Sunday, August 31, 2008

Culinary Delight in SoBro!

We all know that Mott Haven in the South Bronx is aggressively nippin' at the heels of a certain neighborhood in Brooklyn, trying hard to displace that burg's rep as THE hot spot if you are looking for Hipster Heaven. It's not there yet, but it sure is gaining steam. Back in the nineties, I called Billburg home and when I visit Mott Haven, I feel like I am stepping back in time. EXACTLY the same feeling that I got back then. There is still enough raw urban grit, a rough-around-the edges vibe and a certain uneasy desolation that will give newbies a feeling of being a hip pioneer ahead of his or her time. Searching for some street cred, Manhattanites? I suggest you put Mott Haven on your short list! (Although to be honest, the real pioneers have been here for a good decade, but shhh....we won't tell!)

But I digress...This post is to clue BoogieDowners in on a little secret. Alexander's Cafe (on Alexander Avenue at Bruckner Blvd.) offers amazingly fresh, top quality and unprocessed food, a great atmosphere (think cool and modern, yet cozy) and two owners who provide truly refreshing service (with genuine smiles to boot!) A few years ago, Mateo David and Chris Dimitriyadi, former business executives, felt the calling many (if not most) of us have at some stage in our lives - to quit the nine-to-five routine and start a business of their own. It becomes very clear after just a few moments of being in their place that they have poured their collective heart and soul into their project of choice. I had the feeling that I was a guest in their home, with Chris cooking my delicious Salmon Eggs Benedict in the back and Matteo engaging customers in casual and comforting conversation. There were four or five tables of patrons when I was there and after a while we were all talking to one another about various topics (mostly about how hot, hot, HOT the area is getting!!)

I urge all of you to check out their menu on their website and then pay these guys a visit. Beer lovers - they have a collection of over 100 labels. And croissant aficionados - they make their own daily and I promise you, they'll melt in your mouth and will have you swearing off the ones you usually get. You know, like....everywhere else!

And lest you think a BoogieDowner review is not enough to get you down to Sobro and Alexander's, check out this write up on Chris and Mateo in London's Financial Times (yes you read that right!) - The Bonfire of an Urban Myth.

Getting There: Alexander's is located just a short walk from the 138th stop on the #6 subway or check out their website for driving directions.

~Simone Davis

The Hunt: BoogieDowner Breakdown

This week's "Hunt" in the New York Times was a high-end purchase in which the buyers fled the crowded streets of Flushing, Queens for the usual amenities that people move to the burbs for... You know, good schools, near grandma and grandpa, space for the kids to play, all that crap.

Hunt Honey Joyce Cohen detailed the real estate search of Nick Kravitz and his wife, Hongyu Adella Lin-Kravitz, a hedge-fun analyst and software developer respectively (la-di-da), as they tried to find a nice house in a good school district in Westchester for around $750,000. Nick grew up in a 20-room Victorian in Katonah, so clearly they had some pretty big shoes to fill.

It seems as if this couple approached the real estate process with the tenacity of a pit bull. Aside from actually distributing fliers expressing their interest to purchase a house on a particularly desirable block, they also created their own web application to help them sniff out repeat listings being marketed as new listings. The Kravitz's are a real estate broker's worst nightmare - I love them! I think I may actually hire them to handle our next hunt after we outgrow our beloved Bedford Park two bedroom.

Long story short, they ended up getting a nice house on a busy block in Scarsdale, and the kids will attend shee-shee-foo-foo (BoogieDowner term for "fancy") Eastchester schools. Congrats!

Of course, since we are the BoogieDowner, we must compare what these hunters would have found around their price point had they looked in the Bronx:

Had they looked at this "first -class" two-family home in Parkchester, they could have had their grandparents living right next door! Listed at $699,900, this luxury home comes in a cool $50,000 under what the Kravitz's are paying in Scarsdale. The big story here is, of course, TAXES. Instead of paying almost $800/month in taxes in Westchester, they'd pay only about $250/month. For the second week in a row, I'm also happy to report that these hunters could have had their very own bidet in their bathroom had they bought in the Bronx... and a plasma tv mounted above their jacuzzi bathtub - sweet! View full listing here.

Wow, the Kravitz's could have another two family home with six bedrooms for, again, $50,000 less than they paid in Scarsdale, had they looked at this house in the beautiful Morris Park section of the Bronx. Described as "city living with a country feel," this property would allow for lots of extra cash to be floating around each month with taxes being just over $300/month as opposed to $800/month they're paying in she-she-foo-foo Scarsdale. View full listing here.

For their $750,000, the Kravitz's could have picked up an extra bedroom had they looked at this five bedroom colonial beauty in Baychester. Again, the taxes would be a whopping $500 cheaper for them each month. View full listing here.

*Hunt photo courtesy of Alan Zale/New York Times*

*Update: Please click on the "Comments" section to read a few clarifications from the Hunter himself, Nick Kravitz. Thanks Nick!*


Mayberry in the Bronx

The New York Times' Tina Kelley's article, "A Rare Lush Landscape in the Bronx is Also a Place to Belong," tells the story of the impressive 37 year old Tremont Community Garden. Described as a "communal living room," the 17,500 square foot garden serves as a true oasis for gardeners, children, and Bronx residents just looking for some good conversation.

Before its birth as a community garden, the lot was once an abandoned apartment building and then a vacant lot used by junkies. Completely transformed into a true urban oasis, the garden sometimes hosts picnics, birthday parties, and memorial services, and even has a spot for kids to toast marshmallows, as well as a solar-powered fountain.

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade... the Tremont Community Garden is just one more inspiring reminder that our Bronx nabes are only as good as the love and care we as residents show to our neighborhoods and fellow neighbors.

*Photo courtesy of Suzanne DeChillo/New York Times*


Saturday, August 30, 2008

This Elephant Really Hearts Pedro Espada Jr.

Pedro Espada Jr is a Youtube star again. The BoogieDowner first covered Mr. Espada's general sassiness to one of our beloved longtime neighbors (video after the jump), and his legal victory over residency doubts.

Our good friends at the West Bronx Blog dug up this very funny video of our neighbor(?) being chased around by a guy dressed up as an elephant. It is to be assumed that this was part of an attempt to humorously remind Bronx voters that Mr. Espada once had a serious flirtation with the GOP.

Only in the Bronx can this be an actual part of a political campaign. Doesn't the Bronx deserve better choices? We have Efrain Gonzalez, who is set to go on trail for a Federal ethics case, and Pedro Espada Jr., who may not even live in the Bronx and has some of his own campaign money skeletons in the closet. In this showdown, I'd prefer the guy in the elephant suit.


New York Times Tries to Tighten the Definition of Journalism

Same newspaper, same neighborhood about one week apart - very different impressions. The Times' "Living In" article this week shines a light on the real Norwood. As you know from our rather indignant (and lengthy) post about the art school and cereal box poetry article by Andy Newman about the ends of subway lines in NYC, we were a tad miffed at how Norwood was portrayed by both Mr. Newman's writing and Richard Perry's photo slide show. We know Norwood isn't perfect, but it is also not a post-apocalyptic netherworld.

Here are the slide shows associated with each article. Check for yourself. How could two fotogs come up with images and angles so different (except for the lass riding from the bowels of hell into Williamsbridge Oval).

'Living In Norwood' Slide Show [G. Paul Burnett]

"End of the D Line" - Norwood Slide Show [Richard Perry]

BoogieDowner thanks the NY Times for righting this wrong and for printing a balanced story about Norwood. Thank you.

Living In Norwood [C.J. Hughes, NY Times]

And you've gotta love the subtitle of the "Living In" piece: Where the Spirit of Renewal Rises Again.


Friday, August 29, 2008

For the Ladies...

Sorry, another random "walking around the hood" post I wanted to share specifically with all the BoogieDowner ladies...

I guess I haven't really been to Fordham Road/Kingsbridge Road in a while. As I posted about earlier, we were walking around that area today and I was quite surprised to find a Nine West Outlet right next to (gasp!) a yoga studio. We are so high-end and trendy y'all!

Unfortunately the yoga studio is housed in the same space as a Karate Center and right next to a gold jewelry exchange- baby steps people, baby steps. For a shopping area that Wikipedia defines as having stores that are "inexpensive and Hip-Hop Oriented," this is a nice show of diversity.


Urban Plunge Out and About

Our "Listing of the Day" today was so convincing that we decided we needed to to take a stroll down the Grand Concourse/Kingbridge Road area today to check the hood out.

We were happily surprised when we arrived at Poe Park and saw a group of about 15 volunteers scraping and repainting the gate around the historic Edgar Allan Poe Cottage. The volunteers were part of Fordham University's "Urban Plunge" program, which exposes freshmen to all sorts of great community service projects in the neighborhoods surrounding Fordham.

The students also volunteered this morning with Women in Need, Inc., an organization which provides housing, help, and hope to New York City women and their families who are homeless and disadvantaged.

As a past "Urban Plunge" volunteer, it was extremely inspiring to see the program still going strong a full decade later (geez, I'm getting old...). Keep up the good work Urban Plungers!

Bronx Revivalism, not Displacement

This is the thesis of Fordham University professor and historian Mark Naison in his article A Bronx Tale: Development Without Gentrification in the newsletter for the Organization of American Historians.

Dr. Naison is a true Bronx historian, aficionado and lover. He profiles how development and revitalization of the Bronx do not need to displace and alienate the working class people who already live in the Bronx. As Boogiedowner covered yesterday, the Bronx resurgence is kinder and gentler than its Visigothic Brooklyn counterpart (i.e. no machete attacks on hipsters).

While I never had the pleasure of being in one of Dr. Naison's classes while I was at Fordham, I do remember this white guy greeting the entire Freshman class during orientation in the Leornard Theater in September of 1998 and leading us in the hook of the then popular Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz tune, "Cross Bronx Expressway." You know the one with the great sample from Steely Dan. It went a little something like this:

But if it wasn't for the Bronx this rap s**t probably never would be going on so tell me where you from? Uptown baby, uptown baby. We gets down baby, up for the crown baby.

How can you not love this guy, or the Bronx for that matter? And remember every time you listen to rap s**t that if not for the Bronx, it wouldn't be going on.

Listing of the Day: Fordham Rd. Rental for the Whole Family

2546 Creston Avenue at Fordham Road 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath $2000/mo.

This listing spoke to me because of the size, price and location, but the interior pictures show a really nice, renovated place.
If you have a young family or are just trying to make it in New York on an entry-level-just-out-of-college salary or are a young teacher, find friends and split this place. I'm no mathematician, but I know that $666.67 a person, per month is pretty darn good for NYC - especially with more than half a bathroom each.
Certainly this area immediately north of Fordham Road can be a little rough around the edges, but you are close to great shopping on Fordham Rd. and great future shopping at the Kingsbridge Armory. You have the B/D at Fordham Rd. and the Concourse or the 4 at Fordham Rd and Jerome.

You are directly across from St. James Park and just across the Concourse from Poe Park, which houses Edgar Allen Poe's cottage. The cottage is undergoing some major renovations and should become a real jewel of the hood when it is completed. Poe Park also has a weekly farmer's market from 8am to 3 pm on Tuesdays.

Just down 192nd Street at 310 East Kingsbridge Rd. is the borough's flagship Bronx Library Center. It's the biggest, baddest and one of the newest libraries in the Bronx. So if you're into book-learning, you're in luck. Glenn Collin of the NY Times, said at the time of its renovation and reopening that it was a "library on steroids." If you are in to the arts, you have Lehman College's under-rated gallery, the Bronx Opera, which performs at Lehman, or the new stunning antiquities collection housed in Fordham University's Library.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Bronx is Bubbling?

The West Bronx Blog did a very good job of sizing up the fall out of the overall real estate meltdown on the Bronx.

Greg Lobo Jost's post wonders about the ill effects of equity firms buying too high in an overheated market and consequently not being unable to meet the mortgages with the rents they can charge.


A Machete Grows in Brooklyn

NY Metro's Amy Zimmer is reporting a violent uptick in crime in Williamsburg. Machete wielding teens seem to be targeting goofy white hipster types who continue to clog the streets of Billburg.

Now I'm not saying this is due to all the cool, hip, non-violent, non-obnoxious folks moving to the Boogiedown, but it makes you wonder. At least here in the Bronx our gentrification is kinder and gentler, less a a cultural and economic imperialism than a reinvigoration. If you're going to behave like a hipster Visigoth and try to take over whole hoods with glass condo towers and bars that sell Pabst Blue Ribbon to Trustifarian rich kids, at least carry a mace to defend yourselves. I'm just saying....


$400/year = Serenity

The New York Times' Joyce Walder's article, "Backyard Bargain in the Bronx," profiled a South Bronx homeowner who has basically grown a mini-New York Botanical Garden in his backyard.

Sam Oglesby, who "was well ahead of the recent wave of transplanted Manhattan professionals when he bought this property 10 years ago" [NY Times], owns an 1987 three story brick townhouse with a 20x40 foot lot that he has transformed into a literal urban oasis. His original start-up cost to create the space was a little over $3,000, and it takes only $400 per year to maintain.

Mr. Oglesby, who is 69 and moved to the Bronx 10 years ago shortly after retiring, paid a mere $113,000 for that beauty of a house you see pictured. Talk about a smart cookie. Hmmmm, maybe the Bronx is not only the new Williamsburg, but possibly the next Boca Raton, FL as well?
*Photos courtesy of Andrew Henderson/New York Times*


1,000 Visitors and Counting...

In a little "toot our own horns" post, BoogieDowner would like to report that we officially hit the 1,000 visitor mark today according to our nifty Sitemeter - hooray! Yeah, that's right Brownstoner with your fancy "non-Blogspot website" and legions of readers - BoogieDowner had 1,000 visitors. You must be shaking in your crocs!

Now granted, about 750 of those visitors were probably just me logging on to see if we've had any new comments... But, nonetheless, it's a happy occasion for this three week old blog!

Thanks to all you loyal readers who have been checking us out. The site is only as good as the people who read it and contribute by way of comments, post ideas, and photos. So keep 'em coming to

*Photo montage courtesy of*


Martin Luther King Triangle - Mott Haven

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”

The great Dr. King spoke these immortal words 45 years ago today and they still send chills down the collective spine of most Americans. The Bronx has been paying a small tribute to the great civil rights leader ever since his assassination by renaming The Triangle at Austin Place and East 149th Street in his honor.

According to the webpage of New York City Parks & Recreation: “Mott Haven is an appropriate place for a memorial to Dr. King. Before the Civil War (1861-1864), the area was the site of two stations on the Underground Railroad. The Fugitive Slave Act had decreed that slave owners could come north to search for runaway slaves. One place where a slave on the road to freedom could hide was the villa of Charles Van Doren, which stood at East 145th Street and Third Avenue. Another was the Mott Haven Dutch Reformed Church, which still stands on East 146th Street.”

With Barack Obama’s much anticipated acceptance speech taking place tonight at The Democratic Convention, August 28th becomes even more of a monumentally historic day.

~Simone Davis

Seriously Mr. Castro?

It's borderline pathetic that not one week after we discussed Nelson Castro having a shocking nine registered voters supposedly living in his one-bedroom apartment, we are again commenting on yet another indiscretion.

In his article "Democratic Party Knew About Castro's Rap Sheet," Bob Kappstatter of the NY Daily News reports that Norman Castro, a Bronx Democrat who's gunning to replace Assemblyman Luis Diaz, has an actual criminal record.

I'll let you decide which charge is more shocking:

Four years ago, Castro plead guilty to collecting about $5,000 in unemployment funds while still working.

Also, he was caught this past March driving in East Harlem with a revoked license and for owing over $3,000 in unpaid parking tickets.

Nelson Castro, you must be the classiest guy I know. Well, I don't actually know you, but I feel like I do since you're in the news so much. But I tend not to hang out with shady dudes with criminal records, so I doubt we'll ever meet... That is unless I suddenly need to do an apartment share and one of your eight roomies drops out - smooches!

*Photo courtesy of Noonan for Daily News*


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Listing of the Day: Castle-like Crib in Wakefield

3920 Amundson Ave. 4 Bedroom Detached House - $419,000

This house is in the northernmost nabe in the NYC. Wakefield can have an almost suburban feel because of the lack of huge apartment complexes like in most of the Bronx. This really does look like some type of castle. Check out how big and angular this thing is.

Not a lot of nightlife in Wakefield, but hey, if you're buying a 4 bedroom Victorian at the end of the 5 line, you're either trying to accommodate a Brady-bunch like family or getting ready to declare Amundson Ave. its own sovereign republic. If your thinking of the latter, please don't move to the Bronx. We don't need a Waco repeat in Wakefield.

You would have some nice park options for all those kids, step-kids and newly liberated citizens if your fenced in yard gets a little small. There is the underrated Seton Falls Park literally right across the street. Seton Falls has all the normal park stuff like grass and hoops courts, but it even has a man-made waterfall. A little further east is the City's largest park, Pelham Bay Park. Pelham Bay Park, which is 3x the size of Central Park, has too many features to enumerate here, but it does have a beach to help with any sea invasions any you might have in mind.

Transportation would be the 5 line at Dyre (the last stop), but don't let Andy Newman of the NY Times scare you. Cars do not spontaneously explode in at the end of the line.


Gays, and Now Pastry Entrepreneurs? The Bronx is on Fire!

What seems like some sort of illegal marriage made in heaven, an influx of gay families and the relocation of Dufour Pastry Kitchens from the Meatpacking district to the Bronx, are actually completely unrelated stories.


No, it's true. After making history in 1984 by being the first non-meat manufacturing business in the Meatpacking district, Dufor Pastry Kitchens found itself by 2005 being priced and sized out of Manhattan. Carla Krasner and Judi Arnold of Dufour had the foresight and wisdom to search in the Bronx. (photo courtesy of NY Daily News)

"Luckily, Dufour found Port Morris [really just south Mott Haven? We all know how Bronx neighborhood borders are notoriously ambiguous] in the South Bronx, with affordable rent and nearby transit. 'We found open arms,' said Arnold, whose firm was eligible for two tax-incentive programs." [NY Daily News]

It's always great to see new businesses, great businesses, populating the Bronx. I'm starting to see a theme to a lot of our posts here: affordable rent and nearby transportation. Hmmmm....

Farm Fresh Produce, But Come Early

I just completed our weekly trip over to the New York Botanical Garden's Farmers Market. This wonderful source of fresh produce is available every Wednesday (NYBG offers free admission to the public on Wednedays) until October 29th from 10am to 3pm.

Knowing that this attraction is popular, I arrived at 9:55am so I could beat the crowds. Ha! Apparently myself and about 50 other people had the same idea. Although you have to do a bit of elbow-throwing to select your fruits and veggies, it is well worth it. Produce is trucked in from the eastern end of Long Island, as well as upstate New York. Growers who set up camp each week include Gajeski Produce, Mead Orchards, and Migliorelli Farm. For your guilty pleasure indulgence, there's also The Little Bake Shop selling pies and other treats, and Bread Alone, an organic whole grain bakery.

After seeing the crowds that turn up at this thing, it really makes you wonder why there aren't other farmers markets in the area. I heard there was one on Wednesdays over on Jerome Avenue by Montefiore Hospital, but I'm not sure exactly where. Does anyone know of any other interesting produce options in the Bronx? After getting repeatedly skunked by C-Town and Pioneer Supermarket with bad produce, the South Bronx Food Co-Op is sounding better and better.
*My thanks to a BoogieDowner reader who informed me that there is a farmers market on Tuesdays in Poe Park (192nd & Grand Concourse) from 8am to 3pm. Also, there is another on Wednesdays at Jerome Avenue and Mosholu Parkway North*
**Another update: In researching the farmers market at Poe Park, I came across The Council on the Environment of New York City's website. Tons of great info on the farmers markets they sponsor in all five boroughs**


The Gays are Coming - Yesssssssss!!!!

We've actually been waiting to do a post on this issue for a while now, but we wanted to wait until there was an actual news story to tie in rather than just saying, "Hey BoogieDowner readers, we've been noticing a lot more gay couples while walking around our hood. How about you?"
In her article "Gay pairs like the boros, raising kids in Bronx," The Daily News' Stephanie Gaskell reports that a recent study by UCLA's Williams Institute shows that the Bronx is home to the highest number of gay couples raising children, followed closely by Brooklyn. But you know what we said yesterday Brooklyn - second place is for losers.

I'm no cultural anthropologist, but my take on the gay population of NYC is that they tend to be not only extremely stylish, but also ready, willing, and able to get involved with their communities and create stable, enriching residential environments. What more could you ask for in a neighbor?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Listing of the Day: Artist's Loft in Mott Haven

112 LINCOLN AVENUE - Loft - 1100 square feet, $1800/mo.
If you need open space to follow your passion, why pay more than you have to? Mott Haven is home to many industrial buildings turned artists' lofts. This particular building is called the Clock Tower and used to be an old piano factory. Pretty art-inspiring if you ask me. (photo courtesy of Newsday)

There are an ever increasing number of bars and restaurants catering to the arrivistes that will help conjure up your muse with a few drinks or friendly conversation with your hip new neighbors. The Bruckner Bar and Grill has been holding it down for the last few years, tucked under the Third Avenue Bridge. Alexander's is a new wine bar, which I'm sure is good, but I really wish they would get a permanent sign instead of that plastic tarp thing that looks like it is from a Mid-Western Brat Day Parade. Come on Alexander's, step up your game.

In any case, this apartment is wide open and even has an elevated sleeping area to allow you to do all those splatter paintings you've always wanted to do, but couldn't because of your 6 roommates huddled in that 1 bedroom in Bushwick.

Super easy transportation around the corner at the 6 train @ 138th Street and 3rd Avenue.

What are you waiting for SVA grads? Spend some of those student loan dollars in the Bronx!

Click here for full listing.


Ding, Ding, Ding, DING - And The Winner Is....

Not only is The Bronx Numero Uno in terms of attracting our neighbors to the south (you know, all those disgruntled Manhattanites fleeing the ever escalating rents and co-op prices of their once precious nabe), but it looks like the Other Four can eat our dust when it comes to the amount of cold hard cash the City is slated to start pumping into each borough in parks and recreation investment alone. According to Going Coastal, and their article "NYC Park Improvement Projects In Construction or Design Phase," the Bronx is getting more dough than any other borough.

Here's a look at some stats that should put a hard-earned grin on quite a few Bronx residents' faces. Of the $1.344 billion planned allotment, here's who's getting what:

#1. Bronx $400 million

#2. Manhattan $354 million

#3. Brooklyn $273 million

#4. Queens $198 million

#5. Staten Island $119 million

So, in case you didn't get that: Bronx - #1, Manhattan - #2!!! I hate to sound glib here - but I'm Just Saying...

The Yankee Stadium Redevelopment projects, Soundview Park and The South Bronx Greenway are the major recipients of the City's largess and these projects will hopefully (and finally!) eradicate the outdated and overstated negative rep the South Bronx has had to endure for the last 30 years!

According to Wikipedia, "Going Coastal is an EPA award winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit grassroots organization formed in 2003 to connect people to coastal resources by raising awareness of the coast's
value as a natural, cultural and recreational resource. Through the efforts of its volunteers and information initiatives they inspire adults and children to appreciate, enjoy and preserve it."

~Simone Davis

"We Didn't Say It, But We Agree" Part 2!

Anyone who read our last post and clicked on the link to check out genius blogger, Maddy Madison's, post stating oh so clairvoyently that the Bronx is the new Williamsburg will not be surprised that we're covering the following New York Observer article: "Where Manhattanites Move When They Want to Stay in New York" (Yes, it's from April and we are shockingly behind the curve... I place the blame squarely on our teething 8 month old).

The Observer's Tom Acitelli sagely reports that from 2001 to 2006, the BoogieDown has led the three other outer boroughs in net gains of Manhattanites. Brooklyn has consistently been the second most popular destination for NYC residents fleeing the rapidly escalating rents of Manhattan.

As we all know, second place is for losers. Who's yo momma now Bill-Burg?

*Extremely official looking stat chart courtesy of Nigel Holmes: Source: I.R.S.


We Didn't Say It. She Did, and We Agree.

Very funny post from a blog by Maddy Madison, a lass who has been brave enough to claim the obvious:

"The Bronx is the New Williamsburg."

Click through to read why the aforementioned statement is true.

Gotta check out that roller-derby scene.

And I think we might have found a new Bronx slogan: "The other borough that starts with "BRO," kinda like that pork commercial. Mmmm...Pork.

So let us know, do you agree? Or is this all moving too fast for you? Was it too soon for the Bronx to introduce you its parents?


Listing of the Day: Park South Condo - Redefining the Bronx

2155 Daly Avenue, Bronx NY - 2 Bedroom 1 bathroom $260,000

This is a new construction development that is half sold and moving fast. This particular unit is 763 square feet, but the building has all the way up to a 1491 square foot 3 bedroom. [You can check out the slideshow here]

All I have to say is, "Wow!" Every inch of these 763 square feet is blinged out to the nines -a balcony, common roof deck, common garden, granite lobby and hallways, 9 foot ceilings, maple cabinets, granite countertops and washer/dryer hookups! I really haven't seen many apartments this nice in the Bronx. And believe me, I've looked.

Add a 25 year tax abatement and your taxes are only $0.82 a month. I was trying to find the cents symbol on my computer, but couldn't. When is the last time you could put the price of anything in cents? The common charge for maintaining that common roof deck and garden and for keeping those granite hallways polished is only $286.10. So, all told your monthly costs for maintenance and taxes would only be $286.92.

Located to the immediate south of the Bronx Zoo, Park South is going to be an anchor of the Bronx Renaissance. I guess you would call this nabe West Farms, but as BoogieDowner reported, the names of Bronx hoods are often indistinct and fluid. Maybe we could rename this whole hood Park South... hmmmm?

Transportation is not bad. You can grab the 2/5 Train at E. Tremont Ave or the Metro North Train Station at Fordham or Tremont Stations and be at Grand Central in under 20 Minutes.

See the bling for yourself in the great video tour on the Full Listing.

There are Open Houses Sundays: 1-3 pm and Mondays: 6-8 pm. Check it out and report back.

Get in now while these puppies are still cheap. Or you'll find yourself fleeing to Buffalo in search of abandoned buildings in which to squat.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Buffalo Before the Bronx?

In New York Magazine's newest issue, Adam Sternbergh attempts to understand why some New Yorkers find themselves fleeing the City to places in the so-called 'Rust Belt,' like snowy Buffalo, in his article Where the Urban Dream Life Is Going Cheap . The subtitle of the article is appropriately "What could possibly make someone want to leave New York and move to Buffalo?"

It seems a number of these new Buffalonians wanted more space for cheaper rent; more possibility; more blank canvases to work with; a new frontier.

Hey, I understand the aforementioned desires, and I don't begrudge any of these new hockey-loving residents, but Buffalo? Really?

There is an interesting section of the article where Mr. Sternbergh is on a bike ride with some of these Buffalo enthusiasts, including Newell Nussbaumer, the Buffalo cheerleader and cultural mayor, and the group is looking at an abandoned police station and wondering if they could turn it into a club.

If you are looking for blank canvases and neglected buildings to rehab we have them for you up here on the mainland U.S. in the Bronx.

"But New York, for all its mythology, is no longer a frontier. Buffalo is a frontier." Maybe Williamsburg isn't a frontier or even pre-gentrified Bushwick isn't a frontier, but the Bronx is. Before anyone up and moves to Buffalo for cheap rent, blank canvas abandoned buildings and lower salaries, please just move to the Bronx. You can get the first two without enduring the last.

FYI, this is what you have to look forward to for Buffalo nightlife. [photo courtesy of Buffalo Nightlife (Nightlife), RMC]


Neighborhood, What Neighborhood?

The Bronx seems to hold the singular distinction of having very blurry lines when it comes to defining neighborhoods. Most of the time people will give you a street, rather than a neighborhood name as an answer to, "Where do you live?" You're much more likely to hear, "I live in Pelham Parkway," than I live in Williamsbridge or Allerton. A more common answer to a question of a Bronxite's neighborhood would be "On the Concourse," rather than Highbridge or Morris Heights.

This rant about indistinct neighborhoods and their boundaries was engendered by an NY Times article about the Bronx Borough historian, Lloyd Ultan, professor at Lehman College, and his search for what actually constitutes the North-Central Bronx hood of Williamsbridge. (photo courtesy of Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times)

Even my own home neighborhood has ambiguous borders. I consider Bedford Park to be its own neighborhood bordered to the north by Mosholu Parkway, the west by the Grand Concourse, the south by Bedford Park Blvd., and the east by Webster Ave. I've heard people say Bedford Park runs all the way down to 196th, some even further to 192nd. Some put the western border as as far as Goulden Ave near the Reservoir. I've even heard people say that Bedford Park doesn't exist as it's own neighborhood; it is Fordham-Bedford or North Fordham - I disagree with both assertions.
So Boogiedowner asks, what neighborhood do you live in, and what are the borders? Do you agree that the Bronx neighborhood borders are blurry? Let's get this straight.

Legacy of the Gentrifiers of the 1800s

614 Courtlandt Avenue in the Melrose section of the Bronx is evidence of a past wave of gentrification to hit Melrose. Julius Ruppert, a saloon and billiard hall owner from the cramped Lower East Side, built this beauty in 1871 to cash in on the influx of German immigrants seeking the space and greenery of the Bronx.

The landmarked building fell into disrepair and was vacant for decades following the 1970s, but now it is getting a new life on a new wave of development for Melrose. (Photo courtesy of NYC Landmarks Commission via NY Times]

Neighborhood Housing Services and Landmarks Preservation Commission are working to renovate this beautiful building and then to place it on the open market to court a private buyer.

"When finished, it will house three two-bedroom apartments and a commercial space on the first floor. The top floor, with its tall, sloping walls and oval windows, is like a painter’s garret. On the first floor, original cast iron columns lend a graceful note to the entrance. The asking price is $800,000." [NY Times]

If you have the money, love the Bronx or just want to be ahead of the curve in landownership in the borough with the largest upside in the city, please contact Neighborhood Housing Services, Landmarks Preservation Commission to secure your spot as a real estate smarty-pants.
(Photo courtesy of David Gonzales/NY Times]

A Neglected Bronx Landmark Gets a New Life [NY Times Article by David Gonzalez]


New Metro- North Stop(s)?

Ground has been broken for the new Metro-North Station at Yankee Stadium, with an expected completion date of second quarter 2009. In addition, the MTA is reviewing plans for 3 new Metro-North Stations for Co-op City, Parkchester, and Hunts Point.

All 3 communities are currently seeing monumental growth and a resurgence. Hunts Point is particularly ripe for a station as the population is growing, as is subway and bus ridership in the area, including Longwood.

In addition to making the Eastern Bronx more easily accessible (and therefore more attractive), these new stops on the Metro-North would open up job opportunities in Westchester and other counties to the north to residents of the South Bronx. There is also vacant land, including industrial sites, available for development that could be used to cater to the newcomers and riders of these future stops.

NY State's Press Release About New Yankee Stadium Stop

NY Daily News Article

~Jay O.

Listing of the Day: Parkchester 2 Bedroom

2358 Glebe Avenue - 2 Bedroom, $1450/mo

Parkchester is often called a city within a city, and this is an apartment within that city within a city - or at least on the outskirts of said city. Got that straight? Well, in any case, what was once a hidden secret is starting to be discovered and gobbled up.

This particular apartment is reasonably large at 900 square feet, but takes in a lot of light and even has its own private balcony and parking. Serious amenities, no?

Parkchester has tons of shopping, chief of which are its own Macy's and a Starbucks. You heard me people; Parkchester has a Starbucks. See the stuff you learn here at BoogieDowner. There is also a decent amount of public space to hang at, including the ovals of the complex proper and a few fountains. And who doesn't like fountains? [photo courtesy of Forgtten-NY]

Parkchester was built under the same idea as Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan, and has the same self-sufficient aura. Parkchester is a safe and family friendly hood with decent transportation via the 6 train and bus service. So if you're looking to split cheap rent to actually have enough money to go out, or just need a place you can actually afford to raise a family, check out this apartment and nabe.

"Living In" Parkchester [NY Times Article]


Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Million Dollar Hunt

This week's New York Times "Hunt" article by Joyce Cohen was an enlightening one for us... It details the real estate search of a nearly-40 year old couple, Nicolle and Jeff Pillartz, with a budget of $800,000 (although their final purchase at $1.07 million well exceeded that). Comfortable in their one-bedroom rental above Ray's Pizza on the Avenue of the Americas and 11th Street in Greenwich Village, they saved money with an end goal of becoming homeowners and, armed with knowledge, they set out to hunt in Brooklyn.

When we were entrenched in the hunt a year and a half ago (with a much more meager budget of $250,000 and below), I can't tell you how many times I uttered the words "I just wish we had more money to work with" after seeing some truly disappointing apartments (one seller didn't even bother to install a toilet seat for her open house... and her Inwood apartment was listed at $310,000).

So it was interesting to read about a couple whose constant goal throughout their hunt was to stay below $1 million to "avoid the 1 percent mansion tax." You'd think they'd be living large, looking at beautifully constructed brownstones or single-family houses, right? I guess sometimes my real estate mind is stuck in 1990, because their $1 million budget was only getting them in the door of 2-bedroom condos and co-ops near the waterfront in Brooklyn. Granted, it seems as if they weren't interested in hunting in off-the-beaten-path outer-borough neighborhoods in order to get more square footage.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. After looking at some older, smaller places, one of which was built by a developer who may have been involved in some shady code violation lawsuit, and another, which needed to be renovated, they fell in love with a 2-bedroom condo at One Brooklyn Bridge Park on the waterfront. After plunking down their $1.07 million, they are loving their new place, complete with washer/dryer and dishwasher. They are eagerly awaiting the completion of the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park, which will literally fall directly in their backyard.

Apparently, no matter what your price point is when shopping around for real estate, the same frustrating struggles arise, and the same small joys bind us together. Mr. Pillartz states that he feels he's finally "made it" in New York because he now has a dishwasher. Amen to that Jeff! We renovated our kitchen and installed a dishwasher a year ago, and I still feel like a princess every time I load that sucker up!

Of course, since we are the BoogieDowner, we must compare what these hunters would have found around their price point had they looked in the Bronx:

A 5-bedroom co-op located at 5900 Arlington Avenue in Riverdale is listed at $999,000 and overlooks the Hudson River. This beauty has an actual bidet in one of its 3 bathrooms! Amenities include a healthclub, a pool, tennis courts, a dog park, a year round cafe, and, of course, a door man and concierge. View full listing here.

A fully renovated inside and out 5-bedroom house on City Island is listed at $929,000. This charming Colonial sprawls over two lots and features a backyard with a deck and a pool. View full listing here.

This luxury townhouse in Throgg's Neck listed for $789,000 comes in well under our $1 million parameters. This is a custom designed two family house with two 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom units with balconies. Only in the Bronx can you find beautiful new construction at this price point with the potential for rental income! View full listing here.