Jump to content
Attention: In order to reply to messages, create topics, have access to other features of the community you must sign up for an account.
Sign in to follow this  

Just-finished $52M touchup includes Lou Gehrig Plaza, a raft of trees

Recommended Posts

As the Grand Concourse celebrates 100 years as the Bronx’s Champs-Élysées, the boulevard still embodies the aspirations of the boro — and somewhat reflects its recent history.


Like the borough in modern times, it’s gone from grand to embattled to scruffy — and hopefully, in the near future, it will once again be a polished gem.


Right now, “The Conc” is seeing a centennial surge in attention and investment.


Last month marked the completion — nine months ahead of schedule — of a $52 million project to improve the stretch of the Grand Concourse in the heart of the borough’s Civic Center, from E. 161st to E. 166th St., including reconstruction of the E. 161st St. underpass beneath the concourse.


Where once a parking strip stood a new Lou Gehrig Plaza, with raised terraces, ornamental lighting, granite bollards and benches, now gleams in front of the Bronx County Building.


Improvements along the concourse include new trees, raised planted medians, heavy planters and decorative paving and street lighting.


The city Department of Transportation also reduced the size of the intersection at E. 161st St. to shorten crosswalks, making it safer for pedestrians.


Further north up the concourse, Community Board 5 District Manager Xavier Rodriguez said he wants to see the improvements continued into his Highbridge-Mount Eden neighborhood.


“The Grand Concourse redesign is great,” Rodriguez said. “I’d like to see this extended at least up to Kingsbridge.”


Citing recent rehabs of the stately Loews Paradise theater and the Sears Building, Rodriguez said his stretch of the concourse is ripe for rebirth, and would benefit a larger area.


“Any improvements of the Grand Concourse would go a long way to stabilizing the Fordham Road shopping area,” he said.


At the other end of the concourse, south of E. 149th St., the city has begun rezoning a 30-block area with the aim of transforming the surrounding warehouse/manufacturing district into a mixed-use neighborhood of lofts and shops.


Rezoning of the lower concourse is part of the broader South Bronx Initiative Mayor Bloomberg unveiled last year, proposing to rezone and redevelop the lower concourse plus Melrose Commons and the Civic Center along 161st St., where it crosses


the Grand Concourse.


At the center of this area sits the stately but dilapidated Public School 31 at E. 144th St., once known as "the Castle on the Concourse."


It has been vacant and shrouded in scaffolding for 15 years - "a heartbreak" for Wilhelm Ronda, director of planning and development for Borough President Adolfo Carrión.


But Ronda hopes the landmarked building, which needs more than $30 million in emergency repairs, can be remade into an anchor for a resurgent neighborhood, perhaps hosting a performing arts center or high-tech business incubator.


"The city government has responded to this area's need for attention," said Ronda.


"We've made a great start here. We can't let it end here."


Carrión has made redevelopment of the entire West Bronx corridor a priority.


According to the borough president's office, more than $2 billion in public and private investment has flooded into the Grand Concourse and surrounding areas in the past few years.


That includes the $800 million New Yankee Stadium, the $395 million Gateway Center Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market, a new $325 million criminal courthouse on E. 161st St., $125 million in mass transit improvements and a $10 million expansion of the Bronx Museum of the Arts.


BY Bill Egbert


February 10th 2009



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.