Mayor Bloomberg Announces South Bronx Initiative
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the South Bronx Initiative, a comprehensive plan to sustain and strengthen the ongoing revitalization of the South Bronx. Developed by the Mayor's Office and an interagency team in coordination with local elected officials and community groups, the initiative identifies three focus areas - Melrose Commons/Third Avenue, the Bronx Civic Center and the Lower Grand Concourse. For each area, the Initiative outlines specific action items that will be implemented to achieve goals related to office, retail and residential development, affordable housing, transportation and open space. New developments in the initiative area will provide more than 8,000 housing units, about 800,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, 160,000 square feet of hotel and conference space and new and enhanced parks and green spaces. Mayor Bloomberg was joined at the announcement, which took place at the Bronx County Courthouse, by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, Bronx Chamber of Commerce CEO Lenny Caro, Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Seth W. Pinsky, City Planning (DCP) Commissioner Amanda M. Burden and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan and Nos Quedamos Executive Director Yolanda Gonzalez.
"The South Bronx - long known nationally as the area Howard Cosell was referring to when he said 'the Bronx is burning' and once known locally as an area of underinvestment and decay - is undergoing an extraordinary transformation," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today, more than $3 billion is being invested in the South Bronx by the public and private sectors for new housing, open space, retail amenities, mass transit infrastructure, schools and a new Yankee Stadium, all of which is creating thousands of new jobs. The South Bronx Initiative, a multi-agency effort developed in coordination with Borough President Carrión, Council Members Foster, Arroyo, and Mark-Viverito, Congressman Serrano and community members, will leverage the unprecedented activity already underway and lay the groundwork to ensure that what we've seen is just the beginning."
"The coordinated developments spurred today by the South Bronx Initiative will create a more economically vibrant South Bronx in future decades," said Deputy Mayor Lieber.
"Through the initiative, we are paving the way for a thriving neighborhood with a healthy stock of affordable and mixed-income housing, vibrant commercial districts with year-round attractions, attractive streetscapes and public spaces, new and renovated parks and waterfront destinations, an enhanced more efficient transportation network and a diverse economy providing jobs for South Bronx residents."
"The South Bronx Initiative is a comprehensive planning initiative that will provide new parks, retail space and appropriate rezoning to facilitate the development of new housing and provide enhanced services for the community," said Borough President Carrión, Jr. "This collaborative effort shared by my office, the Mayor's office, the City Council and the Community, is a highly anticipated and improved vision for this area. This initiative will further contribute to the rebirth of the Bronx and reestablish the Lower Concourse as a magnificent gateway to the borough."
"This is a moment of great opportunity for the people of Melrose, Mott Haven, Highbridge, Port Morris, and the lower Concourse," said Congressman José E. Serrano. "Smart planning and sensible, targeted rezoning will be needed to manage the challenges posed by a surging population, new commercial development, and growing threats to housing affordability and to pre-existing blue collar industries. I commend NYCEDC for working closely with established grassroots organizations such as Nos Quedamos in crafting this action plan and I look forward to continued collaboration as this process moves forward."
The Initiative divides the total area covered into three sections, and for each, it outlines a suite of action items and identifies the agency charged with implementing them. In the Melrose Commons/Third Avenue area, the City will create an attractive mixed-income urban village with balanced neighborhood retail, new parks and open spaces, and a college campus. The Bronx Civic Center is envisioned as transit-oriented, higher-density districts, with a mix of office, retail, and residential development enhanced by a pedestrian-friendly environment, convenient public transportation access, and improved traffic flow. The Lower Grand Concourse will be developed as a vibrant gateway into the Bronx and a multi-faceted neighborhood aimed at keeping existing industry and jobs in place for local residents while supporting new residential development and amenities, including new retail and public waterfront access.
The action items are:
Melrose Commons / Third Avenue
- Develop the last remaining City-owned sites to create affordable housing and ground-floor retail space;
- Market Melrose Commons to major retailers to support local businesses;
- Upgrade Roberto Clemente Plaza and reconfigure the East 161st Street and Elton Avenue intersection;
- Evaluate the feasibility of providing Bus-Rapid Transit service on Webster Avenue or Third Avenue; and,
- Pursue funding to develop new parks, while upgrading and preserving existing parks, open spaces, and community gardens.
Bronx Civic Center
- Rezone to encourage high-density commercial and residential development;
- Make targeted transportation improvements such as signal timing and pedestrian crossings;
- Extend BX13 bus service further south to 149th Street;
- Make targeted streetscape improvements along east 161st Street and River Avenue, including new distinctive lighting and street furniture; and,
- Facilitate the planning and development of City-owned sites along River Avenue.
Lower Grand Concourse
- Rezone to allow a mix of-uses including industrial, residential and retail, and provide a zoning incentive for affordable housing;
- Make Streetscape and lighting improvements on the lower Grand Concourse;
- Improve the appearance, ADA accessibility, and structural condition of subway stations at 149th Street and 138th Street/Grand Concourse;
- Map a new public park along the Harlem River and leverage private development to create continuous public waterfront access; and,
- Evaluate the feasibility of an adaptive reuse of P.S. 31.
"The South Bronx Initiative Plan includes sound ideas, shaped by a very inclusive and participatory process," said City Council Member Maria Del Carmen Arroyo. "I look forward to the many opportunities, growth and improvements the plan will bring to fruition."
Since 2002, public and private investments in the South Bronx Initiative area have financed more than 2,300 housing units and added more than 1.2 million square feet of retail space and are creating nearly 16,000 permanent and construction jobs. This influx of capital includes almost $300 million for local schools, more than $900 million for transportation and several job-intensive projects, including a new Yankee Stadium, the $300 million Gateway Center at the Bronx Terminal Market, and the new Hub Office and Retail Center.
"This is an important day for the South Bronx and for New York City's Economic Development Corporation," said NYCEDC President Pinsky. "Thanks to the Mayor's vision for revitalized communities throughout the five boroughs and incredible cooperation between a host of City agencies, the South Bronx will continue on a path toward becoming one of the City's most unique and vibrant places."
"Capitalizing on the wealth of transit, bridge and highway access, City Planning's rezoning proposals will expand on the renaissance of the South Bronx by providing for new and affordable housing along the Lower Concourse and by providing opportunities for reinvestment near the Bronx Civic Center on the 161st Street corridor," said City Planning Commissioner Burden. "Both initiatives fulfill a vision created with the community for vibrant, healthy neighborhoods and are consistent with sustainable planning for the continued growth and vitality of the Bronx."
"The South Bronx has come a long way from the dark days of the 1970s when the Bronx was burning," said Housing Commissioner Donovan. "Now, rather than abandonment, our challenge is to build sustainable, affordable, mixed-income neighborhoods. Thanks to the SBI, the South Bronx will once again be the focus of national attention, but this time as a model of how to do things right. The SBI has fostered frequent and productive communication and coordination amongst the City agencies at the local level, the result of which is and will continue to be the successful achievement of our goals. HPD is proud to be a part of the South Bronx Initiative."
The South Bronx Initiative is the result of a two-year interagency outreach effort comprised of over thirty-five public presentations and meetings with a cross-section of stakeholders, including elected officials, local community and business groups, and Community Boards 1, 3, and 4 to build consensus around the vision and strategic actions for the South Bronx. In addition to NYCEDC, DCP and HPD, the interagency team includes the Departments of Parks & Recreation, Small Business Services and Transportation.
"Nos Quedamos has been part of the planning for the South Bronx Initiative, one of the most inclusive plans to date," said Yolanda Gonzalez, Executive Director of Nos Quedamos, a community organization located in the Melrose Commons section of the South Bronx. "The plan will unite the South Bronx, ensuring it will no long be known as a place of blight to the world."