On Tuesday night, Bronx Community Board 4 voted to approve the Department of City Planning’s proposed rezoning of Jerome Avenue with a substantial list of conditions. 32 voted in the affirmative, a few abstained or recused themselves, and a few voted against the proposal.
The rezoning overlaps with three community districts, with most of it falling within the districts of boards 4 and 5, and a few blocks falling within board 7’s jurisdiction. Community Board 5 will cast a vote on Wednesday.
The rezoning proposal is part of the mayor’s 10-year affordable housing plan and is the fourth neighborhood rezoning to move through the seven-month public review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Rezonings in downtown Far Rockaway and East New York have already been approved, while City Council will vote on East Harlem next month.
The proposal for Jerome Avenue would allow increased density in order to stimulate mixed-use development and the creation of affordable housing. A share of all new housing would be made income-targeted under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy, and more housing could be made affordable through the use of city subsidies. The rezoning also comes with a suit of neighborhood investments, which were outlined in a Neighborhood Plan posted at City Planning’s website last Friday.
Yet critics of the plan, particularly those in the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision, have expressed concerns the rezoning will lead to gentrification and that the income-targeted units will not actually be affordable to the neighborhood’s many extremely low-income residents. A number of coalition members were in the audience on Tuesday night, urging the board to vote against the proposal.
Local Councilmember Vanessa Gibson, however, provided impetus for a positive vote by announcing some investments already made or planned in conjunction with the rezoning, including $4.6 million to create new park space at the site of a long vacant lot, among others. She also noted an announcement made by the administration on Tuesday that 1 in every 10 affordable units so far preserved by the de Blasio administration since 2014—that’s 4,500 units—are in boards 4 and 5, representing an over $800 million investment, with board 4 ranking among the top five community districts with the highest number of preserved units. She also said more investments were to come, and promised she would secure a new school and a community center.
The board’s vote came with a long list of conditions including the creation of a citywide certificate of no harassment program, requirements that developers pay into an anti-displacement fund, resources as well as long-term planning for the auto-repair sector, the creation of an LGBTQ center, funding for local financial institutions to promote financial literacy, and many more.
After the boards have given their recommendations, the Bronx borough president followed by the City Planning Commission and finally the City Council will each weigh in on the rezoning. The Bronx borough president intends to hold a hearing on the rezoning on Thursday November 2, 851 Grand Concourse, Room 600 at 5:30 p.m.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development and local councilmembers are hosting a Property Owners Clinic to connect property owners to resources that will help them make repairs and keep apartments affordable to tenants. The clinic will be on Tuesday, November 14 from 4:30 pm to 7 p.m. at Apple Bank’s 101 E. 170th Street branch location.