Can we unite north, south Riverdale?


It’s a tale of two communities — but if the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp. has its way — it might just be one.

KRVC is using a $100,000 grant from New York City Small Business Services as a way to join forces with another community organization — the Riverdale Main Streets Alliance — with the hopes of bringing positivity, beauty and unity to the community. And making the northern and southern parts of Riverdale basically just Riverdale.

Laura Levine-Pinedo, director of the 4Bronx Project — and the incoming interim executive director of KRVC — says that unity can come through  promoting beautiful streets and economic flourishment. And while Kingsbridge and Marble Hill to a certain extent has the Kingsbridge Business District, “up the hill” has to rely on groups like the Riverdale Main Streets and KRVC.

“We always speak Riverdale,” Levine-Pinedo said. “We always speak Riverdale north, south. The Riverdale main street is very north-centric, so it’s really to introduce with our longstanding reputation community partnerships the merchants of south Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil to the alliance to create a more unified Riverdale.”

KRVC first got wind of the grant late last year, and for the past month, Levine-Pinedo has been out organizing and preparing to implement it under the mentorship of KRVC executive director Tracy Shelton. It is set to last until June.

With the grant, Levine-Pinedo said neighbors can expect monthly meetings with local merchants, workshops, sidewalk clean-ups and the creation of a “beautiful mural.”

It focuses primarily on Riverdale and Johnson avenues between West 235th and West 236th streets. But it doesn’t mean it can’t expand, Levine-Pinedo said. For example,  if the folks in Knolls Crescent want to join in, the merchants there are more than welcome to reach out.

“We actually need help promoting, we want to get more merchants,” she said. “You know the problem with these things is you do the monthly meetings, and then it starts out slow. And then by May, everyone is on board but now it’s too late.

“We’re in March. We still have time, I really want to get them together.”

Some of the money from  the grant is being redirected to different projects, including one with Joselyn Martinez, who owns a private online business consulting firm, to help her better connect with merchants about branding and outreach.

Another mini-grant, for a lack of better term, focused on how businesses can receive city certification for being minority- or women-owned businesses.

Monthly merchant meetings have already started — and even produced results, Levine-Pineda said. At one meeting, concerns of littering along Riverdale and Johnson avenues surfaced. As a result, KRVC and Riverdale Main Streets will host a neighborhood cleanup on April 14.

One of the most visual aspects of the grant will come through a mural by local artist Nicky Enright, which he will create on the southwest corner of West 236th Street and Riverdale Avenue. Enright’s work has been featured in the Bronx Museum of the Arts and at Wave Hill.

The mural — “For the Birds” will be interactive, highlighting the high-flying creatures above the community while also raising awareness to their vulnerability due to climate change. It is expected to be completed by summer.

Small business spotlights are also planned with short videos and on the 4Bronx CommuniTea Podcast that Levine-Pinedo hosts. With the platform, merchants tell their stories on how they got into the business. Expect to hear from local companies like Midtown Physical Therapy, Liebman’s Deli, Salvatore’s of Soho, Blackstone Bar & Grill and Tin Marin in the coming weeks and months. 

Already making an appearance on the podcast was Damian McShane, president of Riverdale Main Streets.

“One of our goals is not to be a North Riverdale organization,” McShane told Levine-Pinedo on the show, “but to be a Riverdale organization.”

The grant also helps with other less visible areas of needs, like printing business cards and menus on a limited basis.

But the biggest project under the grant comes in the form of Small Business Week running between May 13 and May 20, where all local businesses can participate free of charge.

A brochure or magazine will be created with all of the businesses, specials and discounts. And all of that will be followed by a block party May 19 hosted by KRVC and Riverdale Main Streets. The plan is to get a shuttle to transport people from south to north for a unified Riverdale, and hopefully spark an economic surplus.

“We’re really dedicated, and I think that each business has a story,” Levine Pinedo said. “And I really value getting the story out to people. I’m just so proud to be from Riverdale. I’m all over the borough now, and I’m just like ‘Riverdale, Riverdale, Riverdale,’ so I just think we need to really celebrate the amazing community and people that we have.”

Any local merchant who is interested in joining or learning more should email or

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