The HUB is one of the central retail districts in the Bronx. Located at the meeting place of four major roadways – Willis, Melrose and Third Avenues and East 149th Street – the HUB has been known in the past as the Broadway of the Bronx. The area has a rich history of commercial activity and diversity but faced a significant urban decline. Efforts to rebuild the area have been underway for over three decades. The area is serviced by four train lines and six bus lines.
One major development that will reshape the area is the HUB Retail and Office Center, located along Third Avenue between 153rd and 156th Streets. On March 14th, 2006 Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials participated in the groundbreaking for this project.
The site is being developed by the Related Companies, who bough the property for $1 million. The developer plans to build a two-story commercial building that was estimated to cost $57 million for construction. The city pledged to contribute $16 million to the development. It is the hope of the city and neighborhood leaders that the center will provide needed jobs and revitalize commercial interest in the area.
The HUB Retail and Office Center opened in 2007. Foot traffic is expected to increase since the city’s Department of Finance decision to locate in the new HUB Retail and Office Center. Many credit this development for spurring some economic growth in the area overall, which in December of 2007 was estimated to generate $170 million in sales and employ nearly 900 people.
Another development is in the works for the HUB area, located at East 149th Street and Bergen and Brook Avenues. The project, known as the Plaza at the Hub, is being developed jointly by Blackacre Capital and Cypress Equities.
The Related Companies is also exploring some options for getting involved in this 1.1 million square foot project, including advocating for more residential units. The design plans currently call for 250 residential units, about 375,000 square feet of retail space including a supermarket and large movie theater. Parking space is also included in the plans.
Much of the development focused around the HUB stems from the city’s interest in revitalizing the area. In 2006, the Bloomberg Administration developed the South Bronx Initiative (SBI) with the intention for new residential and commercial space to be developed in this area of New York City. One focus area of the SBI is the Melrose Commons/Third Avenue section of the Bronx. The city’s goal for this section is to “create an attractive mixed-income urban village with balanced neighborhood retail, new parks, and open spaces, and a college campus.”
Several plans were developed to help facilitate this goal, including furthering developing retail and commercial opportunities in and around the HUB and realigning several of the city streets. A specific Melrose Retail Study was developed for area and many of the goals of that study have already been realized. Also, the city’s Department of Transportation has already begun making some necessary street improvements to improve pedestrian flow in the area.