City’s “worst” neighborhood improves

May 29, 2012 12:00PM

A Bronx community previously dubbed “the worst neighborhood” in the country” by President Jimmy Carter back in the 1970s has since turned around. Crain’s reported that the Crotona Park East section of the Bronx, which in 2008 had a commercial vacancy rate of 24 percent, has seen its commercial vacancy rate drop to 16 percent.

Crain’s said the area should be a thriving retail center, primarily due to its three Subway stations and 90 businesses. But a 2008 business survey, conducted by the non-profit Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation, found that nearly $150 million was leaking from the community because residents couldn’t find the things they needed inside.
They wanted more electronics stores, clothing and shoe shops for women and children, as well as specialty food retailers.

Now, the non-profit organization has repurposed a couple of empty storefronts into pop-ups, which have finally helped Crotona Park East fulfill its retail potential. Though the number isn’t specified, they include a fish store and a women’s clothing shop. The neighborhood merchant association has also conducted several “shop local” campaigns to generate retail interest in the neighborhood, which has paid off. “Now there are so many people walking around, going into shops,” said Jebel Ceesay, the association’s president. “It’s much better.” [Crain’s]