Related begins makeover of vacant South Bronx site

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion, Jr. and Steve Ross, of The Related Companies LP, broke ground for the Hub Retail and Office Center in the South Bronx recently.

The Related Companies will build an approximately 170,000 s/f mixed-use facility on vacant, formerly City-owned property at the northern end of the Hub commercial district that will contain retail space and the Department of Finance's Bronx Business Center. The developer will also renovate a former municipal parking garage.

The $56.7 million project will create about 230 construction jobs and 225 new permanent jobs, and generate approximately $35 million in sales and payroll tax revenue over the next 25 years. When the new facility is completed, the Department of Finance will relocate an additional 225 employees from other locations in the Bronx. The City will provide about $16 million for construction, fit-out and equipment of the Finance Department's business center and the Bronx borough president will provide an additional $500,000 for the project.

"The Hub Retail and Office Center joins the redevelopment of the Bronx Terminal Market and Yankee Stadium area as another major milestone in the ongoing renaissance of the South Bronx," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The Center will create new economic activity and provide hundreds of jobs for Bronx residents. The development will extend the Hub commercial district and connect it to the growing residential area of Melrose where the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has invested heavily in revitalization projects. In addition, establishing the Bronx Business Center will provide Bronx residents a one-stop location to pay bills and check records, and it will attract thousands to the area, spurring additional retail growth."

Related plans to construct a two-story, 170,000 s/f retail and office building and rehabilitate the adjacent parking garage with retail space on the ground floor. The four-story garage, which has been vacant for many years, will be completely renovated with space for 265 cars and new systems to allow more efficient entry and exit. The Hub Retail and Office Center will be home to retailers including Staples, Rite Aid and Forman Mills. An additional 1,500 s/f of office space will be made available for use by the local community board.

Related purchased the property from the City as a result of a Request For Proposals issued by Economic Development Corporation for $1 million. The project is financed in part by a $4 million low-interest loan provided by EDC. New York City Industrial Development Agency is also providing up to $1.8 million in real estate and tax benefits. The project is expected to be completed in 2008.

The Bronx Business Center will consolidate two other Bronx centers and will be the Finance Department's centralized location for 1.4 million Bronx residents to pay bills, contest fines and check records. In addition, the Center will house Finance's City Register's Office, which provides deed recordation services through state-of-the art technology, the Automated City Register System (ACRIS). Offices for the surveyor, sheriff and property division will also be located at the new facility. With its easy access to public transportation and ample parking, the new Bronx Business Center will make it easier for Bronx residents to conduct business with the City in modern office space that is more accessible than the other two Bronx centers.

It is estimated that the Bronx Business Center will attract as many as 1,000 people per day, further strengthening the Hub's role as a retail destination.

PUBLISHED IN: Real Estate Weekly DATE: March 29, 2006