The gentrification wars in the South Bronx have taken an interesting and pretty repulsive turn for the worse.
An exclusive Halloween party is being planned for the Harlem River waterfront right across from Mott Haven Bar and Grill by Somerset Partners and the Chetrit Group at one of their recent purchase where 3 of reportedly six 25 story residential market rate towers have been filed for with Department of Buildings for construction.
By the way, did you know that earlier this year, The Chetrit Group and its partners sold the former Sears Tower in Chicago for $1.4 billion making it the highest selling office in America outside of New York City?
Clearly this was a strategic move after they purchased, along with Somerset, almost $60 million in properties adjacent to each other just recently so clearly the selling off of this building has infused the company with capital to develop the waterfront.
The Observer noted back in 2011 that Joseph Chetrit, “…is the most mysterious big shot in New York City real estate…” adding more to the fact that these developers operate with their own agendas especially in such sensitive neighborhoods.
The party is already being dubbed as a super exclusive, star-studded event and is using artists and art to basically pimp out the neighborhood.
The Observer writes about the event and says:
“Real estate mogul Keith Rubenstein, art dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and young art star Lucien Smith are teaming up to throw a party called The Macabre Suite, and in an unlikely venue—the Bronx. The assemblage of art loving celebrities in the gentrification-phobic borough is set for a waterfront former piano factory owned by Mr. Rubenstein’s Somerset Partners (in partnership with the Chetrit Group).
The show, which is being billed as an “epic party,” will reflect on the “universality of death.” There will be interdisciplinary artworks and performances on view, and tons of celebrities, artists and society folk in attendance, we’re sure.
In fact, some major names will be lending their name to the affair, including all-star NY Knicks baller Carmelo Anthony, Hilton heir Nicky Hilton Rothschild, actor and awesome nose-owner Adrien Brody, 50 Shades of Grey actress Dakota Jackson and designer Cynthia Rowley.”
This invite-only event is basically mocking Bronx residents especially those in the South Bronx neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Port Morris, Melrose, and the Concourse which are already experiencing signs of gentrification with developers snatching up properties at speculative prices.
This is an area that residents have loved for decades and took pride in helping it make a comeback but to hold such exclusive events in the most sensitive of areas facing gentrification is in poor taste.
Earlier this year some local residents and artists were in an uproar when No Longer Empty held their exhibition at the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse in Melrose saying it was fostering gentrification yet that exhibition involved local residents, community organizations and partners, including Welcome2TheBronx, from the beginning and during their residency it was truly a community event.
For 3 months, the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse was filled with thousands of visitors of which most were from the immediate community including children who kept coming back for all the programing held almost every single day the exhibition was open.
Roughly half the artists were from The Bronx and the vast majority of events and programs were curated and led by Bronxites.
In stark contrast, The Macabre Suite is clearly not being led by Bronxites and further shows that these developers do not care about The Bronx.
I was let’s face it, they’re even pushing for a rebranding of the area as ‘The Piano District‘ which would celebrate Port Morris’s history in America as the center of piano manufacturing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Why is there such a need to rebrand our neighborhoods when Port Morris, Mott Haven, Melrose, and the collective areas that make up the South Bronx each represent a unique piece that makes the whole of Bronx history that more special?
Yes, The Bronx is gentrification phobic for a reason. We have seen the destruction of working class neighborhoods across our city and we will fight before we let that happen to our rich neighborhoods, history, and sweep away the residents who stayed behind and revitalized our beautiful Bronx.