Manhattan

The Bronx’s Via Verde Wins a Well-Deserved Smart Growth Achievement Award

The exterior of Via Verde, showing off its stepped roof

The exterior of Via Verde, showing off its stepped roof

By John Martin

For people old enough to remember, it’s hard to believe how far the Bronx has come since the 1970s.

Between 1970 and 1980, the South Bronx lost over 300,000 residents, as crime spiked and people made way for the suburbs. The borough became synonymous with urban decay, a stigma it continues to fight decades after it began its dramatic rebound.

Today, the Bronx is flourishing, as the public and private sectors continue to make the borough a healthier and more pleasant place to live. It’s hard to find a better example of how far the borough has come than Via Verde— the mixed-income housing development in the Melrose neighborhood that opened in 2012. Since then, it has earned international acclaim for its bold design and its focus on creating a green urban environment for its residents.

The project, which sits on a cleaned-up former rail yard, provides 222 units of living space, views of the Manhattan skyline, and healthy-living amenities galore. A string of green roofs dot the building’s terraces, as do solar panels, which provide electricity to all the building’s common spaces. Residents have access to shared gardening beds, a children’s playground, a fitness center, and an outdoor amphitheater. Throw in the building’s easy access to subway and bus lines and it becomes easy to understand why Via Verde has been held up as a model for environmentally sustainable development.

As of today, we can add the EPA to the list of those who have officially recognized Via Verde’s accomplishments. This morning, the EPA announced that Via Verde received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the category of Built Projects. Of the 77 Smart Growth Achievement applications the EPA received from across the country, Via Verde was just one of seven to be recognized.

For a borough that has come so far and fought so long to create livable, thriving communities, Via Verde is a crowning achievement and an inspiration to urban areas everywhere.

To read more about Via Verde and the other projects receiving National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, visit: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/awards.htm.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A New Vision for a Storied NYC Location

By Elias Rodriguez

Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

Real estate is kind of valuable in Manhattan. It is noteworthy that, at long last, New York City has decided on a path forward for an area that is near and dear to my heart. In this week’s New York Times,  it was reported that a hotly contested piece of prime real estate will finally be developed.

The area is on Delancey Street, which was my old stomping ground as a kid.  The Lower East Side neighborhood is a microcosm that magnifies the marvelous mayhem of metropolitan life. The Williamsburg Bridge (WillyB) spills an incessant mass of trucks, cars and bicycles into the area to and from Manhattan and Brooklyn. Delancey St. has a movie named after it, Crossing Delancey, a nice “chick flick,” but not my cup of tea. The bustling thoroughfare is famous or infamous, depending on your desire   to shop, eat, haggle for a bargain or soak up the local ambiance.

Delancey has always been a kind of “Anti-Times Square.” A place where locals go to escape the tourists, immigrant families come to get their kids a new pair of sneakers and where only saps pay retail for purchases.  It is the kind of place where you have a bialy for breakfast, an egg roll for lunch and a bistec en salsa for dinner. A neighborhood alumnus was Jack Kirby, who immortalized the strip as Yancy Street in his beloved comic books. If ever in the ‘hood,” I recommend a visit to the Essex Street Market, which crosses Delancey. If you recall the movie, Marty, he was portrayed as a butcher at the market.

This is a major project within the hottest real estate market on Earth. I am glad that the coveted property, long an eyesore and underutilized parking lot, is now moving toward becoming a community asset; but I hope it is developed in a sustainable way. What considerations will be given to air quality? The constant traffic on Delancey from the WillyB generates tons of diesel emissions. Emissions from diesel engines are a primary source of air pollution in the northeastern United States. The planned on-site Andy Warhol Museum sounds novel, but will the children within the planned 1,000 apartments be provided with green spaces to play and recreate? What are your thoughts about urban planning and the balance between competing interests?

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.