Borough President Gibson outlines conditions for her Bruckner rezoning support

Foodtown Bruckner April 19 CB10-8
Members of Community Board 10 look at a presentation for a proposed rezoning for four Bruckner Boulevard sites at a tense April 19 meeting.
Photo Aliya Schneider

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson approved much of the proposed controversial Bruckner Boulevard rezoning with conditions, suggesting a downsize of one of two eight-story buildings.

She gave her recommendation after holding two public hearings last week in which 21 people testified in favor of the project and 40 opposed it, following Community Board 10’s near-unanimous denial of the plan.

Proposed by a handful of property owners, the project would develop four sites on Bruckner Boulevard, bringing 349 apartment units — including 99 affordable — a new supermarket replacing Super Foodtown, community space and 309 parking spaces.

The City Planning Commission held a hearing on Wednesday and will vote on the proposal, determining whether it goes to the City Council for a vote. The commission’s vote has not been scheduled but will likely take place in the next few weeks, City Planning spokesperson Joe Marvilli told the Bronx Times.

If the proposal makes it through the council, it will ultimately go to Mayor Eric Adams, who can veto the body’s decision — which the council can override.

Community District 10 is zoned as a Lower Density Growth Management Area – as seen throughout Staten Island – yet the sites are adjacent to the Bruckner Expressway.

Gibson said that Crosby and East Tremont avenues, pictured with three of the four sites, are wide and can accommodate increased traffic. Photos Courtesy NYC Planning

Gibson’s main concerns with the proposal have to do with the Super Foodtown site at the corner of Bruckner Boulevard and Crosby Avenue, citing its eight-story height. Her compromise – which she acknowledged neither community opposition nor the applicant would be happy with – is to lower the building to five floors.

She did, however, support the eight-story proposal for a site adjacent to the St. Raymond’s cemetery between East Tremont and Revere avenues, as the developer amended its design to house 98 units of affordable senior housing. The building was initially planned to have 64 units, including 19 affordable.

Gibson suggested the developer assess whether units could be larger in all buildings, but she pointed to the studio apartments in the senior building as a particular cause of concern.

She also said Foodtown’s 85 employees must be provided with temporary jobs during reconstruction for her support, a request the grocery store owners are confident they can fulfill, co-owner Peter Bivona told the Bronx Times, citing a supermarket worker shortage.

Bivona also runs Angie’s Market in Forest Hills, Queens, per city records, and he is considering buying another grocery store, spokesperson Sam Goldstein told the Bronx Times.

The property owners said that Bruckner Foodtown – which Gibson said serves 700-2,000 customers daily — would need to shut its doors if the rezoning isn’t approved, but the borough president said she has not seen the financials to bolster that claim.

The Foodtown site, which Peter and Joseph Bivona bought for $3.4 million in 2001, alone has a market value of nearly $4.3 million with an annual property tax of $207,432, according to city documents.

The Tunnels to Towers Foundation anticipates housing veterans from the Bronx with an emphasis on Throggs Neck community members at the most westward site, according to Gibson.

Gibson also supports the most westward site near Balcom Avenue, a three-story proposed building the developers now say will house 22 units of veteran housing managed by the Tunnel to Towers Foundation with an emphasis on locals.

A five-story building proposed for the corner of Bruckner Boulevard and East Tremont Avenue that would have apartments and a youth recreational facility also faces no opposition from Gibson.

Gibson pointed to the 476 jobs the developers say they will provide, including 126 permanent ones as a plus.

However, she said that for her support, the developers must ensure the 350 temporary construction jobs and 14 permanent building service worker jobs are unionized and from the Bronx with an emphasis on Community District 10.

She requested a Bronx-based organization administer the affordable housing.

While Gibson doesn’t think the project would drastically impact local infrastructure, she said the concerns she heard from residents about sanitation, traffic, schools, flooding and emergency services show the city should dedicate resources to the area.

She also recommended that the city and applicant both look at providing pathways to home ownership.

The developers did not directly comment on the borough president’s conditions, but Peter Bivona told the Bronx Times the applicants are glad Gibson recognized the project’s merits.

“The Borough President’s recommendations send a strong message that exclusionary zoning has no place in New York City and we thank her for her leadership,” he said, adding that the applicants look forward to collaborating with Gibson and Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, who told the Bronx Times she remains opposed to the project.

This article was updated at 2:09 p.m. on July 1.

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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