NYCEDC and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) collaborated to strengthen retail corridors and foster a balanced retail environment in the Melrose neighborhood of the South Bronx.
The Melrose Retail Strategy (MRS) originated from the South Bronx Initiative, a strategic plan to sustain the positive effects of previous development activity and guide future investments and land use changes in the South Bronx. The MRS focused on traditional retail corridors such as Third Avenue and the East 149th Street hub, as well as new retail space coming online in the neighborhood of Melrose, which experienced significant mixed-income housing construction during the decade. The goal of the MRS was to provide a better and wider retail selection for this growing community.
NYCEDC’s Melrose Retail Study published in May 2007, lay the analytical foundation for the MRS. Based on the study’s findings (see below), NYCEDC, in partnership with HPD, reached out to the local development and brokerage communities to better understand why retailers had been reluctant to locate in Melrose despite evidence of unmet consumer demand. Following this outreach, the MRS focused on increasing retailer and broker awareness of the neighborhood’s true spending power, development activity, and leasing opportunities, as well as the facilitation of the flow of communication among relevant stakeholders (developers, retailers, brokers).
NYCEDC attended major retail real estate conventions to discuss Melrose and its untapped retail potential with retailers and brokers. NYCEDC also developed an up-to-date Melrose Retail and Community Space Inventory, which was widely distributed among retailers and brokers. NYCEDC also hosted two discussion panels and networking events for retail and real estate professionals, to highlight recent successes and magnitude of retail potential in the South Bronx
NYCEDC also evaluated the feasibility of longer term actions, such as transit and street enhancements to improve accessibility and pedestrian activity, and increased coordination between agencies to manage the amount and quality of retail space in the pipeline.
Melrose Retail Study Findings:
- Population density in Melrose exceeded that of the Bronx and New York City. Furthermore, Melrose was one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in New York City; the population was expected to increase by approximately 11-14% between 2007 and 2010.
- Aggregate annual household retail expenditure for the area was expected to increase by 58% between 2006 and 2010. By 2010, retail expenditure per square mile in Melrose was 20% higher than the New York City average.
- The area became increasingly known as a Hispanic community, catering significantly to a relatively young, bilingual Hispanic population. Households tend to be larger, with more female heads of households than average.
- Demand was high for restaurants, grocery stores, name brand apparel, dry cleaning services, bookstores, health and medical services, and professional services, among others.