The NYC City Council unanimously passed a resolution to approve the construction of a new apartment building in Westchester Square.
The compromise agreement will allow the developer to build a mixed-use affordable apartment, retail and parking complex known as Blondell Commons.
However the height of the building has been reduced from nine stories to six stories with a seventh floor setback.
As part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, after intense negotiations to bring the building’s size into contextual conformity, a resolution was approved at the Council’s Thursday, April 18 meeting, allowing the project to proceed.
To accomplish the agreement Councilman Mark Gjonaj negotiated for several weeks with the building’s developer, Exact Capital.
He said the compromise will bring much needed affordable housing for seniors and young families into the community.
“This was a hard-fought compromise that will give us control over what will get built,” said Gjonaj, adding “I am just glad that we are able to see it through to the end.”
The site of the development, 1340 Blondell Avenue, was a former auto salvage yard.
Gjonaj’s chief of staff, Reginald Johnson, said the new configuration will include 172 units versus the proposed 228, 225 parking spaces, and about 20,000 square feet of commercial space that the developer has indicated will be leased, most likely, for an educational use.
The chairman of the Westchester Square Business Improvement District, John Bonizio, said that he was pleased with the outcome.
Bonizio said that the 225-space parking lot is going to attract different types of businesses to the Square because they will know that parking is available.
He cited a growing number of restaurants as an example of the kinds of businesses that could be attracted to the area, although it is not limited to restaurants.
“Just like it does in Manhattan, (the parking) is going to give consumers who come to the area by car the opportunity to park in a place where they are not going to get ticketed,” said Bonizio.
Additionally, the new residents in the area will increase foot traffic in the commercial corridor, said Bonizio.
An increase in foot traffic has been a perennial concern of Westchester Square merchants, Bonizio said, adding that the council’s actions could spur other residential development along Blondell Avenue, replacing the mostly auto-related businesses with housing.
“It is a win for the community. It is an important thing to the community,” said Bonizio. “I know that there was a lot of opposition and I understand it. If you look at it overall, the community needs to grow. If it doesn’t grow it is going to die.”
Idan Sims, an Exact Capital spokesman, released a statement to the Bronx Times.
“The unanimous City Council approval of the Blondell Commons reflects strong support from the community, including neighborhood residents and small business owners.
“The new 100% affordable building to be developed at 1340 Blondell Avenue will be a welcomed addition to an underutilized site in the Westchester Square section,” it said.
The statement continued: “The new building will offer many appealing features and amenities, including a children’s playroom, a fitness room, a large multipurpose room and 225 parking spaces that will also be available to the public.”
In advisory roles, community boards 10 and 11 both opposed the original design.