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Bronx Week: Business Owners Predict Port Morris as the Next 'It' Neighborhood

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One of the southern most neighborhoods of the Bronx is going through a change. As NY1's Bronx Borough Reporter Erin Clarke tells us in the third part of our Bronx Week series, some say the predominantly industrial area of Port Morris will become the next Williamsburg.

If you've headed out of the Bronx by the Willis or Third Avenue Bridges, you've passed through Port Morris—a mostly industrial neighborhood that lies along the Harlem River, Bronx Kill and East River.

One many say will be the city's next hot spot.

"This should be the next Williamsburg. Everybody knows about it. Everybody's talking about it. Everybody's looking to buy property here," says Amir Chayon, owner of Ceetay Restaurant.

Six years ago, Chayon moved in and later opened the Sushi restaurant Ceetay.

He's one of several business owners that took a chance on Port Morris when many wouldn't and have seen it change dramatically.

"It was rough. It was graffiti on the buildings. It was very dark, not well lit," says Verde Custom Flowers Inc. owner Vanessa Polanco. "Since then, tremendous turn around. There are all types of restaurants coming into the area. We're having a lot more foot traffic."

Port Morris is also chock full of old factories being turned residential.

"The Clock Tower building—a lot of young urban professionals live there and have been living there for many many years," says Bronx overall Economic Development Corp. President Marlene Cintron.

It's already been more than five years since changes in this neighborhood began to happen, so why isn't it already the next trendy area to live in and visit?

"In the Bronx, it takes time. People still afraid from the Bronx I think," Chayon says.

Mother Nature also played a role keeping development at bay.

Many businesses here flooded during Sandy, but some say the slower the transition, the better.

"There'd be a lot of people being pushed out because the developments that are coming into the community cost more money. You gotta have better income. Some people don't have that type of income, and they are forced out, which is not right," says one area resident.

"A lot of people, the old people ain't here anymore," another says.

While others believe current low-income housing in and near the neighborhood will remain and help Port Morris flourish.

"What you're going to have is a mixture of people who are better off economically and those who are still trying to advance and I think that's healthy," says Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan.

Hopefully, it will be a change that everyone can benefit from.

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