Mayor Bloomberg lays out multi-agency economic plan for South Bronx
BY BILL EGBERT DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, June 17th 2008, 10:53 PM
Gill for News
Mayor Bloomberg announces South Bronx Initiative outside local courthouse Tuesday.
Mayor Bloomberg came uptown Tuesday to tout his South Bronx Initiative, a multi-agency effort to knit various private projects and city improvements into comprehensive economic development.
But one major player - the borough president - was notably absent.
"The South Bronx - long known nationally as the area Howard Cosell was talking about when he said, 'The Bronx is burning' and once known locally as an area of underinvestment and decay - is undergoing an extraordinary transformation," said Bloomberg.
In recent years, nearly $3 billion in public and private investment has poured into the borough, Bloomberg said, including the $300 million Gateway Center Mall, almost $300 million for local schools, more than $900 million for transportation improvements, as well as the new Yankee stadium.
While the mayor credited Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión and his office for major input into the initiative, Carrión was a no-show at the event on the steps of the Bronx County Building.
Sources in the borough president's office said Carrion was annoyed at "the last-minute notice - not the first time - from City Hall for the event."
"This initiative was a joint effort with a great deal of input by the BP's office," said the source, "and not simply a creation of the mayor's office."
The initiative's goal is to leverage the surge in investment, dense transit and highway access, and booming Bronx property market to create thriving civic centers.
The South Bronx Initiative hopes to create 7,700 housing units, 3.5 million square feet of commercial and retail space, 500,000 square feet of hotel and conference space and 20-plus acres of new and enhanced parks and open space in the three target areas.
It will also include transit improvements, from new Metro-North Stations to expanded express bus service, as well as more pedestrian-friendly streets for shopping districts.
The Bloomberg administration has taken heat from Bronx community boards and elected officials for a series of development initiatives that many locals felt were imposed on neighborhoods with too little consultation. So the mayor's initiative is viewed as a welcome change.
"The South Bronx Initiative Plan includes sound ideas, shaped by a very inclusive and participatory process," said City Council member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, who has in the past clashed with City Hall over what some call its "top-down" approach.
The initiative is the result of a two-year interagency outreach effort comprised of more than thirty-five public presentations and meetings with elected officials, local community and business groupsto build consensus around the vision and strategic actions for the South Bronx.