Neighborhood Stories: Melrose’s Gentrification Fighters


In the early 1990s, a Melrose resident by the name of Yolanda García became aware of a city plan for urban renewal for the neighborhood: The Department of City Planning intended to raze a large swath of land and create middle- and upper-middle-class housing right in the heart of the poorest congressional district in the nation.

García, whose family owned a carpet store on Third Avenue, organized residents into a coalition called Nos Quedamos — “we stay.” By disrupting “community meetings,” they ultimately forced the city to scrap their plans and bring those who had endured Melrose’s burning years into the planning process. As a result, over 4,000 new units of housing in dozens of new buildings, townhouses, condos, and co-ops have been constructed, including in Melrose Commons, a district in the northwest section of the neighborhood that is now a global symbol of community-led urban renewal.

Today, Nos Quedamos is housed at 754 Melrose Avenue in one of the many buildings it helped bring about, working with developers in the area while also organizing tenants to remain vigilant as gentrification once again knocks on their doors.

Don’t miss the rest of the Village Voice’s guide to New York neighborhoods — by New Yorkers.