If you wander along the streets you will come across an incredible melting pot of people soliciting outdoors, low-income housing filled with squatters inside and decrepit graffiti on the outside, and a distinct smell you try to pretend is only marijuana. This area seems eerily similar to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1960’s and of Brooklyn a decade later. The latter neighborhoods are now home to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, yet the Bronx still maintains its derelict means. And yet, just standing on East Fordham Road gives you a sense of potential in this little thought about metropolis.
From the closest points in Manhattan’s surrounding suburbs: Brooklyn, Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey, it takes a least forty-five minutes to commute to Grand Central station – if you’re lucky. From the Bronx you can arrive in just fifteen. The Bronx is also easily accessible from all other suburbs, something surprising when you realize how much Long Islanders hate to venture to New Jersey and no one from Connecticut has ever probably even stepped foot in Brooklyn. The Bronx is the real Mecca in New York.
As an outsider we see the “potential” in doing business in the Bronx. But the Bronxites realized this decades ago and have made Fordham Road into one of the top 10 busiest shopping corridors in the world. Retail can benefit immensely from the foot traffic and spending power of the residents. Every aspect of business can benefit from the Bronx. With 1.4 million residents, the Bronx is on par with the population with Manhattan, but it was twice the land area. This makes warehouses and office lofts and affordable possibility – especially for young startup companies.
The Bronx has already begun to attract young entrepreneurial talent. Fordham University is one of the top tier universities in the country and produces remarkable students from its top ranked programs, particularly from the Gabelli School of Business. Sunshine NYC has opened the first co-working space in the Bronx and Fordham has followed suit with the Fordham Foundry, which provides remarkably cheap work spaces for entrepreneurs in a modern building you would think belongs in Midtown. Young companies like Scenyc, Inc. and the Concourse Fund have already taken advantage of the resources that the Bronx offers and has tailored their business model to give back to their home neighborhood.
This is the attitude that is unique to the Bronx. Although it is one of the largest cities in the world, it still maintains a small community atmosphere. Unlike Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Bronx residents think about how they can improve their community, and not just how they can suckle its benefits. This is the key step in being able to invigorate the Bronx.