Mixed-use antique district expanded

129-lot area rezoned to permit residential, live-work and retail. The Planning Commission approved the proposed rezoning of a 129-lot area of Port Morris in the South Bronx that altered the area’s manufacturing zoning to mixed-use, facilitating increased live-work, residential and small commercial business development. The proposed new zoning builds on a 1997 zoning action that established the Port Morris Special Mixed-Use District – the city’s first mixed-use district – within a five-block area of Port Morris to permit diverse as-of-right uses, facilitate legalization of illegal conversions and support the continued expansion of Bruckner Boulevard’s string of antique shops. In the eight years following the 1997 rezoning, 185 new residential units were developed in the five-block area.

The new zoning would extend the mixed-use district to an 11- block area generally bounded by Park Avenue on the west, Willow Avenue on the east, the Major Deegan Expressway on the north and south to the Harlem River and the Harlem River Yards. The Department found that illegal conversions were prevalent in the area and over 40 percent of the lots were vacant, nderutilized or contained abandoned manufacturing structures. Three separate mixed-use zones (M1-2/R6A, M1-3/R8 and M1-5/R8) would be created to allow a large range of uses – residential, community facility and small commercial – while also restricting the height and size of development to more closely match the area’s existing scale.

The New York Industrial Retention Network opposed the rezoning at the December 8, 2004 Commission hearing. NYIRN argued that the rezoning would result in increased displacement of industrial uses and urged the Commission to restrict the potential loss through the creation of a protected industrial zone adjacent to the area. The “industrial employment district” advocated by NYIRN would entail the creation of a new manufacturing zoning district that more tightly restricted as-of-right uses. Existing manufacturing districts permit a range of uses, including office, big box stores and waste transfer stations, which NYIRN argues diminishes protection of industrial uses from market pressures. A Port Morris artist also expressed concern that the resulting gentrification would force artists out.

Responding to NYIRN, Chair Amanda M. Burden noted that there was no consequential industrial displacement following the creation of the first Port Morris mixed-used district in 1997, and its success was viewed as a “text-book example” of protection of industry within a mix of other uses.

The Commission unanimously approved the rezoning on January 31, 2005, finding that the new mixed-use zoning would continue to allow industrial uses and facilitate new live-work spaces and small businesses in existing, underutilized structures. It also found that the rezoning would preserve existing housing stock, consisting of row houses and tenement buildings, as well as promote the renovation and reactivation of vacant residential units.

ULURP Process: The Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on October 4, 2004. Both Bronx Community Board 1 and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. approved.

At the February 28, 2005 public hearing before the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, several residents alleged that Community Board 1 did not correctly notify the community and claimed that the recent City Council election in their district left them unrepresented. The residents urged the Council to stop the rezoning and raised affordable housing as a central concern. The area’s new Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, newly elected by a February 15, 2005 special election, requested that the vote be delayed. Chair Tony Avella delayed the Subcommittee’s vote to March 2, 2005, but noted that the ULURP clock had started.

On March 2, 2005, the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises postponed the vote a second time, rescheduling it to March 9, 2005. The full Council is scheduled to vote the same day on the rezoning.

CPC: Port Morris Rezoning (C 050120 ZMZ – map amendment) (January 31, 2005) CITYADMIN

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