Webster Avenue is a major thoroughfare in the Bronx, extending from the neighborhoods of Melrose to Woodlawn. This vision plan focuses on the approximately 1.5-mile long section between Fordham Road and Gun Hill Road, where a convergence of City initiatives and private investment is poised to transform Webster Avenue into a vibrant mixed-use district that serves the needs of culturally diverse neighborhoods and world-class institutions.
At the request of Four Bronx Institutions Alliance (FBIA) – Fordham University, Montefiore Medical Center, The New York Botanical Garden, and the WCS's Bronx Zoo – and in collaboration with community stakeholders, the Mayor’s Office and the City of New York, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) facilitated a targeted planning process to re-ignite Webster Avenue as a neighborhood “main street,” capitalizing on its proximity to the anchor institutions and a 2011 rezoning that projects 430,000 square feet of new commercial development and more than 950 additional residential units. Together, we envision Webster Avenue as a place where people live, work, shop, and enjoy unique cultural experiences – and a hub for entrepreneurs, researchers, and students to foster new businesses and academic collaborations.
Click to Enlarge
The Webster Avenue corridor links together four distinct neighborhood centers, where active commercial streets meet Webster Avenue. Characterized by local and destination retail, transit options, notable landmarks, and active business and community networks, each neighborhood center serves as a pedestrian-friendly hub for its surrounding community. With rich histories and bright futures ahead, these neighborhood centers are essential building blocks in the continued transformation of Webster Avenue.
Gun Hill Road
Gun Hill Road and Webster Avenue intersect at the eastern gateway to Montefiore’s Moses Campus, integrated into the fabric of the Norwood neighborhood and its diverse housing stock of century-old Tudor-style homes and multi-family buildings. This intersection is on the upswing, especially with attention from the more than 200-member Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District. The Bronx River Parkway and Williams Bridge Metro-North station connect the area to the local highway network, Manhattan, and Westchester County.
E. 204th Street
In the center of Norwood, Webster Avenue and E. 204th Street is a vibrant commercial intersection with a rich variety of shops, restaurants, and services. The growing E. 204th Street/Bainbridge Avenue Merchants Association includes national and regional chains, as well as locally-owned businesses, ranging from ethnically diverse markets to cafes and lounges. The area has seen significant development activity since the rezoning. Recently completed buildings include a new charter school and gym, and multiple other projects are underway. A K-8 public school is scheduled to open in Fall 2014 and new mixed-use buildings will include housing, offices, and a supermarket.
Bedford Park Boulevard
Webster Avenue crosses Bedford Park Boulevard at an intersection ripe for new development. This neighborhood center serves as a gateway to the Botanical Garden and has the potential to enhance the visitor experience, while also offering more amenities for the area’s residents, students, and employees. Adjacent to the new NYBG parking facility, the Botanical Garden Metro-North station provides access to Grand Central Terminal and White Plains in less than 30 minutes.
The Fordham Road and Webster Avenue intersection is one of the busiest shopping districts in the city, with over 300 businesses participating in the Fordham Road Business Improvement District. The area is a hub for commercial activity and entrepreneurship, with Class A office space, a new NYC Business Solutions and Workforce1 Center, and a new Fordham University incubator, the Fordham Foundry. Fordham Plaza is an intermodal transit hub connecting eleven bus lines with the busiest Metro-North station in the Bronx – serving over 6,000 passengers daily – and is being transformed into a bustling public space through a $26 million public investment. The intersection also provides access to Fordham University and Arthur Avenue, "Belmont's Little Italy."
Goals & Recommendations
The neighborhoods of Fordham, Bedford Park, and Norwood are home to over 100,000 residents and 7,000 Fordham University students. FBIA employs over 15,000 people, draws more than 4 million visitors annually, and cultivates partnerships like the Bronx Science Consortium to expand scientific research, education, and community engagement. The area has over 350 acres of parks and open space, and the introduction of Select Bus Service along Webster Avenue will improve access to commercial and employment centers for 20,000 daily passengers.
Community input throughout the visioning process emphasized supporting business development, a greater diversity and quality of retail, and more mixed-income housing options along Webster Avenue. Although there are no City-owned development parcels, we seek to further strengthen connections between the neighborhood centers and existing assets — and to attract new commercial and residential development that meets the needs of local residents, employees, entrepreneurs, students, and visitors. To realize this vision for Webster Avenue, the City will partner with FBIA and local stakeholders to implement the following recommendations.
Support Business Development and Local Entrepreneurship
- Establish a business incubator and low-interest loan fund to help local residents successfully launch businesses that serve retail and institutional needs and create jobs.
- Develop a local purchasing pilot program that facilitates existing business development to serve retail and institutional needs.
Create Destinations and Enhance Neighborhood Centers
- Engage in catalytic, mixed-use development opportunities, especially around the neighborhood centers.
- Strengthen the capacity of locally-based organization(s) to implement a retail recruitment strategy and spearhead future revitalization efforts.
- Continue to market FRESH financial and zoning incentives to support new and improved supermarkets that expand local food access.
- Promote mixed-income housing in the Webster Avenue corridor by marketing the area to property owners, real estate brokers, and developers.
Improve Pedestrian Connections and Mobility
- Implement streetscape improvements, after further community review, as part of the Webster Avenue Select Bus Service project.