Groundbreaking at 810 River Avenue takes advantage of 2009 rezoning

Breaking ground at 810 River Avenue on Thursday, May 21 are (l-r) Adam Melnick and Aaron Segal, Rockower Corporation and M. Melnick and Company; Anthony Richardson, vice president, Housing Development Corporation; Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Susan Kensky, assistant commissioner, Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Daniel Marks, vice president, Housing Partnership; Kathleen Saunders, chairwoman, Community Board 4 and Mildred Jones, first vice-chairwoman, CB 4.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

A groundbreaking just a few blocks from Yankee Stadium may have ushered in a new era of building for the area.

The new 17-story, 134-unit apartment residential building, with first- and second-floor retail space, was said to be the first to take advantage of a 2009 Department of City Planning rezoning of East 161 Street and River Avenue.

The rezoning paves the way for high-density residential and commercial development.

The project being developed on River Avenue between East 157th and 158th streets will include housing for very-low, low and middle income tenants, many ‘green’ elements and a 61-space garage.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. indicted that the project was a harbinger of things to come in the area, and said he was proud to provide $1 million in capital funding.

“This is exactly what we are looking for,” said Diaz of the project, who added that it would set the tone for development in other nearby communities that had been rezoned in recent years.

The building at 810 River Avenue is financed under Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive affordable housing plan that plans to build or maintain 200,000 affordable units in ten years.

The project will include about 26,000 square-feet of commercial and community space.

“(The building at) 810 River Avenue demonstrates how a rezoning can be a catalyst for mixed-use, mixed-income residential redevelopment in transit-rich neighborhoods,” said Vicki Been, Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner. Anthony Richardson represented the Housing Development Corporation at the groundbreaking.

It is being built by M. Melnick & Co. and Rockower Corporation, on the site of a brownfield requiring environmental remediation. The block had been the location of a bowling alley for roughly 50 years.

“We thank the city for the opportunity to build a quality project,” said Adam Melnick, M. Melnick & Co, vice-president. “This project will serve the neighborhood, Community Board 4, the Bronx and the city on the whole.”

As part of the DCP September 2009 rezoning, the River Avenue area was rezoned from a manufacturing zone to a mixed-use zone to promote high-density commercial and residential development.

“This is the start of a transformation: the vertical redevelopment of the sites that had been rezoned in 2009,” said Dennis Terry, East 161st Street BID chairman. He added that population growth left little choice but to capitalize on available space.

Eduardo Castell, a consultant on the project with lobbying firm MirRam Group, said that he believes the new building will provide quality housing that is affordable.

“We want to keep and draw our families and professionals here, and to have the people who already live here have quality and affordable housing,” he said.

With a major part of CB 4 along Jerome Avenue north of the construction site being studied for rezoning, Jose Rodriguez, the district manager, said that he wants the community to be part of the process, helping city agencies develop best practices and have their voices heard on what they would like to see in their community.

As for 810 River Avenue, south of the area being considered for rezoning, the district manager had words of praise for the developers.

“We applaud their courage and investment in the community,” said Rodriquez.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
An artist rendering of 810 River Avenue.
Photo courtesy of M. Melnick & Co.

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