Located in the South Bronx’s Melrose Commons neighborhood, the project was spearheaded by the nonprofit Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) and BFC Partners.
Bronx Commons is a 12-story, 100 percent affordable building with studio, one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments serving formerly homeless families and individuals, including victims and survivors of domestic violence, as well as low- and moderate-income households earning between 30 percent and 110 percent of area median income.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have deepened the already-critical need for quality, affordable housing in the South Bronx,” said Davon Russell, president of WHEDco. “At Bronx Commons, we are meeting that need for hundreds of low-income families and individuals who were at risk of displacement, helping them to stay in their community and thrive.”
In December 2020, Bronx Commons was selected from among 55 submissions as the winner of the New York Housing Conference’s 2020 Community Impact Competition, which recognizes affordable housing developments that epitomize high standards in design, health, environmental sustainability and affordability, and that have positively impacted their communities during COVID-19.
Bronx Commons’ on-site amenities include a fitness center, bike parking, a green roof, a rooftop garden and the largest solar panel array on any multifamily building in the Bronx. In 2021, with emergency response support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s (SNF) global COVID-19 relief initiative, WHEDco will bring free Wi-Fi to all Bronx Commons residents as part of a commitment to provide free broadband internet access to all tenants at its three affordable housing developments in the south Bronx.
While all of Bronx Commons’ apartments are now leased, the final stages of construction on the development’s cultural, educational and commercial components continue. In 2021, WHEDco will open the 14,000 square-foot Bronx Music Hall at the site, featuring a flexible performance space with approximately 250 seats, rehearsal and exhibition areas, digital archives, a café and two outdoor plazas for performances and recreation.
The music hall will be the permanent home of WHEDco’s Bronx Music Heritage Center, which promotes the cultural legacy of the Bronx, supports Bronx artists to perform in their own borough and provides free and low-cost cultural programs for the local community.
“Bronx Commons and the Bronx Music Hall are unexpectedly timely in this pandemic,” said Nancy Biberman, WHEDco founder and president emerita. “We are all focused on our families and communities, imagining happier and healthier lives. The Music Hall and its outdoor performance plaza will be welcome communal space for people to speak, sing, play music, and nourish souls.”
Bronx Commons will also feature a 150-seat, New York City Department of Education-operated ages 3 to kindergarten program, street-facing commercial space for small businesses and community programming and the Melrose Community Access Support and Training (CAST) Center, a 2,200 square-foot hub for small business, family support services and community engagement.