A south Bronx neighborhood with a turbulent past is at a crossroads.
With more and more buildings coming up there, the southern end of the Longwood neighborhod is now looking forward to more progress with the start of a new 430-unit affordable housing complex there, complete with commercial space and a school for special-needs children.
The complex will be called Crossroads Plaza.
But the dream is just shy of becoming a reality.
Project managers have teamed up with officials from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development for approval to build the three-building complex at a virtually abandoned city-owned Urban Renewal Site at E. 149th Street and Southern Boulevard, a few blocks west of the Bruckner Expressway.
Nettle weeds and graffiti overwhelm the barren, fenced site, former home to a gas station and bus parking lot in the 1990s.
Since it was abaondoned, residents have complained the empty lot has become a complete eyesore and haven for drug addicts.
“It doesn’t look good empty,” said Siomara Isiano, an 11-year resident who now avoids walking by the lot at night after almost getting robbed there.
HPD thought the site had strong potential for development.
“There are not a lot of parcels of city-owned land in the Bronx of significant size and suitable location where this much can be accomplished,” said HPD spokesman Eric Bederman.
“It’s a neighborhood that can use additional housing units,” said Matthew Newman, vice president of Queens-based Newman Design, chosen to take on the project.
Residents will see the finished project sometime in 2014, he said.
The firm recently built a 124-apartment complex in Williamsbridge.
Crossroads Plaza will take up about 80,000 square feet, spread out between the new commercial space, school and open space.
About 155 parking spaces will be built for tenants, and to maintain the city’s eco-friendly stance, Crossroads will have 214 bicycle spaces.
Another plus will be a new Easter Seals child development center providing services to kids with disabilities.
Therapy, training, education and support services will be offered to Bronx children in need of the services.
The Chicago-based organization already has a local center in Morris Park.
Newman declined to name retail businesses expressing interest in setting up shop in Crossroads. Commercial rents will help to keep residential rents affordable.
Neighborhood residents will see construction crews begin work on the project sometime in late summer, according to Bederman.
But the City Planning Commission, which held a hearing on the project on Wednesday, April 11, still hasn’t scheduled a final vote on the project, which could take several weeks.
And while Community Board 1 gave the project its blessing in February, several young people walking by the lot think there’s no point in building a complex.
“Build stores, build an IHOP,” said Marshall James.
Reach reporter David Cruz at (718) 742-3383 or email email@example.com.