The request seeks proposals that incorporate a hotel, residential units, and retail space. On January 19, 2016, the New York Botanical Garden issued a request for proposals to construct a mixed-use development on an “acre-plus parcel” of land that sits at the south-east corner of Webster Avenue and Bedford Park Boulevard, which is directly adjacent to the Botanical Garden’s parking garage. The development would be part of a larger district-wide transformation that has been underway since 2011.
The 80-block area surrounding Webster Avenue from the Bedford Park neighborhood to the Norwood neighborhood of the Bronx was zoned primarily for commercial use until 2011. The 2011 rezoning stripped the exclusively commercial-use restrictions and replaced them with a zoning scheme that allows for more diverse uses, such as the construction of new hotels, residences, and retail spaces. Subsequently, and upon the request of the Four Bronx Institutions Alliance—which consists of Fordham University, Montefiore Medical Center, the New York Botanical Garden, and the WCS’s Bronx Zoo—the New York City Economic Development Corporation led the community in creating its Webster Avenue Vision Plan. The Vision Plan sets forth one of its goals as “transforming Webster Avenue into a vibrant mixed-use district,” and the plan provides recommendations for meeting its goals.
The Botanical Garden was guided by the Vision Plan’s recommendations in drafting the Webster Avenue RFP and stated unequivocally that it envisions the mixed-use development as including a hotel, market-rate and affordable residential units, and retail space. According to the RFP, the ideal proposal would include a hotel of no less than 125 rooms on the north portion of the parcel, 300 residential units combining market-rate with affordable units, and at least 12,000 square feet of retail space.
Bronx Community Board 7, which encompasses the Botanical Garden, and local representatives are in full support of the RFP.
“NYBG has been an anchor in the Bronx for 125 years, so it is no surprise to me that with this request for proposals, the Garden is taking the lead on attracting catalytic and transformative development at this strategic intersection in the Bronx. As one of the many stakeholders participating in the Vision Plan for Webster Avenue, I am particularly excited for the day when guests from across the globe and from around the corner have another hotel choice in the Bronx, across from our very own Garden of Eden,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“I applaud and support NYBG as it takes this important next step forward to advance the Webster Avenue Vision Plan and develop this key corner in my Council District. The jobs, housing, and vibrancy that this mixed-use project will bring to the Webster Avenue corridor have been a long time in the planning, and I look forward to the day when the first shovel hits the ground,” said City Council member Ritchie Torres.
Developers have until 5:00PM on March 1, 2016 to submit proposals. The Botanical Garden is expected to choose the winning developer or team of developers by March 31, 2016. All questions related to the Webster Avenue RFP should be directed to Cushman & Wakefield Executive Vice President Frank P. Liantonio at (212) 841-7887 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jessica Soultanian-Braunstein (Jessica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2015)