Rezoning of 75 blocks in Central Bronx Approved by City Planning Commission

Rezoning would impact 75 blocks along the Third Avenue and Tremont Avenue corridors. On September 15, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved the Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone 75 blocks along the intersecting Third Avenue and Tremont Avenue corridors in central Bronx. The L-shaped rezoning area comprises three sections. The east/west Tremont Avenue corridor is bounded by Daly Avenue and Webster Avenue. The industrial Third Avenue corridor, running north/south, is generally bounded by East 189th Street and East 175th Street. A third section, the Neighborhood Preservation Area, borders the Third Avenue corridor to the west and extends to Park Avenue between Cyrus Place to the north and Tremont Avenue to the south.

Planning seeks to expand the development potential along the mixed-use corridors while preserving the existing residential character of the Neighborhood Preservation Area. To promote the creation of affordable housing, the proposal would apply the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program to the Third and Tremont Avenue corridors. The rezoning would also apply three mixed-use districts to the Third Avenue corridor in order to preserve existing light industrial uses and encourage the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized lots.

Although the Tremont Avenue corridor is primarily zoned for residential use, it is considered the community’s downtown shopping district. The corridor is characterized by single-story retail buildings with multi-story buildings and mixed-use residential buildings at the major intersections. Many of the multi-story buildings maintain active ground floor retail uses, but have vacant upper floors. The plan would replace the corridor’s R7-1 and C4-4 zoning with contextual districts, including C4-4A and C4-5X, permitting full commercial buildings and encouraging mixedincome housing development.

The industrial Third Avenue corridor, which was home to the Third Avenue elevated “8” train until its demolition in 1973, is primarily zoned C8-3 and characterized by single-story automotive and warehouse uses, parking lots, and vacant land. The current zoning inhibits development by prohibiting residential uses and limiting the maximum floor area for commercial uses. According to Planning, the lack of activity along the corridor after business hours disrupts the continuity of the surrounding residential streets to the west. The proposal would apply mid-density contextual commercial districts along the corridor that would permit both commercial and residential development.

The Neighborhood Preservation Area located west of Third Avenue is an established residential community, consisting of four- to six-story apartment buildings and rowhouses. The area’s R7-1 zoning has permitted the construction of several new apartment complexes significantly taller than, and out-of-context with, nearby buildings. Planning proposes replacing the existing zoning with R5 and R6A districts to establish height limits and ensure that new development matches the lowdensity neighborhood.

Bronx Community Board 6 and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. both supported the rezoning. No one opposed the plan at the Commission’s August 11 public hearing, and the Commission unanimously approved the plan. Explaining her vote, Chair Amanda Burden noted that the rezoning would revitalize two significant mixed-use corridors and “foster nearly 700 new units of affordable housing” in the heart of the Bronx.

CPC: Third Avenue/Tremont Avenue Rezoning (Sept. 15, 2010).

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

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