Thirty-block rezoning in South Bronx would encourage redevelopment of blighted waterfront. On June 19, 2008, the Department of City Planning held a public hearing on the draft scope of an environmental impact statement for the proposed Lower Concourse Rezoning. The proposal covers a 30-block area, generally bounded by the Harlem River on the west, East 149th to the north, Morris and Lincoln Avenues on the east, and the Major Deegan Expressway and Park Avenue to the south.
City Planning’s plan seeks to encourage new residential and commercial development and enhance the waterfront areas in the traditionally industrial section of the South Bronx. During the past two decades the area, which is readily accessible by public transit, has seen significant residential construction after an earlier period of disinvestment and population decline during the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, industrial uses in the area have decreased, creating underutilized, industrial-zoned land that, according to City Planning, blights the neighborhood.
Under the plan, the City would rezone thirty blocks currently designated for industrial use to mixed-use districts, allowing residential and commercial conversions and new development, as well as the continued light industrial uses. To address a lack of grocery stores and available fresh produce in the area, the proposal would permit grocery stores of any size as-of-right, whereas food stores over 10,000 sq.ft. currently require a special permit.
The proposal would also apply the Inclusionary Housing Program to the area. Depending on the zoning district, developers who provide an appropriate amount of affordable housing may be allowed up to 7.2 FAR. Lastly, the proposal seeks to create a two-acre waterfront park between East 146th and East 144th Streets, and a network of waterfront open space extending up to East 149th Street and down to Park Avenue.
City Planning set the comment period to expire on June 29, 2008.