This time, it’s different: Bronx experts weigh in on borough’s long-rumored boom

Panelists see signs that the transformation is for real this time

TRD New York /
Jul.July 12, 2017 01:00 PM

UPDATED, 6:14 p.m., July 13: Every few years, there are proclamations that the Bronx is on the cusp of being the hottest borough in New York real estate. At a recent event on the borough’s future, the moderator had a simple question for the panelists: is it for real this time?

“The Bronx always seems to be the next big thing. There are articles from 10 years ago to 15 years ago,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation vice president Kate Van Tassel. “Does this time feel like it’s different?”

The panelists at the Urban Land Institute New York event, which took place on Tuesday evening at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, responded with a similar variation on the same theme: yes, but…

“There is no straight line of success in any industry or any municipality,” said H. Guy Leibler, president of Simone Healthcare Development. “I think this time does feel a little bit different than the last several. I think part of it is the land speculation, and that has not happened by accident.”

Leibler, whose company spearheaded the Hutchinson Metro Center project in Pelham Bay, said Manhattan-based developers are now making inroads into the borough, and there is a large amount of land speculation taking place, something a recent analysis by The Real Deal also found. He framed the ultimate reason for the borough’s popularity as simple: it’s cheap, and young people are starting to move in.

“They’re cool, they’re hip, they’re happening, they’re interesting,” he said, “and other people follow them.”

Andrew Cohen, director of BRP Development Corporation, said that the Bronx was “getting there” in terms of achieving a real and lasting transformation. His company is helping develop the massive La Central project in Melrose, a 1.2 million-square-foot mixed use development that will contain 992 affordable housing units along with space for retail and a YMCA.

Although he said the market in the Bronx is largely geared toward affordable housing, making it difficult to obtain financing for market rate buildings, he was encouraged that the affordable housing projects were now starting to focus more on tenants toward the higher end of the Area Median Income scale.

“We’re starting to see rents creep up,” he said. “Still affordable but in the 80 to 100 percent of AMI range.”

Brenda Rosen, president of Breaking Ground, which focuses on affordable and supportive housing in New York City, said that they used to have a fairly difficult time finding people from outside the Bronx who wanted to live in their projects in the borough. However, this now seems to be changing, as their Park House project in the west Bronx has received 55,000 applications for 248 units from people all over the city.

“Just a few years ago, we found that we had a harder time filling the units in our Bronx buildings,” she said. “We are not going to have a difficult time filling this building, and I think that that is definitely a sign of what’s going on.”

This story was updated to include the latest numbers for the La Central project.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
1065-1075 Gerard Avenue in the Bronx 

Prana pays Related $36M in Bronx multifamily play

Prana pays Related $36M in Bronx multifamily play
448 East 143rd Street in the Bronx (Credit: Google Maps)

Private developer’s NYCHA project in Mott Haven lands $79M in financing

Private developer’s NYCHA project in Mott Haven lands $79M in financing
1159 and 1184 River Avenue with Maddd Equities' Jorge Madruga (left) and Joy Construction's Eli Weiss (right) (Credit: Google Maps)

Maddd Equities, Joy Construction score $64M for massive Bronx project

Maddd Equities, Joy Construction score $64M for massive Bronx project
From left: Donald Trump (pictured in the 1980s), Steve Ross, Charles Kushner, Harry Macklowe with (inset) Hiten Samtani and Charles Bagli (Getty, Sasha Maslov)

Scoundrels of the skyline: Charles Bagli on the most colorful characters in the real estate biz

Scoundrels of the skyline: Charles Bagli on the most colorful characters in the real estate biz
Vishaan Chakrabarti of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and Hiten Samtani of The Real Deal (Getty)

Vishaan Chakrabarti on a Manhattan real estate market without private cars

Vishaan Chakrabarti on a Manhattan real estate market without private cars
Vishaan Chakrabarti of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and Hiten Samtani of The Real Deal (Getty)

The REInterview: What if Manhattan had four Central Parks’ worth of land to play with?

The REInterview: What if Manhattan had four Central Parks’ worth of land to play with?
Social Construct CEO Ben Huh, The Real Deal's Hiten Samtani and Social Construct cofounder Michael Yarne

The REInterview: Social Construct’s founders on making multifamily construction an assembly line

The REInterview: Social Construct’s founders on making multifamily construction an assembly line
2870 Ocean Avenue in Sheepshead Bay (Google Maps)

Chetrit firm to acquire Sheepshead Bay development site

Chetrit firm to acquire Sheepshead Bay development site
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...