Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kingsbridge in Chains

Reader Eric sends in the following report from Kingsbridge, around Broadway and 236th St.:

Since the Stella D'oro cookie factory was demolished, all these fancy chain-store shopping centers have been popping up, and slowly the little businesses are leaving.

All photos by Eric Bell: BJ's and T Mobile

The Bronx Ale House moved into the neighborhood a few years ago. With great food, craft/local beers, it's the classic first wave of change in the neighborhood, the one really nice restaurant in an otherwise kind of rundown area.

Riverdale Crossing is the shopping complex with all chain stores going in. There's been scaffolding up there for quite some time. Before that, there were just some bodega-type stores.

Bank of America

Just south of that, Broadway Carpet just recently closed up. Don't know if their lease wasn't renewed, or if this building is going to become part of the Riverdale Crossing complex. They were a warehouse/wholesale carpet dealer. I was able to carpet my apartment with really nice carpet from leftovers from one of their commercial jobs for very cheap.

Just south of this is the Bridge Tavern, a little dive bar, connected to the Police Precinct block. I can see that vanishing soon.

Across the street is Loehmann's which is currently being demolished. There's a sign up that it will soon become a storage place and some other shops.

Loehmann's demolished

Back on the west side of Broadway you have Stack's Tavern, which looked nice at one point on Forgotten NY, but now looks abandoned. The Tavern sits on an unusually large plot of land. I had a real estate attorney friend of mine do some investigating and he found out that it was just sold in September. I was surprised to find out that Mr. Stack actually owned the land and he sold it to a development company (Broadway Development LLC) for over 3 million dollars. Solid retirement money. So I imagine that will soon become a new shopping complex.

Stack's Tavern, closed

Keep traveling south on Broadway and you have Garden Gourmet, a very good local supermarket that just tripled in size. And a new fancy-looking lounge, which claims to be the sexiest. I don't know how sexy you can be at the end of a dead-end street next to 87, Staples, and batting cages.

The rest of Broadway until you get down to 230th Street is what you'd expect from Kingsbridge under an elevated train. A lot of discount stores and restaurants. Until you see the ugliest shopping center that's been built in history. I call it Grey.

This building looks like a prison. It's uninviting, there's only one small entrance, and it's only filled with chain stores. Soon they're adding a Starbucks, because we can never have enough of those and I guess people were getting tired of the Dunkin Donuts across the street.


Anonymous said...

Can we thank the Bronx Economic Development Corporation for doing nothing and not assisting in helping the Stella Dora factory stay in the Bronx? What exactly does this organization do?

Mike! said...

Thats not a Loheamans! Its an ice rink!

Anonymous said...

It used to be an ice rink that then became a Loehmans.

Punto said...

Having resided about a mile south in Inwood since the early seventies (I could go on about all the closed local hardware stores, bakeries, movie houses, ethnic gift shops, etc. and the coming of McD's, Star#ucks, Dominos, fro-yo places, but not here and now), I used to skate at the rink a few decades back and later accompany my girlfriend(s) on bargain hunting trips to Loehmann's there and also over on Fordham Rd. (of course, now closed).

The slightly sickly-sweet smell of Stella d'Oro's baking could be smelled as you drove down the Deegan and all over the area, a Proustian memory trigger, now replaced by chain store odorless uniformity/sterility.

Garden Gourmet has pretty good prices and huge variety of selection and seems to have Fairway sized ambitions but so far still has some feel of place, though less so since expanding to mega-size.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that this disgusting gray box was allowed to open -it is only operating at 50 percent capacity and i see the current occupant stores leaving in a few years. What should have been done was remodel the mom and pop shops on Broadway from 230the to 238ths street and give it a Classic American Main Street flavor. Then monitor what stores get rented-for example do you really need so many 99 cent stores, Eye-glass places, and bodega type candy stores?? What will happen when the mall becomes empty in less than a decade and it becomes vacant? Will they tear it down and bring in the stores and services as well as the parkign needed or will it become a vacant ,vandalized reminder of crooked political deals??

Anonymous said...

Stella D'oro wanted to pay it's production employees $8 an hour with no benefits. Not much the EDC can do to help that.

Anonymous said...

Stella Dora's closing had to do with the original owner's children taking over, and bad business decisions, like building a restaurant that opened and closed many years ago.

Peter Lappin said...

Loehmann's was previously the Riverdale Rink. It closed in the 70s as I recall.

mch said...

Ah, this is my son and daughter-in-law's neighborhood. We shopped for Christmas dinner at the two markets mentioned here. Even though my mother grew up in the Bronx (1920's and 1930's, on Harrison Ave.) and her father's extended family had started moving there in the 1890's (to places like Morrisania -- piano makers and railroad workers, mostly; also, a couple of mining and electrical engineers across the river in Inwood), only in the last few years have I come to spend any time there (besides around Yankee Stadium; let me note that my Cooper Union-educated electrical engineer grandfather was a Dodgers fan, god knows why --well, he was actually born in Brooklyn).

The Bronx. Rocks (bedrock rocks, assertively rising up) and hills. And a weird mixture of huge box buildings (endless storage -- is this Manhattan's attic?), side streets with small clapboard houses (what Manhattan once looked like, eons ago), and looming, mammoth apartment buildings. And we're not even talking the projects. Just these massive apartment buildings. And the el. And that lovely Kingsbridge station. (Sort of like a Swiss cuckoo clock -- too cute to be attractive, yet, well, it is!)

Columbia University has extended its reach into lower Riverdale, both formally (subsidized housing) and informally (poor grad students figure it out, as do others like my son and his partner, who can't afford Manhattan). Soon they'll edge out the varied working class and poor people in the neighborhood. The not-very-good-at-all Chinese and Mexican restaurants will be replaced by -- well, who knows what? Such a weird mix of huge boxes and mom-and-pops at the moment. One thing better not go, the wonderful diner just a couple of blocks from my son's apartment.

I'll end by noting: my Iranian-born daughter-in-law never took to Boston, where they had a much nicer apartment with all kinds of amenities. She now spends more than two hours of each day commuting to Manhattan on unreliable trains. But she LOVES New York.

Billy Maher said...

Very sad! This is my old neighborhood! I remember all the bars. From up on riverdale Avenue down W231st St. W238th St to W242nd St. everything from Leo's Luncheonette on W235th St to Pat Mitchell's. The Dale movie theater to Riverdale Lowes. Leiberman's Deli and the Bagle Corner to Riviera Pizza on W231st St and Broadway. Erings. Doc Fidlers. The Riverdale Tavern. When the parks had water fountains. The milf store by the projects. Hell even when Kentuky Fried Chicken used to be on W225th St and Broadway. How about when the Bowling Alley had a miniature golf course? Wow! I remember when Ewen Park was packed with people 7 nights a week from top to bottom! People used to hang out on the street corner. The ladies at Mother bakery had concentration camp tattoos on them from the Holocust and were so sweet! There were a good number of cobblestone street left. Bill's Friendly Spot. Riviera Pizza used to have hotdogs at the walk up window. The nieghborhood had mom and pop stores! The candy store, the deli's, the butcher, the bakeries, the shoeshine store. How about Chinese restaurants like Bo Sun and Golden Gate?
St Gabrial's, St John's, St Margret's and Visitation! I have very fond memories of a time lost in history! I know my friends know exactly what Im talkin about!

Anonymous said...

that was kelton's ice skating rink before it was bought out.

Anonymous said...

The family that owned stella doro sold the company in 1992 while business was booming. It was subsequently eroded by corporate management.

Anonymous said...

Both the Riverdale Ice Skating Rink and Kelton's aka The Fieldston BAth and Tennis Club (summers) were owned by the Kelton family through the early 80s....and the site was replaced by a beer distributor. It was repoened as LOEHMANN's which closed it's original Fordham Road location in the early 90s...including some of their flagship store's staff. Now it's going to be a storage facility for lazy Manhattanite's who can't get it together to throw out or donate away their old crap. It used to be such a kid-friendly neighborhood and the site just below the Stella D'Oro property was an amusement park called JOYLAND through the mid-60s. The developers of both of the new shopping malls LIED or otherwise gave BAD information about their construction plans, including their REAL need for parking space and street congestion....and our elected Riverdalian representatives didn't really pursue corrections...it's on the WRONG side of Broadway...not their people! Visitation Church, off the Van Cortlandt Park South entrance/exit is closing this year....and developers, (in MY opinion) in cohoots with the NYC Archdiocese are planning to sell off the entire block to the highest bidder, even as the school continues with good attendance and high academic standards. Sad...and criminal.