As the city looks to construct co-ops in Melrose, many in Community Board 3 compared the plans to Williamsburg or Brownsville, Brooklyn and feel they will attract non-Bronxites.
On Feb. 9, CB 3 rejected a ULURP application that calls for the development of four eight-unit buildings and one four-unit building on five sites for a total of 36 units. Four voted in favor and 16 against.
However, these are under the Open Door program, which funds the new construction of cooperative and condominium buildings affordable to moderate and middle-income households.
While the city is hoping to create home ownership in the community and help people build equity, board members were put off by the fact that some co-ops could cost as much as $200,000. This could be quite costly for people who live in the poorest Congressional District in the country.
“I love the idea and I want to support this project, but if they can’t guarantee spaces to residents from Community Board 3 then my vote is no,” said board member Victor Latimer.
Other members shared his displeasure like Olympia Jay Striplin, Laila Patino, VeeJay Sanchez and Marilyn Johnson.
“Realistically the people who presently live in the community can’t afford to get a co-op in their own community,” Johnson said.
“There are not many people in this community who can afford a $200,000 home,” Patino added.
However, Ismene Speliotis, executive director of MHANY Management Inc., who is the developer on the project, is still confident the application will get approved. She told the Bronx Times that she and her staff spoke with CB 3 in 2020 and last week, but it understanding how the co-ops can help the community will take time.
“Just because they rejected the application does not mean they don’t want home ownership,” she explained. “I think people are concerned about the down payment and what it would cost going forward.”
The proposed plans include a four-story building containing four affordable cooperative one-bedroom units at 881 Brook Ave, a four-story building with eight affordable cooperative units comprised of studios and one-bedroom units at 901 Eagle Ave., a four-story building with a mezzanine containing eight affordable cooperative units at 959 Home Street, a four-story building with a mezzanine containing eight affordable cooperative units, comprised of a mix of studios, one-bedroom at 1298 Hoe Ave and a four-story building with a mezzanine with four affordable cooperative units, comprised of a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom units at 1013 Home Street.
The proposed development is part of a larger project consisting of 12 residential buildings with a total of 70 residential units for home ownership in Melrose and Morrisania.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development feels the co-ops will benefit the two neighborhoods.
“We’re excited that Community Board 1’s housing and land use committee voted in favor of the Melrose projects and that dozens of home-buying opportunities will become available to young professionals and families who would not otherwise be able to afford to buy a home,” an HPD spokesman said. “Melrose homes will sale to low and middle-income households. In the meantime, community concerns will continue to be taken into consideration.”
MHANY Management has proposed to designate the area as an Urban Development Action Area and approval of the project as an Urban Development Action Area Project (UDAAP).
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will now review the ULURP application.