Developers have unveiled a massive project that will bring nearly 500 units of affordable housing to the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and create a shoreline public walkway to the Harlem River waterfront.
On Nov. 10, Phipps Houses and Douglaston Development met with the Community Board 1 Housing and Land Use Committee where it introduced Madison Bridge Landing, a multi-parcel project that will feature 483 units of affordable housing, across the river from Manhattan.
The proposal features a 12-story building at 110 E. 138 St. with 231 affordable senior units, 2,300 square feet of retail space and amenities along with an 18-story building with 253 units of affordable housing, 5,600 square feet of community facility space and amenities, that would be located at 63 Exterior St.
Currently, the sites are home to an old auto auction business and a former padded wagon truck lot.
“A part of our plan is to make this walkway and street excitable again,” said Michael Wadman, vice president of development at Phipps. “Really, the intention here is to make East 138 St. both functional and active again.”
While many market rate housing units are being developed along the Mott Haven waterfront – this project which boasts plans for affordability will be a boost for the community, Wadman said.
According to Wadman, the sites have a narrow and irregularly shaped lot and are “locked” between the Major Deegan Expressway and the Harlem River. However, by combining the two parcels, the developers can make a more significant project with greater access by creating a walkway to the waterfront.
“It’s a challenging site,” he said. “We think we’ve come up with a great plan.”
While the committee appreciated the developers coming to them so early in the process, some members were concerned about the congestion the project would cause on the Madison Avenue Bridge, which would be the main entry point to the site. Committee member Ricardo Cosme asked the developers if they would work with the board on creating a way to make sure seniors and pedestrians can walk safely near the proposed site.
“My concern is with seniors,” he said. “The DOT (Department of Transportation) needs to produce a plan how it can secure safe passage for seniors.”
Fellow board member Ora Kemp echoed Cosme’s sentiments. She told the Bronx Times that walking in that area is “horrid and even on a bike it’s rough.”
“The traffic over that bridge is tough, highly congested and to have that being the main entry point is concerning,” she said. “I walk over that bridge often to get into Harlem and it’s going to be tough for seniors and families. Without any plan to have an alternative entry point, it’s going to be tough.”
Meanwhile, board member Brenda Goodwin praised the plan and said it is great for the seniors. However, she asked the developer to consider putting a supermarket or drug store at the site, as there are not many in the area. Goodwin also requested that Douglaston and Phipps speak with area seniors about what they would want to see at the site.
“I’m very happy they found something for the seniors,” Goodwin said.
The committee requested the developers return in the future with more specific plans, including schematics of apartments and costs.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.