Construction begins on $87 million renovation of landmarked Orchard Beach Pavilion

Millions of Bronxites will soon be able to enjoy a restored Orchard Beach Pavilion/Via Marvel Architects

After decades of neglect, the landmarked Orchard Beach Pavilion will be restored to its former glory with an $87 million renovation which was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.

While the majority of the pavilion, including the bathhouse, has been off-limits to the public for over a decade, the beach still receives an impressive 1.6 million visitors annually as locals flock to sunbathe on what is affectionately known as the Bronx Riviera.

Rendering of what the restored Orchard Beach Pavilion will look like once complete/via Marvel Architects.

Plans for the restoration have been in the making for decades, however, it wasn’t until last year when New York City Landmark Preservation Committee voted to approve the project.

The planned renovations and restorations to the site, led by Marvel Architects, will focus on repairing its unique bright blue tiles and terrazzo floor sand the reconstruction of the bathhouse and its upper and lower floors loggias and cafeteria. The project will also include the restoration of the site’s original clocks and lighting, and the historic compass on the upper floor of the pavilion will be restored. These efforts will aim to return the space to its former grandeur when it first opened to the public in 1937.

Part of the restoration will be to focus on activating concession stands/Via Marvel Architects

One of the goals for the renovation is to create spaces for both commercial and community use, including the restoration of the cafeteria and spaces to be operated by concessionaires.

The former cafeteria space will also be restored/via Marvel Architects
The former cafeteria as it exists today which was divided into various storefronts/via Marvel Architects

Orchard Beach was one of Robert Moses’ most ambitious projects, built in 1936 and expanded in the 1940s with an extension of the beach northward as the old LeRoy Bay was filled in with sand from the Rockaways, Sandy Hook, and Northport. This creation of 115 acres of new land was the largest Works Progress Administration project in New York City during this time.

The cafeteria during its glory years/via NYC Dept of Records
A rendering of the cafeteria restored to its prime/Via Marvel Architects

Since then, the beach has become an integral part of the lives of those who call The Bronx home and is a special place that residents flock to, no matter the season.

Now, with the restoration of the 140,000 square foot pavilion finally in progress and making it fully ADA compliant, it will indeed be a treasure accessible to all Bronxites for decades to come that residents deserve.

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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.