Op-Ed | The spirit of the Bronx is stronger than ever with growth right in the heart of Mott Haven — here’s why

Anthony H. Williams
Photo courtesy Anthony Williams

I was born and raised in the Bronx, and the borough’s dynamic character is part of my DNA. Every day, my mom would get up at 4 AM, ready to go for the daily grind. My dad was an auto mechanic, but he also bought, fixed, and resold cars while finding time to run a burgeoning real estate enterprise on the side.

My parents taught me what it means to work hard and to carve out a place for yourself and your family. They taught me the spirit that so many of my neighbors in the Bronx shared—to work hard and build a better life.

Decades later, I’m still here in the South Bronx, following my parents’ lessons and trying to build a better life for myself and my fellow Bronxites as they grind as tirelessly as ever. Things look a lot different here now than when I was growing up, but some things don’t change — the Bronx spirit is alive, and people here want to grow their businesses, their wealth, and their neighborhoods.

Through my work as a financial planner and personal experience, I’ve witnessed a significant wave of people from the Bronx who have worked hard to secure a higher quality of life but want to stay in the borough they know and love.

It’s a true joy to tell people they can find the high quality of life they are looking for in the South Bronx. Just look at Mott Haven—it has exploded with economic and real estate growth in recent years. As a proud Mott Haven resident, I can say that Bronx loyalists and anyone looking for a bustling neighborhood to lay roots can find exactly what they need right here on the Harlem River.

Today, more than 5,000 new mixed-income apartments spread across 20 residential development projects are emerging along the neighborhood’s Harlem River waterfront. Domain Companies recently opened Estela, with 544 mixed-income apartments. Brookfield opened Lincoln at Bankside, a 921 mixed-income luxury residential building that is the second phase of its broader 1,379-unit Bankside development. L+M Development Partners’ Bronx Point development offers 542 units with 432 much-needed, affordable apartments and a new home for the city’s first Hip Hop Museum.

In addition to the expanse of new places to live, in recent decades, community-led initiatives were formed to revitalize the Bronx, which paved the way for the borough to become a vibrant destination. Since its critical rezoning in 2017, the transit-rich neighborhood has evolved and grown, transforming toxic brownfield sites into thousands of affordable and market-rate apartments, public parks, restaurants, shops, schools, and museums.

It makes sense that longtime residents don’t want to leave Mott Haven – and why people from across the city are flocking to it.

As a resident of Domain’s Estela, being able to live in a high-quality residential community in the heart of Mott Haven is an opportunity I never thought I would have growing up. But over the past few decades, the South Bronx has undergone superb economic growth with the residential and mixed-use development to go with it.

My passion is helping people build the lives they dream of through smart financial planning, and I’ve seen that native Bronxites are seizing recent momentum. Business sales have increased by a whopping 22 percent since 2015, and there are more companies now than there have been in the past four decades, all while the unemployment rate has fallen to a record low.

Plus, Mott Haven is 65 percent Hispanic and 27 percent Black. The economic boom is going back into the pockets of the same families and communities that have made Mott Haven what it is for decades, and now these families can find the higher quality of life they’ve worked so hard for right in the neighborhood they love.

I’m proud to have been born and raised in the Bronx and to be a part of its thriving community today. With the Bronx spirit as strong as ever, so many others like me are keeping their roots here in Mott Haven. With all the new residential options in the neighborhood, up-and-coming Bronx natives can find their dream apartment in the borough they have always called home.

Anthony H. Williams, Founder and Wealth Management Advisor – New York, NY 10035 | Northwestern Mutual