Welcome2TheBronx! Well, It Depends On If Ed García Conde Approves

Bronx Blogger Criticizes Development in the South Bronx

by Koi Germany, Staff Writer 


Majora Carter, an outspoken environmental justice activist and urban strategist (and one-time recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant), who fought for environmental justice in her Hunts Point neighborhood and a greener Bronx, is now being accused by one very vocal critic of backpedalling and pandering to new money interests in the borough.

In an article posted to the blog Welcome2TheBronx, Eduardo García Conde, its author and founder launched a diatribe against Carter, calling her “no longer a friend, but a traitor to our communities,” for her involvement in bringing Birch Coffee, a high-end café, to Hunts Point.

He argued that, “Rather than supporting our own local coffee entrepreneurs, she preferred to help bring in a company from Manhattan and Long Island City with no connections to our borough.” Mr. García Conde also cited a recent guerilla sticker campaign targeting Carter to bolster his claims.


Adorned with banners proclaiming her to be a “local sellout”, with an accompanying hashtag, #ColumbusSyndrome, the stickers all but fly in the face of her previous efforts.

The crux of the vandalism and García Conde’s argument is a quote from an interview she gave with the New York Times, also featured on the sticker, in which she claimed, “We like to see that work that we do as self-gentrification.”

In the Times article, Carter refers to internal growth and reinvestment within the borough by current residents and business owners. However, García Conde instead parses her wording for the buzzword now giving borough residents cause for concern, gentrification.

In reviewing at the concerns raised by Mr. García Conde and his critics, it seems he is missing the intended purpose of  new affordable and luxury housing and businesses mixing incomes, classes and races, by  fixates himself on the new. García Conde lumps the coffee shops in with the recent spate of developments and interest in the South Bronx, which he believes will “whitewash” the community. Inthis context, “whitewash” is a loaded term ladened with racial and economic undertones.

However, behavior of this sort is not uncommon for the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Melrose,” and businesses, owners and developers who run afoul of what fits into his ideal picture of the Bronx should expect unpleasant exchanges.

In his LinkedIn profile, García Conde says that he created his various websites and his blog because he was fed up with “mainstream media’s negative coverage of Melrose, the South Bronx and the Bronx.”


The self-promoting and media-friendly García Conde’s LinkedIn profile also notes that because he’s “[c]onsidered an authority on many Bronx issues, Ed’s stories often shape the local news” and that he has been quoted over 150 times by the mainstream media. Last year, García Conde received the New York City Historic District Council’s Friend In The Media Grassroots Award.


Before relocating to the Bronx in 1994, the ‘Mayor of Melrose’ lived in East Harlem for three years. García Conde, a real estate appraiser, is a regular presence at meetings and discussions about the evolution of the Melrose, Mott Haven and other areas of the South Bronx.


In an April 2016 interview with NY.Curbed.com, García Conde confessed that he doesn’t think all development is necessarily a bad thing. “My problem with development is when it turns into displacement, and what we’re seeing now is interest that will displace the current population, he said. He admitted to going head to head with the Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., over Diaz’s assertion that gentrification wasn’t happening in the South Bronx. García Conde accused Diaz of not understanding the concept [of gentrification], “because it’s clearly happening.”


As the Mayor of Melrose, Mr. García Conde subscribes to his own set of zoning and development principles. For him, developers should not bring new or transplanted businesses into the Bronx—that’s not development, that’s gentrification, he says. Instead they should nurture and support local entrepreneurs.


“In that essence, it’s not a good thing, because a lot of these developers don’t really care about the residence and they’re looking to turn profit,” García Conde told his NY Curbed interviewer.


Critics of García Conde and his blog have expressed concern and disagreement with his behavior and his public harassment — “shaming” as one critic puts it — of local eateries through social media. In the last two weeks, they report that García Conde went off on rants against The Bronx Brewery, Birch Cafe, and now Moss Cafe.


“Its getting out of hand [as] one of his followers already suggested graffiti bombing Birch,” said a former South Bronx resident and critic who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Mr. García Conde and his legion.


Ed Conde_FreshDirect Boycott


“He came to the meeting with his own understanding of our intentions as a company and wasn’t really willing to listen to us so we can tell our story about why we’re here, what we’re intending to do,” said Damien Brown, co-founder of the Bronx Brewery, who offered to sit down with García Conde when he took umbrage at their selling to grocery delivery service, FreshDirect.

“I think that since then, because of that, because of our sales to our distributor that sells to Fresh Direct he’s labeled us as bad actor in the community,” echoed Bronx Brewery partner Chris Gallant.


García Conde’s claim is a tenuous one at best, as the brewery is known to sponsor a number of organizations including the Bronx Museum and New York Restoration project.


“Part of why we started this company and part of what gets us up in the morning and coming here is building this into a successful company and playing a positive role in the community. It’s discouraging and upsetting to hear otherwise,” Brown concluded.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr has also been a frequent target of criticism by Mr. García Conde. Diaz has drawn García Conde’s ire because he welcomes and supports economic development projects, such as the relocation of FreshDirect from Queens, and a mix of market rate housing in the South Bronx. Diaz believes that existing housing and human rights law can be used to mitigate against displacement of lower income residents.



Ed Conde_Silicon Valley_Ruben Diaz


Citing Diaz’s support of FreshDirect and its fleet of delivery trucks, has gone so far as to blame Diaz for the death of little girl who died of asthma. 

Ed Conde_Asthma


In previous statements from his office, Diaz points out that over the past two years FreshDirect has made significant investments in new technologies to reduce its carbon footprint including purchasing all-electric, hybrid-electric, and clean diesel vehicles. 


“The NEDC Breathe Easy Leadership Award from the EPA shows that FreshDirect is serious about being a good neighbor and upholding the commitments they made, and that the Obama Administration recognizes those achievements,” said Diaz in a 2015 press statement.



Supporters of Borough President Diaz assert that García Conde fails to realize is that his condemnations are harmful to the community. They contend that the supposed gentrifiers he seeks to chase away are providers of jobs and opportunities within the borough. It appears that as Bronx employment numbers rise, it begs the question of whether a few new businesses in the South Bronx are as damaging as García Conde seems to think.


A rumor is going around local political circles allege that García Conde, a registered Democrat and supporter of failed presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, is looking to go from ‘Mayor of Melrose’ to Bronx Borough President. A quick review of his voting history reveals that until this year, he only voted in general elections, not Democratic Party primaries. On social media, he has criticized the Bronx Democratic Party of being corrupt and comprised of sellouts. In the last ten years, he has only donated a total of $125 to two candidates running for city council.

Rather than cherry-pick, García Conde should support businesses in the Bronx uniformly and work to unite the borough so many (newcomers, too) hold near and dear to their hearts. For all his warts, García Conde certainly has positively impacted some businesses through his promotion and work as a blogger.

“His review was just and helped us. He came to our business by word of mouth and his review gave us much needed exposure,” said Jorswar Montalvo, owner of the South Bronx Restaurant La Masa.


For this article, Ed García Conde was not available for comment. Majora Carter declined to comment. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email