South Bronx Rebranding Begins With Billboard Proclaiming ‘The Piano District’

Image courtesy of Angel Lopez a local resident and activist.

Developers Somerset Partners and the Chetrit Group who are planning as many as six 25 story residential market rate towers (of which 3 have already been filed with the Department of Buildings for construction) has put up a new billboard proclaiming the area of Port Morris as the ‘Piano District’.

The billboard is prominently aimed at Manhattan and drivers who are heading home to the posh suburbs of Westchester County and Connecticut as they head on home, easily viewing the sign.

Screenshot of the group's website

The billboard promises, luxury waterfront living, world-class dining, fashion, art, and architecture in a neighborhood where the majority are living well below the poverty line and are fighting for their very lives as they suffer health disparities disproportionately more than others across the city.

Welcome to the tale of Two Bronxs thanks in part to greedy developers and a borough president who has been pushing the rebranding of our borough as if his life and career depends on it (the later which is the reality).

As our communities battle the highest rates of asthma in the country, HIV, heart disease, diabetes, poor access to green space, lack of quality education, poor environment, unemployment, insufficient youth programs, here we have these developers essentially laughing in our faces and pushing luxury living that will be surrounded by poverty and people living in cramped and poor conditions in public housing.

This, coupled with the gentrification party that is being touted as a Halloween party is simply disgusting and insulting to the existing community that has been fighting for equality for decades and the improvements of our borough.

It’s an insult to those who stayed and rebuilt this neighborhood and our borough only to have developers come and bring in residents because it’s “ok now”.

We deserve so much better than what is being planned for the waterfront and sure developers can do whatever they want but they need to take a long hard look at Melrose and organizations like Nos Quedamos who halted such endeavors of creating luxury living and displacing residents.

Developers such as WHEDco who actually take the time and years to work with the existing community to design and develop properties that the community truly wants and needs.

Thanks to all the sellouts in our borough particularly the king of them all or rather the jester—Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr for leading the rebranding parade.

How dare these developers not only push something into the community that us generally not wanted but how dare they try and change our names.

This is not the way to be good neighbors and it’s a hell of a lousy start.

Development isn’t bad but when a community is left out completely, it becomes something that separates our space into an us and them situation rather than creating a unified community.

I’m all for mixed income neighborhoods as long as displacement doesn’t occur and as long as developers and new residents  respect the existing culture and people who live there.

Clearly these folks are not thinking along those lines.

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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.