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BP joins walking tour of Westchester Square

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The Association of the Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square hosted a tour to take a closer look at Westchester Square and discuss plans for its development into a cultural Mecca.

On Monday, June 29, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh, the Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organization, the Bronx Council on the Arts, Community Board 10, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, and other representatives from government agencies and community organizations, took a walk through of Westchester Square.

“The success of Westchester Square in an economic development initiative has the potential to grow outwards,” said John Bonizio, president of the Association of the Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square.

“To succeed in such a venture, the fragmented initiatives of developers, property owners, retailers, cultural entities and local government must be coordinated by a task force that can organize these ideas and assure a smooth interaction and growth.”

A four-point revitalization plan was described, seeking the development of cultural attractions, an increase in private commercial development, the establishment of a Business Improvement District, and economic development initiatives.

According to Bonizio, locations such as Owen Dolan Park and Recreation Center, the Huntington Free Library and surrounding cultural sites is to attract people to Westchester Square for purposes beyond just shopping on the commercial strip.

“We are really in connection with the business community to spur economic development through the arts and we have been well received,” said Ed Freidman, deputy director of the Bronx Council on the Arts.

The plan also outlines potential projects that include a new 10-story building on Blondell Avenue with parking, the redevelopment of the old Verizon building, and the reconstruction of the site burned down by a fire in March and fighting the obstacles that prevent these developments.

“Coming out here is putting words into action. When I was campaigning I talked about moving small businesses forward, this is a top priority of my administra­tion,” said Diaz.

“I have already allocated money for this plaza and we want to bring Westchester Square back to the type of community epicenter it used to be.”

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