The City Planning Commission approved the construction of 175 new affordable units and a new charter school in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx. On April 5, 2017, the City Planning Commission issued a favorable report on an application from 600 Associates, LLC, an affiliate of the nonprofit developer Phipps Houses. The applicant proposed changing the zoning of the lot in question from manufacturing to residential, and proposed designating the lot as a Mandatory Housing Inclusionary area. The rezoning and designation would facilitate the construction of a twelve-story mixed-use building containing a charter school and 175 units of affordable housing.
The project site is currently operating as an enclosed 90-space parking garage with first and second floor office space. There is also an adjacent surface parking lot at the site. The site is currently zoned as an M1-1 district which allows commercial, light industrial and community facility uses. The proposed rezoning to an R8A district would increase the maximum FAR permitted from 2.4 to a maximum residential FAR of 7.2 and a maximum community facility FAR of 6.5. The proposal did not include accessory residential parking.
The designation of the area as an MIH area would be under Option 1 of the MIH program, which requires that 25 percent of the residential floor area to be affordable units for households earning 60 percent of the area median income. Additionally, Option 1 requires a minimum of 10 percent of the affordable unit to be at 40 percent of the area median income.
The firm Cutis + Ginsberg designed the new building which would include 32,300 square feet of space designed for a charter school. The space would be operated by Civic Builders Charter Schools under a 30-year lease. The school would serve 450 children in grade K-4. The school would contain: 15 classrooms, plus three rooms for music, dance, and art; administrative offices, nurse’s office and teacher lounge area; and, a multi-use room composed of 4,500 square feet for use as a gym and auditorium.
On January 19, 2017, Bronx Community Board 1 voted 21-0 to recommend approval of the application. On February 1, 2017, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. agreed and issued his own recommendation of approval.
In its report, the Commission found the application to be appropriate. The report noted that the project would redevelop an underutilized site and help address the urgent need for more affordable housing in the Bronx. Additionally, the Commission found that the proposed charter school would “serve the community by providing vital access to school seats in Bronx Community District 1.”
The application will move to the City Council for consideration in the coming weeks.
CPC: 600 East 156th Street, The Bronx (April 5, 2017).
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).