The Bronx Is Great, Thonx

The borough is building, and the bulk of new construction is still comparatively affordable. Just don’t call it the next Brooklyn.

Comments: 52

  1. It sounds wonderful to have the #4 train rumble by your windows every few minutes. There was a reason why the area immediately along Jerome Avenue was not originally zoned for housing.

  2. @David I grew up on Mosholu Parkway, a block from Jerome Avenue and the 4 train, and also about that distance from Montifiore Hospital. You become very accustomed to the rumblings of the train and the blaring of the sirens, so much so that you miss them when they are not there. I remember staying over my Aunt’s house in suburban Connecticut and not being able to sleep because it was too quiet!

  3. We loved a condo in Riverdale but beware the noise from the Metro North Train (which is also used by Amtrak AND nightly noisy fright trains) if you are within a few blocks of those tracks. The Metro North is very handy to get into NYC.

  4. @K Henderson
    I grew up in a building adjacent to a fire house, the Major Deegan and very active freight train tracks behind us, as well as a very noisy Con Edison plant nearby that went up in flames one night. I got used to it all and can fall (and stay) asleep under any conditions.

  5. Come to Van Cortlandt Village/aka Kingsbridge Heights. Three BRs in the 300,000s. I raised my kids in this neighborhood. It's safe and has good transportation options to both downtown and to Westchester. Van Cortlandt Park is nearby. What's not to like? Thonx.

  6. The headline cracked me up. My! How the Gray Lady (what NYT was sometimes referred to by some journalists) has changed, grown younger, betraying a sense of humor. As a onetime newspaper copyeditor and headline writer, I loved the coinage, but I must say, no Thonx, I'm alright where I live.

  7. I laughed at the headline too !

  8. Affordable to Who? The Northern Bronx is becoming so overbuilt the is resembling Brooklyn. Every vacate lot is being bought and cookie cutter houses are being built by house flippers. Parking in the North Bronx is becoming a nightmare because housing prices are so high that people are forced to rent their basements just to pay their mortgages. If you want to draw ire mention Mayor Bloomberg in the North Bronx. Allowing builders to build three family monstrosities where there was single family houses under the guise of urban renewal has destroyed the character of many neighborhoods in The Bronx.

  9. @Steven McCain Northern Bronx residents need to get their Councilmember(s) to request a downzoning for your area. The process takes about 2 years from start to finish. (Most of the east shore of S.I. and a lot of eastern Queens was downzoned to R3-1 or R3X in 2005/06).

  10. I still miss the Bronx. I lived there as a child when my parents came over from Ireland in ‘51. Went to St Luke’s on 139th st. It’s still going strong. One thing always puzzled me about the Bronx. Why, oh why, do we say “the Bronx”?? We don’t say “the Manhattan” or “ the Queens”. Can anybody solve this conundrum?

  11. @omedb261 Same reason the uninformed call Ukraine, The thought it were property of someone else.

  12. @omedb261 Its called the Bronx after the Bronx family who lived there way back when New York city was clustered around Wall St. You could visit the VanCourtlands, who were large land owners, or the Bronx household, also very large landowners. This was all farmland inhabited by the Dutch, who were the first settlers in the New York area.

  13. Once again, the developers will win in due time. We know that there is stubborn wage stagnation for low- and mid level earners.
    We know the wealth accumulation favors a narrowing band of Americans: not blacks, not Hispanics, particularly not women of color.

    Once the developers' tax abatements disappear, I fear these lucky hardworking apartment dwellers will be out of luck. The ratios of applicants to winners is staggering. And what about the vast numbers of those who didn't get lucky? Their extremity is here and now, likely unceasing.

    I taught in two schools in the Bronx, and one in Harlem. My former students and their families? Most likely beset and beaten down, lives even harder, hope even less, apartments more crowded.

    Meanwhile, landlords and developers pore over their glowing spreadsheets. Those same spreadsheets are radioactive
    for struggling New Yorkers.

    How much profit is enough? How much suffering follows the money?

    I honor the Times for recently covering the multi-job plight of
    low- and middle-wage earners. TheseMultiple jobs, limited or no benefits.

  14. @Cary K. wants to keep the Bronx impoverished so that she can come in during the daytime to feel good about herself and then return to her safe and well maintained neighborhood in Manhattan at night. If you really wanted to help these kids and their families, why don't you give up your home to low income New Yorkers so they can live in a decent area with decent schools, decent commute and public services. Then you can move to the Bronx where you are employed and support the local businesses with your higher disposable income and walk to work.

  15. Anyone who complains about gentrification and economic development in the Bronx ought to consider that the Bronx is poorest county in New York State #62. It is wedged immediately between the two wealthiest counties. Keeping the Bronx homgenously poor has been a disservice to its residents for over a half century. High crime, long commutes, multi-generational poverty, hopelessness are all resultant effects of government policy which purposely manipulates the housing market to use the Bronx as a social services dumping ground for the city and the region. It's time Manhattan and Westchester step up to provide their own affordable housing and stop treating Bronx County like its servants quarters. If zoning, historic districts and rent regulations were eliminated throughout NYC, there is no way that the Bronx would be the poorest county in New York State in 2018.

  16. @Richard Garey: Ah, the old "abolish rent regulations and all will be perfect" argument again! Not true, never was true, never will be true in NYC.

    And what do you care about zoning or historic districts either? There's no need for historic anything, right? Just level every old building and start again?? And air and light - those are just luxury amenities; regular people aren't entitled to 'em.

  17. @Richard Garey, no one has been "keeping the Bronx homogeneously poor" - unless you count the poor themselves, for whom the Bronx has been the last bastion of affordable housing.

    Eliminating rent regulations will only result in the displacement of millions of low- and moderate-income families - and more profit for already-wealthy landlords and developers.

    The idea that abolishing rent regulations will somehow magically open up market-rate housing and reduce market-rate rents is a myth and a LIE. There is no "free market" in NY real estate - the market is manipulated by real estate interests.

    Many neighborhoods in Manhattan now are blighted by blocks of empty storefronts as small business owners have been forced out by astronomical rent increases - often leaving the storefronts empty for years - a practice that landlords actually profit from due to tax laws influenced by the real estate industry.

    The same thing is done with apartments - landlords deliberately warehouse apartments to drive up demand and rents.

    So what then would happen to the millions currently living in rent-regulated apartments? And those living in what are now low-market-rate neighborhoods in the Bronx?

  18. I’m disappointed in the slideshow. The last part is like an ad for the developments it pictures.

  19. Maybe I'm overly optimistic but I think a building boom in the Bronx could be a wonderful thing.

    The Bronx has some beautiful parks, large employers (hospitals, K-12, Fordham, various NYC agencies) and great transportation for access to Manhattan and Westchester (parkways, subways, Metro-North).

    I'd encourage market-rate housing near subway stations, along with the affordable/subsidized buildings. Encourage developers to build thousands of units - let's see what prices and rents will level out at. Let's encourage the same ambitious proposals that led to Coop City and the many high rise buildings in Riverdale.

    And developers/marketers, please don't be ashamed that your building is in The Bronx. It's not "Riverdale, NY", it's "Bronx, NY".

  20. @Matt Green: "Encourage developers"?? They scarcely need encouragement, do they? They're going to develop every square inch they can and laugh all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, infrastructure - schools, shopping, police & fire & medical services, and especially SUBWAYS - will NOT keep pace. Commuting time will go up, and quality of life will go down in many ways.

    NYC's development is heading for "Hong Kong on the Hudson" status, where everyone's jammed in & it's nearly impossible to get around. We are already well on our way to that.

  21. Now all we need is for the NYPD to catch up. I've lived in Highbridge for three years now and unfortunately crime seems to be getting worse. That's an important sorry for the NY times to follow.

  22. My friend moved to a new building in the Bronx. He loves his apartment. However, he is plagued with noisy neighbors, two-hour commutes, and an outdoor community of Jamaicans raising a ruckus at all hours, all quite detrimental to his health.

  23. @Grittenhouse
    Let him move to Philly then. At least he gets a chance to eat Jamaican food, which is so much better than a cheese steak.

  24. @Grittenhouse How does he know they are Jamaican?

  25. There comes a time, as yet unknown to us, when the market pricing reaches it's point of saturation when incomes do not support this living on the edge mentality. Meantime developers always win because they buy cheaper, develop cheaply with great facades, and then sell high to dreamers who think they'll be able to continue paying mortgages, coop fees, taxes, insurance, and HEALTH CARE costs, the latter thanks to the Republican Party. It's hard enough getting a restful sleep in the Bronx!

  26. Fitzroy Christian's remark won't go unchallenged.
    Point 1: Yes, the apartments along the rezoned Jerome Ave. corridor will be market-rate; but since there's no housing there now, it's irrelevant whether it's aimed at people who live there now or not.
    Point 2: This are is home to many middle-class co-ops on the Concourse and Webster Ave. So his remark doesn't apply community-wide — despite the overall poverty rate of the district.
    Point 3: Everyone I talk to here welcomes such higher-income residents-without-displacement, for many reasons, e.g, more and better-quality shopping options; more city services and attention from city agencies; and a rise in ALL property.

  27. We just bought in Spuyten Duyvil. We moved up from Hell’s Kitchen.

    There are trees! Birds! Happy people!

    We love it. We have an incredible view of the Hudson, lots of space, and a building full of kind and interesting people.

    A surprise for me is how much I like the Bronx. We lone going to the Botanical Gardens. Van Cortlandt Park is a wonderland The parks, people, and tight knit neighborhoods are what make it a great place to live.

  28. As is always the case with gentrification the new shopping options, better infrastructure etc won’t benefit those who have lived there for generations. Yes people are poor but at least they have space fairly close to Manhattan that allows them to exist in one of the most expensive cities in the world. They will be pushed out to poor suburbs where they will be more isolated and further cut off from resources. It doesn’t matter, by the way, whether the constructions are new developments. As a response to these luxury buildings rent will rise all over the district. This will be welcome by the few who own their home but the great majority will not be able to afford renting in Mott Haven anymore. So don’t worry newcomers sooner rather than later you won’t be disturbed anymore by noisy, unruly neighbors. Then again you may not be able to afford to live in luxury building anymore either.
    New York is turning into a Disneyland for the top 5 percent. The Bronx is just the latest victim of the kind of brutal, developer driven gentrification that has made it almost impossible for lower middle class, let alone poor people to exist in the city.

  29. Highbridge is a beautiful area, dominated by a gigantic hill that culiminates in the High Bridge itself, the first city bridge and certainly the highest and most beautiful. Dramatic views, dramatic topography — but it's a hike to stores and the subway. A steep hike!

  30. In 10 years there will still be a large number of poor people, mostly with low paying jobs, living or trying to live in the Bronx. This is true unless The Democratic party goes full way towards becoming a Social Democratic Party and institutes a housing realistic federal minimum wage, a universal basic income (with adjustments for high cost housing areas), Medicare for all, universal cheap day care, and universal elderly care. In many cases, such as child care and elderly care, for profit companies will have to be replaced by worker owned co-ops and non-profits. This would of course require higher taxes for the wealthy, rigorous penalties for phony off-shore corporate tax dodging schemes, and the votes of Trump loving white nationalists. So it's not going to happen. What then about the poor?

  31. @John Mack - If you read the Social Democrat website you will learn the party is also for government ownership of the means of production. When they implement that goal there will be no wealthy people to tax! (See Venezuela or Cuba)

  32. Of the 5 boroughs, only The Bronx is connected to the mainland. Something to keep in mind when the next storm comes blowing through.

  33. The east Bronx contains many safe quiet neighborhoods that were never touched by the blight that nearly wiped out the rest of the Bronx. Why? Because it's a neighborhood of mostly 1,2 and 3 family homes.

  34. @NYC Taxpayer

    The East Bronx did decline in sections/blocks/buildings, though most of it remained relatively stable when compared to the west Bronx.

    Density was not the culprit either, it had more to do with the fact that many East Bronxites owned their homes and had more financial assets/political influence. A larger portion of the West Bronx just had very high poverty residents.

    Were plenty of 2-3 unit households in the West Bronx (and parts of the East) reduced to rubble. Same goes for other areas with similar demographics outside the Bronx.

  35. "overlooking gridlocked traffic on the Major Deegan Expressway"

    As well as the Cross Bronx Expressway. No mention of any infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the 4,643 new units. The roads in the Bronx are at over capacity as is.

  36. @mlb4ever: No mention of air quality, either! The asthma rates in many parts of the Bronx are sky high.

  37. I lived in the Bronx for 37 years. I lived in the Skyview complex described in the article. I paid $535/mo for a 2 bedroom apartment as late as the mid 1980s. That included all utilities.

    I sure hope for the price those people are paying for those apartments that the owners have made some serious upgrades to the place that deteriorated so badly in the 1970s-1980s that there were threats of rent strikes.

    And the parking there was impossible.

  38. Born and raised in Highbridge in the 1950s, attended Sacred Heart School and Church .It was a great neighborhood to grow up in. My parents never owned a car.
    Hilly yes but that was our gym. Walked to school everyday , snow ,rain heat nothing stopped. And yes the way back was all uphill.
    Lived on Merriam Avenue, rents were reasonable .
    Plenty of kids in the buildings to play stick ball and other.
    Harry's candy store,the Ogden movie house and a Greek coffee shop named the Mecca all on Ogden Ave.
    Many fond memories walking over the Highbridge Aqueduct bridge to Washington Heights and the pool in the park.
    Had to leave in 1965.
    The old neigborhood wasn't the same , moved north to Yonkers.
    Glad to see the re-building .

  39. I was born there, grew up during the fabulous 40s, 50s, 60s, then watched as the City itself destroyed the Grand Concourse and surrounding neighborhoods. If it comes back, that will require MASSIVE CHANGE!

  40. @Nreb you should visit. The Bronx is booming, and the Concourse is looking pretty good again. Many of the older Concourse coops are undergoing gut renovations.

  41. @Nreb

    The Bronx has already gone through several massive changes since that time period. There are parts of the Bronx that are unrecognizable even when compared to a decade ago.

  42. You will always need "poor" around since people who are so called affluent don't want to clean their homes, wash their own clothes, prefer to hire a stranger to watch their kids instead a trusted family member, don't want empty their own garbage cans, cook their own food, etc. You get where Im going??? Those jobs pay barely over minimum wage so where do you expect those people to live ??? Those "poor" people are the ones who keep the city running since most affluent people are too good to do any kind of work. Rent over $1000 NOT affordable housing. Leave a place in the city for the workers to live or just go ahead and kick them out and hire contract labor to commute back and forth to the city and do all the manual labor jobs

  43. New developments are bringing so much opportunity to the Bronx! There are even schools like Boys Prep Bronx charter school developing property for a purpose much greater than profit-that purpose is education! They just opened a school building at 151st and Grand Concourse for PreK-8th grade. Our families deserve this high quality school option!

  44. Riverdale is not really the Bronx, thanks.

    The character of the Bronx is very different from Brooklyn — and the reasons are architectural. It’s got a Paris-like feel to it, while Brooklyn is akin to the Netherlands style of walkups and houses. I think it will take another 10 years before we have to worry about Gentrification, as most yuppies still scoff at the idea of living there. But you can see the luxury condos on the edge starting the movement, as well as the problematic police station being build — a tank of gentrification.

    On a side note I don’t see why the street car idea wasn’t chopped up and deployed more strategically to places like cross Bx, Queens-Brooklyn and Red Hook.

  45. Wouldn't make sense for more market rate units in the Bronx? I was always taught that warehousing the poor alone is not good policy? I remember the tales from grandparents and parents of not walking on the Grand Concourse without hats a gloves, so clearly their was middle/upper classes before the decline. Why should they not be welcome back (along with their spending power and taxes)? The Mayor and the DOB president are obsessed with intergrating Parkslope and UWS school districts, why not integrate these impoverished neighborhoods with middle class kids? wouldn't that help? If so, then you need to encourage them to return to the bronx.

  46. I make 50K a year and consider $1,200 too much to pay for an apartment. I can't imagine earning half that and paying that amount for rent and having children too. I too would love to live in a hip, hop happening place like NYC but I can't afford it. The wages offered are not to pay for decent affordable housing. Austin is quickly becoming unaffordable but not to the extent of NYC.

  47. @Sasha Love

    Well Austin is considered to be a happening place and a lot of (diverse)people are moving there, so I think you are doing just fine. But this is an illustration of what NYers do go through.

  48. Lived in the Bronx for a good 14 years. Not Riverdale, which is a different place. It is really hard to commute to Manhattan from the Bronx because the subway really does not run well. Driving to Manhattan is also very problematic. There is a great fear of the public schools also. I think it is best for the people that currently live in the Bronx that it is not considered desirable because it will then will remain affordable.

  49. There is a disconnect in this article. It seems to be a positive spin on public housing. Then drops a bomb on you when it tells you that Ms. Sabio was one of 58,000(!) applicants for 58(!) units. Ms. Sabio is the exception clearly. You then have 57,942 applicants who are probably stuck in dumpy apartments half the size of Ms. Sabio's with twice the rent. So, what's the uplifting story here? That we pick winners by random lottery and leave the others out to dry?

  50. I'd like to make the trip there. 40 years ago I was a telephone installer working. I watched all the buildings go up in smoke on Crotona Parkway, Southern Blvd Vyse Avenue and others. The beautiful old apartment buildings with stained glass in the foyer and the heavy cast iron doors on The Grand Concourse were impressive. You could see who used to live in the apartments by all the tiny mezuzot attached to the apartment doors. Most of all those people were gone, moved to Coop City. Coop City to me was the main culprit in the emptying out and destruction of that area. By the time I left even buildings on Ryer Avenue, Valentine Avenue and the concourse were starting to be burned. It was a lot fancier than Brooklyn you could still see that. And Arthur Avenue. The last I saw it the city was using the shopping area for a garbage collection point after the buildings had burned and been torn down.
    Yes, I'd like to see it again.

  51. I grew up in the Bronx, at 1185 Grand Concourse, corner of 167th St, from my birth in 1945 to when we moved to NJ in 1957. Our building and the neighboring ones were filled with working class families, many first generation immigrants, striving to make a better life for their kids. I have nothing but happy memories of it, and I am thrilled to see the Bronx booming again. I think many of the values I have held all my life came from living in this wonderful borough. NYC is always in my heart!