Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Parkchester Mom and Pops


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.

Join #SaveNYC and tell the city: Enough is enough.

(The addresses are 1609 and 1623 Unionport Road, 1897 Gerlain Street, 1578-1592 White Plains Road and 1880 East Tremont Avenue.)


Anonymous said...

These buildings should go, they have had it. It's called progress. Lucky anyone wanted to buy the property.

Gojira said...

Anon. 8:41, there's a special place in Hell reserved for heartless bastards like you. When "progress" is predicated on throwing good, hard-working people who stuck with a neighborhood through both the good and the bad - and in that area, bad was BAD - out on their keisters when things start looking up, people who supported their families with the jobs these simple, humble but totally functional buildings provided, when humanity, loyalty and decency fly out the window in favor of profit, then the world has become a very bleak place. "Lucky anyone wanted to buy the property" - lucky for whom? For the folks who've had places to go and jobs to do for decades, who have been given one month to radically change their existences? For the people who have relied upon the services they provided? Or for the greedy heirs, who saw nothing but dollar signs and took this buyout? Shame on you, you heartless shill. If I were your mother I would spit in your face and disown you.

Anonymous said...

Fuck you they should go! 38 businesses pushed out means dozens of people out of work, including some older people like the woman who runs the bakery, you heartless asshole. You talk as if they are just buildings to raze when they're not, they're places people make honest livings. Where are these people gonna go? What are they gonna do? Progress my ass wiping out over three dozen local businesses including useful, needed, and interesting ones for the neighbrhood which it will less of with yet another ugly glass box luxury apartment building with possibly no retail on the ground floor save a bank and maybe a chain store if the mostly transient and absent tenants are "lucky". I got news for you buddy boy: that property is prime real estate 38 businesses on it or not, it's called land and air rights, that I won't deny and I could see why it's being razed. Like Parkchester is some forlorn place no one wants to buy land in LOL. Get a clue. And get a heart.

Ted S said...

30 days is ludicrous notice. You can't pull demo permits from city hall in 30 days. So either no demo will begin next month and the bldg will sit idle and generate zero income until demo can begin or the developer had this plan for well over a year and said nothing to the people who have been paying for this bldg to exist for the last 30 years. Either way the developer is using neither good business sense not common sense. Money is important. So is the coin of good will. They don't seem to be skilled with either currency. Small chance I would buy or rent from that firm.

DrBOP said...

@Anon 8:41

SERIOUSLY? You think ANY available NYC real estate is "lucky" to sell? WHAT planet are you from?
(Oh.....and PLEASE go back there.......IMMEDIATELY!)

30-days notice is a CRIMINAL act.....sue the SHIT out of them. BUNCHAFUCKINCRAP!!!

Mitch said...

But why is Mr. Velger holding the record like that? Shouldn't he keep his fingers off the grooves?

79rigid said...

Developers would never set foot in areas like this.Until it comes town to make money destroying it.

Jim Clark said...

Thanx to Mitt Romney for the anonymous input.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is: why Parkchester? The Bronx, in general, is not going upscale. Certain parts of the Bronx, yes. Has there been some amazing revitalization of PARKCHESTER that hasn't been made public? And, as has been pointed out already, 30 f*cking days notice??? Wait - you mean to tell me there are a whole bunch of wealthy Asians and Europeans that just can't wait to buy a condo - in that section of the Bronx? This is a poorly thought out business strategy. (To put it mildly.)

Brian said...

This block sits across the street from the proposed Metro-North station that will provide service to Penn Station once the East Side Access project (LIRR service to Grand Central) is completed. This block contains a very ethnically diverse collection of businesses that provide a host of services to the community and their absence will be very much missed as there really aren't a lot of businesses in the area to begin with as convenient as these (I live next to this block). One great loss will be the demolition of what was once the Palace Theater (a link with photo is here: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/17615). The marquee and interior and details remain to this day minus the theater seats which were removed when the building was converted to a furniture store. The theater still showed movies into the early 1990's and the marquee had the old beautifully-colored neon sign and the building dates to the Art Moderne period as does Parkchester North and South Condominiums. Parkchester looks very much like Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper village as they were all built by Metropolitan Life and are pre-war gems. I am very saddened to think of how the lives of these shopowners will be affected by this development. Some of these people like the shoe repair guy have been there for decades and after a point there's just no starting over.

Anonymous said...

Brian @2:29 PM:

Thank you for this. My comment is the one above yours and I was genuinely confused; your post answers that. It looks as though the developer thinks this will be some kind of major hub for METRO-NORTH and by clearing out these local businesses, he can take advantage of bringing in chains to provide services to commuters. Big gamble and unnecessary. The local businesses could provide those services as well and still preserve the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

'Delia Velovic "We can't compete."' That right there says it all. You can no longer compete, you are unsuccessful, in 37 years of business you never bought the land under your store. Either go be a real bakery somewhere else, if you food is good they will embrace you, or you enjoy retirement.

Where are these people to go - they should have had a contingency plan, like buying property to OWN their business.

chris flash said...

The CITY could stop this sort of thing through zoning restrictions if the Planning Commission would give a SHIT. But they DON'T.

Anonymous said...

Are record stores and shoe repair viable businesses in 2015? And if you are angry blame the heir who sold the property. Period. This is pretty simple. Why should the city get involved? Can the heirs not sell because you dont like it? Who are you? Please just STFU already. Want security? Own your building. That bakery opened in the 70s. They were practically giving property away in the Bronx in the 70s. Its never a bad business or the business owners fault. Its always someone elses fault. Who do you blame here? Bush? Nixon? Cheney? Reagan? LOL. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

People who always blame the landlord forget that the City is part landlord. Whether you own or rent, you are responsible for your share of property taxes. Apple store moves next door- taxes go up. Renovations made to part of the building you don't occupy- too bad, taxes go up.

Anonymous said...

that we don't have a city agency dedicated to protecting / helping / stabilizing tenants like this who are vital to the fabric and soul of nyc is a blasphemous outrage. who of us is strong enough to hold their ground against the speculative tidal wave of black death that is descending like a filthy rich tsunami over nyc??? the situation is completely out of control, there is literally NOTHING standing in the way of this awful relentless destruction. first of all these poor people should get HUGE buyouts, the profit this A-hole is going to make is staggering. ruthless b@stard to give these people 30 days and a kick in the a$$ - karma will get him and all others like him who have the nerve to do sh*t like this.

Anonymous said...

Its comical how neighborhoods complain about crime, decrepit buildings, parks with missing basketball rims, rusty swings ect ect but whenever an attempt is made at improving conditions in and around that particular neighborhood, the same people complain about the gentrification that may occur as a result.

My parents were small business owners in the South Bronx, having established their business back in 1995 in a crime infested neighborhood. They to had to deal with the threats of rising rent, potential sale of property to a developer, ect ect Rather than spend the past couple of years complaining about the rise in rent...they choose to take advantage of it in otherways to offset the impact it was having on their business. They chose to insist on longer termed leases to help absorb the shock of rapidly rising rent while at the same time taking advantage of the rise in property value themselves by becoming "owners" in their own rights. Granted i'm referring to the purchase of a handful of residential properties (Not some mega complex), they were able to comfortably come to the conclusion that their time in the south bronx was over last year once the lease they had signed 10 years previously had expired.

I dont get it, Does everyone here complaining about the sale think those properties would magically restore themselves? or someone would pump money into the restoration of the buildings knowing their source of commericial income is coming from a 37 year old Bakery, a Shoe repair store and a Music//Record store? Are you kidding me? Not 100% sure, but considering the business they were involved in, I want to think they were only able to remain in that building because they were paying rent significantly below market rates

Unknown said...

Plenty of vacant store fronts on Unionport Rd people can open up shop in if they really want continue with their businesses. The only people to blame about having 30 day notices are the tenants that payed month to month with zero security. In all the years they spent there could could have done something to secure their businesses but they chose not to invest in a future. If I don't save for a retirement it's my own fault I have to work till I'm dead. People want to bitch and whine because we live in a victim centric culture where everything is unfair and everyone deserves some big pay out. Jobs will be lost because of this but I'm willing to bet more will be created because of this.

Bronxgirl92 said...

This is definitely an unfortunate situation for the owners of these stores; however, as a resident of Parkchester for about 15 years I can say that this area needs revamping ASAP. I loved that bakery used to get my canolies from there and i hate to see some stores go but in all honesty that area looks too trashy. It's about to be 2016, come on it's time for a change and whatever they are going to build better be good.

Maxximus said...

It's sad to see these places leave. However, this entire block has looked run down for year and it's time to give it a fresh look. It looks like a ghost town. I didn't even know the bakery, which I used to love going to as a young child, is still open. It looks so dilapidated. Who's going to want to shop around there let alone purchase property with this current eye sore. I don't agree with pushing the business' out, but am all for giving their stores a fresh look.