one of several in the Bronx he considers “the last bastions of affordability in New York City.”

Slide Show

(http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2014/02/16/realestate/20140216-LIVING.html) Daniel Sasse, an agent with Veritas Property Management, had similar observations. At open houses for co-ops in Bedford Park, he said, he sees mostly people from other boroughs — Manhattan, Queens (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/queens/?inline=nyt-geo) and Brooklyn. “They’re saying, ‘It’s the only place I can afford to buy.’ ”

The richest category of housing is the well-priced co-op in an Art Deco building along the northernmost stretch of the Grand Concourse. The area’s few single-family homes rarely hit the market, but they date to its late 19th-century origins as a parklike suburb.

One such home, built in 1903 with seven bedrooms and three baths, was recently available. Mr. Cabrera, who handled the sale, said the property, listed at $375,000, exemplified the value that the neighborhood offers. A comparable property in some parts of Brooklyn might command as much as $900,000, he said.

The listing also reflected the area’s stability, having been inhabited since the early 1980s by a family now returning to Colombia. A neighborhood family that wanted a larger home is in contract to buy it, at close to asking price, he said.

“Bedford Park has always maintained itself and has a pretty good name,” Mr. Cabrera said. “You can raise a family there and not see dilapidated houses.”

The 2010 census, grouping Bedford Park with North Fordham, shows that of nearly 55,000 residents, 68 percent are Hispanic, 18 percent black or African-American, 6.7 percent white and 5 percent Asian. There are a few commercial strips, but none with the bustle of shopping areas like the one a few blocks south on East Fordham Road. Shops and restaurants are in small pockets — one near Bedford Park Boulevard and Webster Avenue, another at Bedford Park Boulevard and Jerome Avenue, a third along East 198th Street.

Businesses reflect the diverse population. An African market on Bedford Park Boulevard flanks restaurants with Dominican, Mexican and Chinese menus.

A few Korean shops and restaurants can be found along East 204th Street near Valentine Avenue. Kay Lee, who has owned a Kumon tutoring center at that intersection for 15 years, described the Korean community as smaller now than 10 years ago and said she was seeing more South Asian and Albanian families moving in.

One complaint you’ll hear in the area: On-street parking can be hard to find.

What You’ll Find

Inventory is dominated by one-bedroom co-ops in buildings along the Grand Concourse and on streets that slope down to Webster Avenue. Two- and three-bedrooms are scarce and in demand.

Browse the online listings for co-ops in Bedford Park and you’ll see apartments with architectural accents like rounded doorways and sunken living rooms. Some, in buildings facing the Mosholu, have views of the greenery that lines the parkway.

Mr. Sasse says most of his buyers are couples in their 20s and 30s who hope to start a family or who have a young child. What Bedford Park offers them is the Junior 4s, a one-bedroom with a dining room that can be converted into a small second bedroom.

Rentals are also a big part of the market. The Tracey Towers on Mosholu Parkway, a pair of hulking high-rises built in the 1970s under the Mitchell-Lama housing program, are icons in Bedford Park. Designed by the architect Paul Rudolph, the buildings are distinctive for their curved lines and concrete construction.

Jean Hill, the president of the Tracey Towers Tenant Association, said a major renovation was underway, both in public areas and within apartments, which are rented at subsidized rates. Ms. Hill said the complex remained a safe, community-oriented place to raise a family, just as it was when she moved there in the mid-1970s.

Like the neighborhood around them, the towers have undergone demographic shifts. “It’s always been mixed, African-Americans, Europeans, Hispanics,” Ms. Hill said. “Now we have a large Ghanaian population.”

What You’ll Pay

According to Mr. Sasse, one-bedroom co-ops range in price from $100,000 to $150,000, depending on the extent of renovations, with the median around $119,000. Two-bedroom co-ops, when available, usually start around $149,000.

Studios often start around $90,000. Mr. Sasse says some can be had at lower prices if deals are all cash or are part of a pre-foreclosure process.

Single-family homes run mainly between $300,000 and $400,000, according to a review of listings on Zillow.com — which recently showed 71 listings, including co-ops and condos.

Prices have not recovered fully from the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Mr. Sasse cited one listing, a one-bedroom “bought at height of market” for $119,000 as having been relisted at $112,000 “and we might still have to come down a bit, so prices are not back at pre-recession level yet.”

The Commute

The neighborhood is well served by the subway system. Two lines run through Bedford Park — the B and D trains along the Grand Concourse and the 4 train along Jerome Avenue. A trip to Grand Central Terminal on the 4 from the Bedford Park Boulevard stop takes 35 to 40 minutes.

The neighborhood also has access to the Metro-North Railroad. The New York Botanical Garden stop falls within its boundaries; a trip to Grand Central from there takes 22 minutes, according to an online schedule.

What to Do

The botanical garden lies at the easternmost border and puts residents of Bedford Park within walking distance of one of the city’s most beautiful green spaces as well as its seasonal programs and special exhibits.

More parkland is accessible along the Moshulu Parkway, where residents can walk their dogs, jog or find a quiet spot on a park bench. The Bronx Zoo (http://www.bronxzoo.com/) is a short bus ride away. For cultural events, Bedford Park isn’t far from the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, on the campus of Lehman College. Among the acts scheduled to perform this month were the Soweto Gospel Choir (http://www.sowetogospelchoir.com/) and the Haifa Symphony Orchestra (http://lehmancenter.org/th_event/haifa/).

Just southwest of the area, the morphing of the Kingsbridge Armory (http://www.nycedc.com/film-event-space/kingsbridge-armory) into a national ice skating center by 2017 is being anticipated as a big lure, brokers said.

The Schools

The neighborhood is rich with educational institutions. There are two top public high schools — the Bronx High School of Science, with about 3,000 students, and the High School for American Studies at Lehman College, with 700. Admission is determined by test, and students come from all over the city.

According to the Department of Education, Bronx Science SAT averages in 2012 were 632 in reading, 688 in math and 649 in writing, versus 434, 461 and 430 citywide that year. Lehman’s were 636, 648 and 636.

The main public elementary school, No. 8, which runs through Grade 5, got an A on its most recent progress report.

The History

Since 2009, Bedford Park has had a historic district on Perry Avenue: a distinctive group of Queen Anne-style rowhouses. Completed in 1912 at a cost of $6,500 per home, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the nine buildings are all elevated on fieldstone walls that enclose small front yards.


April 23rd, 2014, 03:59 AM
Pelham Bay, the Bronx: A Blend of Urban and Suburban


Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/realestate/pelham-bay-the-bronx-a-blend-of-urban-and-suburban.html#slideshow/100000002838030/100000002838033)

Maitland Avenue, Pelham Bay Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

Anyone seeking a large body of water in Pelham Bay would be quickly frustrated: The neighborhood’s namesake no longer exists. Instead, you would find a tidy community with rows of two-story brick homes bearing awnings and grillwork fences immediately adjacent to the city’s largest park.

That’s not to say that water is very far away. Pelham Bay Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/pelhambaypark) has 13 miles of coast hugging Long Island Sound, and residents often consider the prestigious waterfront communities of Country Club and Spencer Estates to the east, and Throgs Neck to the south, to be part of Pelham Bay.

But Pelham Bay proper is a working- and middle-class community of about 23,000 residents, roughly a square mile framed by the Bruckner Expressway and the Hutchinson River Parkway.

A solid community and a step up for successful Italian, Irish, Greek and German immigrant families beginning in the 1920s, Pelham Bay retains many of those cultural traditions but is now welcoming small waves of Hispanics, Bangladeshis, Asians and Albanians, residents say.

A two family home on Hobart Avenue for $799,000. Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

“Pelham Bay has changed somewhat ethnically, but not in quality of life at all,” said Kenneth Kearns, the district manager of Bronx Community Board 10, who has lived in Pelham Bay for 10 years.

“Most of the people work for the city, state or federal government, and there are a lot of law-enforcement people,” Mr. Kearns said. “Ethnic lines really get blurred; nobody cares. It’s more, how are you keeping up your house? And people are keeping up their houses.”

A three family brick home on Jarvis Avenue for $730,00. Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times

The neighborhood is an intriguing blend of the urban and suburban, in part because of the northern terminus of the subway’s No. 6 line, which has spurred development of some apartment buildings, said Maria K. Paleatsos, a Pelham Bay native who is the broker/owner of MP Power Realty.

While streets off the main commercial drags — Crosby, Westchester and Buhre Avenues — frequently have trees and homes with small yards, “everything is pretty squared off, and everything you see, you know what to expect on the next corner,” Ms. Paleatsos said.

A single-family home on Middletown Road for $479,000. Uli Seit for The New York Times

That consistency is also seen in the area’s businesses, some of which have been operating for decades, such as the landmark George’s Restaurant with its vivid green sign and awning, and next door, Zeppieri & Sons bakery, owned by Carmine Zeppieri Jr., whose father opened the shop over half a century ago.

Mr. Zeppieri said his 20-year-old son, Carmine Zeppieri III, who works in the traditional Italian bakery, will take over ownership someday. While the bakery has added products, such as fondant cakes with fashion themes and red velvet cake, a significant portion of its business comes from neighborhood transplants returning on religious holidays seeking the traditional Italian favorites.

Maria Fumaso, the owner of the 36-year-old Pelham Bake Shop and Cafe, said she’s had a similar experience, though she has also expanded her offerings from Italian bread and pastries to include “soda bread for the Irish, challah bread for the Jewish, strudel for the Germans,” she said. “We try to accommodate a little bit everybody.”


March 28th, 2015, 06:32 AM
Mott Haven, the Bronx, in Transition

MARCH 25, 2015

Parisa Azadi for The New York Times

Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/realestate/mott-haven-the-bronx-in-transition.html?_r=0#slideshow/100000003589437/100000003589460)

Mott Haven, in the South Bronx, has heard it all before: It’s dangerous, barren and a place to pass through en route to somewhere else. But the neighborhood, a waterfront enclave with a mix of industrial and residential properties, is no longer defined by those old stereotypes. It is undergoing a gradual reinvention, with restaurants opening, scruffy buildings getting spiffed up and apartments being built on gap-toothed lots. Plans are in motion for hundreds of rental units along a stretch of the Harlem River where Jordan L. Mott, for whom the area was named, once made iron stoves and other items.

“I said, never, ever, over my dead body, would I ever live in the Bronx (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/bronx/?inline=nyt-geo); it just had such a stigma about it,” said Rachael Lyon, 42, who works in public relations and moved in September from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo), to a one-bedroom in the Clock Tower, a converted piano-factory building. “But everybody is so cool, and so laid back, and it has everything you want in a neighborhood,” she said, citing the apartment stock, transportation and ease of parking.

624 MORRIS AVENUE A building (http://www.rutenbergrealtyny.com/detail.aspx?id=49656TH), center right, in Melrose with three apartments and a storefront, listed at $800,000.
Parisa Azadi for The New York Times

Renewal has been promised before, only to fizzle, and the area still faces enduring challenges. More than 40 percent of families in Mott Haven live in poverty, according to recent census figures, compared with about 18 percent citywide and 28 percent for the Bronx as a whole.

“I really hope it happens and is not just the real estate market creating an artificial bubble,” said Linda Ortiz, who owns a four-story multifamily home in the neighborhood. Her 1888 Queen Anne-style building had served as single-room-occupancy housing, cost $338,000 in 2012 and needed extensive work, she said.

While some transitioning areas resist gentrification, Mott Haven should embrace it, she said. “I say, the more, the merrier,” said Ms. Ortiz, who does mediation work for the United States Department of Justice and also serves on Bronx Community Board 1 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/bxcb1/html/home/home.shtml), which includes the area.

Judged by crime statistics, things are looking up. The 40th Precinct (http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_040.shtml), which covers a larger area, had 70 murders in 1993 and 27 in 2001 but 7 in 2014, according to police data. Assaults and robberies have declined significantly, too.

Traffic, on the other hand, is almost a fact of life. Pulaski Park, by the Willis Avenue Bridge, is practically surrounded by elevated roads but still is a popular site for basketball games. Vehicle pollution contributes to the neighborhood’s high asthma rates, according to residents who oppose the construction (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/23/nyregion/freshdirect-breaks-ground-in-the-south-bronx-prompting-protests.html) of a new headquarters in the area by FreshDirect, the grocery delivery service with a fleet of trucks. Others, though, say the jobs the company will bring are welcome.

Of the neighborhood’s 58,000 residents, 72 percent are Hispanic, according to the 2010 census, many with Puerto Rican, Dominican and Mexican heritage.

The neighborhood is “amazingly multicultural,” said Linda Cunningham, an artist and resident. A decade ago, Ms. Cunningham, who had been living in SoHo, was part of a development team that converted an industrial building into an 11-unit condo. Today, she lives and works there.

“Everybody knows everybody here,” she said, as she greeted people on the sidewalk. “It feels like home.”

What You’ll Find

Mott Haven is bordered by East 149th Street, the Harlem River, the Bronx Kill and the Bruckner Expressway, according to maps and residents.

Monolithic city housing projects line the landscape, like Mott Haven, J. P. Mitchel, Patterson and Mill Brook, which account for about 14,000 residents. Sharply juxtaposed against them on nearby blocks are 19th-century brick buildings that are among the borough’s most attractive. In all, Mott Haven contains three of the Bronx’s 11 historic districts.

The developer Pinnacle Real Estate Ventures (http://homes-nyc.com/) rehabbed three buildings on Alexander Avenue and rented all six three-bedroom units at market rate. When available, they start at $2,400 a month, said Joshua Dardashtian, the company’s president.

Most new development, meanwhile, has sprouted around Bruckner Boulevard, a largely industrial area that was rezoned twice, in 1997 and 2005. There, in 2002, the Clock Tower opened with 95 apartments in the former piano factory at Bruckner and Lincoln Avenue owned by Carnegie Management; studios start at $950 a month. Next door, Carnegie plans to break ground this summer on a 130-unit rental building with an indoor pool, said Isaac Jacobs, the company’s vice president. The JCAL Development Group (https://plus.google.com/115027469298411880323/about?gl=us&hl=en) plans to start construction this spring on two side-by-side rental buildings, with 15 units, on Alexander Avenue, near Bruckner, said Joshua Weissman, JCAL’s president.

What You’ll Pay

632 MORRIS AVENUE A building (http://www.rutenbergrealtyny.com/detail.aspx?id=51869TH), center left, in nearby Melrose, with three apartments, listed at $800,000.
Parisa Azadi for The New York Times

With few apartments for sale, people who want to own often buy two-family or multifamily buildings, living on one floor and renting out others. Such buildings can range from $200,000 to $1 million, based on size, condition and whether they are in foreclosure, brokers say.

In 2014, 39 properties sold in Mott Haven, 36 of which were buildings; they averaged $455,000, according to StreetEasy.com. That compares with 50 properties traded in 2010, 41 of them buildings, at an average of $618,000. As of mid-March this year, there were 10 sales, 7 of them buildings, at an average of $456,000, the data show.

The drop in average price may reflect some foreclosure properties hitting the market now after moving through the system, said Juliet Silfvast, an agent with Rutenberg Realty. But she said the average price per square foot paid for buildings — now about $220, she says — is climbing.

Rents for market-rate apartments start at around $1,500 a month for one-bedrooms, developers say.

What to Do

Some residents shop for groceries at a Western Beef Supermarket (http://www.westernbeef.com/) on Morris Avenue or at a seasonal farmer’s market (http://www.southbronxfarmersmarket.com/) that started last year on East 138th Street. Across the street is a bustling strip of Mexican-owned businesses selling flowers, fruit and tacos.

On Willis Avenue, La Morada Restaurant (http://lamoradanyc.com/) is a modest, well-regarded (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/dining/hungry-city-la-morada-in-the-south-bronx.html?_r=0) place run by a family from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

457 EAST 143RD STREET A four-bedroom three-bath single-family rowhouse (https://www.halstead.com/sale/ny/bronx/mott-haven/457-east-143rd-street/townhouse/9430737) needing renovation, listed at $325,000.
Parisa Azadi for The New York Times

Charlie’s Bar and Kitchen (http://charliesbarkitchen.com/), which opened in the Clock Tower building in 2012, features framed photos of famous Charlies — Sheen, Chaplin, Tuna. Nearby, at 39 Bruckner, is Wallworks New York, an art gallery that opened last fall.

Hilly St. Mary’s Park (http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-marys-park), around 35 acres, is among the area’s largest green swaths. But this summer, a long-delayed pathway for pedestrians and cyclists over the Bronx Kill is scheduled to open, connecting East 132nd Street in Port Morris with Randalls Island and its acres of athletic fields.

The Schools

Public schools in the area face challenges. Some residents of Bruckner Boulevard, arguably the center of the neighborhood, are zoned for Public School 154 (http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/07/X154/default.htm), the Jonathan D. Hyatt School, which runs through fifth grade. Last school year, 7 percent of students there met standards on state exams in English, versus 30 percent citywide; 13 percent did in math, versus 39 percent citywide, according to city data.

At Success Academy Charter School (http://www.successacademies.org/) on Morris Avenue, which teaches kindergarten to fourth grade, 60 percent met standards in English, and 93 percent did in math. The same building houses fifth grade (and next fall, sixth).

The Commute

The 4, 5, 6 and 2 trains all serve the neighborhood, some part time. Some commuters in the Bruckner Boulevard area take the 6 train from Third Avenue-138th Street, then transfer to either the 4 or 5 express train at 125th Street, arriving in Midtown in 20 minutes.

The History

Mott Haven was once a piano district, though most of the early businesses are long gone. Beethoven Pianos, which repairs, stores and sells pianos in its warehouse by the Third Avenue Bridge — it also has a showroom in Manhattan — came later, in the 1980s. It has strong ties to the past: Its five-story brick building was part of Mott’s original iron works, said Carl Demler, Beethoven’s owner.