‘Defining landmark’: Gibson approves Boston Road rezoning after CB11 rejection

boston road rendering
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson recommended approval for a proposed rezoning on Boston Road, which would bring a 333-unit apartment building, pictured.
Rendering courtesy Slate Property Group

Following rejection from Community Board 11, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson recommended approval for a rezoning on Boston Road, saying it could set a “gold standard” for the Allerton area.

The proposed rezoning would bring a 10-story development with 333 apartments to the site of the Fine Fare Supermarkets at 2560 Boston Road. Slate Property Group, the applicant, has promised that the supermarket would be temporarily relocated two blocks away during construction and that the project will bring additional retail and community facility space along with a new supermarket.

On Dec. 22, 2022, CB11 rejected a resolution recommending approval of the rezoning by a 17-7 vote. Even if the resolution passed, it would have come with the condition that the city increases school, police and sanitation infrastructure as well as the applicant providing overnight parking to building residents. Two members abstained and two members recused themselves.

Gibson in her recommendation pointed out that the 10-floor building will be taller than most of the existing housing in the neighborhood, which she portrayed in a positive light.

“This development provides an opportunity to set a ‘gold standard’ for the neighborhood as it will be this building that the local community will identify as a defining landmark,” she said in her recommendation. “This takes on even more relevance given that Boston Road has seen minimal new investment due to the limitations of the existing zoning.”

At the borough president’s Jan. 26 public hearing on the proposal, 12 people spoke with four in favor and eight opposed. Gibson’s office also received written testimony, though it was not provided to the Bronx Times upon request.

Gibson said she is pleased that the building is fully marked as affordable. She said that while local community members were concerned that the project will have AMIs too high for the existing area, the proposal is “generally in-line” with the existing housing.

“Sites in The Bronx where residential development can take place ‘as-of-right’ are becoming less available,” she wrote in her recommendation. “As such, I am pleased to consider this application, where a proposed rezoning would facilitate the development of much needed affordable housing.”

The project would be financed through the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) Mix and Match Program, which requires 40% to 60% of units reserved for households that earn up to 80% of the area median income (AMI), while the other 40% to 60% of units would be earmarked for households earning up to 120% of the AMI. Through the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirement, 25% of units would be permanently income-restricted with an average income of 60% of the AMI or 30% of units would be permanently restricted for an average of 80% of the AMI.

Gibson’s recommendation and the applicant’s proposal cited outdated HDC Mix and Match guidelines, however, in which 40-60% of the units were required to be designated for up to 60% AMI and the rest were required to be capped at 130% AMI. A NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) spokesperson confirmed with the Bronx Times that HDC’s term sheet is outdated and the agency is working on updating it to reflect HPD’s recent affordability marks, described above.

Aside from the maximum AMI being 120%, the AMI breakdown for the project is still being determined, a project spokesperson told the Bronx Times.

According to Gibson’s recommendation, the proposal includes 84 studios, 149 one-bedroom units, 50 two-bedroom units and 50 three-bedroom units. She said she is concerned about the lack of family size units, which she said has been an issue with “virtually every” affordable housing proposal that has crossed her desk. She said 30% of units having more than one bedroom is the minimum she would support, and she plans to push developers to increase this number. Additionally, she wants the units to be larger, though she recognizes they are based on HPD standards.

Gibson suggested a youth center or women’s health center for the community space, though she called the 6,750-square-foot area “modest in size.”Aside from temporary construction jobs and jobs that may come from the community space, the development would bring 4-6 union jobs, according to Gibson.

Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez, whose district encompasses the project site, also pointed to the lack of family-sized units, though she said she was hopeful the project would gain her support.

“The applicant team has created a project that serves the neighborhood through livable wages and meaningful housing; however, we are still in conversations to ensure enough family-sized units and resources are available to support the community,” she said in a statement to the Bronx Times. “I am hopeful we can create a project I’ll be proud to support.”

A project spokesperson told the Bronx Times that the breakdown of bedrooms is still being determined.

The proposal incorporates 117 parking spots with 67 for residents and 50 spaces for the supermarket that could potentially be made available for overnight parking, the project spokesperson said. While there were concerns about parking and traffic congestion during public testimony, Gibson said she believes the proposed parking is adequate and that the street is wide enough to accommodate the proposal.

The project site also hosts the Classico Building Maintenance commercial space and a building occupied by a daycare center with a residential unit above it, according to Gibson’s recommendation. The project spokesperson said the daycare building is now vacant but did not elaborate. The phone line for Rugrats Daycare, which has an address at the site, was disconnected on Tuesday.

Both the community board and borough president’s opinions are advisory. Next, the City Planning Commission will review the proposal before it goes off to the City Council. The commission will hold a public hearing on the application at 10 a.m. on Feb. 15.

CB11 Chair Bernadette Ferrara did not respond to a request for comment.

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