Business Attraction in Action

Melrose Retail Space Tour Recap!

“I didn’t know WHEDco could do all of this!” was a phrase overheard during WHEDco’s recent Retail Space Tour across the Melrose neighborhood in the South Bronx.

More than 30 attendees –who included prospective restaurateurs, childcare entrepreneurs, and alternative lenders eager to help Bronx businesses thrive– hopped on a red-and-green trolley with WHEDco’s Community Development team and our resident Bronx folklorist to visit available commercial storefronts, including 30,000 SF of new ground floor commercial space under construction.

The entrepreneurs had a one-of-a-kind experience, where they were able to connect with small business resources and networking opportunities, receive free and up-to-date neighborhood market data, and gain access to pre-leasing opportunities for several prime retail spaces.

Attendees were able to gauge the potential of the spaces shown, make direct connections with onsite property representatives, and access B2B networking opportunities. The tour was elevated by the neighborhood stories that our resident folklorist and Co-Artistic Director of WHEDco’s Bronx Music Heritage Center, Elena Martínez, helped to weave using historical facts, landmarks, music and pictures. Toward the end of the tour, the attendees’ enthusiasm was infectious during the bonus tours of Bronx CookSpace, WHEDco’s commercial kitchen incubator, located at its Urban Horizons affordable housing development.

“I was so impressed [by] the available spaces… and on such a short visit!” exclaimed a Bronx entrepreneur who is in need of space for a Caribbean restaurant.

WHEDco’s Retail Space Tours are part of its robust community development initiatives. Our comprehensive community development approach includes assessing community assets, needs, and economic opportunity in the neighborhoods where our affordable housing developments are located. Our retail space tours chiefly target local retailers and entrepreneurs looking to expand into vacant spaces on key commercial corridors in these neighborhoods, in response to community surveys and data we collect from residents and merchants.

Prior to beginning our retail attraction efforts in the area, WHEDco conducted assessments of 1,000 Melrose community members, as well as demographic and market analyses (ESRI, Census) of the one-mile trade area around Melrose-E. 161st Street to study the history, population shifts, and unmet retail demand in the neighborhood. It revealed $241 million in annual retail leakage in several key categories of retail.

The Melrose Retail Space Tour was made possible, in part, by the NYC Department of Small Business Services’ Avenue NYC Grant Program, which helps community-based organizations in low- to moderate-income communities across the five boroughs to implement commercial revitalization activities that help create vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods where people can live, work, shop, do business and thrive.

Interested in learning more about available spaces? Click here!