To the editor:
The fight either to save the beautiful Villa Rosa Bonheur at 2395 Palisade Ave., in Spuyten Duyvil (built in 1924 as the first co-op in the Bronx), or to preserve the scale of building that the Villa represents, is far from over.
The Save Villa Rosa Bonheur Coalition is now at approximately 20 energetic, committed people who live in Riverdale and who are sickened at the idea that this beautiful, landmark-worthy building will be destroyed to make Timber Equities, the developer who bought it only to tear it down, richer. If Timber Equities wants to “bring middle-class housing to Riverdale” as they have often publicly stated through paid spokespeople, why does it have no public track record of doing this?
This is another lie from a developer — and it’s sad that some people in high places will be deceived by it. The truth is, Timber so far has not filed any plans for the future of Villa Rosa Bonheur. They only have a permit to demolish the building, which strangely enough, the city’s buildings department allows. In other words, you can tear down anything in New York, with no guarantees at all what will replace it.
One of the real fears of the coalition is that Timber with demolish the building “after hours,” a common tactic of developers — leaving any possibility of preserving Villa Rosa Bonheur lost.
There is nothing to keep them from doing this except public opinion, and the pressure from our own elected officials here in Riverdale. And it seems that the elected officials — in this Age of Donald Trump — have decided that Timber has every right to do what they want to with their own money, even if it means erecting a 50-plus unit structure with little parking on a narrow ledge of land that can ecologically support only a smaller, more reasonable structure.
There are a lot of issues involved here: land use, the long-term health of the neighborhood (if Timber does not do an adequate job at total asbestos removal), parking in an already congested area of Riverdale, as well as how will any below-ground demolition at the Villa impact the important, ongoing work on the adjacent Henry Hudson Bridge.
There has been some talk that Timber may be open to reason and may, in fact, actually be willing to resell the property to a non-profit willing to work with the neighborhood to restore this gorgeous building. This gives the coalition a glimmer of hope, and we certainly would work with any group wanting to pursue this possibility.
If you want to get involved in our fight to preserve either the Villa itself or the humane scale of development in Riverdale, please get in touch with the Save Villa Rosa Bonheur Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author, who resides at nearby Villa Charlotte Bronte, is a member of Save Villa Rosa Bonheur Coalition.