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Lights, Camera, Action in the Bronx!

Silvercup North to open next year

Silvercup Studios expanding with a new Bronx film and television production facility;
$35M project brings hundreds of well-paying jobs

New York, NY– July 7, 2015 – To help meet the growing needs of New York’s booming film and television production industry, Silvercup Studios, the Northeast’s leading independent film and television production studio facility, announced plans today that it is expanding with a new studio complex to open at 295 Locust Avenue in the Port Morris section of the Bronx. The $35 million project will bring hundreds of well-paying jobs as well as millions of dollars in tax revenue to the borough. With the expansion to its third location, Silvercup Studios will operate more than 500,000 square feet of studio space citywide.

Silvercup will transform an existing modern warehouse into a 115,000-square-foot full service production facility.  Silvercup North will feature four production studios with 50-foot-high ceilings. The four studios to be built at 295 Locust Avenue will have the highest ceilings of any film/TV production studio in New York City and can easily accommodate two-story sets. A full complement of shops, offices and other support space essential to support film and television production will be provided on-site.

The project will bring an estimated 80 to 100 construction jobs. The new studio space and the film and television productions that will occupy them will create an estimated 400 well-paying production-industry jobs, in addition to injecting money in the local community for materials, and other goods and services to support the productions. 

“My office has been working to expand the film industry in The Bronx for several years, and we are thrilled to welcome Silvercup Studios to the mainland and their new home in Port Morris,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This expansion will not only bring new jobs and economic development to our borough, it will also help us continue to rebrand our borough and showcase the transformative development we have seen over the past decade. The Bronx and Silvercup Studios will be great partners, and I look forward to working with them on this expansion, and to make this project work for all Bronxites.”

Read the complete press release.

HPD Commissioner Been Announces Request for Proposals to Build a New Affordable Mixed-Income Development in the Mott Haven Neighborhood of The Bronx

425 Grand Concourse, Location Of The Former P.S. 31 School Building, Will Be Transformed Into A New, Mixed-Income Affordable Housing Development

Bronx, NY - New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been announced today the release of a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a new mixed-income affordable housing development at 425 Grand Concourse in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. The development site was previously occupied by the former Public School 31 (P.S. 31) building, which was demolished due to structural issues that posed a safety hazard to the area. The city has taken steps to preserve architectural elements of the original school building and included a requirement in the RFP that proposals incorporate the salvaged elements into the new building’s design. Proposals should provide affordable housing for a mix of incomes, as well as ground-floor retail or a mix of retail and community facility use that will add to the fabric of the neighborhood.

“With a crisis of affordability gripping so many New York families, working across agencies to repurpose vacant or under-used city owned sites and maximizing our resources, is critical to addressing the affordable housing needs of our growing city,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “This former school which served as a place of learning and growing will once again be a hub for the neighborhood and will provide affordable homes for working-class families as well as new opportunities for retail or community space. My thanks to Borough President Diaz, Council Member Arroyo, and our other stakeholders for their input and support.”

The 425 Grand Concourse site will be developed in under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, 10-Year Housing Plan to finance the creation and preservation of 200,000 affordable units to house New Yorkers with a range of incomes, from the very lowest to those in the middle class. The plan seeks to use affordable housing as an anchor to foster diverse, livable neighborhoods and promote mixed-use, mixed-income communities.

"Though I am heartbroken to see the demolition of P.S. 31, my alma mater, we must make the most of the opportunity that has been created. This site has incredible potential to help renew an area that has      seen considerable interest from all corners in recent months, and is a key component of our plan for a reinvigorated Harlem River waterfront district. We look forward to achieving the high standards of design and community value the former P.S. 31 once realized for The Bronx. As the students who attended school there, including myself, aspired to high levels of achievement, so do we now seek that the site contribute to the high quality of life standards and opportunities for Bronx residents with new state of the art housing complimented with a retail and community facility that continues the tradition service to the community once provided inside the former P.S. 31. I thank HPD for including many of my suggestions for the site in this RFP, and I look forward to examining proposals for this historic space and working with the City to select a future tenant,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Read the complete press release.

BP Diaz Praises Rent Freeze

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is praising this evening’s vote of the Rent Guidelines Board, which voted to freeze rents for rent stabilized tenants with one-year leases and to approve a two percent increase for tenants with two-year leases.

“Tonight’s vote of the Rent Guidelines Board is historic, and will provide meaningful relief for over one million tenants in this City. For too long, the people have seen their rents, and their cost of living, continue to rise while their paychecks did not follow suit. This rent freeze is a tremendous step in the right direction for the people of this city,” said Borough President Diaz.

Borough President Diaz added that his office was willing to help landlords keep their own costs down as well, and invited interested property owners to reach out to his office for information on the “The Bronx Clean Energy and Housing Initiative.”

The program, which is being spearheaded by Borough President Diaz, endeavors to partner government funding with private dollars to provide green retrofits to older residential buildings in The Bronx.

“Tonight’s vote is only a piece in the puzzle of affordability. Through programs like ‘The Bronx Clean Energy and Housing Initiative,’ we can green our existing housing stock, keep energy costs low for property owners while simultaneously keeping rents affordable for tenants,” said Borough President Diaz. “My office is ready to work with Bronx property owners on the critical issue of affordability, and I encourage all interested parties to reach out to my office to discuss this innovative program.”

Borough President Diaz’s testimony earlier this month before the Rent Guidelines Board can be found at http://on.nyc.gov/1LEHuGO.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: NBC’s Firing of Donald Trump

"NBC's actions today should send a strong message to Donald Trump that hateful, divisive rhetoric will not be tolerated, and that such rhetoric has real consequences,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. issued the following statement in reaction to comments by Alejandro García Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico, stating that the commonwealth will not be able to pay back its estimated $72 billion in debt.

“The situation in Puerto Rico is dire, and requires immediate action by the federal government. I have, and will continue to, push for federal legislation that would allow the commonwealth of Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy and restructure its debt. This course of action is a better plan than simply allowing the island’s government to default, and I hope that Congress will act on this grim news with haste,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Earlier this month, Borough President Diaz announced the formation of a coalition of elected officials, healthcare and business leaders and others urging action on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. More information on that coalition can be found at http://on.nyc.gov/1SXGNJZ.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

"Today is a historic day in the United States. The Supreme Court has made history and affirmed a basic human right today by allowing men and women to legally marry throughout this nation, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “After two decades of litigation, the Supreme Court has finally expanded equal rights and marriage equality to all. I would like to thank the Supreme Court for having the courage to make this bold decision, and I congratulate this nation’s LGBT community for their efforts on this issue.”

Borough President Diaz Hosted 'Bronx Eating Contest'

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosted the first ever "Bronx Eating Contest," featuring empanadas from Havana Cafe in Throggs Neck, at the annual "New York Salutes America" fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach on Thursday, June 25, 2015. The event, which is co-sponsored by State Senator Jeff Klein, kicks off the city's week-long celebration of America's independence.--photo by Robert Benimoff.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: The Passing of Mario Biaggi

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Mario Biaggi this morning. Mr. Biaggi is remembered by many as beloved figure in this borough, admired for both his career as a police officer and for his tireless commitment to constituent service. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family during their time of mourning,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz Cuts Ribbon at New Bakery

On Tuesday, June 23, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined owner Paul Palombo (L) and Marlene Cintron (R), President of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, to cut the ribbon at Palombo Bakery’s latest Bronx outpost on East 161st Street and Walton Avenue.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: LG Tower Compromise

“The proposed LG Tower had the potential to stain a national treasure—the Palisades—which look virtually the same as they did when man first laid eyes on them. This compromise is a tremendous victory not only for The Bronx, but for New York, New Jersey and nature lovers everywhere. A smaller LG Tower, one shorter than 70 feet, will preserve these views and protect the Palisades from blight. I congratulate those elected officials, activists and community organizations on both sides of the river who fought so hard for this change, and I commend LG for listening to our concerns and agreeing to a reasonable compromise,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

In June 2013, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and then-Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer co-authored a letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie urging his intervention on the issue of the LG Tower. That letter can be found at http://bit.ly/1fxhD6t.

NYCEDC Releases Request for Expressions of Interest for
Spofford Live/Work Campus in Hunts Point

Responses Solicited for Mixed-Use, Live/Work Development to Include Substantial Affordable Housing and High-Quality Employment Opportunities

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the release of aRequest for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for a mixed-income, live/work development on a City-owned site on Spofford Avenue in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. The RFEI represents an exciting opportunity to develop the City’s next creative live/work community in an area that is well served by public transportation and is in walking distance to residential neighborhoods, recreational amenities and cultural institutions. Respondents are encouraged to consider a wide range of residential and non-residential uses for the site, including commercial, cultural, institutional and light manufacturing. NYCEDC strongly encourages respondents to submit proposals that address community priorities for affordable housing and high-quality, career-oriented jobs in the Hunts Point community.

“We welcome any Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) that will help in the continued growth of Hunts Point,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Creating affordable housing is a great step in the right direction as we continue to invest time and money into the Hunts Point neighborhood, where we will soon add new recreational amenities and cultural institutions in the vicinity while also stimulating job growth in the area. I want to thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) for their support as we work together to keep building a stronger and better borough.”

Read the complete press release.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: FY 2016 Budget Announcement

“It is great to see that an agreement was made on the 2016 budget in a timely manner,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “There are a lot of positive aspects in this budget. The addition of more uniformed police officers is always welcomed as we continue to find ways to keep our neighborhoods safe and make them even safer.

“We have managed to reduce crime to all-time lows here in The Bronx, but we can never let our guard down. More uniformed officers can only help us maintain and build upon what we have built thus far in the borough.

“I am also glad to see that we are adding money to our libraries, keeping them open six days a week along with extended hours, especially as the summer rolls around and children are out of school. Keeping our libraries open longer gives our children avenues to continue their education outside of regular school hours. In addition, a $25 million increase in funding for senior services is a welcome addition for one of our most vulnerable populations.

“And considering the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, especially at an early age, as emphasized in our ‘#Not62’ initiative, adding more physical education teachers into our public school system is a huge boost as far as getting our future generation of Bronxites to live healthier. We hope that extra gym teachers will motivate younger people to lead more active lives. The younger you start living healthy, the more motivated people stay to maintain that lifestyle.

“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and the entire City Council for their efforts on this year’s budget,” added Borough President Diaz.

Pilot Access Coming to Jerome Park Reservoir

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is praising a decision by the City’s Department of Environmental Protection to expand public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.

“This is incredibly welcome news, and something my office has advocated for over the past few years. Jerome Park Reservoir is a historic gem of the Northwest Bronx, yet for too long access to its paths has been denied to the public for a variety of reasons. The announcement by Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the City’s Department of Environmental Protection, to begin the process of expanding public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir is incredibly welcome, and I look forward to helping plan and implement access for the reservoir in the fall,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Borough President Diaz added, “It is my hope that this announcement is the first step towards greater, permanent access to this incredible amenity.”

At a meeting of the Filtration Monitoring Committee on Monday, June 22, Commissioner Lloyd announced the creation of a task force that will convene this summer. That task force will plan a three part pilot access program for the reservoir this fall, which will include walking tours of the reservoir; a two-hour open session where people can access the reservoir inside the existing security fence and an educational curriculum developed for local schools. 

Access to the Jerome Park Reservoir has been a high priority for Borough President Diaz since he took office in 2009. In May 2011, the borough president hosted a press conference with elected officials and community leaders to call for improved access to the Jerome Park Reservoir, and in June 2011 he hosted a public hearing to solicit greater input from Bronxites on the future of public access to Jerome Park Reservoir. In June 2014, Borough President Diaz joined State Senator Jeff Klein and Assembly Jeffrey Dinowitz to support legislation that would declare Jerome Park Reservoir a public park.

“Improved public access to the Jerome Park Reservoir will not only create new recreation activities in our borough, it will help unite communities across the Northwest Bronx. I congratulate the elected officials, community boards and dedicated activists whose work has helped make this announcement possible, and I look forward to walk around the reservoir this fall,” said Borough President Diaz. 

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: South Carolina’s Confederate Flag

“The Confederate flag represents a period of time where the American people were shattered and violently divided over how humans should be treated based on the color of their skin, representing a culture that promotes division and discrimination.

“I am happy to see the Republican leadership in the state of South Carolina coming around on this issue in light of last week’s tragic act of hatred and violence, joining the national chorus united against this long-standing symbol of hate, and calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from their statehouse,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: New State Rules on Nail Salons

"For months, my office has been raising the issue of public health in local salons and other cosmetology businesses," said Borough President Diaz. "I want to thank Governor Cuomo, the Assembly and the Senate for moving quickly on this major public health issue. Together, with the governor, appropriate agencies, public officials and responsible industry advocates and business owners, we are ensuring that the people of this city, employees and customers alike, have a clean and safe atmosphere to get their hair done, to get a manicure or pedicure, or any of the other practices typically found in spas and beauty establishments.

“But this is only the beginning. There is still work to be done, particularly with developing a letter grading system, similar to the one used by the food service industry, as well as a comprehensive Customer Bill of Rights, both aimed at protecting the consumer. We will continue to partner up with responsible business owners, industry advocates and the City Council as well as the State Assembly and State Senate to make this happen. We want to work with businesses to continue improving the beauty salon industry.”

Statement from Borough President Diaz
RE: Congressional Proposal to Rename Post Office After Herman Badillo

"Congressman Herman Badillo was a trailblazer in government," said Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "I congratulate Congress Members Charles B. Rangel, José E. Serrano and Joseph Crowley for introducing federal legislation to make my proposal for a 'Herman Badillo Post Office' a reality.

"I am very proud to have known him and to have called him my dear friend, and I urge the Senate to follow the House's lead and support this fitting tribute to Herman Badillo's legacy."

BP Diaz & Senator Klein Host 'New York Salutes America'
Fireworks Extravaganza & Eating Contest

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Jeff Klein will host the borough’s official kickoff to the Independence Day Celebrations, the annual “New York Salutes America” boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach located in The Bronx. Over 10,000 people are expected to be in attendance.
"Things will definitely be heating up with this years’ firework extravaganza and eating contest. It is a fun filled evening when family, friends and the entire community comes together from across the city to experience our great borough! Everyone will have a blast,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

"The annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration marks a special time for The Bronx community -- bringing together families and children to commemorate our nation's independence and enjoy the summer season. I'm proud to host this year's New York Salutes America Fireworks Extravaganza with Borough President Diaz and I look forward to our biggest and brightest boardwalk event yet. Don't forget to sign up for our first annual eating contest, filled with tons of fun prizes and giveaways. I hope to see you there,” said State Senator Jeff Klein. 

The event is free; open to the public and includes fun activities for the kids, such as magicians, balloon artists, music performances and much more. The event will begin at 6 p.m., with the eating contest starting at 7:45 p.m. and the fireworks show beginning at 9:20 p.m.

This year, there will be two featured eating contests for 20 contestants. Whether it’s cannoli from Gino’s Pastry Shop or empanadas from Havana Cafe, participants are encouraged to submit their names for a chance to be a part of the 1st ever eating competition at the NY Salutes America event.

Anyone interested in being a part of the friendly and fun competition can either submit their names by e-mailing: bkemraj@bronxbp.nyc.gov by Wednesday, June 24, 2015, or give names before 6:30 p.m. on the day of the fireworks at Orchard Beach. Contestants will be selected at the beach prior to the contest, and must be present to participate. Winners of the contest will win a Bronx Prize Package.

BP Diaz, Elected, Business & Healthcare Leaders
Demand Action for Puerto Rico

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Ignacio Veloz -- Chairman of the United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Dennis Rivera, Chair of the Puerto Rico Healthcare Crisis Coalition business leaders and elected officials from both New York and Puerto Rico to discuss potential solutions for the financial crisis impacting the healthcare industry and overall economy of the island of Puerto Rico, and to call for federal action to assist the island’s government.

Over the last few decades, the financial stability of Puerto Rico has continuously deteriorated to the point of unsustainability for public service authorities and for the people of Puerto Rico. Borough President Diaz has formed a non-partisan coalition of elected officials and other leaders whose mission is to push for federal action to help Puerto Rico handle its current financial crisis, such as allowing the commonwealth to declare bankruptcy and changing the island’s reimbursement rate for Medicare to reflect that of the states.

“No matter what our position or our political ideals are for Puerto Rico, we must unite, we must get involved,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Puerto Ricans pay the same Medicare taxes as mainland residents and they get less – much less – federal healthcare funding. We are talking about 3.5 million of our fellow American citizens who are in desperate need of assistance. The Puerto Rican government has tackled key challenges to strengthen the Commonwealth’s economy in order to get its fiscal house in order, but Puerto Rico cannot do it alone. The federal government must put mechanisms in place to allow the government of the commonwealth to restructure its debt.”

Read the complete press release.

NYC Parks Partners with NYC Department of Design and Construction to
Re-Open the High Bridge to the Public

Restoring the city’s oldest standing bridge after 45 years

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, DDC Commissioner Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora and Congressman José E. Serrano celebrated the reopening of the High Bridge today. They were joined in celebration by Councilmembers Fernando Cabrera, Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine, and Ydanis Rodriguez; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Victor Calise; author and actor Sonia Manzano (Maria from Sesame Street and author of The Lowdown on the High Bridge); and local advocate Chauncy Young; young High Bridge Historians Jocelyn Fuentes and Isabel Pasionara Young-Figueroa. Highbridge Voices and I.S. 52 Inwood Tiger Band added music to the celebration. Having been closed to the public for more than 40 years, today the High Bridge will once again provide scenic pedestrian and cycling access between the Bronx and Manhattan.

Opened in 1848, the High Bridge is the oldest standing bridge in New York City and was a part of the city’s first water supply system. After being closed for more than four decades, NYC Parks and DDC restored and improved the 1,450-foot-long, 123-foot high bridge. As the only interborough bridge designed exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists, the restoration of the High Bridge provides communities of both Manhattan and the Bronx with access to more than 125 acres of green space with baseball fields, basketball courts, bike trails, a skatepark, playgrounds and lawns.

The High Bridge restores a unique connection between two boroughs and provides communities with access to resources in both counties. Bronx residents are now able to walk directly to the Highbridge Pool and Recreation Center, while Manhattan residents will gain access to the Harlem River waterfront. The improved design will also allow pedestrians to enjoy new features including a hand-restored brick walkway, restored historic railing, new safety fence, barrier-free access, and new architectural lighting.

“I think it is great that one of our oldest bridges in New York City is reopening and connecting our great borough with Manhattan,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “The best part of it is that not only is a historical piece of infrastructure of our great borough returning back to use but, considering our ‘#Not62’ campaign’, through the High Bridge project, we are getting additional green space with baseball fields and basketball courts as well as the only interborough bridge designed exclusively for walking and biking, promoting a healthier lifestyle for our Bronx residents.”

Read the complete press release.