Residential use in commercial district allowed

Not-for-profit granted variance partly because of programmatic need to provide affordable housing and hardship associated with protecting adjacent elevated subway. SoBRO Development Corporation applied to BSA for a variance to construct a ten-story, mixed-use building containing 98 dwelling units and ground floor retail. The new construction would be sited on two vacant tax lots, including one that formerly housed an automotive service station for over sixty years. Prior to its hearing before BSA, SoBRO changed its proposal to a seven-story building with 68 dwelling units, ground floor retail, and community facility space. Despite the change, SoBRO still required a variance since the property’s C8-3 zoning did not permit residential use.

SoBRO argued that the site’s triangular shape, subsurface contamination, and high water table were unique physical conditions that made as-of-right development economically unworkable. SoBRO also argued that the property’s close proximity to elevated subway tracks produced additional hardship since drilled soldier beams and a lagging wall would be required along Southern Boulevard during excavation to support the soil load. Aside from unique physical conditions, SoBRO claimed the variance was required in order to carry out its programmatic need to provide affordable housing to 68 low and moderate income families. SoBRO also pointed out that the site’s zoning allowed for an as-of-right 76,554 sq.ft. community facility building, and that its revised plan called for a smaller, 68,336 sq.ft. building.

BSA granted the variance, finding that SoBRO could not develop asof- right without suffering unnecessary hardship. The costs associated with remediating the subsurface contamination, dewatering during excavation and foundation work below the watertable, and protecting the elevated subway would amount to approximately $2.7 million. BSA also noted that the use waiver permitting the seven-story building was the minimum variance necessary to allow the not-for-profit to carry out its programmatic need.

BSA: 1778-1800 Southern Blvd., Bronx (215-08-BZ) (April 7, 2009) (Howard S. Weiss, for SoBRO). CITYADMIN

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.