Locals decry plans to spruce up New York's Bronx

Residents fear rising rent and property values will force them out of city neighbourhood following redevelopment.

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    New York City's Bronx neighbourhood has a reputation as being one of the poorest and toughest areas in the US.

    Property developers are hoping to change that with the help of celebrities, but locals are not too enthusiastic about the redevelopment plan.

    New York is planning to redevelop the major thoroughfare of the Bronx, known as Jerome Avenue, a place where many locals earn their living working in rented storefronts and car-repair shops.

    "We need these places as working places for the people here, not as a way for millionaires to make more money," Michael Kamber of the Bronx Documentary Center, who teaches school children in the neighbourhood, told Al Jazeera.

    The city's plan to develop has yet to be finalised but it is already displacing small businesses that have long thrived in the area. Property values and the cost of rent are increasing.

    Keith Rubenstein, a developer, thinks the Bronx is the next "big thing" in the New York real estate market. He wants to build thousands of apartments in another area along the Bronx River that is currently home to many abandoned or underutilised factories and warehouses.

    "We're taking what's a very highly underutilised industrial area with truck traffic and truck parking, and turning it into quality residential housing, with public accessible esplanades and creating parkland space for people who are already in the community," he said.

    But local residents say they need more affordable housing.

    Edwin Torres, a photographer, told Al Jazeera: "We saw it happened to a lot of other neighbourhoods and we're like, No way. We're ready to make sure what happens is done in the right way so that the poor and working class can continue to call the neighbourhood home."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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