City Planning Hears Application for Hotel, Affordable Housing in Belmont

Rendering of the two proposed buildings, a hotel (white building on the left) and a residential building (orange and brown building on the right). Image Credit: NYC CPC

The proposed hotel would be located near several cultural, academic and medical institutions within the Bronx. On March 3, 2021, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for an application to build a hotel and a residential building on East 188th Street between Arthur Avenue and Hughes Avenue. Currently, the site consists of low-density residential and commercial buildings and a funeral home; none of the residential units are currently rent stabilized, and the commercial tenants are being assisted in relocating. 

The first building would be a 13-story hotel on the corner of Arthur Avenue and East 188th Street. The hotel would have 146 hotel rooms, outdoor amenity space and 128 accessory parking spaces. There will be retail space on the ground floor. The proposed hotel would be located near the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden, Fordham University, St. Barnabas Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center, and Arthur Avenue, the Bronx’s “Little Italy.” Currently, a hotel operator has not been selected should the project be approved.

The second building, adjacent to the hotel, would be a 7-story residential building with 56 units on the corner of East 188th Street and Hughes Avenue. Seventeen units will be permanently affordable under MIH Workforce Option 4, which requires a building to set aside 30 percent of its housing for affordable housing. The building would offer rents between 70 to 130 percent AMI, with studios ranging from $1,307 to $2.501 and up to three-bedroom apartments ranging from $1,923 to $3,697. The building would feature six studios, 24 one-bedroom apartments, 20 two-bedroom apartments, and six three-bedroom apartments. The building would feature a residential outdoor recreation area over the first floor, bicycle storage, and community space.

To facilitate the project, the applicants are requesting a change in rezoning to add a commercial district within the bounds of an existing residential district. 

Vice Chair Kenneth J. Knuckles asked about the choice of 146 hotel rooms. According to the applicant team, 150 hotel rooms is the standard maximum amount that would be financed by a bank without a comparable market of similar hotels within the Bronx. Commissioner Alfred Cerullo asked for confirmation that the hotel was located within the Belmont Business Improvement District (BID). The applicants confirmed it was, that they had been working closely with the BID, and that the BID had issued a letter of support for the project. CommissionerAnna Hayes Levin asked about potential quality of life issues for residents with the hotel’s outdoor amenity space. The applicants responded that the outdoor space would be landscaped with some seating and screened off for privacy, and that the space would not feature a cafe or be used as an event space.

Several people spoke in support of the application. Aaron Bouska, Vice President of Government and Community Relations of the New York Botanical Garden expressed support for the rezoning, discussed the unique nature of the Belmont neighborhood, that Arthur Avenue is a strategic location for a hotel, and that the hotel would be beneficial to support local businesses and cultural institutions during the economic recovery from the pandemic. Other speakers shared the sentiment that a hotel would help support local businesses and recovery. There were no speakers in opposition at the public hearing.

The City Planning Commission will vote on this application on a later date. 

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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