A proposal to upzone Bruckner Boulevard, highlighted by a Foodtown being torn down in place of a 85-foot tall, 8-story building has infuriated Throggs Neck residents.
Throggs Neck Associates LLC, signed for by Joseph Bivona, the owner of Super Foodtown, submitted an application in late 2020 to amend the zoning laws to construct four mixed-use residential and commercial buildings on Bruckner Boulevard, from Crosby to Gifford avenues, ranging in size from 3-8 stories and proposing 384 residential units.
If approved, the four new buildings would be located at 5308 Revere Ave., 2719 Bruckner Blvd., 2945 Bruckner Blvd., and 2817 Bruckner Blvd., would inject more than 1,100 new residents into an area of roughly a quarter mile.
In protest of the plan, hundreds of residents packed the sidewalk and street outside of Foodtown on Aug.4, voicing their displeasure.
Among those in attendance was City Council District 13 Candidate Attorney Aleksander Mici, a Republican, who has written a cease-and-desist letter to Throggs Neck Associates LLC hoping to kill the project. “As you see behind me the whole neighborhood is up in arms about this issue,” he said. “This affects the quality of life in this neighborhood. The owner who applied for this variance does not have the community’s best interest at heart.”
John Cerini, a longtime business owner in Throggs Neck, urged people to reach out to the media, their elected officials and the community board and more importantly, that the rally can not end their fight.
“We cannot allow these buildings to go up,” he said. “I want to let everybody at home know if you think your voice doesn’t matter, you’re wrong.”
Cerini told the crowd to not let the developers fool you with words like senior housing, schools or affordable housing. These plans will overcrowd the community, make parking worse and create more issues for the NYPD and FDNY, he added.
While Cerini remained calm, Throggs Neck Business Improvement Executive Director Bobby Jaen did not hold his tongue. Jaen, who has lived in Throggs Neck for 42 years, said this proposed up-zoning will destroy the community. Jaen told the crowd that he has spoken with the Throggs Neck businesses and none of them are in favor of this development.
“When it comes to things like this we have to think about the future,” he shouted. “This is all about greed and money. It’s not no, it’s hell no we don’t want this.”
George Havranek, president of the Spencer Estate Civic Association, launched an online petition against the proposed project, which so far has garnered more than 4,000 signatures. Havranek feels that if the city approves the rezoning it could spur other up-zoning throughout the borough.
“Once you lose that zoning you lose control of your community,” he said. “This is an appetizer for [developers]. This is not the main course.”
More than a decade ago, Community Board 10 voted unanimously to make Throggs Neck, Country Club and Pelham Bay, a Lower Growth Management Area (LGMA). According to Matt Cruz, district manager for CB10, development in CB 10 requires off-street parking spaces and there are parameters around the physical characteristics of the building and its height, because of the implementation of a LGMA. In 2007, LGMA eventually became law under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the local leadership of then-City Councilman James Vacca.
“This project is surprising,” Cruz told the Bronx Times. “By approving this application, it would essentially undo what the board did 10 years ago.”
Marjorie Velasquez, who won the June Democratic Primary for the 13th City Council seat, has also spoken out against the upzoning.
“As a member of Community Board 10, I have in the past voted against developments that go against our community’s needs,” she said in a released statement. “I will vote against the proposed Bruckner Blvd. expansion that does not take into consideration transportation, education, public works and other infrastructure and investment our community needs.”
Because the proposal is part of a rezoning application, it triggers the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) where CB 10 will render its advisory opinion. As part of ULURP, the office of the Borough President and the New York City Council will also issue its opinions.
A decision on the project will likely not come until 2022.
Reach Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.