A year ago, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr said that there was no gentrification taking place but either he was flat out clueless or lying—we’ll let you decide for yourselves.
Now, as the South Bronx Clocktower’s extension has reached its planned height of six stories, renderings have been revealed showing what will be the most luxurious development in The Bronx, something we don’t say lightly.
The new building will add 190 units to the existing 90 already at the landmarked Clocktower, a new fitness center, a game room, lounge, sports court, and an indoor sky-lit swimming pool.
According to plans and specs, most of the units will be facing E 134th street aka The Major Deegan Expressway and directly across from NYCHA’s Mitchel Houses on the other side of the expressway.
Talk about a tale of two cities within a neighborhood.
Do prospective tenants know that the area is a flood zone? Or that the 40th Precinct (which covers the area) is experiencing a surge in murders making it an outlier in the city?
Port Morris is separated from Mott Haven by the expressway and bridges leading into Manhattan and Queens creating a barrier between it and the rest of the borough.
With Rubenstein and Chetrit’s planned six market rate 20-plus story towers just across the street this will only serve to further fuel the gentrification of The South Bronx.
Many pro-gentrification folks argue that there’s no displacement so no gentrification is taking place because “no one lives there” which is incorrect as thousands of people live in Port Morris.
What most pro-gentrification individuals don’t understand is the ripple affect that happens as such developments rise in a few neighborhood. Existing residents even in rent-stabilized apartments will feel pressure from their landlords to move, often times with the landlords paying tenants several thousand dollars to leave.
There’s also the commercial aspect with developers snatching up retail storefronts to lease to their own favored businesses to create a neighborhood to their liking, something which Keith Rubenstein has already done with Filtered Coffee, Pizzoteca, 9J Designs, and a gallery on Third Avenue next to Filtered.
This is a signal to other landlords that they can raise rents out of reach of existing businesses because someone is artificially raising them by speculative purchases and leasing.
There’s absolutely no doubt that mixed-income neighborhoods are a good thing in theory but sadly we haven’t seen it work successfully yet because of the forces of gentrification.
So as the Clocktower’s extension gets closer to completion as the South Bronx’s first ultra luxury market rate rental, this is only the beginning of Ruben Diaz Jr’s “New Bronx” which isn’t for existing residents who deserve better but for an entirely different economic demographic who won’t mind living on the “other side of the tracks” separate from our borough and all that ails us.
How do we reconcile that luxury is being built in the poorest congressional district in the United States when hundreds of thousands are barely making ends meet and paying over 55% of their incomes towards rent, one of the highest in the nation?
How do we reconcile this gross example of inequality being constructed for outsiders, because let’s face it, the majority of residents in these developments will be from outside our borough, when Mayor de Blasio continues to push affordable housing that’s not affordable for the residents in the communities they are built in?
Many questions, many dilemmas.