From 1983 to 1993, the BAALDC in conjunction with the City of New York, had undertaken several capital improvement projects that have enhanced the physical appearance and commercial viability of the Belmont community under the marketing slogan; “Little Italy in the Bronx”. This 10 year effort encompassed millions of dollars in capital assistance to property owners and merchants along the two major commercial streets of Belmont: Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street. In addition, a series of marketing and promotional activities including caricature maps, videos, newspapers advertisements, as well as signage and brochures assisted in the efforts of encouraging both residents and non-residents to come and experience the uniqueness of this old world Italian community.
The upgrading of Belmont streets has included major reconstruction of roadways, adjustments and realignments of sidewalks, installation of pedestrian safety amenities, and curbing improvements along Arthur Avenue from East 184th Street to East 188th Street, and along East 187th Street from Lorillard Place to Beaumont Avenue.
Columbus Plaza / D’Auria Murphy Park
Part of the $3.2 million dollar improvement of the Belmont community resulted in the relocation and redesign of D’Auria Park. Previously located at East 189th Street and Bathgate Avenue, D’Auria Park underwent a complete redesign and was relocated to the intersection of Crescent and Arthur Avenue. The Columbus bust was sculpted by Attilio Piccirelli who was the same sculptor of the famous Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C.
The Pernicone Plaza located at the corner of Crescent Avenue, Cambreleng Avenue, and East 187th Street was developed using a decorative paving pattern of granite with an inscription honoring Bishop Pernicone’s dedication to the Belmont community. It is surrounded by three 50-foot flagpoles that display different organizations and cultures of the community. The cost of this project has been in excess of $150,000.
Frank Simeone Plaza
In remembrance of a life-long resident and active merchant who devoted his life to preserving and promoting the Belmont retail district, The Frank Simeone Plaza located at East 186th Street between Arthur Avenue and Hughes Avenue, was designed to provide an open-air forum for the Enrico Fermi Cultural Center. This $127,000 improvement project included street reconstruction, decorative brick paving, extended sidewalks & curbs, and numerous street amenities.
Since its inception, the BAALDC has provided over 100 façade improvement grants, as well as interior renovations to landlords and merchants along the main retail streets of Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street. Grants were provided dollar-to-dollar invested by the landlord/merchant. The total amount of grants thus far provided has been in excess of $750,000.
Located at the intersection of Arthur Avenue and East 187th Street, the BAALDC commissioned the construction of a vast in pigmented concrete medallion with the Italian colors of green, white, and red surrounded by brass lettering reading: “Little Italy of the Bronx – The Good Taste of Tradition”. This medallion has served as a focal point and a symbolic gateway to the Belmont retail district. The total cost of this project was $130,000.