Details emerge for Bruckner rezoning changes following Velázquez’s change of heart

Super Foodtown grocery store
Following Thursday’s vote, the Bronx Times has learned more details about the revised Bruckner Boulevard rezoning proposal, which includes the Super Foodtown site in Throggs Neck.
Photo Aliya Schneider

After City Council negotiations, the developers behind the proposed Bruckner rezoning agreed to tweak veteran and affordable housing components in the plans. But neither the applicant team nor Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez were quick to provide specifics after the proposal progressed through the City Council on Thursday.

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 units designated as affordable through the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing policy were previously going to be for people in the 60%, 80% and 100% area median income levels (AMI), according to a City Council spokesperson. But now, there will be 24 units for households that make 40% AMI and 44 units for households that make 100% AMI, Tom Corsillo, of Marino PR, said Friday, the day after the vote. A building for seniors will have 99 homes for households that make a maximum of 60% AMI.

Corsillo and Velázquez’s office did not provide how many units of different numbers of bedrooms are in the most updated proposal, with the city lawmaker’s office referring the Bronx Times to consulting firm Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC when asked about project details.

Velázquez, a Throggs Neck Democrat who has stood firmly against the project dating back to last year, had a sudden change of heart Thursday morning before it was unanimously passed by the zoning and franchises subcommittee and Land Use Committee. She said in a statement following the votes that the proposal had been updated to incorporate “deeper affordable housing for our community, more good jobs for residents and additional benefits for the neighborhood” but did not provide additional details about the project or make herself available to the Bronx Times following the vote.

The council negotiated for the veteran housing to be permanently affordable and increased the number of units for veterans from 22 to 25 with accompanying social services provided by the nonprofit Jericho Project, according to the council spokesperson. Corsillo said the veterans will receive rental assistance and will be referred through Veterans Affairs and the city.

But in an interview Friday, the Jericho Project’s CEO Tori Lyon told the Bronx Times that there is no formal agreement at this point and she was unaware of how residents would be chosen for the housing. The organization would likely provide services for 1-2 years for low-income veterans, but the organization has experience offering permanent on-site services, she said, emphasizing that the partnership is still fresh.

“The only thing we’ve done so far is provide a letter of support,” she said. “But I think it’s great they’re doing veteran housing as part of this project.”

Regardless of a formal agreement, the organization would still offer their services to the qualifying veterans if they didn’t live in the development, Lyon said.

The applicant team had previously said that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation would be providing 22 units of veteran housing that would be rent-free for the tenants. But that changed as developers recently said they were moving to a permanent housing mode, rather than a transitional one (although the foundation said it was never decided which mode of housing it would operate).

Another win for the project was the carpenters’ union involvement, which addressed one of Velázquez’s various concerns about the project. The union previously took a stance against the proposal, saying the developers’ offer was too far from their standards, but now the union has agreed to work on the senior building following negotiations. Unions 32BJ SEIU and Laborers Local 79 rallied on Sept. 1 in support of the project and said at the City Council hearing on Sept. 7 that there were agreements to partake in the project.

The project will bring 126 permanent jobs and 350 construction jobs, according to Corsillo, and the project has local and minority and women-owned business hiring goals for the project, according to the council spokesperson. The senior building, which was originally going to have an office space in it, will now instead house a 13,000 square foot senior center.

Following Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson’s recommendation to lower one of the buildings to five floors, the developers agreed to lower the proposed eight-story building on the corner of Bruckner Boulevard and Crosby Avenue, to six floors, where Super Foodtown is currently located and will be replaced with a new supermarket.

The full City Council will vote on the proposal next week.

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