A rendering of La Central on Bergen Ave. by Hudson Inc.

Bronx commercial market remains strong despite pandemic, says developer

Melrose residents can look forward to a new café, a Mexican restaurant and an organic grocer, all of which will be coming to La Central, the expansive new development that runs for six blocks north-south along Bergen Avenue.

In addition to those three food-based businesses, an operator has signed on to run the complex’s 135-space, 37,000-square-foot parking garage, according to one of La Central’s developers, the Hudson Companies.

The new commercial tenants will join a 50,000-square-foot YMCA and a BronxNet TV studio at the five-building site. La Central’s 992 apartments are all deemed affordable under the city’s affordable housing guidelines. The complex also includes a landscaped interior courtyard; 80,000 square feet of community facility space; a public park; 45,0000 square feet of retail; and a roof-mounted telescope that the Bronx High School of Science will oversee.

The Taste of The Bronx Cafè is a partnership between Paul and Anthony Ramirez,  the owners of The Bronx Beer Hall in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, and Rebecca Scott, founder of Sustainable Snacks, a Bronx-based natural foods company. It will feature gourmet menus prepared by a rotating roster of borough-based chefs.

“In addition to creating a launchpad for local brands, the Taste of The Bronx Cafè will offer a robust menu that puts a healthful spin on traditional favorites and community programming,” said Scott. “Our goal is to create a safe and inclusive space that celebrates and empowers Bronxites.”

Metate Authentica Comida Mexicana, which is currently based in Riverdale, will open a 3,000-square-foot outpost on La Central’s ground floor, and will include a take-out pizza counter.

The organic grocery will stock fresh fruits and vegetables, smoothies and other healthy food options.

The parking lot will be open to the general public, including customers of the eateries, not just La Central’s tenants.

So far, one building, 626 Bergen Avenue, has been completed, with 161 apartments for formerly homeless veterans, along with special needs and low-income residents. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

Two nonprofit organizations, Comunilife and Breaking Ground, oversee the complex’s social service component.

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