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.

Scoop 101: The Real Story of The Birth of HIP-HOP

It's no secret HIP-HOP, the favorable music genre started in the "BOOGIE DOWN"  Bronx in 1973. What is the actual story of the birth of Hip-Hop besides listening to hit from a few iconic 90s rappers: Biggie, Nas, MOBB DEEP and L.L.Cool. J. Last month, author Joseph C. Ewoodzie, Jr. wrote the book BREAK BEATS IN THE BRONX: REDISCOVERING HIP-HOP'S EARLY YEARS to explain the dynamics and structure of how Hip-Hop was created both as music and lifestyle.

Pop Matters.com took an excerpt from the book: 

The occasion for this wizardry was the 44th anniversary of what is now widely acknowledged as hip-hop's birth: a party in the housing project at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, where a young Jamaican expat named Clive Campbell brought a slice of his homeland's culture to his sister's birthday party. His sound system consisted of booming speakers, two turntables, and lots of funky records. That enabled him to go back and forth between records as they did on the radio and at dance clubs. But, instead of playing the records in full (as he typically had done deejaying parties around the neighborhood), he isolated the funkiest part of select funk jams -- the section where the beat came through at its most pristine -- and turned the party out.


The altered Story: A scenario of multiple people gathered in an abandoned building and hosted a party off of people's electric system. That's not true. Stories can be tweaked all the time, and it could be believable, but this book will reveal not only the "real" history of Hip-Hop but also the lifestyle, transition and the pioneers that contributed to Hip-Hop history.


Get a copy today on Amazon.com, Click the link below:




People Dancing Under The Bridge


We deserve better became more than an Instagram hashtag after Rocking The Bridge. The phrase quickly became a powerful message declared by South Bronx residents standing up to stake a claim in the equity of their communitydriven by Rocking The Bridge organized by Blox NYC and the Third Avenue BID in the Mott Haven/Port Morris section of the South Bronx.

The two bridge cleanups took place under (and on) the Third Avenue Bridge, both occurring in October. The first on Saturday, October 7th and the second on Saturday, October 21st. The bridge overpass was swept and cleaned of garbage and drug paraphernalia, carefully disposed of using the proper protocol. Under the bridge on the Bronx side, volunteers spent the day picking up trash as well as painting and power washing the underpass.

The Third Avenue Bridge is used daily, in high volumes, by New Yorkers of all ages, often by children making their way to and from school in neighboring Harlem. Local commuters favorably received all the improvements.

On Sunday, October 22nd to celebrate the clean bridge initiative, the community came together for the Rocking The Bridge block party. A celebration organized by Blox NYC, The Third Avenue BID, Edible Bronx Magazine and Dancing In The Streets. The event was both a local food festival and community outreach opportunity. Offering programs to combat drug abuse, homelessness, and programming that promoted safe sex and Narcan, an over-the-counter drug that can temporarily block opioids from entering the bloodstream used by civilian bystanders in the case of an overdose. St Ann's Harm Reduction program provided information on Narcan, as well as their needle exchange program, which launched in 1990, to effectively reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among South Bronx intervenous drug users.

Local restaurants extended their dining room reach to under the Third Avenue Bridge, creating pop-up restaurants in 6x6 lots, selling their respective specialty food items, each for $5 or less. Participating restaurants included neighborhood favorites Mott Haven Bar & Grill, Ceetay, Habanero, Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen and City Tamale from nearby Hunts Point. With flavors ranging from New American, innovative Mexican, International Gastropub and Asian Fusion,  each offering showcased the diversity and quality of the burgeoning South Bronx restaurant scene.

Local food entrepreneurs included Sol Cacao, Born Juice, Red Hibiscus Bakery, and Check Mate Sweets—each selling locally handcrafted food items. Chef-entrepreneur Jason Alicea, the founder of Empanaology, wowed the crowd with a unique spin on a Latin-American classic, empanadas, serving six out of the box flavors including Truffle Mac and Cheese, Cubano and Red Velvet Tres Leches. 

Event goers enjoyed a DJ spinning Hip Hop and R&B classics as well as top 40 hits, live music and dance performances organized by Dancing in The Street. Various fitness activities and exercise equipment were available under the bridge promoting overall health and wellness. A food canning demonstration provided by The South Bronx Farmers Market, Mott Haven's local farmers market, prompting a discussion on healthy farm-to-table eating all year long.

With an impressive turn out from both sides of the Third Avenue Bridge, the community came together—dancing, eating and drinking for the cause.

For Rocking The Bridge, this is only the beginning of a movement, much larger than one bridge. According to Blox NYC founder and event organizer Marco Shalma, this "is the first cleanup of five bridges in the South Bronx," each connects the Bronx to Manhattan, Shalma notes “all of them are in bad condition and need love and care.” Every bridge is used by residents regularly but is rarely cared for by New York City's Department of Transporation (DOT) responsible for all road and bridge maintenance.

Third Avenue BID director and event co-organizer Michael Brady is hopeful that the cleanup and the Rocking The Bridge event will effectively “bring the conversation of equity to the South Bronx.”

With a powerful message and proactive community behind the Rocking The Bride movement, it is undoubtedly the beginning of positive change and dialogue for South Bronx residents.


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 mjemrick@nycdiaz.com Costumes are preferred but not required.

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

Use #BXHalloween17


Though I’m a native of the South Bronx, I have never felt as though I fit into the Bronx, leading to a love-hate relationship. There are days where I love the Bronx; the culture, style, history, and easy commute into the city and then, as quick a light switch; I hate the Bronx. It’s dirty streets, regular trash on the sidewalks, strange smells which come out of nowhere but the Bronx is changing. New buildings, restaurants, art galleries are opening. According to the latest NYU Furman Center report, a center which researches city’s housing and urban policy listed Mott Haven, the neighborhood I live in among the city’s top gentrifying neighborhoods. With rents going up 28% since the 1990’s. The Bronx is finally transforming, but I know that the changes aren’t meant for me.

I grew up living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, the world’s most famous sports arena. My mom is a teacher, and my dad is a photojournalist, both of whom are old school community activists, who started a nonprofit: Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary, which focus on educating city’s youth on environmental sustainability. I was never a child of the Bronx, with the high crime rates, unemployment, and low education attainment but that doesn’t mean I didn't know it. I was classmates and friends with kids who were, that if my life circumstances were different, I could have been them. But the kids, who were like “me,” we all knew each other. We didn’t fit into the stereotypes on both ends, always trapped.

After I completed my undergraduate degree, I moved from my parents’ neighborhood to Mott Haven neighborhoods or “Piano District.” The name has never bothered me; any causal Historian would tell you New York City's neighborhood have always been rebranded. The Upper West Side was once Bloomingdale, Wingate in Central Brooklyn used to be Pingate and Yellowhook is now Bayridge. Everything changes cause everything for sale. I think about this every morning as I walk on my street, littered with newly refurbish historic brownstones and construction of nearby condominiums. Condominiums, which down payments are several times the net income of residents in the government housing nearby.

As reported by 2012, census record, about 27 percent of the population in the Bronx live below the poverty line versus 20 percent in Brooklyn. When gentrification hits here, most of us won’t be able to afford it, and those of us who survive the first wave of gentrification will eventually be pushed out by the second and third waves. That’s the pattern of it, some survive, but mostly everyone is priced out. That’s what happened to my friends who lived in Harlem, Kipps Bay, Washington Heights, Inwood, Bed-Stuy, Williamsburg, and Bushwick. It’s like being a dinosaur seeing the asteroid racing across the sky.

Now, all of us children from the Bronx both the “good” and “bad” kids see it coming and understand it. You become suspicious of the smallest changes to, “our block,” a street being fixed, a new coffee shop, new restaurants, etc. There’s becomes no more separation amongst us, but then there’s a sense of pride that finally our moment has arrived to be acknowledged and treated like human beings. We just question if it really for us. Love and hate indeed.


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.


Food is the centerpiece of all celebrations and often the most memorable part of any occasion. On October 22nd, the South Bronx community is gathering under the newly cleaned Third Avenue Bridge for a rocking good time—full of good eats.

It wouldn’t be a neighborhood block party without the neighbors and lucky for us, our neighbors happen to be culinary masterminds bringing all the good stuff to the party. Mott Haven on The Go, owned by Rosa Garcia whose flagship restaurant is only a stone’s throw away from the event is pulling up under the bridge to serve up comfort food with a healthy twist. Also, providing the ‘nabe with some seriously good noms are nearby restaurants La Grata, Charlie's Bar & Kitchen and Ceetay. Slinging out their Sunday finest, serving authentic Italian, classic America and Pan-Asian respectively. The diversity of participating vendors is a nod to the diversity and adventurous palates of the Bronx.

(R to L) Pizza from La Grata, Charlie's Chicken Wings, Spring Rolls from Ceetay


Mott Haven’s newest restaurant Habanero is pulling out all the stops with four flavors of freshly made tacos, Tostadas, and Ceviche. The highly anticipated cold-press juice bar Born will be supplying us with our daily dose of vitamins by way of inventive fruit and veggie juice blend concoctions—activated charcoal never tasted so good—alchemy at its finest.


Tostadas from Habanero
Tostadas from Habanero


Unique Latin flare won’t be in shortage at the event, Jason Alicea creator and owner of Empanology will be selling a seasonal lineup of empanadas, spoiler: these are not your Grandma’s empanadas—were looking at flavors like The Cubano, Chocolate Chip Cookie, and Truffle Mac N Cheese. City Tamale keeps their menu for the event more traditional, with signature classic tamales aka Mexican food for the soul.

Truffle Mac Empanadas

But the deliciousness doesn’t stop there, South Bronx Farmers Market will be Rocking the Bridge with a sweet vendor, Red Hibiscus Bakery selling Pumpkin Soup, perfect for a late October day and mini fruit pies.

With over ten confirmed food vendors serving everything from sweet to savory, Rocking The Bridge block party will definitely be rocking your palate.


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.


In the Bronx, 30% of children live under the poverty line and our community is plagued by obesity, diabetes and undernourishment. In 2015, we were named the unhealthiest of 62 districts in NYC for the 6th year in a row, prompting Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to establish the #Not62 hashtag and create a partnership with Montefiore and the Department of Health to combat the health disparities.

Lily Kesselman, a Mott Haven resident, mother and wedding photographer, was also tired of the lack of healthy options available near her home. After taking an Urban Farming class with Just Food's Farm School NYC, she and a few neighbors decided they would help play a role in the battle against the Bronx's health crises by offering the one thing the Bronx has been missing: options.

In 2014, The South Bronx Farmers Market was created, offering affordable, local produce to residents once a week. For the first time, farmers and community gardens from around the city were able to connect directly to the consumers of the South Bronx face-to-face.

Farmers market

Since it's opening, the market has grown as part of the community and has been able to expand; it's now open two days a week and offers tutorials and educational programming to local children and families.

The South Bronx Farmers Market is located on 138th Street, between Willis and Alexander Avenues on Wednesdays & Saturdays from 10am-4pm. The season ends on November 22nd.

Visit the website: http://www.southbronxfarmersmarket.com/


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



The Bronx isn't known for its flowers, but it should be. From the Botanical Garden to Pelham Bay Park to Crotona Park to Co-Op City, we got varieties of flora to fawn over. Verde Flowers is a staple in the flower industry and another Bronx gem that gets more than slept on. Located, at the foot of the Third Avenue Bridge on Bruckner Boulevard, the storefront has been servicing local communities and others around New York State for over ten years. flowers

Thousands of cars pass by the shop every day as they cross the bridge to enter Harlem or take the FDR to settle in Manhattan or Brooklyn but few experience it from the inside. The shop works as a part-prep station for employees and also as a boutique with flower styles offered, as well as a variety of handmade decor that combines the urban aesthetic with floral design.



Mike Gonzalez, is co-owner and creative director of the Mott Haven flower shop. He's a Bronx native with over 20 years of experience in floral design and event decor. The Blox crew sat down with Mike to hear stories about the origin of Verde Flowers, how the neighborhood has changed since the shop's opening and what he hopes for the future.

Follow Verde Flowers on Instagram and Facebook.


Outiside 2537 Third AVEEarlier this month on a routine visit to Mott Haven I walked by 2537 Third Ave. Some men were cleaning out the lifeless 5 story building loading broken pieces of wood, twisted steel, and cracked cinder blocks into a dumpster. I asked one of the workers if he knew what the plans for the building were and he said he didn’t. Little did I know a few weeks later I would be inside this building visiting every floor and writing about my experience.

On my most recent trip to Mott Haven, I had a meeting with PJ Sarraf of the Sarraf Group. I was introduced to Mr. Sarraf through Marco Shalma, CEO of The BLOX. Mr. Sarraf is overseeing the revitalization of 2537 Third Ave which recently housed squatters and a night club. He and his team have big plans for the building that could be considered arguably the gateway to Mott Haven. 75 feet of retail frontage along 2535-2541 Third Ave has convinced the DOT to make sidewalk enhancements to accommodate the anticipated foot traffic. Mr.Sarraf plans to decorate the new pedestrian space with street furniture such as tables and chairs. Currently, there are negotiations with a Latin fusion restaurant for the ground floor space and Mr. Sarraf hopes to attract a jazz or comedy club for the 2nd floor which has a cabaret license. The 3rd and 4th floors will be constructed for office space and art stations and will have its own entrance at 260 E.138th. Mott Haven Realty will have their offices on the 5th floor. But Mr. Sarraf isn’t stopping there. Next door at 2535 Third Ave plans includes office space on the top floors, a music studio in the basement, and a cafe for one of its storefronts. “The cafe will have a healthy menu with organic juices. We had higher offers from bodega and deli owners but we wanted something that would enhance the neighborhood.”  An African restaurant is already renting out one of two storefronts and Mr. Sarraf has no intentions of moving them out. “They have a good following,” he said.

inside elevator As my tour begins for 2537 Third Ave Mr. Sarraf starts off by telling me about the building’s elevator. “This is the 166th elevator built in The Bronx. We’re rehabbing it and keeping its original look but we had to update the mechanical work.” Purists would appreciate his preserving of one of the oldest elevators in The Bronx. I didn’t get to take a ride even though it is functional, instead, we took the stairs to the 2nd floor. “This is a good space for a jazz or comedy club,” he said. Currently, The Bronx doesn’t have either one. Other bars and lounges have to set aside certain nights for comedy or jazz. Having a business solely dedicated to one or the other would be a great addition to the neighborhood.



third floor Making our way up creaky stairs to the 3rd  floor Mr. Sarraf explained the rehab process while workers hammered away on nails carried wide pieces of wood, and lugged around tools. “You can see this building from the Bruckner. It’s a very important building.” Mr. Sarraf tells me as he points out a 3rd-floor window. I asked Mr. Sarraf what type of office space he has planned, “We want an open feel for the office space, and we’re going to provide space for artists. Affordable housing is great, but we also need offices to employ people.” It was at this point where we started to talk about the community and how it could benefit from such a project. He hopes the children in the neighborhood can come and work on art projects or gain some tech skills. “We’re giving back to the neighborhood. We’re not just trying to make money. We want to sit down with everybody and see what does the neighborhood want? That’s what a developer should do.”



buildingHe’s right. When a developer takes the community into consideration and looks to develop projects with a purpose a measure of trust is built. And when a community develops a trustworthy relationship with a developer neighborhoods improve and everyone wins


Zaro's Family Bakery. Photo: Zaro's

The Bronx was smiling yesterday morning as news broke out about the world-famous Bakery's return to The Bronx. Their new location will open at 1309 Metropolitan Oval, one store front down from their previous location which is now a Boston Market.

But the news doesn't stop with Zaro's Family Bakery's October surprise for the Bronx. They also announced an expansion of their Port Morris headquarters which will include a retail section. Beginning in the fall of 2018 customers will be able to buy pastries directly from the headquarters in a separate section dedicated to the public. Plans haven't been finalized, so whether or not it will be a full-service bakery remains to be seen. The entrance to their retail section will be along Bruckner Boulevard and open during normal business hours.

The headquarters is a popular site in the neighborhood. You can catch tourists taking pictures in front of the 1 story building's multi colored pattern. In 2014 the Zaros recruited Brooklyn artist R. Nick Kuszyk to decorate the building. It took less than a week and 200 cans of spray paint to complete the mural. Adding a retail section will only enhance its popularity and continue to solidify Port Morris as a major destination in the South Bronx. It is already home to popular local businesses Milk Burger, The Bronx Brewery Port Morris Distillery, the Gun Hill Tavern, and the Bronx Baking Company. In July The Bronx Pulse reported a new office building is currently under construction on 141st street. 


zaro's"We're excited to return to The Bronx to serve the community we love, " said Micheal Zaro. The Bronx is thrilled to have you back. Zaro's Family Bakery is located at 138 Bruckner Blvd. You can follow them at twitter @ZarosBakery and on Instagram @zarosfamilybakery



The Bronx Brewery is a good neighbor. The kind you can ask for an egg or a cup of milk when you’ve been working late nights and didn’t hit the local bodega. Yes, Bodega. 

Their beer is enjoyed all across The Bronx, NYC, the US, and the world. But to us, Bronxites, there's an obvious advantage. We get to drink their crafty selections while mixing, mingling, and partying within the Brewery’s premises. Whether in the low key, local-bar-feel Taproom, the famous backyard where they host their summer music series, or the indoor beer-tastic space.

For us it's a no brainer; we live/work on the ‘Strip,’ i.e. the lower part of the Bruckner, so we get to walk to the Brewery often. And following the success of the #SummerDoneRight event series, we've realized that people will commute when there's value, when they feel genuinely welcomed, and when the hosts make an effort.

BXB makes an effort! As evidence of creativity, innovation, and diversity of their event line up. Oh, and did I mention... THEY HAVE BEER?!

Percocet fun teaser #5 from Round Seven on Vimeo.

So what can you look forward in the next few weeks? Well first and foremost - Great Beer is served in The Taproom, open seven days a week from 3 pm to at least 7 pm.



Bembe In The Bronx 8/31 Every last-Thursday of the Month. This is a night of salsa beats, dance, and beer in The Bronx. Featuring a live performance from DJ Andy, El Mas Bailable, and some yummy empanadas. Can we say Yumpanadas??  $10 will cover your entry fee and a beer.




90’s R&B Night 9/14 Every 2nd Thursday of Every Month, as DJ's JULESDJ and GOODREVERENDDR spin your favorite R&B jams from 6pm-10pm. Food provided by Abeetz Wood Fired Pizza!




Brew You Yoga - 9/23  Yoga and Beer are kindred spirits; both ancient traditions steeped in ritual, balance, and community. Brew You Yoga brings the brewing process to the yoga practice by transforming the body through its brewing process - One-hour Vinyasa Flow class followed by tasting flight of 4 Bronx Brews!




beerBronxtoberfest - 9/30 If you don’t know what this is - you should be drinking beer, or leave home throughout October. The Brewery will have an exclusive release to their OKTOBERFEST Lager.  





beerANNOUNCED - BEER & DINNER - 10/6  A collaboration with our friends from Edible Bronx - #Staytuned for more deets.






So, mark your calendars, make sure you brush-up on your beer lingo HERE and tell them BLOX NYC sent you. Matter of fact, we’ll see you there.