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40th Precinct is a tale of two cities as businesses flourish below Bruckner Expwy.

 

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Intensive pressure by cops and feds brings shootings, murders down in 40th Precinct in BronxAt the southern end of the 40th Precinct are a number of old factories that have been converted into new businesses.

RICHARD HARBUS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

At the southern end of the 40th Precinct are a number of old factories that have been converted into new businesses.

Along Bruckner Blvd. near the Third Ave. Bridge, the recent conversion of warehouses and factories into lofts and trendy eateries has seen an influx of young, mostly white, residents. A burgeoning artist community has flourished in the area.

“There’s nowhere else in the city where I could find commercial space and living space like this. The area has a real sense of community,” said Eric Gallea, 28, who moved into the Clock Tower building last January and has a silk-screen shop, TSI Screenprinting, on Bruckner Blvd.

“It’s almost idyllic…It’s a quiet neighborhood and the place has really allowed me to flourish and meet other artists,” Gallea said.

But a few blocks north on Third Ave., on the other side of the Bruckner Expressway, another world emerges, where the old South Bronx of violence and drugs remains very much alive.

Mobile police towers can be seen rising among the many housing developments, in an area that has seen 48 shootings and 12 murders so far this year.

“South of the Bruckner is a separate world. It’s like two completely different places,” said Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack, commander of the 40th Precinct.

There is the artists’ enclave, and “everywhere else in the immediate area is public housing. This precinct was number one for shooting incidents last year in the entire city, that’s what we’ve been trying to change,” said McCormack.

There has been a marked decrease from last year, when the 40th Precinct saw 66 shootings and 19 murders.

Several major takedowns of gangs — notably last week’s indictment of 45 alleged drug dealers that were operating in the Patterson and Mott Haven Houses — have helped.

McCormack came to the precinct in September 2011, and was shocked by the numbers he saw. While most precincts in the city have seen a steady decrease in gun-related crime over the past 10 years, the 40th saw increases in shootings during that same time.

“I knew the most important thing to look at was fighting the violence,” he said in the stationhouse on Alexander Ave. and E. 138th St., near a row of historic brownstones.

“We looked for spots where we could make the biggest differences and those spots were all in areas where you see two housing projects right on top of one another,” McCormack said.

Bronx Narcotics, the gang squad and detectives targeted the crews that were terrorizing the residents of the Moore Houses, the Mott Haven Houses, the Patterson Houses, the Mitchell Houses.

“There’s no sense of community among the different houses; these kids go to middle school together and they get along fine, but when they get older it becomes about territory and turf,” Mccormack said. “They’re fighting over nothing. They are literally fighting because this guy lives on one side of the street and that guy lives on the other.”

Working with the feds, 40th Precinct cops have seen major gang busts, including 35 people arrested on drug and murder charges in the Moore Houses.

“Overall, things are quieter,” said the Rev. Francis Skelly of the Immaculate Conception Parish on 150th St. “In general, there has been a drop in serious crimes in the neighborhood. Most of my parishioners live in those houses and they have seen the improvement of the last year. The thing is, is that there is nothing in the area for the youth.”

McCormack agrees, noting that, “…no one is opening a baseball field or a rec center for these kids.”

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