City Hopes Rezoning Will Revitalize Area

City officials are hoping to kick start some new investments along Third and Tremont avenues by rezoning about 75 blocks between the Cross Bronx Expressway and Fordham Road.

The City Planning Department is proposing zoning changes in three adjacent corridors to allow residential housing and more commercial businesses to come to an area that is focused on shopping and light industry.

Department officials hope the changes will not only unify and preserve the character of the neighborhood, but will bring more customers to the businesses.

The zoning changes were put out to public review Monday, May 24 and last month Community Board 6 voted to approve the proposal.

“What we hope to get is more residential for one, and a combined residential and commercial area that will revitalize the entire area. Right now it’s just a mix-match,” said Ivine Galarza, CB 6 district manager. “It’s been transitional for many, many years. Overall there are a lot of vacancies and a lot of people leaving.”

The first corridor the city is looking to change is along Third Avenue, from Fordham Plaza to the Cross Bronx expressway.

By allowing for a mix of commercial and residential use, the board is proposing to expand what is available in the area. Currently the neighborhood is zoned only for automotive and light industrial use.

While some residential use has been allowed by the Board of Standards and Appeals, the changes, which include imposing a building height limit of between 80 and 125 feet, would unify the area and help eliminate the deserted look of the neighborhood, city officials said.

“We’d like to make it a little more residential so there’s an incentive for landlords to bring in affordable housing,” Galarza said.

The city is also proposing to allow full commercial buildings along Tremont Avenue, from Webster to Daly avenues. The area is already a shopping corridor, but the changes will allow for a larger range of retail and the development of offices, which will create a “24-hour downtown,” city officials said. Any new development in the corridor will be limited to between 80 and 125 feet.

The last corridor is between Third and Park avenues and Cyprus and Tremont avenues. To limit larger-scale, higher density development in the area, the planning department is proposing height limits on any new developments there. The neighborhood is already filled with lower density housing, so the changes will help maintain the character of the area, according to department officials.

Although the changes are not within the border of the Fordham Road Business Improvement District, according to the BID’s executive director, Wilma Alonso, the changes would be felt throughout the area.

“We believe changing the zoning will attract more developers,” she said. “It will be more of an advantage that would enhance the area a lot. Our district is very retail-oriented, so in that area the zoning changes would create room to bring in more tenants who can come in and bring another kind of flavor.”

The proposal is being reviewed by the borough president’s office. Once pproved, it will go to a City Planning Commission vote, before it is reviewed by the City Council.

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