When Greg Kessler wasn’t able to find a decent studio near his Brooklyn home last year, he ended up moving his workspace to The Bronx. He hasn’t looked back since.
The artist, who paints “mostly figurative, cartoony and abstract” pieces, had occupied studio space in the pricey Meatpacking District for years before moving to Brooklyn. When he started exploring options closer to his home, Kessler noticed the northern borough — no longer known solely for hometown fan favorites: Yankee Stadium, the zoo and the botanical garden — offered a great, affordable work neighborhood with diverse dining options, too.
“Artists come there to work and create. The vibe is an industrial, working environment — chill. I think there are tons of artists [here], I have only scratched the surface. I have a space in which to create, which is half the battle,” he says.
Kessler takes the 6 train every morning to his well-lit, 300-square-foot artist’s studio.
“It’s about an hour commute, but it’s worth it,” he says.
He’s not alone in discovering the attraction of The Bronx. For Ross Sapir, president of Bronx-based Roadway Moving & Storage, Inc., the location is also a no-brainer.
“Square footage is more affordable than other boroughs,” he says, the caveat being that “The Bronx is now catching up with the rest.”
Now in its 10th year there, Sapir’s firm sees many benefits in the area.
“The Bronx gives you minutes-away access to the city and there are no tolls to go through like [in] the other boroughs,” he says.
For his 175 employees, this means headquarters is accessible via various commutes within the tri-state area, including from Staten Island. Roadway’s customer-service rep James Reid lives there and shrugs off the two-hour commute on a good day.
“I’d rather have to travel further for my job and enjoy it than have a short commute and be unhappy,” he says.
Josh Weissman, president of JCAL Development Group, a South Bronx-based real estate development and construction company, says this borough is appealing and becoming a hot market due to its proximity to Manhattan and accessible mass transit.
Weissman’s been in the borough for nearly 20 years.
“The Bronx is booming with talent, pride, fashion, spirit and resiliency,” he says. “You see construction everywhere. The Mott Haven area is experiencing more market-rate development than perhaps other areas.”
Currently working on various projects including the borough’s only indie bookstore, the Lit Bar, he says lower rents compared to other boroughs make it appealing for employers, as is “a chance to be in early and be part of the resurgence and community,” he says. “The Bronx is rich in culture, history and has always had a strong sense of community. Businesses are coming to The Bronx. People are moving back to The Bronx and Bronxites are staying in the borough.”
David S. Bagatelle, Sterling National Bank’s executive vice president and president of New York metro markets, has two branches in the borough.
“As a result of incentives, population and infrastructure, The Bronx has become a hot area for investment by middle-market companies and commercial real estate investors. Sterling National Bank has several major clients who have moved their operations to The Bronx from other boroughs,” he says.
Due to significant real estate appreciation in Brooklyn and Queens recently, The Bronx —named after Swedish immigrant Jonas Bronck who established the first settlement there in 1639 — is poised for a renaissance.
Daniel Fitzgerald is vice president of Small Axe Peppers, co-makers of The Bronx Hot Sauce, which sources peppers from over 40 community gardens in The Bronx — an area which started out as a farming community.
“The Bronx has always been at the forefront of the urban gardening movement in this country,” he says. “It has a long legacy of community gardening since the 1970s, when Green Guerillas started reclaiming burned-down lots and cultivating something positive and productive there. Because of an amazing group of urban farmers, it is growing crops once again.”
Not only that, but the farmers are actively environmentally conscious.
“Nowadays, everyone talks about hydroponics and rooftop farms, but what Bronx farmers have been able to do with all-natural fertilizer, homemade compost and beekeeping rivals anything Elon Musk could ever dream of!” says Fitzgerald.
John Crotty, the company’s CFO, also finds a uniqueness to the area.
“The Bronx is the most New York borough,” he says. “Other areas have been taken hostage by corporations, political correctness or some other boring homogeneous interest that is intent on blending in. They lack style. They lack identity. The Bronx has style 24/7, a unique identity.”
Kessler, however, doesn’t want it to get too hot.
“I hope it does not become too popular, like Williamsburg!”
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