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Construction Will Start Soon On $75 Million Renovation Of Bronx's Historic Orchard Beach Pavilion

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A major renovation project at a New York City landmark which was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic is back on.

As CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported Wednesday, the plan includes restoring history while investing in the future of the beach at Pelham Bay Park.

The sun has been shining over Orchard Beach -- the Bronx's only public beach -- and people have been soaking it in.

"This is our little place, our little paradise," one area resident said.

"People come here for a total getaway," resident Karlene Baghaloo added.

READ MOREThe 5 Best Beaches In New York City

But opposite the view of the Long Island Sound is a bit of an eyesore. The deteriorating pavilion has been mostly closed to the public for years.

Orchard Beach Pavilion
(Photo: CBS2)

"It's such a wonderful place. Why not make it as great as it can be?" said Sue Cirillo, a Westchester County resident who grew up in the Bronx.

That has been the mission of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who grew up going to the beach, the so-called "Bronx Riviera."

"Orchard Beach is one of the jewels of not only our borough but all of New York City; it has the potential to be an even greater tourist attraction and place for Bronx residents to go with their families thanks to this renovation. A revitalized Orchard Beach will undoubtedly attract people from all over the region, if not the world all year-round, filled with local stores, restaurants and entertainment to enjoy," Diaz said. "The Bronx Riviera has the potential to become an economic engine and a New York City destination point, and that is why I am proud to have allocated nearly $25 million of capital funding into this project. I would like to thank the City of New York, New York City Economic Development Corporation and my colleagues in government who have helped to move this project forward so the world can enjoy one of my favorite places, my borough, The Boogie Down Bronx."

He has been trying to restore this piece of area history, which was built in the 1930s, but it took years to raise the $75 million needed.

"It's not just about allocating money. It's not just about planning, but doing it with a long-term purpose so that we can have a year-round economic destination point," Diaz said.

The city's Parks Department and Economic Development Corporation are partnering on the project.

"We were paused a bit due to COVID, but with COVID in the rearview mirror, we are restarting design and advancing the project," Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Rachel Loeb said.

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A final step was getting approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, since the site was designated a city landmark in 2006. Now, Marvel Architects can move forward.

"Our responsibility is to bring this pavilion back to life as close as possible to where it was during 1930s, but at the same time bring it up to code and make it accessible to everyone," said Annya Ramirez, Marvel's director.

Changes include ramps for easy access to the beach, as the design team showed CBS2 on site, and also the return of concessions.

"Under us here, historically, there was a large cafeteria space. We're bringing that back. It's gonna be a large seating area," Marvel associate Martha Bush said.

READ MOREBest Historic Landmarks In New York City

Diaz said he pictures stores, an event space, and restaurants to bring people to the beach year-round.

That's welcome news for those who have been coming to the area their whole lives.

"It would be tremendous, tremendous. It would really, really uplift the area," Bronx resident Antonio Ramos said.

Construction is set to start next spring and take about two years, so expect to see the entire vision come to life in 2024.

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