Powell honors namesake building in Bronx

Gen. Powell at a ceremony for namesake apartments. Photo: Elettra Fiumi

Gen. Powell at a ceremony for namesake apartments. Photo: Elettra Fiumi

by Alexander Besant and Elettra Fiumi

Gen. Colin Powell  inaugurated a new affordable housing co-op in his name on Thursday, by reminding visitors how important the South Bronx was to his childhood.

The General Colin L. Powell Apartments located on Fox Street in the Longwood section of the Bronx is just blocks away from where Powell was raised.

“When I was growing up here in the 1940s and 50s, it was a wonderful place,” said Powell. “I left the Bronx 55 years ago but the Bronx never left me.”

Local political leaders including U.S. Rep. José Serrano, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. and Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. honored Powell’s continued commitment to the neighborhood.

“This is evidence of how we are working together to better our neighborhood,” said Díaz Jr.

The apartments were built by Blue Sea Development, a Manhattan-based real estate development company, and Habitat for Humanity, which collaborated on the construction with future owners and volunteers.

Blue Sea Development Partner, Les Bluestone, chose to dedicate the building to the retired general and former U.S.  Secretary of State after reading his autobiography and learning that he grew up in the neighborhood.

“I had just finished his book and learned that he lived a few blocks away,” said Bluestone. “I had this idea: Why name it something generic, when we could give it a name that meant something to the people in the community?”

Mark Jahr, President of the New York Housing Development Corporation, which has invested more than $200 million dollars into the neighborhood, lauded the project for its potential to help an economically depressed area.

“All these developments are not only helping to ensure that folks have decent affordable housing and homes to live in,” said Jahr. “They are also creating jobs, stimulating the local economy, and strengthening the fabric of the neighborhood.”

The building is LEED-certified, the most recognized stamp of approval for green buildings, or environmentally friendly buildings, in the U.S.

“This building helps move forward our goal of being the greenest borough in the city and the greenest county in the nation,” said Díaz Jr.

Future residents were excited as they toured their new apartments.

“My daughter will love it, “ said Cruzmaria Renvill, a physical therapy assistant at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and soon-to-be resident in the new building. “Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony. It’s great.”

In his speech, Powell expressed hope that the building would serve the community for decades to come.

“This place will be an inspiration to future generations,” said Powell.

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