With 1,902 residential apartments under construction spread across 19 developments and a median 1 bedroom asking rent of $1,595 a month, Localize.city has listed Melrose in the South Bronx as one of NYC’s hottest neighborhoods for 2019.
This isn’t even including the over 6,000 units of housing that has been constructed in the area since 2000.
Localize.city highlights several projects which Welcome2TheBronx has been following very closely throughout the years, including the mega project La Central which will transform The Hub and Melrose as we know it once complete.
This year the first building in the 5 building, 992 unit development will open and by next year we should be seeing several more buildings opening up at La Central including a new YMCA and BronxNet Television Studios.
The development’s final building is slated to begin construction sometime late this year and will rise 25 stories at Bergen and 153rd Street with an astronomy lab on the rooftop that will be run by Bronx High School of Science.
Once completed, La Central will bring thousands of residents along a stretch of Bergen Avenue that was vacant for decades.
Further up north at 161st Street construction is well underway at Bronx Commons which will be home to a 300 seat Bronx Music Hall and the official home of The Bronx Music Heritage Center which has been chronicling the musical history and heritage of our borough.
While for some people such a recognition may be a source of pride, for others, ourselves included, it’s much more of a nail in the coffin as we slide deeper into the gentrification of our beloved Bronx.
Many residents we spoke to weren’t surprised that Melrose made the list given the fact that the area is the unofficial “Downtown”.
Just last year, Melrose received a $10 million grant under the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative that provides monies to solidify “downtown” areas.
With the borough’s court system on one corner and The Bronx’s oldest shopping district in the other where the highest concentration of banks in The Bronx is located at the Third Avenue Business Improvement District at The Hub, it’s no wonder why many have thought of Melrose as the “de facto” downtown.
Now with this latest recognition, the neighborhood is maybe a victim of its own success.
In 1980, due to the widespread arson that engulfed the South Bronx, Melrose’s population went from 25,000 to just over 3,000.
Many swaths of blocks were abandoned or razed after the fires and shortly thereafter, the city thought it could finish what the fires didn’t by recreating a “new” neighborhood mostly for middle income families.
Thanks to the late Yolanda Garcia, who founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay, local residents who didn’t flee the fires were able to take control of the development and turn it into a true community vision versus what the city and developers wanted.
Thousands of residential units later, including condominiums, town homes, and affordable housing, the population surged so much that in the 2010 census Melrose was listed as the third fastest growing neighborhood in NYC.
The neighborhood is also home to the landmark Bronx General Post Office which is currently being transformed into a mixed-use development of retail, offices, and a rooftop restaurant (although the project seems to have stalled and the building is reportedly up for sale again).
It’s also home to the landmark Old Bronx Courthouse which was the birthplace of The Bronx where we became the 62nd and last county in New York State in 1914. The building, after being vacant for almost 40 years, will soon be home to a new Success Charter School.
Melrose also has the best public transportation with the 2/4/5 trains at 149th Street and Grand Concourse or 2/5 at 3rd Avenue and 149th Street getting you to midtown within 15-20 minutes depending whether you’re heading to the East or West side of Manhattan (and if the trains are actually working).
There’s also a Melrose Metro North Station at 162nd Street which can get you to Grand Central Station in just two stops and 16 minutes.
Now while all of that sounds good on paper, what the list forgets to mention is that Melrose is also the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in the borough with people literally shooting up on 149th Street and Third Avenue in broad daylight in front of thousands of pedestrians, including children, walking through the area.
It also neglects to state that despite being the “hottest” neighborhood, thousands of residents in NYCHA development like Melrose Houses and Morrisania Air Rights are living in squalid and dangerous conditions, sometimes without heat or hot water not to mention toxic mold and lead paint.
So Melrose may have saved itself from gentrification 30 years ago but now will it survive the next coming wave that will come as a result of this list?