WABC:  $10 million award to fund 12 projects in South Bronx by Naveen Dhaliwa

SOUTH BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- Big changes are coming to the South Bronx after Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $10 million plan to improve the neighborhood.

Cuomo on Tuesday announced 12 transformational projects as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, saying the strategic investments will connect the commercial and cultural nodes within the Bronx Civic Center to create a unified downtown that provides a high quality of life for residents and visitors.


He said it will also support inclusive economic growth and opportunity, as well as preserve and promote the borough's unique heritage and identity.

"The Bronx Civic Center neighborhood is the heart of the bustling Bronx and it must be showcased," 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."

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 specific projects to be funded through the DRI include, according to a press release:

--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 faade 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)