$10 million in south Bronx DRI improvement awards

$10 million in south Bronx DRI improvement awards
Photo by Edwin Soto

A large swath of the lower borough will be benefiting from projects funded as part of a ‘downtown’ revitalization effort.

Officials were on hand on Tuesday, July 3 to hear which projects will be funded through the south Bronx’ $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York state.

Twelve projects to enhancing the quality-of-life in the ‘Bronx’s Civic Center’ were selected after months of community input, according to sources familiar with the DRI.

East 144th Street on the south, East 161st Street on the north, St. Ann’s and Third avenues on the east and the Harlem River on the west bind the funded area.

The Governor Cuomo initiative included the communities of Melrose and Morrisania, in a second cohort of DRI funding throughout the state.

“The Bronx Civic Center neighborhood is the heart of the bustling Bronx and it must be showcased,” Cuomo said. “These projects will advance the borough by leaps and bounds, increasing amenities to existing south Bronx residents and bringing further investment and community pride to the Bronx.”

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said that the governor continues to prove himself an ally, adding it this is part of an “ongoing positive transformation” of the borough.

“By listening to the specific needs of our community, these DRI projects will bring new life and vitality to our area by providing strategic resources to existing amenities and making it a more walkable, enjoyable place to live,” said Diaz.

Among the larger projects, the Bronx Civic Center DRI includes $2.5 million to create a pedestrian plaza linking the ‘Hub’ and the lower Grand Concourse; over $1 million to beautify streetscapes around East 149th Street and $1 million for a Business Improvement Fund helping property owners with façade improvements.

The projects will enhance the quality of life for residents and the infrastructure for businesses, said Marlene Cintron, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation director.

“I think historically the Bronx has never gotten the type of capital allocation it has deserved,” said Cintron.

“We have had $15 billion in private investment in the borough,” she said. “We want to make sure our community spaces and businesses begin to match the development.”

Michael Brady, HUB Third Avenue BID executive director, said that his organization was part of the planning committee that solicited feedback on the projects.

“We are certainly grateful for the investment because it is going to allow us to do some things I think the community has been asking for,” said Brady.

The BID is overseeing three of the 12 projects, one of which includes $520,000 to develop two outdoor cafés at the Roberto Clemente Plaza.

The DRI included $1.7 million to renovate the Andrew Freedman Home’s Cultural Arts Center, $429,000 to upgrade a swimming pool at the BronxWorks on the Grand Concourse, a renovation that builds on the work of a recently completed 14-month rehabilitation, according to a spokeswoman.

It includes $630,000 to improve Melrose Commons community gardens; $260,000 for a New Pregones Theater space; $437,000 to expand low-cost broadband access in Melrose Commons; $250,000 to refresh the Bronx Walk of Fame; and $227,000 to create a walkway near Yankee Stadium.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.