Virtual Tour of South Bronx
The Eleventh Annual Rob Walsh Walking Tour of New York
12:45pm-1:20pm (New York) 5:45pm-6:20pm (Belfast)
Live from Bruckner Avenue, South Bronx
Meet the small business owners fighting for survival in this National Emergency and learn about their ambitions for a revitalised South Bronx.
Led by our Guide Rob Walsh, Special Advisor to the President of Manhattan College & Former Small Business Commissioner New York City. With guest Michael Brady, Executive Director Third Avenue Bid, Vice-President Bronx Chamber of Commerce & Irish Echo 40 under 40 Honoree.
Special thanks to BronxNet
This year for our 11th Annual Walking Tour, we will be focusing on revitalization efforts taking place in the South Bronx – specifically along a corridor along Bruckner Boulevard and Alexander Avenue in the Mott Haven section. Look at this as the Places, People and Partnerships tour.
With regard to places, Mott Haven was once known as the Piano District given the number of piano manufacturing plants that dotted the Boulevard. One of the largest, Estey Piano Factory, has been landmarked and converted into a residential building. This signature building is now called The Clock Tower with Charlies Bar & Kitchen occupying the ground floor. Along our tour, we will see other older industrial buildings that are being readapted with the addition of many new residential units and a large school that will anchor the corridor. We will also point out some of the steps being taken on the street level to energize old abandoned loading docks with small shops.
I think the most inspiring part of this tour will be some of the people you meet. After a couple of weeks where looting has left shattered windows and hopes of recovery for already struggling mom and pop stores, I will be joining Bronx community leader (and Irish Echo Award winner) Michael Brady to visit with a number of inspiring small business owners in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx – who are determined to carry on.
When Hurricane Sandy wiped out the Mott Haven Bar and Grill, the owner Rosa Garcia battled back, rebuilt and doubled down to lift others in the community. Rosa and her team have been preparing hundreds of meals for health workers on the front lines – one of a dozen restaurants in the community partnering with the World Central Kitchen. To date, they have delivered nearly a million meals to those in need.
At the popular CeeTays Sushi Restaurant, Amir Chayon is reorganizing his restaurant. His new business model focuses much more on takeout and delivery. Business has been brisk and now there are plans for outdoor seating.
Up until last year, The Bronx, a borough with more than 1.4 million people were without an independent bookstores. The only bookstores were on college campus. On our tour, we will spend time with Bronx native Noelle Santos who opened up the Lit Bar last year – which serves as a bookstore, wine bar and community gathering place. Noelle is looking forward to another grand opening.
We will pop in to visit with Amaurys Grullon, owner of The Bronx Native. It is a small unique boutique where shirts, hoodies, hats and now masks celebrate Bronx pride.
As Mott Haven to grow and attract more investment, the continued involvement of this core of leaders and merchants will be critical. New York Governor Cuomo likes to say we are New York Tough. We will see this on full display in special neighborhood in the South Bronx – with a heavy dose of Compassion.
Finally, we will touch upon Partnerships. As I have stressed in a number of previous tours, for neighborhoods like Mott Haven to take a giant step forward they need to forger even stronger partnerships with government with a laser beam focus on quality of life issues – to put it more bluntly – cleaning up the sore spots that hold the neighborhood back. Given the growth and a good strong core of active small business owners, the neighborhood is ripe for the creation of a business improvement district (BID). Unfortunately, the request to create a BID has fallen upon deaf ears at City Hall. A new BID for this Bronx neighborhood would add a much need shine to the corridor and help in the attraction of more small businesses to the area.
For too long, The Bronx was synonymous with the word urban blight and image that community leaders have for worked hard to shake. It is time for government to be much more pro-active in forging partnerships in the community.