Last month, Belmont residents pleaded with Bronx Community Board 6 members to deny a request to construct a ground-floor level supermarket within a proposed affordable housing project on the 660-668 E. Fordham Road block that would’ve come at the expense of 59 parking spots in the area.
At the Nov. 10 CB6 Land Use Committee meeting, those residents got their wish.
CB6 board members unequivocally recommended a denial of the request, with a large majority of the 34-person board either submitting a ‘no’ vote or abstaining, with only one board member voting in favor of the proposal.
However, the project is not necessarily dead on arrival as the decision ultimately lies with the New York City Council; the community board vote is merely an advisory recommendation with no binding authority.
The proposed 11-story building, which is earmarked for the 660-680 E. Fordham Road plot, is bringing a total of 145 proposed dwelling units to the area, 20% of which — 28 units — would be affordable under the city’s inclusionary housing program.
Developers Shahadi Development intended to lease the ground-level space to a fresh supermarket, with C-Town being one of the prominent bidders. The supermarket proposal is part of the city’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program, which offers zoning and tax incentives to encourage developers to build more supermarkets in high-need neighborhoods that face barriers to food access.
Wednesday’s vote is another blow to the FRESH program, which has failed to gain significant traction, as only eight FRESH supermarkets are operating in the program’s 12-year run.
The CB6 district — which includes the Fordham, West Farms and East Tremont sections — is considered a food desert, according to the city Department of Health. In the Bronx, 62% of the borough’s residents are suffering from food insecurity, according to
But the need to preserve parking, which accounts for roughly 5% of land use in the CB6 region, ultimately won out during the final vote.
Residents cited vehicle congestion from the nearby New York State DMV and Fordham University — which designates private parking to students and faculty — as major headaches for residents, and that the addition of the supermarket would only exacerbate an area whose participants are constantly fighting over parking.
“I want to beseech the community board on the true condition of the parking in this neighborhood and to understand how inundated we are on Cambreleng (Avenue) and in Belmont,” said longtime Belmont resident Donna Devito. “The added pressure of more traffic and no parking will just be tremendous.”
Additionally, a nearby parking garage on the 660 E. Fordham Road block is closed and out of service. In their proposal, developers said that 47 total parking spaces would continue to be provided at Medalliance, a nearby medical facility at 625 E. Fordham Road, where developer Sean Daneshvar serves as the president.
Daneshvar was not present during the Nov. 10 CB6 meeting.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.