South Bronx Initiative Plan

Last Updated April 02, 2015

The South Bronx Initiative Plan created a development framework to support the revitalization of the South Bronx.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the “South Bronx Initiative” (SBI) in 2006. This strategic planning initiative sought to sustain the positive effects of several development and infrastructure projects sponsored by the City to attract private investment to the South Bronx and promote the creation of new affordable housing, retail, and office space.

NYCEDC was part of the team that worked on this initiative, together with the Departments of City Planning, Housing Preservation and Development, Parks & Recreation, Small Business Services, and Transportation.

After a 2-year planning and community outreach process led by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, the SBI Plan was released in the Summer 2008. The plan defines a vision and a strategy to guide future land use changes and capital investments in the South Bronx.

South Bronx Initiative Plan 

Community Engagement

The interagency team undertook a wide-ranging outreach effort to identify community priorities and craft a relevant economic development strategy.

The outreach included public presentations and meetings with a cross-section of stakeholders, including elected officials, local community and business groups, and Bronx Community Boards 1, 3, and 4. In these discussions, the community voiced a need to focus on quality of life issues related to housing, retail options, connectivity and transport, public and open spaces, waterfront destinations, and job creation.

The community engagement efforts allowed the interagency team to define and build consensus around an overall vision that informs the SBI plan and its implementation strategy.

The vision is one where future development in the South Bronx builds upon the area's existing assets and improves local neighborhoods with mixed-income housing, attractive retail districts and public spaces, new waterfront destinations, an efficient transportation network, and a diverse economy providing jobs for local residents.

Focus Areas

The interagency team studied the section of the South Bronx bounded by:

  • Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and Harlem River Waterfront to the south and west
  • River Avenue / East 161st Street axis to the north
  • East 163rd Street / Third Avenue corridor to the east

The team subdivided this study area into three focus areas, developing a specific vision and implementation strategy for each one in the SBI Plan.

Melrose Commons/Third Avenue

The vision for this focus area was to create an attractive, mixed-income, urban village with balanced neighborhood retail, new parks, open spaces, and a college campus.

The SBI plan recommended the following strategy to realize this vision:

  • Develop the last remaining City-owned sites in the area to create affordable housing and ground-floor retail space-Update: In development.
  • Market Melrose Commons to major retailers and support local businesses-Update: NYCEDC completed the “Melrose Retail Study” in 2007. More recently, the HUB/3rd Avenue BID has been developing a retail attraction strategy for their service area, which includes a portion of The Commons.   
  • Upgrade Roberto Clemente Plaza (at the East 149th Street - Third Avenue Hub) and reconfigure the intersection at East 161st Street and Elton Avenue was completed by CDOT and the plaza now hosts a new Greenmarket.
  • Pursue funding to develop new parks while upgrading and preserving existing parks, open spaces, and community gardens.

Bronx Civic Center

The vision for this focus area was to create a transit-oriented, higher-density district that includes a mix of office, retail, and residential development enhanced by a pedestrian-friendly environment, convenient public transportation access, and improved traffic flow.

The strategy to realize this vision included the following actions:

  • Completed in 2009, rezoning has encouraged high-density commercial and residential development. For more information, visit the Department of City Planning's 161st Street / River Avenue Rezoning website.
  • Completed as part of the New Yankee Stadium, targeted transportation improvements such as signal timing and pedestrian crossings are in place.
  • Revamp streetscapes by adding new distinctive lighting and street furniture.

Lower Grand Concourse

This focus area was envisioned as a vibrant gateway into the Bronx and a multi-faceted neighborhood that retained industry and jobs for local residents, while supporting new residential development, retail, grocery stores and public waterfront access and open space.

The strategy to realize this vision included the following actions:

  • Completed in 2009, rezoning has allowed mixed-uses and provide an incentive for affordable housing. For more information, visit the Department of City Planning's Lower Concourse Rezoning website.
  • Establish a grand gateway to the South Bronx by making streetscape and lighting improvements, as well as advocating for MTA capital upgrades to the subway stations at East 138th Street and East 149th Street/ Grand Concourse.      
  • Map a new public park along the Harlem River and leverage private development to create continuous public waterfront access

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