After decades of neglect, the landmarked Orchard Beach Pavilion will be restored to its former glory with an $87 million renovation which was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.
While the majority of the pavilion, including the bathhouse, has been off-limits to the public for over a decade, the beach still receives an impressive 1.6 million visitors annually as locals flock to sunbathe on what is affectionately known as the Bronx Riviera.
Plans for the restoration have been in the making for decades, however, it wasn’t until last year when New York City Landmark Preservation Committee voted to approve the project.
The planned renovations and restorations to the site, led by Marvel Architects, will focus on repairing its unique bright blue tiles and terrazzo floor sand the reconstruction of the bathhouse and its upper and lower floors loggias and cafeteria. The project will also include the restoration of the site’s original clocks and lighting, and the historic compass on the upper floor of the pavilion will be restored. These efforts will aim to return the space to its former grandeur when it first opened to the public in 1937.
One of the goals for the renovation is to create spaces for both commercial and community use, including the restoration of the cafeteria and spaces to be operated by concessionaires.
Orchard Beach was one of Robert Moses’ most ambitious projects, built in 1936 and expanded in the 1940s with an extension of the beach northward as the old LeRoy Bay was filled in with sand from the Rockaways, Sandy Hook, and Northport. This creation of 115 acres of new land was the largest Works Progress Administration project in New York City during this time.
Since then, the beach has become an integral part of the lives of those who call The Bronx home and is a special place that residents flock to, no matter the season.
Now, with the restoration of the 140,000 square foot pavilion finally in progress and making it fully ADA compliant, it will indeed be a treasure accessible to all Bronxites for decades to come that residents deserve.