Contact Welcome2Melrose at: 347-92-MELRO or via email at:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Picture of the Day

Melrose is blooming...

Ed García Conde
The "Mayor" of Melrose
347-92-MELRO (347-926-3576)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome2Melrose and The BoogieDowners Chatting It Up on BronxTalk

Monday, March 15, 2010, Lou of BoogieDowner and myself got a chance to chat it up about blogging, well...about what we love - THE BRONX!  If you have time to watch a roughly 28 minute segment (which I hope you're either working or enjoying the beautiful day) then check it out and enjoy!  We also had an opportunity to discuss the possibility of the Grand Concourse Historic District!

Once again a big Melrose THANK YOU to the BoogieDowners who recommended that I be on the show along with them! (We Love'em!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pet of the Day

Meet Rafael Alejandro, or Ralphy for short.  Ralphy lives at The Aurora Condominiums and enjoys nice walks around the community. If you see this beautiful schnauzer make sure you say hi!

Ed García Conde
The "Mayor" of Melrose
347-92-MELRO (347-926-3576)

Melrose Receives First and Only Stage II Silver Certification for Neighorhood Development in New York State

For so many decades Melrose had the reputation of being the wasteland of the Bronx - and now this has changed with the national spotlight being directed on our wonderful neighborhood yet again.  This time, however, it is in the form of positive recognition.  On February 24, 2010 the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) officially awarded the Melrose Commons section of Melrose the Stage II Silver LEED Certification in Neighborhood Development.  This is the first time, in not just New York City, but the entire state of New York that a neighborhood has received such a distinction.  

So what exactly is Silver LEED Certification for Neighorhood Development?  According to the USBGC's website:
"The LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development's location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among USGBC, Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council."
Since the beginning of our journey here on this blog, Welcome2Melrose has highlighted the fact that Melrose is the greenest neighborhood in the Bronx but little did we know that we would surpass not just the borough or the rest of the city but the entire state.  But this should come to little surprise to us because after all back in October 2009 during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Eltona we proudly watched on as that very morning the building received the highest LEED recognition - Silver LEED Certification and it was the first and ONLY affordable housing development to receive such recognition in the entire state of New York.

Besides The Eltona, there is also Jardine De Seline, which upon completion is scheduled to receive LEED Silver Certification and contains a variety of green features such as bamboo flooring, solar panels on the rooftop, gardens on the setbacks on several floors.  In the immediate vicinity of Jardine De Seline you will find approximately 30 town homes which were constructed in 2001 as the first Green Homeownership Development in The Bronx and in 2003 received  the Platinum award, the highest level from HUD's Secretary's Award for Excellence as well as first place in the residential category for Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) in 2003 as noted in ArchitectureWeek.  

Courtlandt Corners, a 400 unit, mixed-income development on East 161st Street between Courtlandt and Melrose Avenues once completed according to Dattner Architects, will have, "brownfield redevelopment, stormwater management, lowflow plumbing fixtures, a high performing building envelope, energy efficient HVAC systems, EnergyStar appliances and lighting and attention to indoor environmental quality." Two Blocks east of Courtland Corners is the massive Boricua Village development which includes Boricua College's 14 story vertical campus for 2,000 students and 700 mixed-income apartments of which 399 have been set aside for middle-income families.  This project features numerous green spaces and roof top terraces providing residences with much needed green space in Melrose. 

Four blocks south of Boricua Village rises St Ann's Terrace another massive development with 8 buildings with 600 units of mixed-income residences is underway.  This development is on the site of the old Ebling Brewery where last year the old Ebling Brewery Caves were rediscovered.  With multiple green roofs throughout the development and approximately 60% of the development to remain green, Jackson Development Group is on track with other competing developments in Melrose to provide sustainable housing.  Of significant note for this development is the fact that it will also include more than 400 under ground parking spaces for residents - by far the largest allotment of parking in Melrose which will also alleviate vehicles driving around polluting the neighborhood in search of parking.

Via Verde (Spanish for "Green Way"), the approved but yet-to-break-ground development just a block south of St. Ann's Terrace will contain a massive 35,000 square foot "...connected green rooftops of low-rise town homes, a mid-rise duplex building, and a 20-story tower will be used to harvest rainwater, grow fruits and vegetables, and provide open space for residents."

Not too shabby for a neighborhood that just 20 years ago was a forgotten land empty shells of buildings and rubble strewn lots. Oh and did we mention that Melrose is also home to the South Bronx Food Cooperative which offers, "a diversity of products with an emphasis on organic, minimally processed and healthful foods"? The landmarked Old Bronx Courthouse also sits right in the middle of this green community too!

A special thanks to our BoogieDowners who mentioned this in yesterday's Round'em Up section of their blog!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pics of the Day

Stained Glass Window at Simpon Street Northbound 2/5 IRT Station in Longwood - Our neighbors to the north.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Old Bronx Courthouse on NY1

The Old Bronx Courthouse continues to get some press this time from NY1.  I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Shazia Khan of NY1 and go along for yet another tour of this great landmark building in Melrose.  Let's keep the ideas flowing and the momentum going so that this beauty can finally awaken from her slumber!  

Welcome2Melrose Live Tonight on BronxTalk Cablevision Channel 67

Along with the BoogieDowners, Welcome2Melrose will be on BronxTalk tonight live at 9:00PM on channel 67 on Cablevision.  BronxTalk is considered by many to be the borough's premier talk show so make sure you tune in tonight at 9:00PM and watch the segment!

A big Melrose THANK YOU to the BoogieDowners for referring me to the show and their constant support and YOU the public who have believed and supported this endeavor!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Proposed Grand Concourse Historic District - Meeting Thursday March 11th, 2010

What has been long talked about may soon become a reality - preserving the beauty and historical significance of the Grand Concourse by the Landmarks Preservation Committee.  This is the first step of many that will discuss the pros and cons of landmark status and preserving the historically and architecturally rich buildings of the famed boulevard.  The proposed district which stretches from East 153rd Street up to East 167th Street and incorporates stretches of Walton and Gerard Avenues, which also has quite a few architectural gems, will be the largest historic district in the Bronx outside of the Fieldston Historic District in Riverdale.

Sam Goodman, a long time resident of the Grand Concourse as well as an Urban Planner at the Bronx Borough President's office recently sent an email which offered some valuable insight into what this means for us and those who live and or own property in the district.  Below is a copy of the email which is used with the permission of Sam Goodman:

"As long as you're all on line-I have to take this moment to inform you about a plan now being considered by the New York City Landmark Commission to designate the Grand Concourse and portions of Walton Avenue as well as Sheridan Avenue, from East 153rd Street to East 167th Street as an historic district.  My office is currently planning to invite everyone who may wish, to attend a public meeting now being planned for the evening of April 20th to introduce people to the specific details of what an historic designation means, if it were to be approved.  There are both good and bad points.
First, the good points:  No exterior work can take place on any facade or building that falls within the district without specific approval from the Landmarks Commission. Consider the recent facade work at 901 Walton Avenue where the decorative facade was destroyed in favor of simple brick.  This entire block of buildings will be in the new district and as such this designation would have prevented the ugly outcome we now must consider.
                                  No demolition of any building within the District can occur without the approval of the Landmarks Commission.  This virtually guarantees that a developer or the City of New York could not construct a new building that both violates zoning regulations, but also that would alter the overall profile of the existing, surrounding development.  Think about the EAU on Walton Avenue and East 151st Street-this would never be permitted if that area were so designated.
                                There are tax credits available to property owners who may wish to improve their buildings, but these are credits NOT cash-and they usually do not exceed a modest percentage of the overall investment (I believe the figure is 20%) but please don't quote me on that one.
                                The interior of buldings can be altered without review by the Commission unless such modification would impact the exterior of the building-as for example installing ugly steel doors.  
 As for the negative sides:  While I believe most cooperatives would favor this designation, landlords of rental properties are bound to vigorously oppose it.  If for example, you know that your property (a 5-story walk up that hasn't seen a dollar's worth of improvement in 50 years) cannot likely be demolished, you might be tempted to further exploit the property rather than improve it.  A classic case is on Park Avenue at 125th Street.
 If you wish to speak to me about this matter, please feel free to call-remembering that I personally support this effort because I believe what the Grand Concourse now offers is not possible to duplicate and would be far too costly to even consider unless many of our neighbors were forced to relocate in favor of transforming our community into something like East 86th Street and Lexington Avenue.  Still, we all need to consider this matter and take part in the process, which ultimately requires approval by the Landmark Commission, the Planning Commission and City Council.  
 Please also let me know how my office can reach out to the management agencies of many of our buildings to inform them of the meeting in April.  It will likely happen at the Bronx Museum or Andrew Freeman Home.  Finally, there is an historic designation on Morris Avenue between East Tremont and East Burnside Avenues-check it out.
 Thanks for reading the considering my comments.
For all interested in attending this very important meeting, it will be held on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 6:00PM at the Bronx Museum of Art (1040 Grand Concourse)

Also feel free to check out the book below, Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse, which gives a beautiful history of the Grand Concourse.  I had the pleasure of meeting Constance Rosenblum, author of the book and editor for the New York Times at a book discussion at Hostos Community College back in October.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reply to Anonymous on New Charter School Now Accepting Applications - April 1st Deadline

This is addressed to anonymous and anyone who is confused about who Dr. Richard Izquierdo is.  Dr. Richard Izquierdo is NOT  nor has ever been involved in any scandal or wrongdoing. The news search which was posted by anonymous is in reference to Richard Izquierdo Arroyo who is assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo's nephew and councilwoman Maria Del Carmen Arroyo's grandson. 

The two are completely unrelated and there is zero connection other than the unfortunate circumstance of bearing the same name.  Whereas Richard Izquierdo Arroyo has been charged with skimming $200,000 from a non-profit charter school, the esteemed Dr. Richard Izquierdo has done nothing but give back to the community and served his community and continues to do so quite actively at age 80.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Melrose in the News - A Dearth of Bank Accounts in Melrose

Back in September, we featured a response to the New York Daily News' article which declared that the "South Bronx is a banking wasteland," where we listed that contrary to that statement Melrose was a sort of "Wall Street" if you will since we have the highest concentration of banks in the entire borough - 8 alone in a small 4 block radius.

The new article written by Daniel Beekman of the Daily News (formely of Bronx Times) reveals that the lack of banks in the Bronx as a whole has left almost 270,000 residents (29% of the Bronx' poplulation) without bank accounts.  As Daniel Beekman reveals, this is not just due to the lack of banks in the Bronx but also of high banking fees which low income residents cannot afford to part with.

On a side note, congratulations to Daniel Beekman who as of a few days ago joined the Daily News!  

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Charter School - Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School - NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

The Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School is now accepting applications for 6th Graders for the upcoming September 2010/2011 school year.  Spaces are limited and there is an April 1st, 2010 deadline so act fast.  As you may already know, Dr. Richard Izquierdo was chosen as the Melrose Person of the Year for 2009 and his decades long career has been dedicated to serving the underserved areas of the South Bronx with regards to healthcare.  Now Dr. Izquierdo, or Doc as he is known by all, is embarking on educating the future health care professionals of the South Bronx and the world not in Med School but at a much earlier age.  

The school is the FIRST Career and Technical Education charter school in all of New York State so once again The Bronx will be leading the rest of the city and state by example.  For more information, parents and students interested in finding out more should attend one of the two information sessions which will be held at the school's institutional partner's location:

Urban Health Plan, Inc.
At El Nuevo San Juan Health Center
1065 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, New York
On Wednesday March 3rd 4:30-6:30 pm
& Saturday March 6th 10:00 am-12:00pm
For more information and to RSVP for the sessions contact:

A Big Melrose THANK YOU to Dr. Izquierdo for his continued dedication to the people of the South Bronx!