Bx. on building boom roll

Another day, another Bronx groundbreaking.

“It seems we’re doing this more frequently,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on the recent trend of projects in the Bronx.

Diaz Jr. was one of several elected officials and developers on hand Monday, June 10 for the christening of the Broadway Plaza Mall, now under construction.

The long-awaited retail center in Kingsbridge/Marble Hill had been in the works for years after a series of false starts and big talk from previous developers kept the project in limbo.

False start

After original developer Ceruzzi Holdings reneged on building a retail complex at 230th and Kimberly Place several years ago, the city Economic Development Corporation went back to the drawing board, re-issuing another Request For Proposal.

EDC ultimately picked Equity One in 2011 to repurpose the vacant lot for $54 million.

The new mall will rise between the existing Target Mall on 225th Street and the new BJ’s Wholesale Club just blocks from the mall, all accessible via the Major Deegan Expressway or the MTA #1 subway train.

Developers have been quiet on who the impending tenants are, as negotiations begin.

But when completed in fall of 2014, the mall will take up 133,000-square-feet, create 130 parking spots inside an indoor parking garage and create 250 retail jobs with an emphasis on local hiring. Roughly 500 construction jobs will also be created.

Bright Business Ahead

The project signals another bold benchmark for business growth in the Bronx, still competing with other boroughs for retail supremacy.

“There’s money to be made in the Bronx. and there’s money to be spent,” said Congressman Eliot Engel said in remarks at the ceremony.

The latest retail project to be announced is the Kingsbridge Armory, lumbering in the developmental review stage.

Marlene Cintron, head of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC), said the resurgence is a departure from when she took office in 2010 when “there was not much happening in the Bronx.”

Waiting game

She remembered speaking to city EDC VP Dara Nussbaum over the lax business growth.

“[Dara] said to me very nicely, ‘It’s because we’re waiting for the market to turn around,’” said Cintron. “I said, ‘You’re not waiting for the market to turn around in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens. So why do we have to wait?’”

Since then, major construction has begun at sites including a new extension to the Bay Plaza Shopping Center anchored by Macy’s, a Marriott Residence Inn and Montefiore Medical Center at the Hutch Metro Center, another Target Mall in Throggs Neck and the Paragon Outlet Mall next to Whitestone Cinemas.

The projects aim to create an estimated 4,400 permanent jobs, a figure that could put a dent on the Bronx’s staggering jobless rate that averaged 12%, or 177,000 Bronxites out of work in 2012, according to labor stats.

The Bronx has gained traction, these days holding a 10% unemployment rate, compared to 11% held by upstate Hamilton County.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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