City Council unanimously passes Bruckner Boulevard rezoning

marjorie and riley
The City Council unanimously approved the proposed Bruckner Boulevard rezoning. Pictured, Councilmembers Kevin Riley (left) and Marjorie Velázquez at the Sept. 7 City Council hearing about the project.
Photo Aliya Schneider

The City Council passed the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning proposal 48-0 Wednesday afternoon, making way for the four-site development in Throggs Neck.

Physically absent from the council’s stated meeting but tuning in remotely, Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez urged lawmakers to pass the proposal Wednesday afternoon, saying it has “tremendous wins for the community,” particularly seniors, veterans, workers and those in need of affordable housing.

“Our city is facing a housing crisis, and all of us, in every community, have to be part of the solution,” she said. “And that doesn’t mean that we have to hand over the keys to developers, and it doesn’t mean that we have to disregard local concerns and input. We can achieve the shared goals of the city and local communities, and we have accomplished that. For me, the priority has been and always will be building for our local community and giving my constituents more opportunities for good-paying, family-sustaining jobs, as well as affordable housing.”

The Throggs Neck Democrat pointed to council negotiations for affordable housing that resulted in units for households at the 40% area median income level, as well as the newly promised senior center, union agreements and local, minority and women-owned business enterprise hiring priorities.

Speaker Adrienne Adams, a Queens Democrat, emphasized that the application had “improved tremendously” since it moved on to the council.

“This council is committed to being part of the solution to the housing crisis by approving sound projects that benefit communities and our entire city,” she said. “As a former community board chair, I can let you know, I understand the importance of prioritizing the concerns of local residents and community input. This can often lead to much better projects.”

The project as it stands will bring 348 units across four sites on Bruckner Boulevard with 192 designated as affordable, including 99 units for seniors and 25 for veterans. The project, which has been branded as an upzoning by local opponents, will in its most recent form bring 3-story, 5-story, 6-story and 8-story buildings to the area, which is adjacent to the Bruckner Expressway while currently zoned with a suburban low density growth management designation.

A breakdown of how many bedrooms will be in the project, including the “MIH” or affordable Mandatory Inclusionary Housing units and “SARA” Senior Affordable Rental Apartments. The privately financed veteran units are not included in the affordable breakdown. Chart courtesy NYC Council

Velázquez turned on her long-touted public stance against the proposed rezoning last Thursday morning, urging fellow city lawmakers to approve the project right before the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee and Land Use Committee unanimously passed the plan. The proposal has garnered support from Mayor Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, while it was opposed by the local Community Board 10.

Velázquez’s about-face was exactly what residents fervently against the project feared who were unconvinced by her public remarks. But she continued to emphasize that she stood with the opposition, like in April when she said her stance “has not” and “will not” change.

Protestors gather in front of Marjorie Velázquez’s 3040 E. Tremont Ave. office on Oct. 8 following her change of stance. Photo ET Rodriguez

On Saturday, a group of residents gathered in front of the councilmember’s Throggs Neck office, chanting to “Vote her out.” They were joined by Tina Forte, a Republican candidate for Congress and Samantha Zherka, a Republican candidate for state Senate and an electronic sign calling Velázquez the “Benedict Arnold of Throggs Neck,” a notorious 18th century American general who became a traitor, switching sides to the British army in exchange for money.

The councilmember in a statement after the committee votes last Thursday cited the city’s housing crisis and lack of affordable housing contributions that have come from her district — points that advocates of the project have been making for months as the councilmember held a stubborn position against the project.

For nearly a week following her unanticipated reversal, Velázquez did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. On Wednesday, the day of the full council vote, her team said she was unavailable, citing a personal matter.

Three members of the 51-member council were not present for the vote on Wednesday.

This article was updated at 7:50 p.m. on Oct. 12 to include a breakdown of how many bedrooms will be in the project plans.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes