Real EstateCity LivingBronx Parkchester: Affordable Bronx neighborhood thrives with diversity By Patrick McGovern Special to amNewYork Updated November 10, 2016 3:03 PM Print Share Share Tweet Share Email Parkchester is a neighborhood with two sides. The Parkchester apartments, a 129-acre complex with more than 12,000 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos, makes up one-half of the neighborhood. The other is a residential community with a rich cultural diversity that is reflected in its shops and restaurants. The complex was built around 1940 by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, which also developed Stuyvesant Town in Manhattan. Its 171 seven and 12-story red brick buildings appear monolithic from a distance, but a closer look reveals intricate details. More than 500 terracotta sculptures depicting musicians and animals decorate the corners and doorways of its residences and retail spaces. While the units in the community are condos, more than 6,000 are currently available as rentals, according to the management company’s website, parkchesternyc.com. At its center is the Metropolitan Oval, where the neighborhood’s tree-lined walkways converge at a large, decorative fountain. “Parkchester is the closest to the Upper West Side you are going to get in the Bronx,” said Michelle Marsh, who moved to the Parkchester apartments from the Manhattan neighborhood about 20 years ago. In between its apartment buildings are grassy lawns and playgrounds. The complex also has its own business district along Metropolitan Avenue, which boasts big chains including Macy’s, Applebee’s and Starbucks. “It’s quiet, not boisterous,” Jeff Ofori-Antwi, 33, said of the community. An IT specialist, he has lived here since middle school. “Things you normally see in Manhattan, we have here. It like a part of the city without the bustle of the city.” According to Zakir Khan, owner of Parkchester Real Estate at 16 Westchester Square, the complex’s high demand is evident in its housing market. “Right now, there are probably less than 15 [sales] properties available in the complex,” he said. “I always have a line of buyers for the available inventory.” Real estate prices in Parkchester as a whole — both in and outside the complex — are significantly lower than in other parts of the Bronx, according to the listings site StreetEasy. The median sales price in Parkchester in 2015 was roughly $110,000, compared to $338,000 in the Bronx overall, StreetEasy found. The median rent was about $1,295 in Parkchester last year, and $1,500 borough-wide, according to the site. Outside the complex, the neighborhood’s housing stock has an even mix of one- and two-family homes and low-rise apartment buildings. “To me, it’s not just the complex that makes Parkchester,” said Nilka Martell, 41, a lifelong resident and neighborhood activist who founded Getting Involved, Virginia Ave Efforts, or G.I.V.E. “It’s the neighborhood around it too. Those of us who don’t live in the complex realize that. We still live in Parkchester.” G.I.V.E. focuses on community service such as cleaning up area streets and parks and planting trees. While the Parkchester complex contains mostly chain businesses, the neighborhood outside of it is known for its mom-and-pop shops, Martell added. “I love everything about this area, but what I love the most is ... the number of restaurants that are reflective of the shift of incoming immigrants,” she said. “The area is populated by folks all around the world.” There is a growing Bangladeshi and Indian community in Parkchester. As a result, it’s becoming known for its Bangladeshi dining scene. For example, at Packsun Halal Chicken, an eatery at 2160 Westchester Ave., locals and intrepid foodies flock to sample the authentic fare. There’s food from other nationalities here too, however, including Taqueria Tlaxcalli, at 2103 Starling Ave., a popular spot for Mexican. “It’s nice here,” said Mohammed Yousef, 54. Originally from Pakistan, Yousef has lived in Parkchester for 15 years and owns Starling Happy Salon at 2105 Starling Ave. “We have made a community.” Find it Photo Credit: Google Maps Parkchester is a triangular neighborhood bordered to the northwest by East Tremont Avenue, the southwest by the Cross Bronx Expressway and the east by Castle Hill Avenue, according to StreetEasy. Parkchester restaurants Photo Credit: Linda Rosier Taqueria Tlaxcalli2103 Starling Ave.Authentic Mexican fare in a laid-back environment. The Tacos Dorados filled with chorizo and potatoes are a local favorite.Taqueriatlaxcalliny.com Packsun Halal Chicken2160 Westchester Ave.This Bangladeshi spot features a steam table overflowing with favorites like spicy chicken and goat, along with vegetables such as okra and eggplant.718-822-8777 Parkchester Fish & Chips1884 Archer St.Head to this counter-service spot to nosh on fried seafood.718-828-2535 Bars and nightlife Photo Credit: Linda Rosier eVo Cocktail Lounge & Restaurant1306 Unionport RoadThis nightclub has everything from a high-end food menu to bottle service.Evoloungeny.com Step In1309 Metropolitan Ave.A late-night hang-out for more than 40 years. It's open until 4 a.m. on weekends and features a live DJ.Stepinnyc.com Things to do in Parkchester Photo Credit: Linda Rosier Metropolitan OvalMetropolitan Avenue and Unionport RoadLocated in the center of the Parkchester planned community, this neighborhood focal point features a fountain designed for the 1939 World's Fair.Parkchesternyc.comParkchester complex sculpturesSpend an afternoon scavenger-hunting the more than 500 terracotta figures on the buildings in the Parkchester complex.Virginia ParkWhite Plains Road between Cross Bronx Expressway and Westchester AvenueStroll around the loop among this greenspace's honey terra-cotta pin oak trees on a nice day.Nycgovparks.org Where to shop Photo Credit: Linda Rosier Castle Hill Toys and Games1375 Castle Hill Ave.Packed floor-to-ceiling with toys and games for various ages.718-863-7221Nishat Elegance Designs2060 McGraw Ave.Featuring Indian women's fashions, including jewelry and Shawlar outfits.Facebook.com/nishateleganceRainbow Florist2134 Westchester Ave.Founded in 1954, this neighborhood florist is also known for its food baskets.Rainbowflorals.com Transit basics Photo Credit: Linda Rosier Trains:6 to Parkchester, and Castle Hill AvenueBuses:Bx4, Bx4A, Bx22, Bx36, Bx39, Bx40, Bx42, BxM6, BxM10, Q44 Parkchester real estate data Photo Credit: Linda Rosier Median sales price: $110,000 Number of units on market: 14 Median rental price: $1,295 Number of rentals on market: 205 (Source: StreetEasy) Parkchester fun fact Photo Credit: Getty Image / Robyn Beck A scene from the 2008 Oscar-nominated film "Doubt," starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, was shot inside the Parkchester planned community. The scene features a pivotal conversation between Streep's character, Sister Aloysius, and the character played by Viola Davis, Mrs. Miller. The buzz Photo Credit: Linda Rosier New York City's first Golden Corral location is set to open in Parkchester next spring. The North Carolina-based buffet restaurant chain will open a franchise at 2375 East Tremont Ave. The space was previously occupied by a Bronx Grill, which opened in 2010, and housed a Sizzler for 26 years before that. Niroopa Haurpal, 31, co-owned the Bronx Grill and is the franchisee for the new Golden Corral. Her family has been in the restaurant business since her father opened the Sizzler there in 1974. "We've been in the area for a very long time," she said. "We have roots in the community and thought Golden Corral would be a perfect fit. The restaurant, which Haurpal said is going to undergo an expansion, will seat 300 customers and have 30 parking spaces, but she did not yet know its square footage as of press time. Haurpal said she pledges to bring 120 jobs to the community with the Golden Corral, and will retain employees from the Bronx Grill. "We've had employees with us since before I was born," said Haurpal. "They're like family. And we're glad to be bringing new jobs to the community." Q&A with Nancy Padovani, local merchant Photo Credit: Patrick McGovern Nancy Padovani has been selling handmade earrings and other jewelry on the same corner in Parkchester for 38 years. Padovani, 68, a former schoolteacher, sets up her table on Metropolitan Avenue near McGraw Avenue. But her business is much more than just selling jewelry, as the corner has become a community gathering place, she said.Do you plan to stay in this same spot?I'll be doing this as long as God keeps me alive. My son always says that even if I hit the lottery and decide to quit doing this, I'd use the money to buy a helicopter to fly over and make sure nobody was on my spot. I want my ashes to be spread here on this corner.How often are you out here?I used to be here six days a week, now I'm down to four. I'm here year-round, even in the cold. Whenever it snows, I'm the first one to grab a shovel and start digging out the corner.What do you do when you're not selling jewelry?I go to every single Knick game. I have season tickets. My husband, who passed away, used to park the players' cars at the team's practice facility [in Tarrytown].Do locals recognize you when you aren't working?I was on the train down near 42nd Street, taking my computer to be fixed. This man came up to me and said, "My daughter has been buying earrings from you since you've been there." Wherever I go, people say, "There goes the earring lady." By Patrick McGovern Special to amNewYork Share on Facebook Share on Twitter More on this topic The highs and lows of living in the Theater DistrictThere’s a huge amount of retail stores, but neighborly cafes are hard to come by. 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