The developers of a large-scale apartment building came before the Community Board 11 for a zoning change.
The merits of a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application that would rezone a portion of Blondell Avenue near Westchester Square and Westchester Avenue for a 228-unit residential development were discussed at CB 11’s Land Use Committee during a public hearing on Tuesday, December 10.
Development group, Blondell Equities LLC, is requesting a zoning change for a parcel at 1340 Blondell Avenue to construct a 9-story affordable residential building that would include 225 on-site parking spaces and ground-floor commercial use.
The proposal also includes de-mapping a street that runs through the property, from the adjacent IRT#6 train yard to Blondell Avenue.
The vacant parcel is currently used to store vehicles, according to developers, and also contains a long shuttered bar, said John Bonizio, Westchester Square Business Improvement District chairman.
Most of the property was the home of Salient Auto Wreckers for decades.
The Westchester Square BID is not opposed to the project, said Bonizio, adding that the developer’s commitment to include parking that would be (partially) available to the public weighted heavily in the BID’s support.
“The BID is not opposed to it because of the parking component and because we believe there is a need for affordable housing throughout the district and throughout the Bronx,” he said. “This is a better use for the land then its present use.”
The BID chairman believes that a ‘large-scale’ project like this proposal could eventually open up more of Blondell Avenue, which is currently zoned for industrial purposes and used heavily for automotive purposes, for future residential development.
“Personally, I would like to see all of Blondell Avenue be used for housing,” he said, adding that shops like those currently lining the street are already leaving for the nearby Zerega Industrial Business Park where space is more plentiful.
The rezoning application the board is considering seeks to change what is currently an M-1-1 zone into a R7A with a commercial overlay.
According to the presentation given by the developers on December 10, the project has been in the works for 10 years.
The new building would contain a total of 211,000 square feet of floor space, and include a garage that would heavily-rely on hydraulic lifts to store vehicles.
In its current iteration, the developers would set aside 15 percent of the floor area for formerly homeless veterans, according to their presentation.
As of press time, representatives from Blondell Equities did not comment further.
The proposed development sits at the edge of CB 11, with Community Board 10, which includes the Westchester Square community in its service area, starting on the western side of Blondell Avenue.
Matt Cruz, CB 10 district manager said that while the advisory opinion in the ULURP process must come from CB 11, CB 10 is hoping for an opportunity to express its views on the project as well.
“This is a big project and would be one of the largest buildings in that area,” said Cruz. “There are questions about its impact on businesses and the residents (that are nearby).”
Cruz said that his board has reached out to the NYC Planning Commission to request that CB 10 have a say in the ULURP.
After conversations with his board members, Cruz said he was particularly interested in the uses for the ground floor commercial space.
Carl Anderson, who lives nearby and attended the hearing, said he would like the building to be offices instead of apartments.
“Yes, there is a need for residential, just put it somewhere else,” said Anderson, who thinks it will overwhelm the area in terms of traffic and infrastructure.
A Blondell Avenue resident, Marianne Lacroce, said she was concerned about safety issues because ambulances often use the street to bypass Westchester Square traffic on their way to the local hospitals.
Andrew Chirico, a CB 10 member who attended the hearing, said that there are many businesses on the block now that employ people and was concerned about their futures.
Chirico also questioned why such a large building was being put on a relatively narrow one-way street.
As of press time, CB 11 is scheduled to have a second meeting on the proposal on Thursday, December 20, said Jeremy Warneke, the board’s district manager.