Rezoning will allow for construction of building with 185 affordable units. On November 14, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for a rezoning application that would allow for the construction of a new affordable nine-story mixed-use building in the Wakefield neighborhood of the Bronx. The proposed project site is on the corner of White Plains Road and East 241st, adjacent to the East 241st Street subway terminal along the IRT – 2 train line. The proposed project site currently has several vacant commercial buildings and garages that are surrounded by a construction fence.
Enclave on 241st LLC brought the application. Richard Lobel of Sheldon Lobel, P.C. and Emmanuel D’Amore of Aufgang Architects presented the application at the hearing. To build the mixed-use building, the applicants are requesting a rezoning of the entire block, running from East 241st Street to the north, East 240th Street to the south, Furman Avenue to the east and White Plains Road to the west. The applicants are proposing to rezone the block from manufacturing to residential with a commercial overlay.
The proposed rezoning will enable the development of a building with 137,422 square feet of residential space and 24,972 square feet of ground floor commercial space on White Plains Road and East 241st Street. The building will occupy three of the twenty lots on the block. The proposed building will have 185 residential units and one super’s unit. The building will be U-shaped and have an outdoor garden courtyard above the ground floor retail space. The building will also have a laundry room and bicycle storage. Residents will have access to a community recreation room. There will be residential underground parking for 47 vehicles.
The 185 units will be comprised of 26 studio apartments available at a range of rents from $215 to $1,340, 84 one-bedroom apartments from $283 to $1,689, 57 two-bedroom apartments available from $425 to $2,036, and 18 three-bedroom apartments available from $512 to $2,346. All 185 residential units will be affordable within a range from 30 percent or less AMI to 90 percent AMI.
The applicant team anticipates financing from the Mix & Match program for the construction of the building, which funds new mixed-income multi-family rental construction projects. The project also qualifies under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program because some of the lots were formerly used for a gas station and automotive repair work. The Brownfield Cleanup Program provides additional tax incentives for the redevelopment of urban “brownfields” where chemicals on-site exceed environmental standards.
The proposed zoning changes will also affect 17 other lots on this block. According to project architect D’Amore, the rezoning will bring currently non-compliant residential buildings on this block into compliance.
On September 27, 2018, Bronx Community Board 12 voted to approve the application with 27 votes in support, zero against and three abstained.
On October 18, 2018, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recommended approval of the application, citing the affordable housing, extension of retail, the proximity to public transportation, and the potential for a supermarket in the retail space as reasons for his support.
At the City Planning Commission hearing, several commissioners asked the applicants about the possibility of incorporating ADA elevator access to the elevated subway terminal adjacent to the proposed project site. Currently, the closest ADA-accessible train station is two stops away at East 233rd Street. According to Lobel, the applicant team was in talks with MTA to possibly pursue adding a public elevator to the project to create ADA access to the elevated subway station. However, no plans have been made so far. Lobel stated that the applicants would be interested in continuing to discuss the issue with MTA. Vice Chair Kenneth J. Knuckles noted that adding 186 units is adding many commuters and that it would “benefit the community” to have ADA access.
The City Planning Commission will vote on the application at a later date.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)