In October BLOX NYC kick-started the Rocking The Bridge initiative which brought together business owners, community leaders, and residents for a massive overdue cleanup of the Third Ave Bridge in The Bronx. The event was followed by a block party to celebrate everyone’s efforts. Blox is at it again, this time they are getting into the holiday spirit.

Starting in December the popular Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven will be the site of the Regalos NYC Holiday Market. The first ever festive shopping experience will give shoppers the opportunity to purchase all sorts of goods from over two dozen vendors. Retail from local and global brands, foods, and drinks from local breweries and distilleries will be available for purchase. Still, about a month away more details will come out soon.

This festive celebration of the community is all about showing off how far the South Bronx has come. It is essential to recognize the people and businesses that continue to shed the negative stigma of the South Bronx. Mott Haven is the starting point of this movement.



JCAL Development Group has been a significant player in the revitalization of Mott Haven. Their 5 properties in the growing neighborhood has attracted young professionals, both from The Bronx and the other boroughs to Mott Haven and their commercial space has brought new and attractive retail and eateries as well. I took a tour of JCAL’s recently opened 20,000 square foot building at 131-135 Alexander Ave, and I was impressed. The four-story building designed by Praxis Workshop is located between 134th street and Bruckner Blvd. The block is already a Bronx hotspot thanks to the upscale Pizzeria La Grata, FAMOUS NOBODYS, an independent clothing brand, and hip sushi spot Ceetay.



As I entered the building, I noticed some artwork in the stairway. Local artist Charlie Pratt was tasked with decorating the walls so the building won’t have the typical bland, white hallways we are accustomed to. Inside one of the 2nd-floor studio apartments, I noticed the loft-like windows and 15 foot high ceilings. Each apartment has hardwood floors and LED lighting. There is also a washer and dryer in each unit. A steel flight of stairs will take you up to a mezzanine area where you can put your bed. It’s a genius way to save space. The kitchen includes stainless steel appliances, and quartz countertops and the bathrooms are tiled and cozy. Most of the apartments have a large patio space that is equivalent to what you would find in a small house, extremely generous for an apartment in New York City. The tenants that don’t have access to a private patio can use the communal terrace on the rooftop.


On the ground floor of 131-135 Alexander Ave are three retail spaces. A dynamic combination of the Bronx’s worst kept secret Beatstro, a hip-hop themed restaurant will open sometime next year, and The Lit Bar is moving into 131-A Alexander. The remaining space at 131-B Alexander is 1600 square feet and is available for rent. Offering studios to 2 bedroom apartments make it obvious these dwellings aren’t for families, and that is okay. Recent college graduates and young professionals need homes too, and apartments like these are a perfect fit for them. The number of single, non-married individuals looking to rent has increased, not everyone wants a roommate. There is no doubt Mott Haven, a transit-rich neighborhood with an up and coming nightlife scene will be in the sights of young professionals, and JCAL’s developments are ready for them.


If you want to visit, Alexander Ave takes the six train to 138th street and Third Ave. Contact JCAL Development if you wish to see the apartments and retail space. 


Josh weissman, JCAL DEVELOPMENT from Round Seven on Vimeo.


Halloween 2017 is on a Monday, but the South Bronx is hosting some bashes this weekend. Here are the top parties you should attend!

The Mott Haven Bar & Grill 

When: Thursday, October 26th 7:30 pm. Sip wine and paint while in costume, win a grand prize!

How to get there: 1 Bruckner Blvd. Take the 6 train to 138th Street Third Ave, 4 or 5 trains to 138th Street Grand Concourse.

The Bronx Brewery

When: Friday October 27th, 8:00pm-12:00am. The Bronx Brewery is hosting their first ever costume party. Treats not tricks will be served by Sol Cacao and Carlito's Trailer Tacos. Music by DJ Yoo Q.

How to get there: 856 136th Street. 6 train to Cypress Ave.

Port Morris Distillery

When: Saturday, October 28th, 10:00 pm till whenever! Port Morris Distillery has some fantastic decorations in the works, don't forget your costumes!

How to get there: 780 E. 133rd Street. 6 train to Cypress Ave.

SouthBox Gym

When: Saturday, October 28th, 4:00pm-10:00 pm The Bronx's hottest boxing gym is hosting its first Halloween party with a DJ, raffles, food, and drinks. The best costume wins a 1-year membership!

How to get there: 2407-13 Third Ave. Take the 6 train to 138th Street and Third Ave, 4 or 5 trains to 138th Street and Grand Concourse.

The Bronx Draft House

When: Saturday, October 28th, 8:00 pm till closing. The BX Draft House will give out prizes for best costume, scariest costume, and best couple costume, plus raffles and prizes!

How to get there: 884 Gerard Ave. B, or D train to River Ave, 4 trains to 161st Street Yankee Stadium.

Charlie's Bar & Kitchen

When: Saturday, October 28th 8:00 pm till late. Charlie's is throwing a Halloween bash with a costume contest, DJ, and drink specials. Music by DJ Menyu.

How to get there: 112 Lincoln Ave. Take the 6 train to 138th Street Third Ave. 4 or 5 trains to 138th Street and Grand Concourse.

Bronx Borough President's Office 3rd Annual Halloween Costume Bash

When: Monday, October 30th. 7:00pm-9:00pm. RSVP at 718-731-2009 or Costumes are preferred but not required.

How to get there: Pier 132 at 789 E. 132nd Street. 6 train to Cypress Ave.

Use #BXHalloween17


On October 7th the Third Ave Bridge finally received the attention it deserves from its surrounding community. Blox NYC and the Third Avenue Bid led a group of volunteers clad in orange t-shirts with the now recognizable Rocking The Bridge logo, in a massive clean up of the infamous and neglected bridge. That Saturday morning I joined friends and volunteers from the Mott Haven Bar & Grill, The Hub BID, The Mott Haven Historic District, Empanology, community residents, and of course members of Blox NYC. With brooms, bleach, gloves, and paint donated by the Altmark Group, we split up into teams. The groups shoveled human waste, painted the pillars under the bridge, and swept up used condoms, needles, and cigarette butts. News 12 reported on our efforts, hopefully bringing citywide attention to a chronic problem.



 This was my first time on the bridge. As I joined Samuel Brooks from the MHHD sweeping up what seemed to be an endless amount of used cigarettes and coffee cups, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of pedestrian traffic. We had to dodge bikers, joggers and step aside for people making their way to Harlem. With such a huge amount of pedestrian traffic on a Saturday morning, I could imagine how busy it is on weekdays. For the city to let the bridge fall into its current condition is simply unacceptable. Marco Shalma founder and CCO of Blox NYC and Blox TV says, “What upsets me is families having to walk through piles of feces and garbage. Rocking The Bridge was an initiative that we founded to create a situation where we can take control over that.” After using social media and phone calls to try and get the city’s attention about the bridge’s condition, it was decided that the community must go about this alone and lead by example.


The Rocking the Bridge Initiative, was sponsored by The Bruckner Building. Owner Daren Hornig says, “You only get to make a first impression once. So I think the impression of coming over the bridge which connects Manhattan to The Bronx is critical. You want it to be clean, safe, and you want it to be an environment that people feel is welcoming. The essence of Rocking The Bridge is bringing the community together.” 

The generosity of local businesses must be recognized. Filtered provided free coffee to participants, and Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen made sure cold beers were available that afternoon. This was the first of a series of community clean up events. The next cleanup date is October 21st, followed by a block party on the 22nd. What’s a better way to celebrate a job well done?





artsIt’s not often you see people taking pictures of a public school, but when you walk by the murals at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education which shares its building with Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists, then it all makes sense. I visited the 83-year-old community arts organization, located on the 6th floor, to learn more about the murals and their upcoming exhibit Arte de La Borinqueña.

Along the entrance of the school at 928 Simpson St. you’ll see three murals, each with its own story and meaning. The murals were created by Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez and his team at Somos Arte and painted by TATS CRU, a Bronx based professional muralists group. The project took about a week to complete. The first mural is of Las Tres Hermanas, a trio of sisters who became activists for the arts. The second mural is a Puerto Rican superhero named La Borinqueña which I’ll get to later, and finally on the entrance doors of the school is a mural of students making art, playing music, sports, reading, and engaging in positive extracurricular activities.

artsLa Borinqueña’s mural was based off a snapshot from writer and creator Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez’s best-selling and critically acclaimed graphic novel. He designed the mural, and three members of TATS CRU, each with their specialty did the paint job. Accompanying La Borinqueña are Puerto Rican icons Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Josê “Dr. Drum” Ortiz and Melinda Gonzalez, who are shown celebrating a graduation with students. The staff at the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education hope this mural will inspire all students who walk through these doors to accomplish their goals. Casita Maria’s Associate Director of Creative Arts Programs Gail Heidel tells me, “La Borinqueña whose powers come from her Puerto Rican heritage and culture is also a metaphor for all people to look to their history and culture for strength.”


October 4th is opening night for the Arte de La Borinqueña exhibit. 35 different professional artists have created their prints of La Borinqueña, all of which will be on display until January 6, 2018. The prints were donated by London-based gallery: Art You Grew Up With International. Limited prints will be on sale for $200 with the proceeds going to hurricane relief efforts for Puerto Rico. “We want to raise as much money as possible for Puerto Rico.” says Marketing and Media Manager for Casita Maria Luis Pagan. The exhibit opens on the eve of New York Comic Con. There are hopes that avid collectors will attend the exhibition as a pre-game for the biggest comic book convention in New York City. The opening reception is from 6-8pm. Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez will be in attendance.


Bodega pantryWhen Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan’s startup "Bodega" went viral, it angered people living in immigrant communities throughout the U.S and especially in The Bronx. Emotions aside for a second, this startup's concept was to place internet connected vending machines that would sell nonperishable food items in neighborhoods that don’t have a local bodega on every corner, especially places shoppers frequent like gyms, office buildings, and long stretch avenues, aiming to create a more convenient shopping experience



Bronx bodegaThe fear by some that these “gentrification boxes” would replace bodegas was just ridiculous. First of all, landlords love bodegas because they make money and pay rent - how often have you seen a bodega close down? Some NYC neighborhoods have bodegas that have been running for over 30 years. They might change owners, but the bodega never closes down. Secondly, look at the technology-obsessed Japan - it has the highest concentration of vending machines serving all sorts of food items, but they still have over 40,000 convenience stores. The biggest threat to bodegas or any small business are corporate giants, box stores, and mega-chains. 



Bodega logoMiguel Sanchez of MetaBronx the first startup accelerator in The Bronx explains that we can and should incorporate technology to our bodegas as evident by the online site - Bazaar, where bodegas and other small business owners can order goods and supplies. The companies receive their items as soon as the next day instead of having to go out at dawn to buy them from warehouses. The technology also informs business owners of inventory trends, and it is free to use. Unlike Bodega, Bazaar has the support of the Bodegueros Association of USA as well local politicians. I spoke with Miguel who shared his investment information with me and his feelings about Bodega.




Who Created Bazaar?

Julian Rodriguez and Yasser Toruno, both Bronx raised.

Did you invest in Bazaar?

Yes. I invested a small amount, and I advise them.

Could it use more investors?

Yes. Julian and Yasser have proven the model works and they are trying to expand to other markets.

Is Bazaar an app or website?


What are your feelings about Bodega and other internet connected vending machines?

They are typical of Silicon Valley startup creating solutions for problems that don’t exist in our communities. We have startups that solve community problems, but they have trouble raising money because they are considered a social play. I believe there is a way to do well and do good and that is what MetaBronx focuses on, startups that can solve the problems of the 99% and make money while doing it. Bazaar has proven it is needed in the community and has clients using it every day. I’m not sure how Bodega’s machines will go over in a place like The Bronx but, that’s another one of our points at MetaBronx. Places like The Bronx are so diverse and are better for startups to test ideas than places like San Francisco. It is hard to understand these communities unless you interact with them.

Can Bodega and Bazaar co-exist?

Sure, but as history, as proven in the end the best tech doesn’t always win. Most times it doesn’t win. Bazaar is a B2B business, so it’s not a direct competitor, but if Bodega forces the closure of small businesses, then it could hurt a company like Bazaar.

Where can business owners sign up?

There is no doubt that this age of rapidly growing technology is going to force small businesses to adapt. Technology such as Bazaar just might prolong the life of our beloved bodegas which were never at risk in the first place.

To learn more about MetaBronx visit


An upscale hotel is coming to the South Bronx next year. Set to open in 2018, The SoBro ParkHotel is currently under construction and will be located between Park Ave and Canal Place. The 4-star hotel will have 71 rooms, parking for visitors and guests, and an outdoor terrace. The hotel’s biggest draw will be the impressive restaurant and bar. Most hotels in the Bronx have rented their ground floor space to pharmacies, so this is definitely out of the norm and will be a nice attraction for the booming Mott Haven neighborhood.





Other hotels in the area include the recently opened Comfort Inn and Suites between Third Ave and Rider Ave, and a soon to open high-end hotel at 335 Grand Concourse, about a block away from Bronx Post Place. Building hotels in this transit-rich part of the Bronx which is served by the 2, 4, 5, and 6 trains is a brilliant move. Not only are guests 1 or 2 stops away from Manhattan, but they also have access to popular Bronx cultural institutions such as The Bronx Museum of The Arts, Yankee Stadium, and the Bronx Zoo. According to Fred Dixon CEO of NYC and company, Bronx tourism is up 14 percent. In 2015 The Bronx Tourism Council launched its first Visitor’s Guide.


The revitalization of the South Bronx has caught the eyes of tourists who will demand quality lodging in an exciting neighborhood. There are plenty of places to cut loose such as Charlie's Bar & Kitchen, Mott Haven Bar & Grill, and Habanero Mexican Cuisine just to name a few. Enhanced pedestrian spaces are currently under construction which will be decorated with street furniture, and guests at the SoBro Park Hotel will be a few blocks away from the Mott Haven Historic District which has its own tour guide! One can hope when they return home they will share their experience with family and friends and help erase the negative stigma that is attached to the South Bronx.

Hotel image credits go to Trise Development.


Last week Amazon announced their plans for a new headquarters (HQ2) that could bring up to 50,000 jobs to a North American city costing $ 5 billion. Their Seattle headquarters (HQ1) employs 40,000 people over a 33 building campus. So what is Amazon looking for? They would like to build in a metro area that can attract and retain talent, and has access to public transit.

The Bronx fits these criteria.

Home to more than 4 colleges, 6 subway lines, an expanded Metro North system, a median age of 31 years old, and plenty of space ripe for development, The Bronx should be Amazon’s first and only choice. Here are some places where they could build HQ2.


The Mott Haven waterfront is already the site of the Bronx’s biggest private development, 7 luxury apartment towers by Somerset and the Chetrit group. But there is a 96-acre piece of land along the waterfront that Empire State Development (ESD) is hoping to find a developer for. If this site is big enough, Amazon would need to build a deck over the active rail yard and build their campus on the deck. The city can help Amazon by covering the cost of the deck and building a ferry dock, even though the 6 train is a few blocks away. Can you imagine an Amazon headquarters in The Bronx’s hottest neighborhood?


If transportation is a selling point for Amazon then why not build in Melrose? Sure this site is occupied by a homeless shelter, warehouses, and a motel, but I bet a deal can be made. The Melrose Metro North station is about to get increased service and there are hundreds of new apartments planned for the neighborhood. This would be a transit oriented development with enough housing options for their employees, who would be a 10-minute walk away from Yankee Stadium.




The Borough President has proposed a deck over the rail yards next to Lehman College for housing. But HQ2 next to Lehman is more exciting. Certainly, the college and community would benefit, internships and jobs galore. But, it could cost over $ 5 billion if the city doesn’t cover the cost for the deck. The 4, B, and D trains and a number of buses are the best transit options. For what it’s worth Fordham University is about 15 minutes away, thus widening Amazon’s opportunities for recruiting young talent.






Read more here



parisWith the assistance of Bronx Tour Guide Alexandra Maruri, International photographer Matteo Pellegrinuzzi visited The Bronx this week and held a three-day exhibit at The Bronx Draft House. The Bronx/La Villette is a series of photos comparing two places with historical significance, The Bronx New York, and his neighborhood La Villette, Paris. In attendance were some notable personalities such as film director Sara Grimaldi, actor Holt McCallany, and photographer Robert Whitman.

With internationally acclaimed photographers holding exhibits in The Bronx, the expansion of The Bronx Museum, street artists getting national attention, and the increase in tourism, it is evident that The Bronx is shedding the negative stigma and our best days are ahead. Alexandra tells me, "From negative media attention and a lack of information there is a misconception about The Bronx. It is viewed as this dangerous place. This exhibit aimed to highlight the diversity of The Bronx and show everyday people from a local's perspective." Alexandra introduced me to Matteo who was kind enough to speak with me about his experience in The Bronx and more.



parisHow did The Bronx/La Villette exhibit come about? I met Alexandra Maruri 2 years ago. She appreciated my work, and she told me about her tourism business. She asked if she could show me around The Bronx to meet the locals and take portraits of them. I shot them with a film camera and developed them four months later. When I showed the results to the director of The Public Library of Paris, he proposed I expose the portraits during the “Paris-New York” month and suggested I make a comparison with La Villette, the neighborhood where I live.

You visited The Bronx before, but what are your impressions of what you’ve seen and who you have met thus far? I’ve been here once before when I met Alex, when I was on my own I just walked around and visited the borough.


What are the similarities between The Bronx and La Villette?  La Villette is part of the 19th district. 20 years ago the neighborhood was the center of a crack epidemic, and because of this, there was a continuing conflict with urban gangs. Houses weren’t easily rented or sold because of these problems. Just like the South Bronx, the neighborhood was seen to strangers as a “No Go Zone.” FOX News depicted the neighborhood this way after the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Several years before the terrorists lived in the neighborhood. In reality, it is very fashionable, more and more Parisians go out at night, and new bars most of them organic, keep opening. The local City Hall has made a policy of aperture to improve the image of La Villette ultimately. The idea is to improve the quality of life for Parisians and attract more tourists. Many events are held there including the Parisian Summer beach which attracts Parisians from throughout the city.


parisHow can a city draw recognition for its art culture? Would you encourage local artists to try and attract people from outside their important city to come and visit?  I think a city can be recognized from its architecture which is an art form. The South Bronx is a street artist neighborhood. I met Sin Xero and Sexer for instance. Their artwork has definitely changed the decoration of the district. In Paris, such artists as Dacruz, Marko 93, and Art of Popof spread their art on several walls in La Villette, and on the wall of the old rail road on Rue de L’Ourcq which is starting to become a destination for Parisians and tourists. Art buildings such as the 104 and activities organized by the public libraries attract people from the outside and help the development of the district.



parisWhen you return home, and someone asks “What is The Bronx like?” What would you tell them? In Europe people used to say “I’m going to The Bronx” when they were going to a messy or dangerous zone. When I talk to people about my travels in NYC, it's hard to change their mind and prejudice. But I describe The Bronx as an attractive part of the city that deserves a visit and which is not as dangerous as they think.

What is your next exhibit? I will make an interactive exhibit at the public library of the 19th district in November through December. It will be a wet plate collodion series; I will realize the portraits with the support of the inhabitants who will learn this technique of photography, created in 1850.



About Matteo Pellegrinuzzi: Mr. Pellegrinuzzi studied History of Cinema at the University of Pavia in Italy. He has made contributions as a cameraman and cinematographer since 2005. His work has been published in numerous international newspapers and magazines. Follow him on Instagram @pelligrinuzzi

About Alexandra Maruri: Ms. Maruri has been a Bronx tour guide and small business owner since 2011. Growing up and living near historic landmarks such as Yankee Stadium, Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, and Woodlawn Cemetery shaped her interest in Bronx history. She hopes her tours help improve the borough's image. You can follow Ms. Maruri on Instagram @bronxtours



Sammy Sosa represented being Afro-Latino and the challenges we face growing up in a world that deems your complexion to be less than beautiful. A world, let's not ignore, where even family members judge you for your complexion, the way you wear your hair, who you date.

SammyWhen Dominicans and the Internet think of Sammy Sosa it’s an automatic comedy show. If it’s not that he looks like Pepto Bismol it’s that he looks like Neapolitan Ice Cream. It’s what the Internet does; it takes a person and automatically makes them a meme. It’s funny. I laugh. It’s a joke…but it also isn’t.

The Internet gets a hard-on for breaking you down but it doesn’t get a hard-on for building you back up. The easy thing to do is laugh at the memes, but that does nothing to advance the conversation. This piece helps shed some light on some of the root causes of colorism and race in communities of color.

Read more @thelivesofmen