VERTICAL AUTO MERCHANTS BUILDING (VAMB)

 

Background:

The auto mechanic industry has suffered a history of displacement and neglect in New York City. Following the Willets Point redevelopment, 45 auto repair shops had to move to the Bronx and are now in bankruptcy. The impending Jerome Avenue rezoning is likely to precipitate a similar scenario without intervention. The rezoning will have a significant impact on the approximately 200 auto-related businesses in the area, causing most to be displaced as hundreds of workers and their dependents lose their livelihoods. The City has predicted that 72% of existing auto businesses are at risk of displacement by new housing and with no support, the remaining merchants will have to compete with new higher- rent-paying commercial tenants, leading to more businesses being pushed out. As a decade long advocate and technical assistance provider for Bronx and NYC auto repair shops, UAMA is uniquely positioned to address the challenges of Jerome/Cromwell Avenue corridor auto merchants/mechanics and has developed a multi-pronged short-term intervention to strengthen their capacity and prepare auto-related businesses for dislocation in anticipation of the rezoning of the area.

“Despite providing an important source of employment, auto businesses are often under threat from changing land uses, rising real estate prices, and hostile permitting conditions.”

— Under the Hood A Look into New York City’s Auto Repair Industry, February 2017, Pratt Center for Community Development, in partnership with UAMA and Bronx Coalition for A Community Vision

 The short-term strategy involves:
  • Organizing auto businesses to inform them on the rezoning process, acting as their advocate with the City of New York.
  • Conducting one-on-one technical assistance to businesses to address the challenges in navigating regulations and ensure that they are in compliance.
  • Conducting business management & administration workshops to owners/managers.
  • Providing training and educational programs for auto business employees and local residents interested in careers in the auto sector.

As a longer term and sustainable strategy, UAMA seeks to develop a Vertical Auto Merchants Building for businesses that need to be relocated from Jerome Avenue.

 

ABOUT THE VERTICAL AUTO MERCHANTS BUILDING (VAMB)

The concept for the Vertical Auto Merchants Building was developed by Pedro J. Estevez, President and Founder of UAMA and his son PJ Jr. The solution, which minimizes the footprint of hundreds of shops, is designed to accommodate all the businesses displaced from the Jerome/Cromwell/Inwood Ave corridor in one development. The building will serve as a one-stop shop for clients and include retail space in its ground level, making it a family-friendly destination. The building will be constructed according to green building standards and meet all City, State and Federal Auto Service Industry Operating Regulations. Its small footprint will further minimize environmental impact. The VAMB will house state of the art technology and equipment and offer service by Auto Service Excellence (ASE) certified technicians utilizing the latest diagnostic and repair tools.

VAMP Floors UAMA

ANTICIPATED BENEFITS:

  • Prevents loss of jobs and shop closures due to displacement, creates additional job opportunities that offer living wages for low-income individuals with limited educational backgrounds.
  • Supports the city’s tax base through the formalization of hundreds of businesses.
  • Includes solutions to environmental pollution issues in the auto repair industry.
  • Offers training opportunities for workforce, including industry-recognized certifications.
  • Leads to improved customer service.
  • Develops a replicable model for NYC and other cities.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Pedro Estevez, President & Founder 1332 Commerce Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461

631-380-8262 – pj.estevez@uamanys.org – www.uamanys.org

Displaced Willets Point Auto Shops Being Evicted from New Bronx Home

Displaced Willets Point Auto Shops Being Evicted from New Bronx Home

 

By Katie Honan | September 22, 2017 1:51pm | Updated September 25, 2017 8:56am

 Shop owners displaced from Willets Point are now being evicted from their Hunts Point shop. A sign, which translates to

HUNTS POINT — More than three years ago, 45 mechanic and auto-body shops agreed to move from their Willets Point storefronts to a large warehouse in The Bronx, after the city took over their properties for a massive redevelopment of the area.

Now, those shop owners say they’re being evicted from their new home over unpaid rent, after struggling in a location far from their usual customers in the Iron Triangle.

“It’s sad, isn’t it?” Marco Neira, the president of the Sunrise Cooperative, said at a news conference Thursday inside the barren warehouse at 1080 Leggett Ave. “We are in the worst spot right now.”

The cooperative, made up of 45 businesses, received more than $7 million from the city to move the shops to The Bronx and build out a new home for themselves. They turned down individual buyouts and instead chose to pool their money for the new facility, to maintain the one-stop-shopping convenience for drivers looking for repairs.

But since moving to The Bronx, it hasn’t been easy.

The cooperative filed for bankruptcy last fall. And now, after failing to pay months of rent on their large warehouse, they’re getting the boot — and pleading for more help from the city.

“[The city] can stop this,” Pedro Estevez, president of the United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA), said at the news conference Thursday. He said other businesses on Jerome Avenue, which are facing displacement from a separate rezoning, will likely face the same fate.

“You must stop this.”

 

City Councilman Rafael Salamanca who represents the area, said the building’s landlord was at fault for not working with both the city and the businesses to find a solution. Calls to the landlord — Advantage Wholesale Supply, a building maintenance supply company — were not returned.

He also said the city shouldn’t abandon the workers, many of whom have returned to Willets Point to work at other shops or are on public assistance.

“[The city] took over their land, they promised them that they would help them, they promised with a financial commitment,” he said. “That promise has been broken.”

The Economic Development Corporation, which is in charge of the Willets Point development plan and oversaw the stores’ relocation, said it’s done “everything in our power” to keep the Sunrise Cooperative afloat.

After giving the group $7.5 million to renovate the Bronx warehouse, the agency provided an additional $2.4 million “in yet another effort to help keep them afloat,” an EDC spokeswoman said. But the landlord is refusing to accept the additional cash.

“We are surprised and deeply disappointed that the landlord of 1080 Leggett Avenue has been unwilling to accept that offer, and has chosen to evict the co-op rather than work with us to move this project forward,” EDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said in a statement.

It’s just the latest issue for the Willets Point development plan, which was approved by the City Council in 2013.

Sunrise Cooperative, an organization with businesses located in phase 1 of the development area, was the only applicant for the Willets Point Business Co-Relocation Fund, officials said.

In March 2014, the group leased 1080 Leggett Ave. with funds from the EDC. Neira, president of the cooperative, later filed a lawsuit against the city and the developers to secure more funding, but eventually agreed to drop it as more businesses began to leave Willets Point.

After moving to The Bronx, Neira said the cooperative found the building had multiple violations, and a plan to build out individual stores for the tenants never came to fruition.

Meanwhile, their former buildings in Willets Point have been razed for a development plan that is currently in limbo.

At a Community Board 7 meeting Monday, representatives from the EDC and the Queens Development Group — which were selected to develop the site — were grilled about the future of the site after an appeals court ruled against the proposed “Willets West” mall plan.

Developers said any work done at Willets Point is contingent on the mall construction, which is now blocked. The entire redevelopment plan could get scrapped by either the city or the developers if they don’t find another way to fund a cleanup of the area.

Neira said their long-neglected Willets Point shops had issues, such as unpaved roads and non-existent utilities — but customers still came, and business was brisk.

The new building in Hunts Point was promising, but they feel deceived, he said.

“Right here we had a beautiful place,” he said, “but in reality we had nothing.”

who represents the area, said the building’s landlord was at fault for not working with both the city and the businesses to find a solution. Calls to the landlord — Advantage Wholesale Supply, a building maintenance supply company — were not returned.

He also said the city shouldn’t abandon the workers, many of whom have returned to Willets Point to work at other shops or are on public assistance.

“[The city] took over their land, they promised them that they would help them, they promised with a financial commitment,” he said. “That promise has been broken.”

The Economic Development Corporation, which is in charge of the Willets Point development plan and oversaw the stores’ relocation, said it’s done “everything in our power” to keep the Sunrise Cooperative afloat.

After giving the group $7.5 million to renovate the Bronx warehouse, the agency provided an additional $2.4 million “in yet another effort to help keep them afloat,” an EDC spokeswoman said. But the landlord is refusing to accept the additional cash.

“We are surprised and deeply disappointed that the landlord of 1080 Leggett Avenue has been unwilling to accept that offer, and has chosen to evict the co-op rather than work with us to move this project forward,” EDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said in a statement.

It’s just the latest issue for the Willets Point development plan, which was approved by the City Council in 2013.

Sunrise Cooperative, an organization with businesses located in phase 1 of the development area, was the only applicant for the Willets Point Business Co-Relocation Fund, officials said.

In March 2014, the group leased 1080 Leggett Ave. with funds from the EDC. Neira, president of the cooperative, later filed a lawsuit against the city and the developers to secure more funding, but eventually agreed to drop it as more businesses began to leave Willets Point.

After moving to The Bronx, Neira said the cooperative found the building had multiple violations, and a plan to build out individual stores for the tenants never came to fruition.

Meanwhile, their former buildings in Willets Point have been razed for a development plan that is currently in limbo.

At a Community Board 7 meeting Monday, representatives from the EDC and the Queens Development Group — which were selected to develop the site — were grilled about the future of the site after an appeals court ruled against the proposed “Willets West” mall plan.

Developers said any work done at Willets Point is contingent on the mall construction, which is now blocked. The entire redevelopment plan could get scrapped by either the city or the developers if they don’t find another way to fund a cleanup of the area.

Neira said their long-neglected Willets Point shops had issues, such as unpaved roads and non-existent utilities — but customers still came, and business was brisk.

The new building in Hunts Point was promising, but they feel deceived, he said.

“Right here we had a beautiful place,” he said, “but in reality we had nothing.”

who represents the area, said the building’s landlord was at fault for not working with both the city and the businesses to find a solution. Calls to the landlord — Advantage Wholesale Supply, a building maintenance supply company — were not returned.

He also said the city shouldn’t abandon the workers, many of whom have returned to Willets Point to work at other shops or are on public assistance.

“[The city] took over their land, they promised them that they would help them, they promised with a financial commitment,” he said. “That promise has been broken.”

The Economic Development Corporation, which is in charge of the Willets Point development plan and oversaw the stores’ relocation, said it’s done “everything in our power” to keep the Sunrise Cooperative afloat.

After giving the group $7.5 million to renovate the Bronx warehouse, the agency provided an additional $2.4 million “in yet another effort to help keep them afloat,” an EDC spokeswoman said. But the landlord is refusing to accept the additional cash.

“We are surprised and deeply disappointed that the landlord of 1080 Leggett Avenue has been unwilling to accept that offer, and has chosen to evict the co-op rather than work with us to move this project forward,” EDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said in a statement.

It’s just the latest issue for the Willets Point development plan, which was approved by the City Council in 2013.

Sunrise Cooperative, an organization with businesses located in phase 1 of the development area, was the only applicant for the Willets Point Business Co-Relocation Fund, officials said.

In March 2014, the group leased 1080 Leggett Ave. with funds from the EDC. Neira, president of the cooperative, later filed a lawsuit against the city and the developers to secure more funding, but eventually agreed to drop it as more businesses began to leave Willets Point.

After moving to The Bronx, Neira said the cooperative found the building had multiple violations, and a plan to build out individual stores for the tenants never came to fruition.

Meanwhile, their former buildings in Willets Point have been razed for a development plan that is currently in limbo.

At a Community Board 7 meeting Monday, representatives from the EDC and the Queens Development Group — which were selected to develop the site — were grilled about the future of the site after an appeals court ruled against the proposed “Willets West” mall plan.

Developers said any work done at Willets Point is contingent on the mall construction, which is now blocked. The entire redevelopment plan could get scrapped by either the city or the developers if they don’t find another way to fund a cleanup of the area.

Neira said their long-neglected Willets Point shops had issues, such as unpaved roads and non-existent utilities — but customers still came, and business was brisk.

The new building in Hunts Point was promising, but they feel deceived, he said.

“Right here we had a beautiful place,” he said, “but in reality we had nothing.”

News 12 – The Bronx

THE BRONX –  August 19th 2017

Hundreds march against rezoning plans for Jerome Ave.

Hundreds of residents gathered Saturday for a march to voice their displeasure with the city’s rezoning plans for Jerome Avenue.

The Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision gathered at Keltch Park for the march and were represented by labor unions and community groups throughout the Bronx.

Residents say they are frustrated with the city’s plan and believe their requests for career track jobs, deeper affordable housing and anti-displacement policies have been ignored.

Community members released a report during the event that they believe will do more to prevent potential small business displacement along Jerome Avenue.

Some people at the march said they just want the city to consider the requests of the people who live in the Bronx and want what is best for their neighborhoods.