Tale of Two Blocks

By Nina Vazquez

Real estate developer Keith Rubenstein and his company, Somerset Partners, faced backlash in 2015 when a billboard at the Third Avenue Bridge and Bruckner Boulevard dubbed the southwestern corner of Mott Haven “The Piano District.” Soon the billboard was taken down after it was defaced and was criticized by some neighborhood residents who feared creeping gentrification. Rubenstein continued with his developments, however, one of which is The Crescendo. Six years later, local residents see the differences in the upkeep of two blocks where the Mitchell Housing projects and The Crescendo stand.

A mural created by Yuca Arts Program underneath the 3rd Avenue Bridge pays tribute to the Mott Haven area. The 3rd Avenue Bridge separates 134th Street, where The Crescendo is located, and 135th street of Alexander Avenue where the Mitchell Housing Projects are located.

The first bookstore in the Bronx, the Black-owned Lit Bar, restaurants, and a tattoo parlor are on 134th Street. Some trash from the neighboring street makes its way under the bridge.

The Mitchel Housing Projects are on 135th Street and Alexander Avenue, along with St. Jerome’s Church, Mitchell Housing Center, Zeta Charter School Bronx 1, and South Bronx Classical Charter School II.

Trash bags are left in front of parked cars rather than in a garbage disposal area to be picked up.

Plastic bags are blown up and captured by tree branches in front of the 205 Alexander Avenue projects.

Plastic bags wet from the rain on gray March day.

The streets are cleaner on 134 Street and Alexander. The building on the right corner is being made into lofts.

The stretch is clean, apart from the single plastic bag that flew in front of Monte’s Brick Oven.

The Crescendo where the starting price for a studio bedroom is $2,650 and a three bedroom starts at $3,550, unaffordable to those living in housing. The median income in Mott Haven in 2018 was $26,150, according to the American Community Survey. The complex has a pool, sauna, gym, hot tub, BBQ grill, yoga room, and a tanning room.

The Crescendos’ cleanliness continues around the square block, however, there are forgotten areas that such as this sidewalk that is directly across the street from the entrance of the building. This sidewalk is part of the abandoned garden known as the Maria Sola Garden.

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