The Bronx of today is not the Bronx of the 1990s, and borough officials want its gateways to reflect the changes, and residents are now beginning to see some of those improvements. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
It's been five years since a 30-block area of the South Bronx was rezoned to make way for an overall face-lift, with more housing and commercial enterprises replacing automotive shops and empty industrial buildings.
The first development to be completed as a result of those changes is set to open in June. It's called Morris Court, with 201 apartments for families with incomes from $38- to $83,000, along with ground-level stores and underground parking.
"People are starting to see the vision and buying into it and investing," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
They're investing in the idea of Port Morris and Mott Haven as places to work, shop and live, especially for middle-income families that are increasingly being priced out of the other boroughs and who earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing.
"You want to rebuild the community and provide for a more economic mix in our borough, you have to build some more market-rate and middle-income housing," said Phillip Morrow, president of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.
Part of the Harlem River waterfront in the South Bronx is included in the rezoned area, land that South Bronx residents have long fought for access to.
The plan, developed by the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, or SoBRO, envisions hundreds, possibly thousands, of housing units and stores along the waterfront, along with parkland for neighborhoods that are sorely in need of it. However, community activists have concerns.
"How do you create a waterfront destination when you have a garbage train going by and they even denoted in the plan that it sits below flood plain?" said Mychal Johnson, a member of South Bronx Unite.
They are hurdles that Morrow said his organization recognizes, saying options are still being explored to deal with them.
He cautioned that this won't happen overnight, that it's a long-term project that will grow as the neighborhood does.