General Colin Powell, born in Harlem and raised on Fox Street in the Longwood neighborhood of the Bronx, entertained the crowd with stories of growing up in the South Bronx and the diversity of his neighborhood from the Puerto Rican bodega owners, the Jewish shopkeepers as well as West Indian and African-Americans all getting along in one neighborhood. He spoke of how in Europe in particular, people are most fascinated with the first chapter of his book "My American Journey", which dealt about the years he lived in the Bronx. General Powell even mentioned that before the advent of the Internet there was the "AuntNet" - the network of his aunts as well as local mothers who always looked out the apartment windows to look after the kids. He quipped that "...nothing traveled faster than information on the "AuntNet" when you got into trouble."
The General Colin Apartments (originally called the Fox-Legget Cooperative Apartments), located at 715 Fox Street, is a 50 unit cooperative project built with "sweat equity" as 12 of the 50 units were constructed by the unit's owners themselves in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. It is also a platinum LEED certified green building in the tradition of the continued greening of the Bronx by developer Les Bluestone of BlueSea Development. As you may recall, Mr. Bluestone is the man behind the beautiful Eltona in Melrose which is also LEED certified as well as dozens of green townhomes in Melrose.
According to the press release issued by New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development some of the features of this project are:
- Green roof that insulates and reduces storm water runoff
- Co-generation system that produces electricity and hot water
- Healthy indoor environment through non-toxic materials and controlled filtered ventilation systems
- Educational materials for residents on green, healthy lifestyles
- Decorative ironwork and lobby art pieces in honor of General Colin L. Powell by artist Béatrice Coron (who also designed the decorative ironwork for the Eltona)
- Employment of ex-offenders for construction jobs through Wildcat Service Corp. and construction job training for graduates from Harlem Congregational Communities Inc.