“Victory for the south Bronx,” Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo shouted, with tears of joy in her eyes, during the groundbreaking ceremony for La Central.
The groundbreaking for La Central’s A and B buildings took place on Friday, April 20, a warm, sunny spring day.
The construction for the mixed-use development located in Melrose was met with rounds of applause, smiles, and lots of love for those who could recall the former rubble-strewed site.
Arroyo, like many of those in attendance at the ceremony that were native to the area, recalled walking past the site, playing on the property while parents shopped on 3rd Avenue, waiting for the Bx15 and BX21 across the street, or when walking to school.
More than 25 years ago the piles of rubble and litter defined the rough and tough demeanor of the neighborhood.
While the area has seen vast improvement over the decades and the south Bronx of today is nothing like the one that existed in the 1970s and 80s, La Central has been dubbed a major step in its continued rebirth.
La Central buildings A and B, will include affordable housing, a new YMCA facility and BronxNet TV studio and a public rooftop farm and garden.
The project in its entirety will involve a complex of five buildings, one of which started in June 2017, and on the day of the A and B groundbreaking, already soared 10 stories high.
The project, co-developed by the BRP, Hudson, and the Kretchmer Companies, ELH Management, Breaking Ground and Communilife, encompasses 685,000 square feet of space for buildings A and B.
The properties are located at 556 and 600 Bergen Avenue, between Bergen and Westchester avenues.
Designed by MHG Architects and FXCollaborative, the pair of buildings will sit at 12 and 13 stories high, respectively, and cost about $335 million, financed under the mayor’s ‘Housing New York’ ten-year plan.
“It’s a coming-of-age for the county of the Bronx,” said Arline Parks, the Economic Development chairperson of Community Board 1.
While the added retail venues, education, and community space of the project was greatly received, many have sung the praise of the planned 496 units of new affordable housing included, that will be offered to those with income levels as low as about $19,000 for a family of three and as high as $100,000 for a family of three.
“It reflects the positivity of the citizens here,” added Cedric Loftin, the district manager of CB1. “It’s a new flavor of the Bronx, that everyone can be inclusive of the development, regardless of income.”
There had been some concerns that noise would pose a problem to the property’s future tenants, as it sits just steps from the #2 and #5 IRT train tracks.
In order to address this, the developers announced the building would have noise cancelling technology, so that tenants can control the amount of sound that permeates the apartment from the outside.
Buildings A and B were designed to be completely sustainable, with 250,000 watts of power generated by rooftop solar panels flowing through the buildings that will also include low-flow and water-efficient appliances and landscaped roofs.
While the project was predicted to be completed and open to the public by summer 2020, the ceremonial dirt toss left community leaders and stakeholders with a sense of accomplishment.