The founder of the the Bronx community garden space known as "La Casita" and "Rincon Criollo" is dead.

Jose “Chema” Soto was an influential figure in the Puerto Rican community.

The landmark he founded in the Bronx is known for its art, music, and various cultural activities.

Soto said the site, which was founded in 1975, was a way to bring Puerto Rican culture to the city.

"Chema was a great man, a great teacher, like a grandfather to me, because I didn't really have one growing up, so he was, like, there for me for everything," one man said.

A family friend says he died of complications during heart surgery.

He was 70 years old.