The building will be in two wings, and features 52 spaces of stacked parking in the cellar. On April 13, 2022, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for an application for a mixed-use residential and commercial building at 4541 Furman Avenue in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The rezoning site is on a portion of the block bounded by East 240th Street, a line 300 feet north of East 239th Street to the south, White Plains Road to the west, and Furman Avenue to the east. The project site is currently an underutilized warehouse. Several non-conforming buildings on the block would also be brought into conformance with the rezoning. The rezoning area is adjacent to the elevated No. 2 subway line that runs along White Plains Road.
The building will have 148 affordable units. There will be 24 studios, 73 one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom, and 19 three-bedroom units. Approximately 50 units will be permanently affordable. Thirty-seven units will be permanently affordable subject to Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1, which requires 25 percent of units to be permanently affordable at an average of 60 percent area median income (AMI) or less. As the building is using HPD funding, it has been arranged that an additional 19 units will be permanently affordable, making 40 percent of the total units permanently affordable. A regulatory agreement will maintain the affordability of the remaining units for 60 years. The applicants presented a table reflecting a range of proposed rents from 27 to 77 percent AMI, but it was noted that this table had not yet been reviewed by HPD.
The ten-story building will contain two wings – a nine-story west wing and a ten-story east wing, built to accommodate the significant grade change of the streets between White Plains Road and Furman Avenue. The building will have a gym, laundry room, package room, community room, an after-school study room, and indoor and outdoor recreation space between the two wings. Stacked parking will be available in the cellar for 52 spaces, and will be manned by attendants.
There will be ground floor community facility space along Furman Avenue, and 7,146 square feet of local retail space on the ground floor along White Plains Road. White Plains Road is the only commercial corridor in the area, and other recent rezonings in the area will bring over 500 new units to the surrounding blocks. The applicants are aiming to attract smaller retail tenants like restaurants or boutiques, that activate the block differently than a larger tenant like a laundromat or urgent care center.
Bronx Community Board 12 voted to disapprove the application on January 27, 2022. According to the applicants, the Community Board had shared concerns about parking availability. While the proposed building will be adjacent to the No. 2 line, it is the end of that subway line, so many still rely on cars in the community. In response to the Community Board’s disapproval, the applicants worked with the Bron Borough President’s Office and Council Member to increase the amount of parking spaces. Originally, the building was only going to have 22 spaces, then 46. After the discussions with elected officials, the applicants settled on 52, achieved by slightly expanding out the cellar. As providing parking would not be cost prohibitive due to the significant grade change of the street reducing excavation costs, the applicants believed it made sense to include more parking.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson approved the application on March 22, 2022, citing the area’s need for affordable housing, and felt the applicant team had addressed the Community Board’s concerns about the lack of parking with the additional spaces. Borough President Gibson did have issues with the unit distribution, since only 35 percent of the units will be two- or three-bedrooms. In her recommendation, she stated that, “If Bronx communities are to thrive, families with children must be accommodated. . . I object to this disparity as studio and 1-bedroom apartments virtually block out a family’s need for housing. As such, while the overall unit count may be admirable, my administration will vigorously object and may not approve affordable housing developments where less than forty percent of the units” can accommodate families.
At the public hearing, Chair Dan Garodnick asked for clarification about the parking changes. Vice Chair Knuckles asked about the Furman Avenue side of the building and what kinds of community facility uses could be located there. The applicants stated that they were looking at possible uses like a daycare or preschool.
No members of the public spoke at the 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.)