An upcoming high-end residential project in the south Bronx has garnered mixed reactions from the borough’s residents.
The planned project, the Piano District, will consist of two 25-story residential towers that will include fashion, art and ground-floor retail, in Mott Haven.
Many residents of the area and nearby areas have expressed concern with the project, which will be built on two Harlem River waterfront properties, stating that the Chetrit Group and Somerset Partners’ vision of ‘luxury living’ and ‘world class dining’ will not take their needs into consideration, such as housing affordability and community involvement. Could this be an example of gentrification?
“We as residents – we need to have a say and input on redevelopment in our neighborhood and nearby areas or else developers will build what they feel is appropriate without any community opinion,” said Fitzroy Christian, a Community Action for Safe Apartments leader who has been active in CASA’s forums which highlight resident displacement, exploitation, gentrification and/or harassment, particularly on Jerome Avenue’s rezoning process.
“I am not in support of this project because I don’t believe the project is taking the residents’ needs and opinions into account.”
“It’s not just about one block or one neighborhood – it is about the Bronx as a whole – because redevelopment eventually affects the entire borough.”
On the contrary, there are also individuals who believe the project will be a good fit for the borough as well as the neighborhood.
“Any development that brings new employment and better housing to the area is a good investment,” said Lou Harris, a lifelong Bronx resident whose father owned the the Prospect Restaurant on Prospect and Westchester avenues near 160th Street for 30 years. “Parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan have experienced spurts of revitalization – why can’t the Bronx?”
“Hopefully, with this project, the area can be revitalized without being gentrified.”
“It’s is a good sign for the neighborhood,” said Sid Miller, a real estate broker and owner of the Haven Heights Group, a real estate company that has specialized in south Bronx real estate for over 25 years. “My wish for this project is that the economic level of the area rises significantly so there is no more poverty among residents. I believe it will bring money and new merchants to the area and put this neighborhood in the right direction.”