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New ballgame for neighborhood around Yankee Stadium

(RJ Mickelson/amNY) Street art along the Grand Concourse

(RJ Mickelson/amNY) Street art along the Grand Concourse outside the historic Andrew Freedman Home in the Concourse Village neighborhood of the Bronx. Credit: (RJ Mickelson/amNY) Street art along the Grand Concourse outside the historic Andrew Freedman Home.

Most New Yorkers, at least Yankee fans, have been to Concourse Village without even realizing it.

Yankee Stadium is by far the neighborhood’s biggest attraction and the heart of the area’s commerce and nightlife. But fans who haven’t ventured past the sports bars might be surprised to find out about the local arts scene that has been growing there for almost 40 years.

Concourse Village is a residential neighborhood split by a major thoroughfare, the Grand Concourse. Located on the B, D and 4 train lines, it’s about a 20-minute ride to midtown. Part of the South Bronx, its reputation isn’t pretty. The 1970s and ’80s brought arson, gang violence and drug trafficking. Residents complained of unsafe streets filled with stray dogs.

Institutions such as the Bronx Council on the Arts and Bronx Art Museum were established in the early 1970’s, partially in response to the violence in the neighborhood. These organizations support local artists with grants and other assistance, as well as highlight their work. Classes and events are offered for residents of all ages.

The neighborhood has been turning around. For one, the new Yankee Stadium has brought more business to the area, including high-end restaurants. The Gateway Center, which opened in 2009 on the site of the Bronx Terminal Market, offers more shopping options, as well as employment opportunities, at places such as Home Depot and BJ’s.

The  recession has been a blow for the area, which already suffered from high unemployment and poverty.  But the population is increasing and more New Yorkers are venturing outside the stadium area to find out what the community has to offer.

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Did you know?

Fashion Moda, the counter-culture gallery of the 1980s, was located at 2803 Third Ave., at the southern border of Concourse Village. Experimental artists such as Keith Haring, performance-artist David Wojnarowicz and photographer Lisa Kahane, who published a book about the gallery, were featured there.

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TO EAT

Giovanni’s Restaurant
579 Grand Concourse, 718-402-6996
Giovanni’s has been serving Italian fare for almost 30 years. Locals go to enjoy pizza and pasta dishes or the Champagne brunch buffet served on Saturday and Sunday. Patrons can experience live music and DJs at G-Bar, just a few doors down.

Papaye Restaurant
196 McClellan St., 718-681-3240
Although this Ghanaian restaurant doesn’t have a flashy storefront, the goat meat and okra stew and whole fried fish dishes are lauded. It’s BYOB, so pick up some beer at the corner store. 

NYY Steak House
1 E. 161st St., 646-977-8325
Hot dogs and beer probably come to mind when thinking stadium fare, but the NYY Steak House, an elegant dining room in the new Yankee Stadium, aims to change that. With a raw bar and an extensive wine list, as well as prime cuts of beef, ballpark franks can’t hold a candle. 

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TO PLAY

888B Grand Concourse, 718-585-5550
From cornbread and collard greens to chicken smothered in gravy, Z’Novia serves up comfort food Southern-style. There’s something going on every night, from networking events to evenings of classic R&B and jazz.

Yankee Tavern
72 E. 161st St., 718-292-6130
Babe Ruth apparently imbibed here back in the day, although it’s hard to imagine given the bar’s updated look and many, many television sets. During the season, this place is packed before and after the games. The beers are cheap and the food is decent, but don’t wear a Red Sox cap.

Ball Park Lanes
810 River Ave., 718-665-5800
Whether you’re throwing rocks or always in the gutter, the Ball Park Lanes welcomes all bowlers – and drinkers. Many fans find the alley less crowded than other spots on game day, but many just come to bowl over a few beers.

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TO SHOP

Stan’s Sports World
850 River Ave.,
718-665-9360
Stan’s is a bit of an institution around Yankee Stadium, offering one-stop shopping for Yankee paraphernalia and a go-to sports bar just a few doors down. From Yogi Berra and Derek Jeter jerseys to “warm up” infant onesies, Stan’s has something for every fan.

Bogopa: Food Bazaar
238 E. 161st St., 718-538-3720
This market offers fresh produce and other foods for Colombian, Mexican and Dominican cooks. It’s reasonably priced and easy to navigate, but be prepared to throw elbows if you go on a weekend.  

Bronx Borough Hall Greenmarket
Grand Concourse and 161st Street, 212-788-7990
Local farmers set up on Tuesdays from June through Dec. 21, offering fresh produce, free recipes and baked goods.

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TO SEE

61st Street and River Avenue, 718-293-4300
Little introduction is needed for the world-famous home of the New York Yankees. The stadium has events and concerts all year, and also supports Bronx families by giving out food vouchers at Thanksgiving and holding a Holiday Food Drive for local families in need of assistance.

Joyce Kilmer Park
Bounded by Grand Concourse, Walton Avenue, 164th and 161st Streets
The Joyce Kilmer park, named after the poet who penned “I think I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree,” runs along the Grand Concourse. The park and playgrounds were restored in 2004 and the Lorelei fountain, based on a siren from German mythology, beckons locals near the entrance.

Pregones Theater
571-575 Walton Ave., 718-585-1202
A showcase for Latino and Puerto Rican musicals and plays, the Pregones has been a force in the Bronx theater world since 1981. Half-priced tickets are available to residents of the Bronx, East Harlem and Washington Heights.

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Neighborhood Q&A: Miriam Tabb

Miriam Tabb, 45, has lived in Concourse Village for 40 years. An active member of her community, she volunteers at the Bronx Museum and Community Board 4.


How has the neighborhood changed?
The [new] stadium changed [it]. It brought a lot of business owners to improve the quality of the restaurant scene. I like G-Bar and Z’Novia. Theres’s also Billy’s by the stadium. And who would have thought the Bronx would have a Hard Rock Café?

What’s it like living so close to Yankee Stadium? You can not find any fan more diehard than a Yankee fan, but I don’t think we’re rowdy. I can hear the ripples and roars of concerts and games from my apartment. When we won the World Series in 2009 there were hundreds of people outside, just walking toward the stadium.

Who lives in Concourse Village? A lot of people have moved in: Africans, Mexicans, and Dominicans, but the whole Concourse used to be Jewish.
What are some downsides to the neighborhood? We’re last on the totem pole, the last to get something done for us. But we’re the first to be criticized. Also, I wish more people would allow me to show them some of the beauty at the [Bronx] museum. We need more of that culture. 

What would you like to see in the area? We need a Bronx Hip-Hop Museum. We put a culture on the map – which is rap, now hip-hop. I’d hate to see it somewhere else.

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REAL ESTATE

Many apartments in Concourse Village don’t list with brokers, but handle vacancies through the management company, so finding a place can take legwork (bonus: no broker’s fee). Manhattan transplants like the quick commute and low rents, but hope more businesses will open.

TO RENT
$998
A studio on Walton Avenue with a renovated kitchenette and oak floors
$950
A newly renovated one-bedroom on the Grand Concourse at 168th Street with natural light and heat and hot water included
$1,275
A two-bedroom on Grand Concourse at Walton Avenue with all new appliances and no broker’s fee
$1,395
A two-bedroom on the Grand Concourse in a doorman building with granite countertops and custom cabinetry
Contact: Shane Neil at Rapid Realty, 347-850-3278

TO BUY
$249,000
A 1,050-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath co-op with granite countertops and courtyard views at 800 Grand Councourse
Contact: Mable Ivory, 917-648-1192

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THE ONE THING YOU MUST DO

Visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, 718-681-6000), which is exhibiting photography by Paul Strand, videos by Australian artist Tracey Moffatt and a textural study of the earth by Bosco Sodi (all through Jan.  2). Visit bronxmuseum.org for more information.

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THE BUZZ

The City is working to complete Heritage Field & Ruppert Plaza, on the site of the old Yankee Stadium, by next fall. The park will include playgrounds, gardens and, of course, three diamonds for baseball and softball.

 

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