The Jerome Avenue rezoning proposal has made some recent headway, though there is still more work left to be done before anything is finalized. Covering 92 blocks of space, the proposal has experienced a number of residents and community organizations who have spoke both for and against the rezoning. Before it will receive final approval, however, the Bronx Borough President’s office and Community Boards 4, 5, and 7 have all made it clear that they want to see the city commit to more investments in the area. Among the investments they want to see is more affordable housing, the construction of more schools, protections for businesses that could be displaced by rezoning and a commitment to upgrade existing parks and transportation infrastructure.
Increasing Affordable Housing in the City
At a recent meeting, the board reiterated the need for the city to increase the number of affordable units within the stretch of land from 1,500 to 2,000. According to a recent report, a total of 2,075 apartments spread out between 45 apartments within a 1/4 –mile radius within the proposed rezoning area need to be protected. Before it is willing to accept increased density, the board has made it clear that investments need to be made within the existing neighborhoods.
For its part, the city has committed to enforce additional affordable housing requirements beyond the 20 to 30 percent permanent affordability scale already in place as part of the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy. For developers looking for subsidies from the city, the city will ask that up to 45 percent of the units within the rezoned area become designated as permanently affordable. Some community advocacy groups want the city to go a step further by ensuring there will be no net loss of affordable units as new ones are constructed.
Vacant Lots Identified for Redevelopment
Meanwhile, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is moving forward with plans to turn vacant land into 490 affordable homes. As part of this process, the agency has identified 87 vacant lots for development. These lots are located in a variety of neighborhoods throughout the city, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East Harlem, East New York, East Tremont, Melrose, Morris Heights, Morrisannia, South Jamaica and Weeksville. The homes will represent a mix of single-family houses, condos and rentals.
The movement to transform the vacant lots into affordable housing is part of the agency’s New Infill Homeownership Opportunities Program (NIHOP) and Neighborhood Construction Program (NCP), both of which are aimed specifically at building on small or hard-to-develop lots. Already, they programs have assisted with the construction of 600 affordable homes on 81 city-owned lots. The previous development took place in two different phases, while the new plans are part of the final phase of development for these projects. The development teams have already been selected for each of the projects. Specifics regarding the projects and where they will be located can be found on the Housing Preservation and Development website.