Gentrification or Positive Rebranding in the Bronx?

Bronx Aerial View
This Bronx aerial view shows a borough in transition. Is it for the better or worse?

The Wiz

Bronx resident and artist Jerome LaMaar, who is known as “The Wiz of Bruckner Boulevard,” has a Bronx rebranding mission as seen in the “NY Times:”

“I want to be the Jeffrey Kalinsky of Bruckner Boulevard,” Jerome LaMaar said, referring to the merchant whose luxury fashion emporium was vital in transforming the once gritty meatpacking district into a high-style fashion destination.”

BX200 is The Bronx Visual Artist Directory

Yet another wellspring for creatives has popped up and is named “BX200: The Bronx Visual Artist Directory.”

“The Bronx 200 site is a dynamic, online platform that showcases a curated selection of artwork by two hundred artists identified with The Bronx. Artists were invited to participate by curators and art professionals working in the borough. The curators were asked to recommend artists whose work represents the rich and diverse range of creative production here.”

Artists Seeking Space

And the “NY Post” adds that for artists seeking larger spaces and a creative haven, the Bronx may be the last bastion for artistic individuals:

“Currently, renting a Bronx art studio — where tenants often also live — will set you back anywhere from $400 to $2,000 per month, while the median Manhattan residential rent is $3,300 and Brooklyn’s totals $2,775, according to The Elliman Report for March. Square footage is more generous in the Bronx compared with other heavyweight art districts. Also, due to the Bronx’s existing ties to the arts — after all, hip hop and graffiti were basically born here — there is a kindred sensibility already present.”

Gentrification or Creativity?

But is bringing more artists into the Bronx from other boroughs a form of gentrification? The Cooperator has a perspective:

“Despite the recent upsurge in interest in Riverdale, area residents have painstakingly preserved and maintained their neighborhood’s personality, charm, green spaces, and historical and cultural attractions. And that says Jurist is why she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”