Updated 03/21/2009 12:54 PM
Many New Buildings Rise On South Bronx's 161st Street
A sense that "the Bronx is burning" is long gone from a redeveloping South Bronx. NY1's Borough reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Crews are hard on work along 161st Street, as more than 1,000 apartments are being constructed on the four-block stretch between Courtlandt and Third Avenues in the South Bronx.
"As you know, 161st Street is the heart of the civic center of the Bronx," said Acting Bronx Borough President Earl Brown. "What we have been doing along, with [the Department of Housing Preservation and Development] and a lot of the nonprofit developers is completely revisioning that corridor."
Gas stations and old buildings have been demolished on both sides of the street to make way for what will be called "Courtlandt Corners." A few blocks further, Boricua Village is well under way, where Boricua College will be housed in a 14-story complex, surrounded by seven residential buildings.
Over the last five years, there have been numerous housing developments constructed in the South Bronx with public and private partnerships.
"I believe we've done 33 projects and I think the public financing has been around $600 million," said President Marc Jahr of the Housing Development Corporation. "And there could be an equal amount of private financing equity that has been invested in these deals."
One of those deals is an 84-unit building on 158th Street that will have underground parking and commercial spaces. It is being developed by the community group Nos Quedamos/We Stay, which says the South Bronx is a hot commodity.
"Five years from now it will be transformed into something people would have never believed or imagined. It is coming true now," said Yolanda Gonzalez of Nos Quedamos.
All the projects are just blocks away from the new billion-dollar-plus Yankee Stadium and the $400 million Bronx Hall of Justice Courthouse.
Although most residents say the new developments on 161st Street, they also say they hope it does not make the area unaffordable for longtime South Bronx residents.
"I think it's good, as long as we can get in there," said one local.
"I like the idea that is going to be a big building, but I like the idea that I get into that building too," said another.
"My 25 years I have been here, this is the best that I have seen it so far, real quiet," said a third. "It will be real better for us. More opportunity for other folks to come in and see how the Bronx is building up nowadays."
The South Bronx was once synonymous with urban decay during the 1970s and 1980s, but now the neighborhood is turning a new leaf.