Bronx Commons via Danois
The $160 million Bronx Commons mixed-use development, located in the borough’s Melrose neighborhood, broke ground in January. When complete, it will combine affordable housing, retail, landscaped public space, and a 300-seat music and arts venue known as Bronx Music Hall. As 6sqft previously reported, the Hall was envisioned as a way to celebrate and revitalize “the deeply rooted history of cutting edge Bronx music,” which nonprofit developers WHEDco and BFC Partners also hoped to address by setting aside 15 percent of the 305 below-market rate apartments for older musicians. But as the Times explains, despite the South Bronx’s past as a hub for jazz and doo-wop music venues and sidemen, the city says this may be in violation of fair housing laws that prohibit preferences based on age or race.
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Not only did the Times recently name the South Bronx one of this year’s hottest travel destinations, but the up-and-coming ‘hood has become a hotbed for new development. Many of these include affordable housing, which is the case at Bronx Commons, a mixed-use development in the Melrose Commons neighborhood that broke ground this morning. The $160 million project includes 305 all-affordable apartments, retail, and a landscaped public plaza, all of which will be anchored by the Bronx Music Hall, a new 300-seat venue that will serve as an “arts-centered community hub focused on the deeply rooted history of cutting edge Bronx music,” according to a press release from developers WHEDco and BFC Partners.
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“Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” The infamous phrase, uttered in a 1977 broadcast of a Bronx fire, has stuck in the mind of many New Yorkers even today. Indeed, the Bronx saw a sharp decline in population and quality of life in the late 1960s and 1970s, which culminated in a wave of arson. By the early 1980s, the South Bronx was considered one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the country, with a 60 percent decline in population and 40 percent decline of housing units.
Although revitalization picked up by the ’90s, the Bronx never quite took off like its outer-borough counterparts Brooklyn and Queens. While media hype, quickly rising prices and a rush of development has come to characterize those two boroughs, the Bronx has flourished more quietly. The borough, nevertheless, has become home to growth and development distinct from the rest of New York City. Innovative affordable housing, adaptive reuse projects, green development and strong community involvement are redefining the area. As Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said during this Municipal Arts Society discussion in 2014, this is “The New Bronx.”
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