Over $3 Billion Was Invested In Bronx Development Projects Last Year
There a lot of noise about the Bronx these days. Part of it is the sound of construction transforming the borough.
If you needed confirmation that the Bronx is booming, roughly $3.3 billion had been spent on the Borough in development last year, a 37 percent increase from 2015, according to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
Fondly known as the Boogie Down Bronx because of its reputation as the birthplace of hip-hop, BDB has suffered for many years through poverty and urban blight. However, with much of New York City now out of reach for home buyers, the Bronx chance to shine has a arrived with a number of high profile, big money projects.
Eyebrows were first raised a few weeks ago when the Census Bureau reported that the borough was growing faster than all it’s New York City counterparts. The latest development figures come on the back of major projects — including The Kingsbridge National Ice Center, Melrose Commons and York Studios, according to Diaz’ office.
Top of the development list is the long awaited Kingsbridge National Ice Center with $350 million of investment. The project started to get a head of steam last year when an address was applied for the project. In addition, Governor Cuomo committed $108 million from the State toward the conversion of the Armory to the sporting facility. In addition, the developers have secured a $30 million loan from the Empire State Development Corporation.
At the time of Cuomo’s announcement, Rube Diaz said, “I am … thrilled that Governor Cuomo has offered his support to major Bronx proposals and institutions, specifically the reconstruction of Orchard Beach and the future of the Kingsbridge Armory. These projects are top priorities of my administration and have the overwhelming support of Bronx residents. However, we continue to see a lack of partnership and enthusiasm for them from City Hall. Strong backing from Albany will allow them to prosper. We can only hope now that the administration will see the wisdom in bringing these projects to fruition.”
Not quite as glamorous as the National Ice Center project, Melrose Commons is arguably just as important to the community. The two adjacent buildings comprise supportive housing for homeless veterans, (run by the The Bridge) with mental health issues as well as an affordable housing building for families. They are due to be completed this summer 161st Street and Elton Avenue—a largely vacant site. A number of counseling, training programs will be provided, said Carole Gordon, senior vice president for housing development at The Bridge.
“We’ll be doing a horticultural training program with the Horticultural Society of New York, which is something we’ve been doing for a number of years,” Gordon told DNA Info. “Behind several of our residential buildings, we develop gardens and farms. The idea of providing vocational training is key.”
Gordon described finding jobs for veterans as a very challenging endeavor.
“They’re coming out of the armed forces with a set of problems that are difficult,” she said, “and there are just not enough jobs.”
Despite The Bridge and Gordon’s best efforts. many Bronx residents fear that the the slew of new development, most significantly at the Armory, will further spike gentrification. Activists, notably the Power To The People Movement, claim, “the ice skating center will chase incoming middle and upper-class white people and open big corporate chain, anti-union, and low-wage paying stores in the area, a move which will push out smaller local businesses not able to afford the sudden transformation. The end result will be higher rents for all, for both tenants and small business owners.”
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