Last year, City Limits reported on a section of the Bedford Park neighborhood in the Bronx where residents were worried that their Robert Wagner-era zoning was out of step with the Mike Bloomberg-charged real-estate market around them.
In 2011, the main corridors in Bedford Park and Norwood were rezoned to encourage more density. The change has been stunning, with a new mid-rise neighborhood taking shape along Webster Avenue, where auto-repair lots and light industrial buildings are being replaced by new residential development. The changes are effectively pushing the neighborhood north, with developers even cramming new structures into a once lonely strip of land wedged between Woodlawn Cemetery and the Metro-North tracks.
Between the main thoroughfares of Grand Concourse and Webster, many blocks were left untouched by the 2011 rezoning. Development, however, is unlikely to pass them by. And that could mean dramatic change for blocks that are now occupied by houses and low-rise buildings but are zoned for stuff that’s much higher, opening the door to out-of-character buildings.
As concern rose last summer—punctuated by what turned out to be an accidental fire in a building at the epicenter of the zoning worries—local Community Board 7 hired a land-use consultant to identify possible zoning changes to protect against (or take advantage of) the development wave rolling through the neighborhood.
The report came out last week (The full report and an executive summary are below). It calls for downzoning parts of several blocks and upzoning other areas to allow higher density residential or commercial development. Some of those tweaks would trigger the mandatory inclusionary housing policy.
City Planning has previously not been receptive to requests for downzoning some of those blocks because of the variety of building styles and heights there: The objection was that any zoning change would either put too many large buildings out of step with the rules or fail to protect the smaller buildings there.
The CB7 report tries to avoid that problem by focusing on the midblock areas, leaving the street ends—where the taller buildings tend to be—alone.
Board chair Adaline Santiago Walker tells City Limits she’s now collecting member comments on the plan and will convene a meeting in the fall to put together a proposal.
That sets up an interesting parallel for later this year: As community boards around the city react to the de Blasio administration’s push for broad rezonings of whole neighborhoods, at least one community board looks likely to be pushing its own agenda—one aiming to fix a flaw in the plans of an earlier mayor.