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Stephanie Coggins
Stephanie Coggins signed this petition

Villa Rosa Bonheur  ("VRB") has stood on a rocky promontory overlooking the Spuyten Duyvil Creek for more than nine decades. In 2017, VRB was bought by investors, who initially represented to DOB, elected officials and the public that the development plan was for an interior renovation. Around August 2018, workmen began the demolition of the roof in violation of existing permits. After eleven weeks of public outcry, the Department of Buildings finally admitted that the demolition work was being done without proper permits, and more distressingly, in the absence of asbestos abatement and protective scaffolding.

Recently, building plans were approved by a DOB’S zoning examiner. Local activists have attempted to preserve the beloved structure and bring to light the violations and the irregularities of enforcement by city agencies. Unfortunately, as an “as-of-right” property, the developer’s plan for total demolition will prevail.  

A seven story, 55-unit cement rental building will be constructed on the footprint of a graceful seven-unit historical  and architectural gemstone.

Built in 1924 as a co-operative by John J. McKelvey, Sr.  — a lawyer, writer and developer, who also was the first editor-in-chief of the Harvard Law Review and proud Oberlin College alumnus, VRB has been a beloved landmark of the neighborhood, (located at 2395 Palisade Avenue) in the Spuyten Duyvil section of Riverdale, in the Bronx.

McKelvey — who also built the Villa Rosa Bonheur’s sisters, the Villa Charlotte Brontë and Villa Victoria around the same time, was alarmed by the wave of high-rise “city ugly” development spreading through New York City at the time. His answer was to construct cooperative apartments resembling villas- the famous “City Beautiful” movement of the early twentieth century.

Mr. McKelvey’s legacy in Spuyten Duyvil includes not just the three “Villas” (Rosa Bonheur, Charlotte Brontë and Victoria) but also as the secretary and director of  the development entities the Along-the-Hudson Company and the Edgehill Terrace Company;  as attorney for the Edgehill Co-Operative Savings & Loan Association; member of the Contracts and Bronx Committees of the Hudson–Fulton Celebration Commission of 1909; as secretary of the Henry Hudson Monument Committee of 1909; as founding member, trustee and incorporator of the Edgehill Church, and as trustee of the Barnard School for Boys (now part of Horace Mann School).

His practice of law included a preservationist vision which resonates today in the picturesque tranquility of our green space and commitment to a planned and balanced community.

In order to memorialize Villa Rosa Bonheur and the contributions of John J. McKelvey, Sr. , a nomination for the names “Villa Rosa Bonheur” and “John J. McKelvey, Sr.”  to be incorporated into the existing name of mapped street “Bradley Terrace” will be made to the Bronx Community Board 8.

If approved, an application for a permanent street name change will be made by CB8 to the New York City Council.

Please take a moment to sign this petition asking for Bronx Community Board 8 to make an application to the NYC Council for a street name change as follows:

1)      landing at the top of the Bradley Terrace mapped street be named
Villa Rosa Bonheur Terrace”:

2)     “John J. McKelvey, Sr.” be added as the co-name for the stairs leading down along Bradley Terrace to Edsall Avenue, thus “Bradley/John J. McKelvey Terrace
(or some similar appropriate naming convention.)

Thank you for being a part of this tribute to Spuyten Duyvil history.

If possible, please include your street address, so it is clear that there is local support.