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Mott Haven sees more development as young professionals move in

Mott Haven isn’t typically associated with new developments and trendy eateries, but locals say the South Bronx neighborhood is in the process of getting a new image.

Along with an industrial vibe, Mott Haven has extensive waterfront property along the Harlem River and is home to quaint townhouses and pre-war apartment buildings in its historic district on Lincoln and Alexander avenues.

Nowadays, however, new residential developments are rising along the Harlem River, and young professionals are moving in, locals said.

Milagros Rivera, 48, a retired Mott Haven resident, said she’s seeing a lot of new faces in the area.

“A lot of them come because the view has gotten pretty, there’s easy access to everything and shopping is cheap and the cost of living is cheaper than Manhattan and Queens,” she said.

Being just one train stop outside of Manhattan is also part of the draw, as a subway ride to midtown usually takes about 20 minutes via the 4 or 5.

But before newcomers pack up their beach chairs and sun hats, it’s important to note that public access to the area’s waterfront isn’t available — yet. Local officials have their sights set on constructing a recreational area at the river with a connection to Randall’s Island, according to a representative from the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit founded by Bette Midler.

“The entirety of the South Bronx has no waterfront recreational sites, zero, from the west side to the east side, you can’t get near the water,” said Deborah Marton, the executive director of the NYRP. She said Mott Haven community residents requested areas to run and exercise near the river. “We could see an improvement of mental and physical health as a result of better [waterfront] access.”

In the meantime, fun in Mott Haven involves heading to its main drag along Bruckner Boulevard for dinner and drinks in establishments like Charlie’s Bar and Kitchen, which opened in a renovated clock tower in 2013, or for sushi at Ceetay, which opened in 2012.

The area’s Hispanic community is also still going strong, evident in the Latin restaurants and food trucks peppered around the neighborhood and the colorful murals painted below overpasses and on cement walls along Lincoln Avenue.

“We have beautiful culture here, we have food, we have music and we have arts and it’s a great place to come learn and live,” said Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr., who represents some of Mott Haven.

For example, BronxArtSpace educates locals on the fine arts, and the area’s once-vibrant salsa scene — led by performers like the late, legendary salsa singer Hector Lavoe during the 1970s and ’80s — is still alive today in spots like St. Mary’s Park, which is hosting a free salsa concert on July 12 with performances from Johnny Rivera and Joan Català.

David Maundrell, an associate broker with Citi Habitats who works in Mott Haven, confirmed that the area’s popularity is growing.

Many new residents are “people coming from upper Manhattan or other parts of the Bronx that want to be a part of a new neighborhood,” he said. “They feel like [Mott Haven is] authentic, as opposed to a neighborhood that is completely gentrified.”

Rents in the nabe tend to be pricier than the rest of the Bronx due to its proximity to Manhattan, but can be significantly less expensive than those in Manhattan, Brooklyn and much of Queens, experts said.

In 2015, the median rent price in Mott Haven was $1,750, according to the listings site StreetEasy, compared to $1,500 for the Bronx as a whole. Outside the borough, the median rent price in 2015 was $3,195 in Manhattan, $2,500 in Brooklyn and $2,100 in Queens.

Sales data wasn’t available for Mott Haven specifically, but StreetEasy found that the median sales price in the Bronx as a whole was $339,500 in 2015.

And though it may seem like Mott Haven is now getting its spot on the map, locals say it’s been a treasured area for ages.

“It’s funny, every time the [press] comes up here they act like they discovered the neighborhood, but it’s been like this for a long time,” said Conor McCarthy, a 27-year-old graduate student at Baruch College.

McCarthy, who also works at the New York Business Development Corporation, moved to Mott Haven 3 1⁄2 years ago.

“There’s a lot of history up here,” he said. “This is old New York, [change] will play out differently here.”

Find it:

Mott Haven is bordered to the north by East 149th Street, to the east by Willis Avenue and to the south and west by the Harlem River, according to StreetEasy.

Mott Haven restaurants

Ceetay129 Alexander Ave.Find traditional sushi rolls and other
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


129 Alexander Ave.

Find traditional sushi rolls and other Asian delicacies at this Japanese spot.


La Morada Restaurant

308 Willis Ave.

Taste traditional cuisine from the Mexican state of Oaxaca.


Mott Haven Bar & Grill

1 Bruckner Blvd.

Stop by for classic pub food or brunch on the weekend.


Bars and nightlife

Charlie's Bar and Kitchen112 Lincoln Ave.Located on the
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Charlie's Bar and Kitchen

112 Lincoln Ave.

Located on the first floor of a renovated clocktower, this bar has become increasingly popular among residents for its brunch and live music.

Oze Tavern

256 E. 138 St.

A casual bar and lounge that serves traditional pub grub and hosts cocktail nights and other events.


K Lounge

2537 Third Ave.

This popular hookah bar also has a dance floor and Latin food.


Things to do

Willis PlaygroundWillis Avenue and 141st StreetWith its handball
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Willis Playground

Willis Avenue and 141st Street

With its handball and basketball courts, this playground is popular for kids who go to P.S. 49.

Patterson Playground

College Avenue and 148th Street

Situated near P.S. 18, it boasts a baseball field, basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, a playground and a running track.


303 E. 140th St.

This cultural center supports emerging artists and invites the community to participate in events with local and international artists and filmmakers.

Shopping in Mott Haven

AA Electronics2840 Third Ave.Shop for TVs, speakers, camera
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

AA Electronics

2840 Third Ave.

Shop for TVs, speakers, camera accessories and home appliances at discounted prices.


The South Bronx Farmers Market

138th Street between Willis and Alexander Avenue

A Saturday farmers market open from June to November.

Nunez Depot

2800 Third Ave.

A hardware store with paint, construction supplies, auto repair tools and much more.


Mott Haven real estate data

Median rental price: $1,750 Number of rentals on
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Median rental price: $1,750

Number of rentals on market: 67

(Source: StreetEasy)

Transit basics

Trains:4, 5 to 138th Street Grand Concourse2, 5
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


4, 5 to 138th Street Grand Concourse

2, 5 to 149th Street Grand Concourse and Third Avenue/149th Street

6 to Third Avenue/138th Street


Bx1, Bx2, Bx15, Bx19, Bx31, Bx32, Bx33

BxM1, BxM2, BxM3, BxM18

The buzz

Three new residential towers are slated for construction
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Three new residential towers are slated for construction in Mott Haven along the waterfront, and residents are wondering if these are the first signs of gentrification in the area.

CGS Builders is set to construct a 25-story building at 198 E. 135th St., and Somerset Partners and the Chetrit Group are together planning two 25-story projects at 101 Lincoln Ave. and 2401 Third Ave., all along the Harlem River.

Details are limited on whether the buildings will offer affordable housing or what pricing for units will be like in them.

Mychal Johnson, of South Bronx Unite, is worried that residents in the new developments won't contribute economically to the rest of Mott Haven and that real estate prices might soon rise across the neighborhood.

"We're concerned that these new developments will lead to an exclusive community," Johnson said. "All we want is for new developments to benefit the people already living here."

Jamila Diaz, assistant vice president of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, sees them as proof that Mott Haven is an increasingly nice place to live.

She also said she hopes that the new developments won't lead to higher housing prices in the area, but isn't too worried about it.

"I think prices in New York City are exaggerated everywhere," Diaz said. "I'm hoping that we can learn from all the other areas that developed and follow the better examples."

Representatives from CGS Builders, Somerset Partners and the Chetrit Group could not be reached for comment.


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