Poor awning upkeep has left commercial strip a mess

Merchant group head Gene DeFrancis (right) and local shopowners on Allerton Avenue say an “ugly” H&R Block canopy is “taxing” surrounding businesses.
Steven Goodstein / Community News Group

This awning is H and R – “Block” -ing one strip’s style.

Merchants on a stretch of Allerton Avenue are up in arms about an ‘eyesore’ marquee jutting out from an H&R Block tax office storefront that they say has become a haven for birds – and a deterrent to customers.

Shopowners on Allerton’s main shopping avenue between White Plains Road and Cruger Avenue are demanding that the canopy at 716 Allerton Avenue be removed.

“It’s bad for business when people don’t even want to walk on the same side of the street as your establishment,” said Joseph Cohen, owner of the Florsheim Shoes shop next door.

Cleaning up overtime

Neighboring businesses say they are forced to fish out bird waste and other gunk from the canopy and sidewalk, in order to keep the strip looking passable.They say the mess gets especially bad in summer, after the H&R Block closes for tax season every April.

The canopy, which locals say has been there for nearly a decade, is especially unappetizing to the manager of a fish market next door.

“Customers will walk into our place and let us know about the dirty canopy and the birds that have made it their home,” said Carlos Reyes, manager of Allerton Fish Market.

Reyes said he often joins other businesses owners in scrubbing the sidewalk down with Clorox during valuable business hours.

We’ve done it, again

A local merchant coalition has now put the canopy squarely in its crosshairs.

“For too long this canopy has been in horrendous condition,” said Gene DeFrancis, head Allerton International Merchants, a newly formed group that aims to tackle these types of quality-of-life concerns.

DeFrancis said he walked into the store in March and demanded that they remove the awning before the end of tax season, to no avail. He also filed a complaint with the city Buildings Department, though no action has been taken.

But after the Bronx Times Reporter called, a landlord spokeswoman said repairs were on the way,

The landlord, listed in property records as Elaine Copland, plans “to have the canopy repaired or removed within the next few days,” wrote Angela Black in an email.

A fix-up could not come soon enough for neighbors fed up with a marquee they say “taxes” their bottom line.

“We need it corrected,” said DeFrancis. “Take down the awning. And clean up the storefront.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkoch‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.
Local shopowners say this Allerton Avenue awning is a breeding location for pigeons and sparrows — and the excrement they produce deters potential customers.
Steven Goodstein / Community News Group

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