South Bronx Shopping Center Opens
With lots of fanfare and plenty of shopping, a new mega mall in the Bronx officially opened its doors to the public Thursday. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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The stores are open for business and the customers are ready to shop at the new Gateway Center.
"It brings good products and good prices to a community that can really appreciate it," said one shopper.
"I came from Manhattan to buy in BJ's because it is a very good buy there," said another shopper.
BJ's Wholesale Club, Home Depot, and Best Buy are just some of the national retailers at the new shopping center. Related Companies developed the million square foot retail destination at a price tag of $500 million. They say it's another big boost for the borough, especially in the South Bronx.
"Over 40 percent of the Bronx contracts for construction were given to Bronx companies resulting in over tens of millions of dollars," said Glenn Goldstein of Related Companies.
The Gateway Center is located on the old Bronx terminal market site off 149th Street. Related took the property over from the city in 2004, forcing out the old food vendors who unsuccessfully fought to stay. Local officials, including former Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene, supported the mall plan because she says the old market was horrible.
"Blight, prostitution, it was all kinds of things that were really terrible for our community," Greene said.
Along with supporting the mall, local officials fought to make BJ's accept payments from food stamps and government vouchers.
"People who are on public assistance and social services, we do take a lot of their stuff and it gives them the opportunity here to buy food," said Antonio Ramos of BJ's at Gateway Center.
Developers say all stores mean more than 2,000 permanent jobs which is something many in the community like to hear.
"I think it is the perfect opportunity for brothers who need jobs and things like that. For people in general on welfare they can spend their food stamps," said one shopper.
"Sixty-seven percent of the people employed here at the Gateway Center live right here in the Bronx. That is great and something we should all be proud of," said Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber.
The developers say they are also leasing space to local merchants who want to be a part of the revitalization of the area.