Volunteers revitalize major Bronx hub building modular outdoor facility

The new outdoor dining on Willis Avenue.
Photos courtesy of Kamila Harris Photography

More than 30 volunteers constructed modular outdoor open space facilities focused on rebuilding the quality of life for a major hub in the Bronx last week.

On Oct. 2, the Bronx Community Foundation in partnership with the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, NY Department of Transport and Rockwell Group’s DineOut NYC, created outdoor dining and open space at 500 Willis Ave., between 147th Street and Roberto Clemente Plaza in the south Bronx.

The space will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is set up in front of a number of small businesses including Botanica La Milagrossa, Hair Braiding, The Hub Novelty, Coffee Delight Diner, Boost Mobile, La Isla Restaurant and Alex Grocery Store.

In addition to adding extra space for diners, the program will include activities focusing on youth, public health, arts music and culture. Individuals can participate in outdoor salsa lessons, fitness and aerobic classes, live performances basketball games and air hockey.

The goal of this major revitalization project is to celebrate the intense urbanity of the area, which sees thousands of passersby daily, while providing the community with a clean, safe, open space for workers, residents and visitors. It also makes the plaza a hub in itself, giving community members a place to congregate and celebrate.

A recent study from HR&A Advisors indicated that the south Bronx would experience difficulty recovering from COVID-19, due to economic and health disparities.

These challenges are further exacerbated as the majority of the south Bronx is comprised of mom and pop shops, with only 16 percent of businesses considered chains.

Alexander Avenue has been a focus of The Bronx Community Foundation and their COVID-19 relief effort. The Bronx Community Relief Effort, which supports small businesses and the revitalization and recovery of the Bronx in partnership with the Third Avenue Business Improvement District and a coalition of 15 Bronx business organizations. Grants have been provided to multiple small businesses with a focus on supporting businesses owned by women or people of color.