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City Living: Kingsbridge is a quiet nabe with a lot of pride

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kingsbridge Credit: Check out more photos of Kingsbridge in the gallery below. (Anthony Lanzilote)

Ask those bustling in or out of Kingsbridge’s 231st Street subway station what they think of their tiny pocket of the northwest Bronx, and there is a good shot you will hear a lot of the same answers.

People most familiar with the 0.75-square-mile neighborhood use words like “beautiful,” “booming,” “diverse” and “home” to verbalize their Kingsbridge pride.

“Things are looking up for us here,” said Mark Rivera, a resident of three decades, referring to Kingsbridge’s influx of new businesses and changing demographics. “I’m happy to call it home.”

Kingsbridge revolves primarily around Broadway, where its many of its apartment buildings and businesses are located. Its outskirts, stretching from West 225th Street in the south to Van Cortlandt Park in the north, are home to more old-fashioned, single-family homes.

The area is known for its unique step streets -- or stairways as many as 160 steps high that connect different parts of the neighborhood.

State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who has represented Kingsbridge for 20 years, said the area’s demographics may have diversified from primarily Irish to more Dominican, but its working-class character has remained consistent. He spoke about the future, noting the construction of several housing units, two new shopping malls, an ice-skating arena and other key development projects on the way.

“The fact that people with money want to put a lot into Kingsbridge is an indication that they think they can also make money there,” Dinowitz said. “It’s a strong vote of confidence for the community.”

In the past year, the city approved several proposals, including the $320 million project to turn the Kingsbridge Armory, between Jerome and Reservoir avenues, into a sports arena. It also green-lighted a new 133,000 square-foot indoor mall on the busy strip of Broadway Plaza, the area’s main commercial corridor, as well as a new BJ’s Wholesale Club in the footprint of the former Stella D’oro factory on West 238th Street.

Kingsbridge was named after The King’s Bridge, which was erected over the former Spuyten Duyvil Creek in 1693 and was previously a part of Yonkers. The city moved to annex the area, along with other parts of the Bronx, in 1874.

Filmmaker Thomas MacNamara grew up in Kingsbridge across the street from St. John’s Roman Catholic Church and remembers the area as a safe, blue-collar neighborhood. He goes into greater detail about his experiences growing up in his documentary, “The Boys of Kingsbridge -- From Grammar School to Ground Zero,” released on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

“It was a very wonderful place to grow up in because of the people there,” said MacNamara, who now lives in Los Angeles. “Everybody looked out for everybody. We called it one large Irish extended family. It was very safe, and it still is a good, solid neighborhood.”

Find it:

Kingsbridge spans west to east from Irwin Avenue to Goulden Avenue, and north to south from Van Cortlandt Park to West 225th Street.

Transportation:

1 train to 231st Street

4 train to Kingsbridge Road

Bx1, Bx7, Bx9, Bx10, Bx20, BxM1, BxM2, BxM18 buses

Library:

Kingsbridge Library, 291 West 231st St., 718-548-5656

Post office:

Kingsbridge USPS branch, 5517 Broadway, 718-549-6962

Crime:

Kingsbridge is served by the 50th Precinct at 3450 Kingsbridge Ave. Its Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector Paul Rasa, said his officers joined half of the Bronx’s 12 precincts in lowering the city’s murder rate 20% in 2013. In his Precinct, crime is down 81% since 1990 and just over 35% since 2001. In the week of Jan. 6-Jan. 12, there were eight grand larcenies and four burglaries reported by the precinct, according to its CompStat repot. There were 10 grand larcenies and four burglaries reported in the same week in 2013.

Notable people who have lived in Kingsbridge:

Theodore Dreiser, author of “Sister Carrie” and “An American Tragedy”

John Kiernan, journalist and author of “A Natural History of New York City”

Avery Corman, who wrote the screenplay, “Kramer vs. Kramer”

To eat:

Taqueria Rancho Escondido, 257 W. 231st St.

A local favorite and family-owned Mexican joint in the heart of Kingsbridge, the eatery has become known for its authentic items like burritos, tacos, quesadillas, chips and salsa and more. 347-945-4330

P&K Grille, 170 W. 231st St.

This neighborhood bar and grille was named by several locals in Kingsbridge as the go-to for anything American -- especially burgers. Other favorites include wings, onion rings and more. They offer Sunday brunch deals. 347-602-7880

S&S Cheesecake, 222 W. 238th St.

For those with a serious sweet tooth, S&S is known for satisfying the urge. Customers passing through the storefront dared to call S&S the best cheesecake in the city. 718-549-3888

To party:

An Beal Bocht Cafe, 445 W. 238th St.

This pub and venue brings Kingsbridge back to its Irish roots with live music, great food and drink specials throughout the week. 718-884-7127

The Punch Bowl, 5820 Broadway

The old school, family-owned Punch Bowl is one of Kingsbridge’s go-to dive bars, especially on the weekends, with live music, and karaoke on select nights. 718-884-7322

Bronx Alehouse, 216 W. 238th St.

When it comes to beer options, the Bronx Alehouse is one-of-a-kind in Kingsbridge. This neighborhood favorite starts patrons off with some complimentary popcorn before filling them up with a seemingly endless row of beers on tap and plenty of bar snacks.
718 -601-0204

To shop:

Kingsbridge-Riverdale Farmers Market, 260 W. 231st St.

From mid-June to late November, the Church of the Mediator’s garden area is transformed into Kingsbridge’s own farmer’s market, showcasing the work of area farms including Goshen’s Fresh Radish and Hazlet, NJ’s Mi Ranchito. 718-548-0944

Garden Gourmet Market, 5665 Broadway

It isn’t your typical supermarket. Garden Gourmet’s fresh produce is only one of the features that keep Kingsbridge shoppers coming back. The prices also keep pace with those at more major grocery chains. 718-796-4209

Riverdale Florist, 210 W. 231st St.

You don’t often hear people refer to a florist as a neighborhood institution, but one regular customer said just that. The shop has a large interior and plenty of its work already on display, making it much easier for that last-minute shopper to pick the perfect plants for their loved ones. 718-543-4877

To do:

Van Cortlandt Park, Broadway and Jerome Avenue

It has become a go-to spot for the people of Kingsbridge looking for some open space. Van Cortlandt Park’s more than 1,000 acres show it all, from steep ledges to fields of open air. Regular park-goers say it is easy to forget they are in New York City while perusing the landscape. Nycgovparks.org or vcpark.org

Ewen Park, Riverdale Avenue and 231st Street

The smaller of the two parks in Kingsbridge, this dog-friendly attraction is known for its sloping hill, popular for sledding when it snows. Nycgovparks.org

Uptown Sports Complex, 170 W. 233rd St.

This multi-purpose destination offers the people of Kingsbridge a handful of options including batting cages, gymnastics classes, dance programs and more. 718-549-7529

The buzz:

Development has been a hot buzzword in Kingsbridge since several key projects were given the city’s blessing over the past year.

Late last year, the City Council approved a $320 million plan to plant the world’s largest ice complex in the heart of Kingsbridge, in the footprint of the area’s armory. The construction deal includes nine rinks, and will pump an additional $1.7 billion worth of public benefits to the surrounding area in the northwestern Bronx.

“Once complete, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center will be a world-class destination that will attract millions of residents and visitors alike, provide new recreational and instructional opportunities for young people, and bring critical jobs and economic activity to a neighborhood that is in need of both,” former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement immediately following the vote.

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera made headlines amidst the debating process when he said he would not back the major development proposal but rescinded his opposition once developers promised to promptly address traffic concerns around the armory.

Other development projects made official over the past year include one on Broadway Plaza set to open this year and another in the footprint of the former Stella D’oro factory, which will now become home to a BJ’s.

Kingsbridge state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said the projects are another chapter in his neighborhood’s continued growth, but he still understood the concern that comes with development.

“It’s a positive sign, but overdevelopment is always a potential problem,” he said. “Kingsbridge doesn’t have a whole lot of room. There isn’t a lot of empty space. We need to be smart.”

Real estate:

Rentals take up nearly 85% of the area’s housing stock, according to Streeteasy.com. Historical private homes linger along Corlear Avenue.

To buy:

3816 Waldo Ave. #5D. Three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on the north side of Kingsbridge inside a new terrace building, stocked with a fitness center, central air conditioning and short walk to the 1 train; 1,000 square feet: $580,000.

3444 Cannon Place. Classic brick colonial, with a semi-finished basement. Can easily be converted into a two-family home; 2,200 square feet: $449,000.

To rent:

233 - 235 Naples Terrace. One-bedroom/one-bath in five-story low-rise. Equipped with hardwood floors, high ceilings, a dishwasher and gourmet kitchen, one block from the Broadway shopping strip: $1,450 a month.

3065 Sedgwick Ave. One-bedroom/one-bath in a six-story co-op with a dining area, close to public transportation: $1,500 a month.

Looking for a home in Kingsbridge?

Trebach Realty, Trebachrealty.com

Midas Management Associates, Midasnyc.com

Q&A with Tracy McCabe Shelton: Executive director of the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corporation

Tracy McCabe Shelton moved to the Bronx in 2002. She is now the executive director at the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corporation, which gives her a front-row view of the area’s growing business district. She oversees all things northwest Bronx, like merchant organizing, business festivals and more.

How has Kingsbridge changed since you moved here?

A lot of the changes have been fairly recent. The development of new shopping malls completely revitalized the whole area into a major destination. We also welcomed a new ice rink into Van Cortlandt Park, which has become a great attraction.

What have you learned about the people and character of the nabe?

It is a very diverse area. You have some people who have been there forever with a long history in the community, but you also have people who just moved there from other parts of the city. There is a real mix of people from all different types of backgrounds — they all work hard.

What would you like to see here in the future?

When I think of that commercial corridor, I would like to see more 24-hour activity along the busy Broadway strip. I would like to see some more housing options as well, and that would require potentially more schools. Kingsbridge would also greatly benefit from more entertainment. And to beautify the area, I’d love to see us renovate the elevated train and make it less of an eyesore.

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