As the Bronx borough president readies his second State of the Borough address since being elected, he says he is trying to build up a positive image for the Bronx. Borough reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
It has been a good year in the Bronx, according to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
"Four hundred forty-million dollars in housing, right here in the Bronx over the last year alone. That's over 108,000 housing units of all kinds," says Diaz.
In his State of the Borough address on Thursday, Diaz says he is going to tout the positives.
"We are leading the city in green buildings, we have the most buildings with green roofs, we have the most buildings with wind turbines and solar panels and co-generators," says Diaz.
He says the economic development arm of his office has helped to get money for various companies and projects.
"In loans and in grants over $32 million to Bronx businesses, both large and small, corporations and mom and pop [stores]," says the borough president.
There is still some unsettled business over the Kingsbridge Armory. A little more than a year ago, Diaz convinced the city council to shoot down the mayor's shopping mall proposal for the property. Diaz demanded workers make more than the minimum wage that was being offered.
The borough president says he has what he calls some "real proposals," but will not unveil them until later this year.
"We have so much interest from the YMCA, from the New York Management Arena, from the film industry," he says.
Although there has been a spike in crime over the last year, Diaz says the borough is a safe place. He says he is tired of people and the media holding onto stereotypes from 20 and 30 years ago.
"This is why I took on 'American Idol' when they portrayed the Bronx in a negative light, this is why I took on [TV host] Glenn Beck when he portrayed Co-Op City in a negative light," says Diaz. "We are not going to allow anyone to trivialize or erase the good work that has been done here."
Although there has been talk about putting a major hotel in the Yankee Stadium area for more than a decade, Diaz says he will speak about the issue once again this year and that he has new details.
Diaz says a site has been selected, the mayor is on board and hotel chains are very interested. The final component, financing, has to be worked out, as well as making sure local residents get fair wages to build and work at the site.