In the Parkchester section of the Bronx, an entire block of mom and pops -- run by dozens of small business people -- are about to vanish, thanks to one $15 million development deal. The Real Deal reported last month: "The buyers are planning to demolish all structures and will likely construct one large building on the site."
Google street view
Local resident Nicholas Farfan alerted me to the story and kindly supplied photos, quotes, and reports from just a few of the many business people who are being pushed out with little notice.
all photos by Nicholas Farfan
Delia Velovic has owned Leonard's Bake Shop for over 37 years.
"I'm not ready to move," she told Farfan. "I don't want to go somewhere else. This is where we started. We're an old-fashioned bakery. We can't compete."
She explained how her former landlord, Mr. Eisenberg, allowed the bakery to operate out of the back of the building after a car crashed into the storefront. He didn't even charge them rent during the repairs. But Mr. Eisenberg has since died and his heir decided to sell.
Glenn Velger owns Harmony Records, a shop that's been in business here since 1956.
Farfan asked him if he'll try selling records online once his brick-and-mortar business is demolished. Velger responded that he prefers to work and interact with his customers directly.
Velger's shelves are jam packed with vinyl treasures. "It's all about the search," he said.
Here's Alonzo Monroy, who runs the Shoe Repair shop. (On the sign outside, the name PETE'S remains as a ghost, but Pete is long gone.) The eviction letter he got last month came as a complete surprise.
And there's Stephen Asare and Joseph Assimor, employees of the Lady Afrique International Market, specializing in African and Caribbean products. A number of the businesses here cater to the African and Caribbean communities.
There are many more small businesses in this block-sized cluster of low-rise buildings -- pizza places, 99-cent joints, hair salons, a thrift shop, a gas station. The buildings may not be pretty to look at, but they provide space for people to make a living and have a home in this city, offering necessary things for everyday New Yorkers.
News 12 in the Bronx reported on this story last week. ZP Realty, who took over in April according to News 12, handed letters to all the business people last month, giving them only 30 days to vacate. That means 38 mom and pops must get out by June 30. Watch the heartbreaking video here.
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(The addresses are 1609 and 1623 Unionport Road, 1897 Gerlain Street, 1578-1592 White Plains Road and 1880 East Tremont Avenue.)