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Real EstateCity LivingBronx

City Living: Melrose is heating up with retail and new developments

Melrose, a collection of small blocks with big character, lies sandwiched between the busiest thoroughfares of the South Bronx.

A steady surge in real estate development, population growth and civic investment in local infrastructure is giving the South Bronx a face-lift, and neighborhoods like Melrose are poised for a continued revitalization as interest in the area continues to grow.

Melrose is kind of the epicenter, said Michael Brady, director of special projects at SoBRO, an organization founded in 1972 to reverse the flight of jobs from the South Bronx at the time.

It is the epicenter of both transportation and also retail in the South Bronx, Brady continued, referring to the bustling business district on Third Avenue known as the Hub.

Situated at the southeast corner of Melrose, where Third Avenue, East 149th Street and Melrose Avenue converge, the Hub is lined with a variety of retail stores, eateries and entertainment options.

It attracts more than 200,000 people every day and is the second busiest place in New York, after Times Square, according to the city. The buzz around the Hub has also caught the attention of real estate developers and business owners in other boroughs.

The neighborhood is changing for the better, said Elias Ballinas, owner of Cinco De Mayo on Washington Avenue. Ballinas, who originally hails from Staten Island, opened a restaurant in midtown with his brothers after helping run the popular Tacos El Bronco on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. When they decided to open a new business, Melrose piqued their interest.

We like it because it looks like Sunset Park at the end of the 90s, Ballinas said.

Since opening in January, Ballinas has found that the sometimes negative reputation attached to the South Bronx is unfounded.

The people are so much better than what I had heard, he said.

Locals tend to agree.

Everybody cares about each other, said Joshua Muniz, 24, a student. This neighborhoods not bad really the buildings, the community, that all changed.

Studio apartments in Melrose rent for around $1,000, while a two-bedroom will run you $1,400 a month, on average, according to Liana Candia, a real estate agent with Citi Habitats.

Houses go for anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 depending on size, and condos start at around $175,000, she added.

New buildings have popped up around the South Bronx in recent years, too, including Via Verde, an eco-friendly affordable housing development on East 156th Street and Brook Avenue, and the Aurora, at 837 Washington Ave.

I think were seeing a continued cycle of the melting pot that is the Bronx, Brady says. Its what gives us our identity.