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Vox Pop: Jerome Ave. Businesses Mull Uncertain Future

Rebeca Ibarra & Alex Ellefson Apr 10, 2015

New York City is considering rezoning a 73-square-block area around Jerome Avenue in the Bronx in order to allow the development of more high-density residential buildings. The neighborhood, which is mostly immigrant and working class, is also lined with auto repair shops and other small businesses that employ more than 4,000 people, according to the Department of City Planning. 

The Indypendent asked some of the local business owners and residents what they thought about the city's rezoning plan.

José Suazu, 56 / Manager of Bienvenidos Parking Lot at 1995 Jerome Avenue.

I don’t agree [with the rezoning] in the least. I hear they want to knock all this down, all around here. The first thing is I’ll be left without a job. One can at least make a living here. You get a tip here and there. We’re set, you know? We work here.

Amílcar Cañas, 68 / Owner of Cañas Barber Shop at 1318 Jerome Avenue, which he has rented for 20 years.

I see this bringing in the future. If they build new buildings, I will always be here. If it’s not in this space I’ll get a new shop, but I will stay in the area. And I will do better because there will be more people, a bigger audience. That always makes business grow.

Ramona Uribe, 54 / Owner of YC&L Multi-Service at 1277 jerome avenue, a family-run company of more than 30 years that does auto repairs and provides money orders.

If they bring more people in, it will be good for me only if they leave my business alone. Because if they want to build then they will want to rent this space out to other kinds of people who will pay more, who will pay things beyond our reach.

My family depends on this business, and it would be affected in every sense of the word. It’s impossible for it to ever be the same again because when you remove a business you lose the clients, and you don’t know if they will follow you to a new place. I am 54 years old. Starting from zero is not easy.

Armando Juarez, 35 / Owner of NY Tire Express at 1240 Jerome Avenue.

I know there’s a lot of people from different investment companies and banks going around and offering to buy properties from their owners. This property has been in my family for generations and I’m not giving it up. It’s going to be hard to get all these tire shops, auto glass and muffler shops out of here.

There are a lot of groups that come around here trying to inform the community about what’s going on. The way one guy explained it to me was: They’re trying to do to this area what they did over there in Willets Point, Queens, by Citi Field, when they started pushing all of those mechanics out of their businesses.

Phillip Blanis, 29 / Owner of 1 Mt. Eden Florist, est. 1899 / 2 East Mt. Eden Avenue.

They’re going to make Jerome Avenue less industrial and more residential, which will be good for both the shopping end and the living end. The more people that live on Jerome Avenue, the shops will make more money. And the more apartments you got, I think it will make the rent cheaper.

Kenneth Ivey, 35 / Ticket seller at Empire State Building / Lives in Marble Hill, 225th and Broadway, Bronx.

I spend a lot of time in this neighborhood on my commute to work. There’s always shopping going on. There’s money being generated. Why harm the people that’s already here, that are already established?

I used to live in Harlem before we had to relocate to the Bronx where it’s more affordable. We got people moving to New York from all over the world so we have to make room and everybody has to share and get along. But things could have been done better as far as I’m concerned. You can’t have all the money and all the power and just think that you’re just going to push and shove your way through society.

Photos by Rebeca Ibarra and Alex Ellefson. Photo credits, top to bottom: 1, 2, 3 Ellefson; 4, 5, 6 Ibarra.


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