12 Downtown Revitalization Initiative Projects Connect Commercial and Cultural Nodes within the Civic Center, Support Economic Growth and Opportunity, and Preserves Borough’s Unique Heritage


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 12 transformational projects in the South Bronx as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. The strategic investments in the South Bronx will connect the commercial and cultural nodes within the Civic Center to create a unified downtown that provides a high quality of life for residents and visitors; supports inclusive economic growth and opportunity and preserves and promotes the borough’s unique heritage and identity. The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the Bronx and create more opportunities in the Bronx Civic Center Downtown neighborhood.

“The Bronx Civic Center neighborhood is the heart of the bustling Bronx and it must be showcased,” Governor Cuomo said. “These projects will advance the Borough by leaps and bounds, increasing amenities to existing South Bronx residents and bringing further investment and community pride to the Bronx.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, “The Bronx continues to have a strong ally and dedicated leader in Governor Cuomo who continues to deliver for the people of this Borough. By listening to the specific needs of our community, these DRI projects will bring new life and vitality to our area by providing strategic resources to existing amenities and making it a more walkable, enjoyable place to live. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo to help The Bronx continue its ongoing positive transformation.”

The Bronx Civic Center neighborhood was named a DRI Round 2 winner. The neighborhood includes the area bounded by 144th Street on the south, 165th Street on the north, the Harlem River on the west and St. Ann’s Avenue/East-Third Avenue on the east. The South Bronx is one of New York City’s most rapidly evolving areas. Neighborhoods like Mott Haven, Concourse Village, Melrose and Morrisania have undergone dramatic, grassroots and community driven transformation. The South Bronx is booming with private and public investments in affordable housing, cultural facilities, retail and other sectors. Many local policies enabled this growth of activity, such as the South Bronx Initiative and Melrose Retail Strategy, and the resultant Lower Concourse rezoning.

The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:

Expand the Andrew Freedman Home Cultural Art Center: Renovate the Andrew Freedman Home Cultural Art Center to accommodate theater, visual arts, music, dance, and other art productions, and space for workforce development and after-school programming. Refurbish and enhance the outdoor areas to increase public awareness of programming inside the historic center. ($1,720,000)

Convert the 149th Street Bridge into a Public Plaza: Create an expanded, programmable sidewalk plaza on the 149th Street Bridge that will connect the Lower Concourse to the Hub, and provide space for vendors, art, and other activities. ($2,592,000)

Beautify Streetscapes at the Hub and 149th Street: Invest in a series of streetscape improvements on Third Avenue, Melrose Avenue, and 149th Street to foster a stronger local identity, improve safety, and encourage private investment. ($1,040,000)

Create a Business Improvement Fund: Create a Business Improvement Fund available to business owners and property owners to fund façade and storefront improvements, upper-floor renovations, and development of full-service restaurants and cafés along the DRI area’s major commercial corridors. ($1,000,000)

Complete an Upgrade of the BronxWorks Public Swimming Pool Facility: Build on recent investment in a community swimming pool located at BronxWorks’ Carolyn McLaughlin Community Center on the Grand Concourse. Improvements to the pool area would include an air handling system, new ceiling tiles, and refurbished locker rooms. ($429,000)

Support the Opening of the Bronx Kreate Space Artist-Maker Hub Provide gap funding to build out artist-maker co-working space in Mott Haven at the new Bronx Kreate Space. Planned improvements include gallery space, a café, low-cost workspace, artist studios and communal facilities. ($595,000)

Improve Community Gardens at Melrose Common: Improve three community gardens in Melrose Commons with solar power, enhanced lighting, wi-fi access, and rainwater harvesting to strengthen the area’s open space network, community resilience, and sustainability. ($630,000)

Activate the New Roberto Clemente Plaza with Outdoor Cafes: Install two outdoor cafes in the soon-to-be-completed public space at the Roberto Clemente Plaza to provide additional dining options for local workers and shoppers. One of the cafes will serve as an incubator for local food entrepreneurs. ($520,000)

Enable Construction of a New Pregones Theater Space: Demolish the existing, out-of-code, wood-frame house at 571 Walton Avenue to enable the Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT) to develop a modern facility that will serve as an organizational headquarters and house artist rehearsal, studio, and performance space. ($260,000)

Expand Low-Cost Broadband Access in Melrose Commons: Create a point-to-multi-point, rooftop-based wireless broadband network serving residents, businesses, and visitors in Melrose Commons. The network would offer free wi-fi in and around select public spaces; free access to an internet-enabled local resource portal for residents within networked buildings; and low-cost broadband service for residents within networked buildings. Initial fiber access would be provided by Nos Quedamos at two buildings it owns. ($437,000)

Refresh the Bronx Walk of Fame with Updated Signs and Branding: Refresh the Bronx Walk of Fame by redesigning, replacing, and regrouping signs along the Grand Concourse between 149th Street and 167th Street, and creating a digital directory to draw visitors. ($250,000)

Create a More Welcoming Gateway at the 161st Street Station: Create a modern, attractive gateway to the Bronx outside the East 161st Street – Yankee Stadium subway station by enhancing existing concrete medians with improved plantings. This project will complement other investments in the area. ($227,000)

The Bronx developed a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize the South Bronx with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan for the South Bronx examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.

“We have opened a new chapter for the Bronx Civic Center community with investment through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and this new round of funding will strengthen the Bronx economic success story,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The projects awarded today will improve quality of life in the Bronx and invest in the future of this diverse community. Our funding commitment today will bolster connectivity between neighborhoods, support arts and cultural attractions, and create good-paying jobs for Bronx families.” 

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The DRI’s recognition for this South Bronx hub demonstrates that the entire Borough is on the rise. This is a game-changer that will bring revitalization to the entire community and build upon the many successes already in place across the Bronx.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative infuses communities with resources and support to realize their potential as vibrant hubs where New Yorkers want to live, work, and play. These investments in the Bronx Civic Center will build on the area’s incredible momentum and catalyze new growth and opportunities.”

NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, these community-led, targeted investments will combine with HCR’s $639 million investment in the Bronx over the last seven years that has created affordable housing for about 38,250 residents to help ensure that as the Bronx’s economy grows, all New Yorkers have the opportunity to take part. In New York State, we are lucky to have a Governor who understands how to build inclusive, long-term economic success.”

Senator Luis R. Sepulveda said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative in the Bronx will continue the massive progress our community has seen of late. This is an innovative plan that will bring new and lasting growth to our community. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued support for the Bronx.”

Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “The Bronx is turning a corner with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This administration’s focus on updating urban centers shows that it understands how communities, residents and businesses thrive. I am proud that the Bronx Civic Center neighborhood won this honor and excited to see the transformation to come.”

Senator Jamaal T. Bailey said, “Since day one of his administration, Governor Cuomo has recognized the untapped potential of the Bronx. Under his leadership, unprecedented investments have been made in our community, and that continues today with the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. I commend the Governor and his administration for creating a plan that will improve our community for generations.”

Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is exactly the type of investment strategy that brings positive results for communities. These projects, ranging from complete renovations of facilities to streetscape beautification and everything in between, will help improve our residents’ way of life and further deliver a sense of hope for the future.”

 Assemblymember Michael Blake said, “I thank Governor Cuomo for his Downtown Revitalization Initiative where the investment of millions of dollars are coming to our Bronx communities to create jobs and realize our collective vision of Economic Development, Education and Equity. I also commend the leadership of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo for their visionary leadership throughout this process. These community-led, targeted investments, especially within the Melrose, 149th and 161street areas, will help ensure greater job opportunities for Bronxites and equip us with the skills and resources to succeed now and well into the future. A thriving business sector that supports local entrepreneurs, especially Minority and Women Business Enterprises, and brings more jobs to our neighborhoods ensures that we have thriving communities providing opportunities for our young people. We will always advocate to bring more economic resources to the South Bronx for the benefit of our residents so that we continue #BuildingABetterBronx.” 

Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative will continue the economic resurgence in the Bronx, and take it to new heights. We have seen a true community-based effort with these plans, and I am excited for the future of our Borough.”

Council Member Andy King said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the Bronx has seen a transformative resurgence. The Governor’s economic development approach has truly tapped into our region’s unique assets. I look forward to seeing our community continue to grow and thrive.”

Marlene Cintron, President, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, “The South Bronx is full of potential, and these investments by Governor Cuomo are just the thing to create additional opportunities for our residents and businesses. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will improve our streets, help local businesses and expand our cultural offerings. These are exciting times for the entire Borough.”