THE BRONX — More than $3 billion worth of development poured into the borough in 2016 thanks to major projects such as the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, Melrose Commons and York Studios, according to a report from the Bronx Borough President's Office.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released his annual development report on Wednesday morning, which calculated that The Bronx had seen roughly $3.3 billion in development last year, a 37 percent increase from 2015, when The Bronx saw about $2.4 billion of investment.
The report listed the Kingsbridge National Ice Center as the top development for 2016 with $350 million of investment, and although the project has been in the works for years, it was included in the 2016 report because that was the year the project applied for an address with the borough president's office.
The center has faced several problems since it was announced, but Diaz said he was confident that construction on it would be moving forward thanks to a pending amount of additional funds from the state.
"I am optimistic," he said. "I am almost certain that they are going to continue on with the development."
Melrose Commons, an affordable housing complex on E. 162nd Street, was number two on the list with $140 million worth of investment, while other developments on the list included York Studios and the major overhaul of the Bronx General Post Office.
"We’ve seen over 14 million square feet of economic development in the last 12 months," Diaz said. "We’ve seen exponential numbers here."
Community District 7, which includes neighborhoods such as Fordham and Kingsbridge Heights, saw the highest amount of development this year, with projects such as the Ice Center and a residential development at 2865 Creston Ave. bringing its total to about $925 million.
However, Community District 1, a hotspot for real estate projects including Somerset Partners' and The Chetrit Group's plans for a massive waterfront development in Port Morris, has still seen the greatest amount of investment overall since 2009 at slightly under $2.5 billion.
Diaz released the report on Wednesday morning at a development roundtable in The Bronx Museum of the Arts called "The Bronx is Hot and Under Construction."
Multiple developers discussed their work in The Bronx at the event, including Margarette Lee, a partner at Youngwoo & Associates, the company working to transform the Bronx General Post Office at 149th Street and Grand Concourse into a commercial real estate complex called Bronx Post Place.
The project should be completely finished by early 2018 and will feature tenants including a supermarket and a high end rooftop restaurant that will also serve as a wedding venue. Lee maintained that there is a strong demand for high quality amenities in the borough.
"Our belief is that the people in The Bronx are in need of first class everything," she said. "Everything meaning first class restaurants, first class offices and a first class retail market. There is really a pent up demand."
However, Bronx activist Julio Pabon said the massive waves of development coming to the borough had left him feeling somewhat disconcerted.
He said he frequently hears stories from Bronxites about people knocking on their doors and trying to convince them to sell their houses and is worried that the amount of new projects coming to the borough could end up displacing current residents, either because they can no longer afford to live in their neighborhood or because they no longer feel comfortable there.
“That’s going to change the makeup. That’s going to change the culture,” Pabon said. “The culture and health of that community is going to change, and that’s my concern.”