A planed development for the Melrose Commons area has the community buzzing with interest, as yet more investment pours into the south Bronx.
The new development, dubbed Courtlandt Corners I and II is located on E. 161st Street between Courtlandt and Melrose avenues. When completed, it will total 323 apartment units, 22,000 square feet of retail space, and approximately 50 parking spaces.
The housing units are designed for moderate to low-income residents, and will be made available through funding provided from the Department of Housing Preservation and Conservation, and Housing Development Corporation.
The area, located on opposite sides of E. 161st Street will also undergo an environmental clean-up from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, providing remediation of two brownfields at the site caused by a gas station that used to operate at the location.
“We are funding this project because this is what we do; take city owned land and other properties and turn it into affordable housing,” said Seth Donlin, an HPD spokesman.
Donlin said that the project will serve as a gateway from the Grand Concourse area to the large Melrose Commons development on E. 161 Street, making the entire area especially appealing.
“We are the agency that is providing some of the funding for the project,” Donlin noted. “One important aspect of the project is that it will include middle-income units based on Housing and Urban Development income standards.”
Donlin noted that this is one of the first developments in the south Bronx to include middle-income units, which could mean households making upwards of $80,000 a year. This indicates developers are willing to take a bigger risk, because government incentives to develop market-rate housing are not as substantial.
The project’s developer is non-profit Phipps Houses, one of the nation’s oldest and one of the largest not-for-profit owners of affordable housing, going back over 100 years as a housing organization.
But before Phipps can put a shovel in the ground, DEC will complete a remediation on two separate parcels of land in the project, removing 7,076 cubic yards at 868 Courtlandt Avenue and 3,345 cubic yards at 884 Courtlandt Avenues.
The “brownfields” were discovered at the site in 1994, when a representative of the Getty gas station, which operated at the site until recently, reported a petroleum spill due to a petroleum test tank failure.
While the cleanup of the “brownfields” is legally mandated, in the end, city officials believe the clean-up will be a win for the community, despite the substantial costs in time and money involved in the clean-up.
“Brownfields can impose health, environmental, legal, and financial burdens on a community and its residents, as well as contribute to blight,” said Thomas Panzone, spokesman for DEC. “Once remediated, these properties can be put to productive economic or green space use, and ultimately take development pressure off of undeveloped, open land.”
©2008 Community News Group