Exclusive: BronxNet Expanding Into Melrose Bringing Media Studios, Classrooms, & Filming to the South Bronx


BronxNet, the borough’s cable access television station available on Optimum/Cablevision as well as Verizon’s FIOS service and has been operating since July 1, 1993 from Lehman College, is opening up a roughly 10,000 square foot facility in Melrose at La Central which is scheduled to break ground towards the end of the year.

The cable access station is home to such staples such as BronxTalk, hosted by Gary Axelbank which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year as well as Rhina Valentin’s Open Friday.

For years, BronxNet had been working on trying to open up shop in Melrose at the Pyramid Center on 161st Street but unfortunately those plans never went though as the building was sold and turned into a homeless shelter.

Now according to Michael Max Knobbe, Executive Director the organization, they will be opening up in the heart of the South Bronx in The Hub shopping district of Melrose once the development is completed. The additional 10,000 square feet will essentially double their current footprint in The Bronx and will be similar in size to their operations at Lehman College.

BronxNet’s space will be located in building B which is slated for the first phase of the two phase construction of the mega-development La Central and sits along Westchester Avenue between Brook and Bergen Avenues.

La Central's massive 992, 5 building development will span 3 blocks on one of the largest remaining tracts of empty land in The South Bronx.  A 50,000  sq ft YMCA will also be a part of this mega development.
La Central’s massive 992, 5 building development will span 3 blocks on one of the largest remaining tracts of empty land in The South Bronx. A 50,000 sq ft YMCA will also be a part of this mega development.

“We are currently in the development stages of the project so as more details are finalized we will announce them,” Michael Max Knobbe told Welcome2TheBronx.

This is really exciting news for the neighborhood because of the host of services and the huge asset that BronxNet is for The Bronx.  It is an organization that according to their website:

“…provides local television by the people of the Bronx, for the people of the Bronx. Our channels feature BronxNet produced shows, as well as those created by community access producers. BronxNet has a commitment to: training Bronx residents in television production, providing hands-on internships and solid media career preparation for high school and college students, and producing programs in the interest of Bronx residents and not-for-profit organizations.”

BronxNet also has a training program, “Training for Bronx Residents” in which, “BronxNet provides television production training for individuals and organizations that want to utilize the station’s equipment and facilities to produce programs to air on a BronxNet channel. Training is available four times a year, to Bronx residents, representatives of Bronx organizations and students who attend college in the Bronx. Production trainers are individuals with years of experience in the production business.”

Having been on the sets of BronxNet’s studios at Lehman College for BronxTalk and Open Friday, I have been able to witness first hand our youth learning the tools of the trade for the broadcasting industry so this is a major win not just for Melrose and The South Bronx but the entire borough due to its easy access location at 3rd Avenue/149th street on the 2/5 trains as well as the numerous buses which serve the area.

As for La Central, some updated information is as follows via Hudson Companies, Inc’s website:

Phase I will be comprised of Buildings A, B and D, which will contain 215, 281 and 160 apartments, respectively. The 12-story Building A will contain the YMCA, 16,100 square feet of retail space, and a GrowNYC urban rooftop demonstration farm. At 13 stories, Building B will contain 28,800 square feet of retail space and approximately 10,000 square feet of studio and classroom space for BronxNet. Building D will be comprised of 160 supportive units, many of which will be set aside for older adults living with HIV/AIDS and single veterans with mental illnesses. Phase I is slated to begin construction in late 2015, with final completion in early 2018.

Phase II, to be comprised of Buildings C and E, will contain an additional 336 apartments. Community uses will include spaces for non-profits including Music Has No Enemies, Phyl’s Academy Day Care, and the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Educational Center. Buildings C and E will be eight and 25 stories, respectively.

Apartments ranging in size from studios to four-bedrooms will be available by lottery to households earning between 30 and 100 percent of the NYC area median income. Individuals and households from Community District 1 will be given preference for 50 percent of these units. All apartments will have access to almost 2 acres of private and public open space, including large, landscaped courtyards, secure playgrounds, and various roof decks.

Hudson and its partners are committed to sustainable and resilient building. The project will include over 600,000 watts of solar panels to power co-generation, providing up to a 50 percent savings on energy and reducing reliance on the area’s electric grid. Additionally, low-flow fixtures and water-efficient appliances will outfit every apartment, cutting water consumption by as much as 45 percent. Finally, landscaped common areas will provide tenants access to quality outdoor space, and the new YMCA will provide tenants with easy access to health and wellness.

What do you think about BronxNet’s expansion into The South Bronx?

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.