Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 16 to 29 of 29

Thread: Is the South Bronx Hip?

  1. #16


    Like I said on your other thread, I live nearby, and can probably offer you some solid advice.

    "Hip" isn't exactly the word that I'd use for the area, and it's not a word that's likely to make you many friends in Port Morris. It is a very friendly neighborhood, and there are some fun places to hang out. What are you into?

    If you happen arrive and ask a local woman if she's an artist, only to get a drink thrown in your face, you will have met me.

  2. #17


    lol well thanks stern, what a broker? lol

    and thanks for the advice Schadenfrau, look forward to the drink throwing. lol

  3. #18
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    South Bronx is poorest district in nation, U.S. Census Bureau finds: 38% live below poverty line

    By Richard Sisk

    More than a quarter-million people in the South Bronx are living in poverty, making Rep. Jose Serrano's 16th Congressional District the poorest in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    The South Bronx had 256,544, or 38%, of its residents living below the poverty line, the new county-by-county Census stats show. The figures are worse for children, with 49% living in poverty.

    The Center for American Progress think tank broke down the Census numbers by Congressional district and ranked the 10 with the highest poverty rates.

    Following Serrano’s district comes the Detroit district of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) with a poverty rate of 30.5%, and the South Texas district of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Tex.). The Philadelphia district of Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) ranks 10th (28.9%).

    The highest overall poverty rate for a U.S. jurisdiction is in Puerto Rico, where 45% of adults and 56.9% of children are impoverished.

    Serrano (D-Bronx), who has represented the South Bronx for more than 20 years, said his district "has always had poor people. It’s a reflection of a lot of things, and the bad economic times have driven a lot of things up."

  4. #19
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    SoBro's revival stuck in the slow lane

    By Lana Bortolot

    The Clock Tower building is a symbol of Mott Haven. (Michael Kirby Smith)

    First on the edge of despair and then on the brink of discovery, a swath of the South Bronx was poised to be rechristened as the next Williamsburg or Bushwick.
    But despite the hype, that hasn’t quite happened.

    The South Bronx, aka SoBro, first appeared on cool-hunters’ radar in 2004 when Carnegie Management converted the Clock Tower, a former piano factory at 112 Lincoln Ave., in Mott Haven into lofts.

    The neighborhood, indeed, is seemingly set for success given its waterfront access, excellent subway access and flourishing art scene.

    Yet, the once-thriving antiques district on Alexander Avenue is now down to just two shops. Fledgling galleries closed before they could take flight. Loft conversions prompted a real estate surge that drove prices up and artists out.

    Hype meets reality

    Mott Haven, for now and some suggest for years to come, is in a state of semi-repose. A few things may have slowed a transformation: the recession, real estate-driven hype over a neighborhood that lacks amenities, and the lingering stigma of the Bronx as a badlands. People living and working here felt the hit when rents began to soar amid fresh interest in Mott Haven.

    “There were a few articles in the paper and it felt a lot like Dumbo did in the ‘90s. Real estate developers immediately attached to that idea and the rents skyrocketed,” said Chad Stayrook, director of the Bronx River Art Center.

    Artists such as Matthew Burcaw, 41, had no choice but to leave when the lease on his river-view apartment expired, his landlord raised his $1,450 rent by $250 and no longer included utilities.

    “We put the place on the map, then we got priced out,” said Burcaw, who had to move elsewhere in the neighborhood.

    But that wasn’t the only artists struggle faced.

    A stigma for arts scene

    “Gallerists couldn’t make it even if the rent was less … fancy collectors are used to going to Chelsea — most of them would never think to come to the Bronx,” says Barry Kostrinsky, curator of the gallery at Bruckner Bar and Grill.

    He is but one of several artists who feel both pride and prejudice about being labeled as a Bronx artist. “People ask me ‘how is the Bronx’ and stare at me instead of asking ‘what kind of artwork do you do,‘ said Laura Napier, 35.

    Her frustration is echoed by long-time resident and artist Vidal Centeno, 50, who also sees a certain bias.

    “People tend to be kind of myopic curators. When they find out we’re in the Bronx, they back down,” he said. “I think artists are here for a reason— its makes them tougher. That’s also that branding of being a Bronxite and that lends itself to being able to tough it out.”

    He added, “We could use a good wine store, though.”

    A catalyst for revival

    That speaks to lack of amenities some say has slowed gentrification. But that wine shop may yet come. If the vacant Kelly Furniture building, a 181,500-square-foot factory at 20 Bruckner Boulevard is converted to residential, that, said Kostrinsky, “will turn the neighborhood.”

    But the cost of acquiring the site is high says Mario Brodden, an assistant vice president at South Bronx Overall Development Corp: “For now it’s the white elephant and will just sit there until someone can make it work.”

    Change in the slow lane

    Whatever change does occur, observers say, will be slow.

    “Gentrification won’t be an issue any time soon, and if so, it won’t be for another generation,” said Brodden, adding that for now, Lincoln Avenue area, site of the Clock Tower, remains the likeliest place for immediate development.

    And indeed, last summer the Clock Tower added 22 new apartments, all of which have been rented. Says Carnegie vice president Isaac Jacobs, there are “always people looking to get a bigger loft for a better price. It happened in Williamsburg and other places, and it happens here.”

    But artists such as sculptor John Ahearn, here since the late 1970s, say artists shouldn’t worry about Mott Haven becoming another Bushwick.

    “It’s not a hipster place,” he said. “I think there are aspects to art in the Bronx that are fashionable, but the idea that artists would have cool neighborhoods [and] cool places to hang out—that never ever happened. Our art was all about the exact opposite of the gentrification.”

  5. #20
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Government Can’t Help? Tell That to the South Bronx


    This is not what Charlotte Street looks like today. But in August 1979, when the South Bronx
    street was a symbol of urban disaster, the fire hydrant ran continuously and the tenement buildings
    at rear were burnt-out and abandoned. Those buildings are now gone, and a town house community
    has arisen in their place. Jimmy Carter visited here while president.

    “When the economy grows, it’s not because of a new government program or spending initiative. ... It’s time to leave that era behind.”
    — John A. Boehner, House speaker, May 2011

    It might be hard selling that narrative line to the once broken beauty that is the Bronx.

    As a teenager in the 1970s, I offered visiting friends tours of the apocalypse. We piled into an old Buick and drove north from Manhattan, which wasn’t in such great shape either, into the South Bronx. We rolled down ghost canyons of burnt-out buildings, saw mattresses and old sinks and tubs piled atop hills of rubble, and encountered smack dealers who cordoned off blocks for open-air markets. (We could not have been safer; they assumed we were white boys in search of a fix.)

    It was macabre and infuriating, a core of urban America discarded and forgotten. Nothing, I assumed, could breathe life into this corpse.

    I was spectacularly mistaken, a point driven home again on a recent tour in the company of city housing officials. Again I rolled across the Willis Avenue Bridge into the South Bronx, and what is there should (but almost certainly will not) give pause to those who argue that government lies at the source of our ills.

    The Bronx (and many neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan) stands as arguably the greatest public rebuilding achievement since World War II, a resurrection begun by Mayor Edward I. Koch and continued with great vigor by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today.

    The Bloomberg administration will, in the end, have poured more than $8 billion into building and preserved 165,000 apartments — more than enough to house the population of Miami.

    We ride a rattling construction elevator to the top of Via Verde, a handsome building that will offer solar panels and roof gardens for low- and middle-income families. Marc Jahr, president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation, stands with the city’s commissioner of housing preservation and development, Mathew M. Wambua, and jabs at a forest of apartment buildings. See that building there?

    And that one?

    And that one?

    And that one?

    All city-subsidized construction carried out with private developers (Jonathan Rose Companies is building the Via Verde) and dozens of savvy nonprofit groups. (To the northwest, the gleaming Mott Haven campus also rises, with four new schools for nearly 2,000 children.)

    “If you want to make an argument that government can work on a large scale and accomplish remarkable tasks, this is it,” says Mr. Jahr (who, full disclosure, was my boss when I was a tenant organizer decades ago).

    There is a tendency to hear hyperbole in such claims. But if you walk the working-class neighborhoods of Memphis, Newark, Atlanta and even Chicago you still find acres of hopelessness. Urban rebirth is a tricky business.

    Mr. Koch deserves pride of place in this tale. He decided that the city would rebuild, and its investment dwarfed that of the next 50 cities. Mayor David N. Dinkins paid special attention to Bradhurst, as forbidding an expanse of north Harlem as could be found in the early 1990s. Today, its playgrounds are filled with cacophonous children.

    The rebuilding was often accomplished without paying top union wages. This occasions bellows from the construction trades, although I could not help noticing that construction crews in the South Bronx also feature more black and Latino workers than those on many union work sites.

    (More than 1,000 new apartments citywide come courtesy of $85 million in federal stimulus dollars; why President Obama has not pointed more forcefully to what government can accomplish remains a mystery.)

    On Sunday, I walked Melrose, past new retail stores and supermarkets, past men in white fedoras playing dominoes under umbrellas, and past the Rincon Criollo community garden, where Benny Ayala and Jesus Rivera, old buddies in a restored neighborhood, tend their grape arbor.

    At the corner of Third Avenue, Celida Pinet, a slight, 53-year-old woman, pushes a heavily loaded laundry cart toward her apartment building, La Puerta de Vitalidad, the first city-subsidized construction to open in that neighborhood.

    She has lived there for eight years, since she arrived from a homeless shelter with a young son in tow. “It used to be only rubble here. Oh my God, it was ghetto,” she says.

    “Now,” she points, “that’s new, that’s new, that’s new. All beautiful.”

    Her son is 21, is married and has a child. She adopted two children in foster care.

    “I was saved and now I’m saving children,” she says. “I have lived to see the resurrection of this neighborhood.”

    The era of government may be in danger. But it saved the South Bronx.

    How the South Bronx’s Ruins Became Fertile Ground


    A rendering of Via Verde, an environmentally friendly new apartment building
    that will house more than 200 working-class and poor families in the Melrose
    section of the South Bronx.

    This week in my Gotham column I wrote of the resurrection of the South Bronx, a brilliant coming back to life that owes much to the multidecade efforts of government.

    Michael R. Bloomberg alone has created enough low and middle-income housing to house a population the size of Minneapolis.

    Much credit goes to mayors — from Edward I. Koch to David N. Dinkins, Rudolph W. Giuliani and now Mr. Bloomberg. But their co-stars in this too-often-unremarked-upon drama are a multitude of community groups, many of which scratched and clawed to save their neighborhoods in the 1970s, and grew into remarkably sophisticated operations, capable of leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars in bank investment.

    These groups range from the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, to the Mid-Bronx Desperadoes to UHAB (the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board) and Los Sures and St. Nick’s Alliance and Bridge Street Development in Brooklyn, and so on and so on across the city.

    As Michael Gecan, an organizer with New York Industrial Areas Foundation, whose Manhattan and Bronx affiliates spearheaded the fight to create the gleaming Mott Haven campus with four new schools, noted recently, the city’s human expertise in the business of rebuilding neighborhoods is without peer nationally.

    Meanwhile, many readers have pointed out that while we ran a haunting photograph of the broken Bronx to illustrate the column, we offered no shot of the borough’s handsome reincarnation. To that end, I contacted the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and its spokeswoman, Catie Marshall, forwarded a few photographs of a neighborhoods where seedlings of change have turned to oaks.

    Courtlandt Corners development at 161st Street between Melrose and
    Courtlandt Avenues in the Bronx in 2006, top, and 2010, bottom.

    There is also an architectural rendering by Jonathan Rose Companies of the Via Verde, an environmentally friendly and architecturally distinguished new apartment building that will serve as home for more than 200 working-class and poor families.

    Finally, several readers and a conservative blog critic or two leveled three indictments against my argument, which run like this; The revival of the South Bronx is old news; second, the Bronx remains dirt poor (so where is the revival, they ask); and third, government played a key role in destroying the South Bronx in the first place.

    Let’s take it from the top. Mine was not a new discovery, although the borough’s revival gains speed by the day — sprouts are turning to oak trees.

    It’s also true that the South Bronx remains a sea of working-class and poor people, and, it should be noted, real working-class wages have fallen steadily for decades across the nation.

    Arguably, that renders the rebuilding more impressive. Not so very long ago conservative theorists assayed a cultural theory of decline, arguing that the poor could not take care of their lives and their buildings.

    The present success tends to put the lie to that argument.

    As to government’s role in the decline of the Bronx, as the saying goes, terrible mistakes were made. Robert Moses, the original power broker, laid down a highway through its heart, city officials built Co-Op City, a vast middle-class bulwark, far off in the northeastern reaches of the Bronx, thereby encouraging flight. And social policy dumped too dense numbers of poor into already declining neighborhoods.

    But this only scratches at the surface of terrible decline. De-industrialization, the beginning of the end of manufacturing, and white flight to the post-war suburbs: The South Bronx died a death of many formidable causes.

    More to the point, this argument leads to a broader question. Let’s concede that leaders in the 1950s and 1960s made mistakes. Should a later generation, beginning with Mayor Koch and extending to Mayors Dinkins, Giuliani and Bloomberg simply have tossed up their hands and said: “Ah well, government made mistakes decades ago and so we should do nothing now”?

    That would have been defeatism of the worst sort, and deprived the city and hundreds of thousands of families of a splendid rebirth.

  6. #21


    Great artcles. Thanks.

  7. #22


    Yes thanks for them, they make for interesting reading.

  8. #23
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    East Midtown


    Is the South Bronx hip? maybe, if you want to spend 3 quarters of your life on the train.

  9. #24
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    They are very hip trains.

  10. #25


    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy View Post
    Is the South Bronx hip? maybe, if you want to spend 3 quarters of your life on the train.
    The South Bronx is closer to Manhattan by train than most of the hip Brooklyn neighborhoods.

    Certainly Mott Haven, for example, is a quicker commute for most than Park Slope.

    And I would say that parts of the South Bronx have a hip vibe. I have friends who have bought in Grand Concouse coops, and many of these buildings have a young Manhattan/Brooklyn vibe.

    Then there's the loft district around Bruckner Boulevard. There's a decent sized artist community around Bruckner.

  11. #26
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Fighting the Image of the ‘Burning’ Borough


    Ángel Franco/The New York Times

    Zack Smith mowing his neighbor’s lawn just off the intersection of Charlotte and 170th Streets,
    an area that 30 years ago had virtually no green space.

    John Sotomayor/The New York Times
    The intersection of Charlotte and 170th Streets in the winter of 1979.

    Through a New Lens

    The Bronx has been trying to remove the scorch marks from its name since the 1970s, when arson fires, rampant crime and poverty pushed residents out in droves; made the borough a national symbol of urban decay; and saddled it with the apocalyptic phrase, “the Bronx is burning.”

    So the borough’s boosters were aghast last month that in the midst of Bronx Week, a celebration of food, culture and history that concludes with a black-tie gala, a bus company from Manhattan was rolling through its streets giving European tourists a taste of what it called “the real Bronx.” That meant a housing project, a food pantry, and a once-sketchy park on what the tour said was a ride through a genuine New York City ghetto.

    Bronx leaders rushed to condemn the tour, with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito writing in a letter to the company that they were “sickened by the despicable way in which you portray the great borough of the Bronx to tourists.”

    The outcry, which ended with the company’s canceling its tours, highlighted the Bronx’s continuing struggle to remake its reputation. Even today, a Bronx leader in charge of economic development said she had to beg Bronx officials not to mention “the Bronx” and “burning” in the same sentence. And though crime has dropped, suburban-style ranch houses have risen from rubble, and hundreds of new stores including a Macy’s and a Target are opening in the borough, the first question that many prospective companies ask is whether it is safe to do business in the Bronx.

    At a time when New York enjoys a particularly gilded reputation, its poorest borough still lags behind the rest of the city in many indicators, including crime, poverty and unemployment. But it has also made so much progress that it now offers amenities like high-end hotels, local craft breweries, green buildings, and soon a Donald Trump-branded golf course.

    “We’re not trying to rewrite history,” Mr. Diaz said. “We know where we came from. We lived it. What we’re saying is, ‘Give us credit, man.’ ”

    The Bronx’s image problem exposes the inherent tension for a place that seeks to establish itself as a viable alternative to the other boroughs even as it takes pride in its rough past and often casts itself as a working-class refuge from the excesses of Manhattan. Many of the same Bronx leaders and community activists who emphasize progress have often pointed out when lobbying for money from government and corporations that the South Bronx is home to the poorest congressional district in the nation.

    “A lot of rebuilding that took place in the Bronx took place because we were able to make the point the need was there more than in other places,” said Representative Jose E. Serrano, who represents the South Bronx. Still, Mr. Serrano said that he no longer liked to draw that distinction because he would rather talk about the accomplishments since then.

    The city’s northern borough once drew well-to-do families with its abundance of parkland and stately Art Deco apartment buildings. But poverty and crime later settled in, and those who could fled to the suburbs, leaving behind a disproportionately poor and minority population. By 1977, the borough was so ravaged by misfortune that President Jimmy Carter came to walk amid the ruins of Charlotte Street in the South Bronx. Three years later, his challenger, Ronald Reagan, returned to the very same spot to make the case that it was as bad as ever.

    It is that image of the old Bronx, popularized in the movie “Fort Apache, the Bronx” and skewered by the author Tom Wolfe in “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” that residents have long chafed against. In 2007, there was a surge of outrage when news spread about a German Army training video in which a soldier was told to imagine himself in the Bronx confronting hostile African-Americans as he fired his machine gun.

    Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx borough president from 1987 to 2001, recalled that even George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, one of the borough’s most beloved institutions, routinely used to trash the Bronx as a place where cars were broken into and nobody wanted to be. At one point, some well-intentioned community leaders suggested renaming the South Bronx as “Downtown Bronx” to give it a fresh start. “The insults were slung not only from foreign shores, but more homegrown sources,” Mr. Ferrer said.

    Dominique Isbecque, a Manhattan image consultant, said that the Bronx was struggling with a problem well known in her business: a bad first impression. The general rule of thumb, she said, is that it takes “17 redos” to change a bad impression, and even then there is no guarantee of success. “I hear of crime,” she said of the Bronx. “I hear of traffic accidents, and I hear that I’m not sure I want to go there at night — and I don’t hear that about Brooklyn.”

    Such perceptions of the Bronx drove Alec Diacou, a former banker, to start a nonprofit group, Yes the Bronx, that is proposing to build a $50 million, 176-foot observation tower as a new focal point for the borough. “It’s so the people who are racing through the Bronx and don’t want to know the Bronx are forced to stop and ask, ‘Why is this world-class structure here?’ ” he said.

    Bronx officials have also stepped up efforts to re-brand their borough. A tourism magazine will be relaunched this summer with a feature called “What I love about the Bronx.” And a new Bronx tourism Web site,, lists a dozen approved tours of the Bronx so far, including a free trolley ride to City Island that attracts hundreds of tourists every month.

    The Bronx name already carries weight in some unexpected places. In the Kansas City area, for instance, a chain of four restaurants named d’Bronx deliver New York-style sandwiches and pizza.

    The singer Ashlee Simpson has a young son named Bronx, and a hard-core punk band from Los Angeles also chose that name before ever stepping foot in the Bronx proper (the members have visited since). “It’s got a tough vibe to it,” explained Matt Caughthran, 34, a band member. “It always struck me as a place where you have to be street-smart, and that’s where we were coming from.”

    Andrew Meyers, the director of a program on the Bronx experience at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the borough, said that half of his incoming students now associated the Bronx with the zoo or Yankee Stadium rather than the “Fort Apache” movie. “These kids were born in the late 1990s,” he said. “I think the stigmas that we grew up with are on the way out.”

    But if history is an indication, the Bronx will always have one more slight to endure. Long before there were burning buildings, there were naysayers like the poet Ogden Nash, who penned a couplet in 1931 that rankled Bronx leaders: “The Bronx? No Thonx.”

    But Mr. Nash had a change of heart in later years, and at the request of the dean of the faculty at Bronx Community College, offered a poem as an apology of sorts during the borough’s golden jubilee celebration in 1964.

    “I can’t seem to escape the sins of my smart-alec youth,” Mr. Nash wrote. “Here are my amends. I wrote those lines, ‘The Bronx? No thonx’; I shudder to confess them. Now I’m an older, wiser man I cry, ‘the Bronx? God bless them!’ ”

  12. #27
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Is the South Bronx Hip?

    Maybe, with this:

    Ruben Diaz Jr. calls for redevelopment of South Bronx waterfront

    The borough president and SoBRO have preliminary plans to redevelop the Lower Concourse

    By Denis Slattery

    A preliminary rendering of one of the waterfront properties along the Harlem River in the Port Morris section of the South Bronx.

    Imagine walking over to the waterfront on a hot summer night, putting down a blanket and watching a movie under the stars, steps from Yankee Stadium. Or moving into a gleaming new tower with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and ready access to the Harlem River.

    Those plans — and others — are far from fruition, but Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. believes they’re closer than one might imagine.

    At his annual State of the Borough address, Diaz called for an industrial stretch of Exterior St. between 138th St. and 149th St. to be transformed into a mixed-use waterfront district that he likened to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    “Bronxites should have quality waterfront access, and this project could make that happen,” Diaz said.

    The former manufacturing zone was rezoned in 2009 by the city Planning Commission to allow for commercial and residential redevelopment.

    Monaster Thomas, New York Daily News/Monaster, Thomas, New York Daily News
    People enjoy the cool seas breeze in the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge Park. The park borders Furman Street along the East River.

    The non-profit South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, or SoBRO, used a state grant to study 15 properties within the so-called Lower Concourse Special Harlem River Waterfront District.

    The planning report was finished in January, and now Diaz will use it as a blueprint to start drumming up support among city agencies and developers.

    The site could be used for more than 2,000 units of housing, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and 500,000 square feet of community facility space, public parks and waterfront access, the group said in its preliminary analysis.

    “The current proposal provides this community, and the affected property owners, with a vision for the future of this waterfront and the road map of how the vision can become a reality,” said Lourdes Zapata, the senior vice president of SoBRO.

    The group has been meeting with property owners to gauge interest, Zapata said, and at least two have expressed interest.

    Artist's rendering of waterfront development along the Harlem River in the South Bronx.

    “It’s exciting,” said Steven Hornstock of ABS Real Estate Partners, who manages two properties along the river. “It could be a very exciting place for a community.”

    One of the firm’s properties is home to a Smartcube storage facility, which has a 99-year lease for the land just north of the Madison Ave. Bridge.

    Businesses currently renting the lots along the river include a school bus depot, a Verizon truck yard, a food distributor.

    Some South Bronx residents said that waterfront access does not need to be tied to development in order to be expanded.

    “I think it sets up a dynamic where it’s only good enough to provide waterfront access if there are higher-end residential properties,” said Mychal Johnson, a local activist.

    Johnson said projects such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, where former industrial zones were converted to parkland, are generally a product of gentrification.

    “I do commend the borough president for stating that there is a need for waterfront access,” Johnson said. “But there are already underutilized areas and land along the South Bronx peninsula that can be used without more development.”

  13. #28
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Reviving the South Bronx Waterfront

    Developers look for more sites to buy in Mott Haven neighborhood

    By Keiko Morris

    Plans by Somerset Partners LLC and the Chetrit Group call for housing and retail space on 5 acres along an industrial stretch of the Harlem River.
    Photo: John Taggart for The Wall Street Journal

    One of the first things about the South Bronx’s Mott Haven neighborhood that grabbed Keith Rubenstein was the waterfront and its views of Manhattan.

    As the real-estate developer explored the area more, he found an artistic crowd, a host of new restaurants and charming old buildings from a long-ago robust era of manufacturing.

    In the past four months, Mr. Rubenstein’s Somerset Partners LLC and the Chetrit Group have come together to buy about 5 acres along an industrial stretch of the Harlem River west of the Major Deegan Expressway.

    Somerset and Chetrit are planning a residential community that could have as many as six 25-story towers with market-rate apartments and ground-floor retail space. And they are looking for more sites to buy in the Mott Haven neighborhood.

    “What we think we can do for the waterfront is set the tone for the next wave of developers,” said Mr. Rubenstein. “This [place] had character and already had a scene, so you are taking something good and adding to it.”

    Local officials and community advocates echo that sentiment and say the joint venture could finally provide the big push for a long-envisioned redevelopment of that stretch of the waterfront.

    Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. , for example, calls the Somerset-Chetrit project a potential “catalyst” that would allow big developers to reimagine the South Bronx.

    The waterfront also can benefit from the real estate recovery, which is pushing up prices in other boroughs.

    “The recent discovery of the Bronx Waterfront makes perfect sense in today’s real estate environment,” said Douglas Harmon, a senior managing director for Eastdil Secured and an adviser to Somerset. “Many developers are being priced out of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.”

    The land purchased by Somerset and Chetrit—$58 million for 2401 Third Ave. and 101 Lincoln Ave.—sits just south of the Special Harlem River Waterfront District, which was created in 2009 to encourage private residential, retail and commercial projects as well as public spaces on underutilized land.

    A nearby stop for the 6 train as well as the quick access to Manhattan from several roads made the sites attractive, and the area already had a distinct vibe from its eclectic mix of residents and workers—from movers to artists to professionals.

    “I like the idea of an integrated demographic that has artists, professionals and working class,” Mr. Rubenstein said.

    In November, the first phase of a waterfront area analysis released by the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. estimated a redevelopment that included the Somerset and Chetrit properties could accommodate as much as 2.8 million square feet of affordable and market-rate apartments; 2.3 million square feet of office, retail and light manufacturing space; and 1 million square feet of public space, including a shoreline walkway, parks or recreation centers.

    Overhauling the area would cost at least $500 million in private investment and at least $200 million in local, state and federal funds, with a percentage from developers for roads, sewers, flood prevention measures and work to integrate a freight rail line with the public areas.

    The redevelopment received a boost from Mayor Bill de Blasio last month when he announced New York City would make a $200 million capital investment in the Lower Concourse neighborhood, which includes the waterfront area.

    “Once the Somerset [Chetrit] project gets under way, I think you will see a total turnaround of this area,” said Michael Brady, director of special projects for the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. “I think you will find this area becomes Williamsburg meets Dumbo.”

    The comparison to the transformed Brooklyn neighborhoods is a familiar one. Mott Haven was depicted as the next up-and-coming neighborhood in the mid-2000s, but the recession slowed that transformation.

    In the early 2000s, Carnegie Management Inc., which had developed residential sites in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods several years earlier, redeveloped the five-story Estey Piano Co. factory on Lincoln Avenue.

    Carnegie Management paid about $5 million for the landmarked building and turned it into 90 loft-style apartments, said Isaac Jacobs, the company’s vice president. Now known as the Clock Tower, the apartment complex is virtually fully leased.

    Back then, many in the community thought similar apartment conversions would take off. But the financial crisis stalled activity and forced Carnegie to put plans for another residential building on hold.

    Now, though, the strengthening economy has the company back on track. It has resurrected its plans for a 150-unit building behind the Clock Tower and intends to construct a 170-unit building a few blocks away, at 82 Willis Ave.

    Other developers, large and small, also are moving forward with waterfront area work.

    Around the corner from the Somerset and Chetrit properties is an old furniture store and warehouse that is being redeveloped by its owner, the family of Lewis Katz, the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper who died in May. The family, which is partnering with Maddd Equities LLC on the project, is considering a wide range of uses for the property, including a tech campus, said Drew Katz, Mr. Katz’s son and the chief executive of Interstate Outdoor Advertising, which owns the rights to the well-known signage above the building.

    Hornig Capital Partners and Savanna, both real estate investment companies, have bought 2415 Third Ave., an eight-story loft building that they plan to remodel for about $12 million. The partners intend to revamp the commercial space to house a mix of businesses, including art studios, workshops, light manufacturing, technology, and food and crafts production, a spokesman said.
    Smaller developers Bill Bollinger and Joshua Weissman have joined forces to build a four-unit apartment building with retail space on the ground floor at 55 Bruckner Blvd. They also have started construction on another small apartment building at 136 Alexander Ave. and are working with another developer to build 15 units in two buildings across the street, at 131-135 Alexander Ave.

    “This section of the South Bronx is already changing dramatically,” said Tom Farrell, a managing director at Savanna. “…We view our investment in 2415 Third Ave. and the upcoming developments by the Somerset/Chetrit Partnership as a big next step forward.”

  14. #29


    If only the state could bury the highway and rail line through this area they could sell the air rights and build a waterfront park that would attract more development. As it stands you might get one developer who will actually jump first but the others will sit and wait. The land is cheap but the pressure isn't there that will make them start building too soon.

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12

Similar Threads

  1. Bronx Whitestone Bridge
    By Edward in forum New York City Guide For Visitors
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: January 7th, 2013, 09:41 AM
  2. Barretto Point Park in the South Bronx
    By Edward in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: January 4th, 2008, 01:02 AM
  3. Big Golf Dreams in the Bronx
    By NYguy in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: November 3rd, 2006, 12:42 AM
  4. 'The Downtown Bronx'?
    By Kris in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: November 14th, 2005, 05:30 PM
  5. Bronx Late 80s Early 90s Photos
    By Merry in forum New York City Guide For New Yorkers
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: October 26th, 2003, 03:00 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Google+ - Facebook - Twitter - Meetup

Edward's photos on Flickr - Wired New York on Flickr - In Queens - In Red Hook - Bryant Park - SQL Backup Software