Eight-story affordable housing project OK’d

Developer requested rezoning in order to build 68 units of affordable rental units in south central Bronx. On September 13, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved High Hawk LLC’s rezoning proposal to facilitate the development of an affordable housing project in the Crotona Park East section of the Bronx. The proposal would rezone a triangular block, bounded by East 174th Street, Hoe Avenue, and Boston Road, from C8-3 to R7-1 with a C2-4 commercial overlay. The block is occupied by a 16,876 sq.ft. parking lot owned by High Hawk, a three-story office building, and two low-rise retail buildings. High Hawk would replace the parking lot with an eight-story building providing 10,000 sq.ft of community facility space, 9,473 sq.ft. of ground floor retail space, and 68 rental units for low-income residents.

Bronx Community Board 3 supported the plan. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also supported the rezoning, but expressed concerns about the the proposed building’s apartments. Diaz recommended that the developer reconfigure the “woefully small” apartments which, according to Diaz, included 385 sq.ft. studios, 590 sq.ft. one-bedroom units, 725 sq.ft. two-bedroom units, and 987 sq.ft. three-bedroom units.

At the Commission’s July 28 public hearing, Vice Chair Kenneth Knuckles asked High Hawk’s representative, Peter Bourbeau, about Diaz’s concerns. Bourbeau said he planned to meet with the borough president’s staff to resolve the issue, and that he would revise the layouts of the apartments. Bourbeau had not identified specific retail tenants, but was committed to finding “mom and pop” stores, rather than franchises. There were no speakers in opposition.

The Commission unanimously approved the rezoning. The Commission noted that the area surrounding the project was zoned R7-1 and High Hawk’s property had been underutilized as a parking lot. The Commission also noted that while the new building plans were outside its purview, High Hawk had agreed to increase the size of the two- and three-bedroom units.

CPC: High Hawk Rezoning (C 070550 ZMX – rezoning) (Sept. 13, 2010) (Engineer: Peter Franzese, P.E.).

CITYLAND Comment: The City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee approved the plan at an October 5 hearing, and the full Council is expected to vote on the proposal on October 13, 2010.

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