A major rezoning proposal of the borough’s most storied avenue is moving closer to fruition.
As part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, deliberations concerning the rezoning of 92 blocks on and around Jerome Avenue from Highbridge to University Heights to residential have proceeded to the City Planning Commission for review.
CPC held a hearing on the Jerome Avenue Neighborhood Rezoning plan on Wednesday, November 29, and the commission will publically deliberate its merits over the next several weeks.
A vote is expected sometime in January, according to CPC.
The rezoning area, which grew from its original 46-block plan, would allow for mixed-use residential and commercial development along Jerome Avenue, including taller buildings along the #4 IRT train el of varying heights, depending on the location.
CPC will consider the input of community boards 4, 5 and 7; the councilmembers from the area; Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and individuals.
All three community boards supported the plan with conditions, as did Diaz.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson both testified at the CPC hearing.
Cabrera stated that the rezoning of this crucial part of his district comes at a time when the need for affordable housing in the entire city is critical.
“Moreover, my district needs safe, pedestrian-friendly areas and full utilization and diversification of commercial spaces,” said Cabrera, adding that “local hire and union labor must be part of the redevelopment.”
In her testimony, Gibson said the rezoning was a “unique opportunity to have a voice in the future of our community, provide services needed to uplift families and preserve the character of our neighborhood.”
Gibson said in her testimony that she and Cabrera worked to ensure meaningful capital improvements as part of the plan, and also said that at the community’s insistence and persistence, numerous commitments related to job creation, transportation and parks were secured.
Among these commitments are a Certificate of No Harassment to prevent tenants from being forced from their homes by landlords, a commitment from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development to preserve an additional 1,500 units of affordable housing over two years in CB 4 and CB 5 and a host of additional items.
The Bronx Borough Board held its ULURP hearing in November, with the borough president issuing an affirmative recommendation, with conditions, on Monday, December 3.
“The plan for the future of Jerome Avenue represents tremendous transformative potential for the entire Bronx,” said Diaz. “Whatever we do, we must ensure that this rezoning works for everyone, especially the tenants who currently call the affected neighborhoods home.”
According to Diaz’s office, negotiations took place between the borough president and Mayor de Blasio on key items.
Dr. Bola Omotosho, CB 5 chairman, said that he hopes the plan will bring capital dollars and development, some of which neighboring CB 4 and CB 7 has already enjoyed. He also acknowledged that board member concerns about gentrification are real.
“The devil is in the details,” said Omotosho. “Realistically, it gives us the opportunity as a district to get infrastructure that is supportive; this is something that can put us in the limelight.”
Omotosho said that he hoped having housing for people of multiple income levels – including very affordable, affordable and market rate living spaces – might attract professional people and those with larger incomes, who could serve as an inspiration for young people.
He added that educational funding has been earmarked for tradesperson training programs for local people who could work on any building projects that the rezoning may enable.
A small part of the rezoning would be in CB 7.
Adaline Walker-Santiago, CB 7 chairwoman, said that more school seats had been secured, as well as more service on the # 4 and D subway lines.
The principal concern, she said, is making sure that people and businesses are not displaced.
Paul Philps, CB 4 district manager, said that top concerns of his board include protecting existing tenants and adding additional school seats and educational programing for residents of what are potentially 3,200 new units of housing along the Jerome Avenue corridor.
His board supported the plan with conditions, and Philips added that accessibility to mass transit, job training and development and park maintenance are also his board’s concerns.
The manufacturing zoned-areas in the proposed Jerome Avenue corridor are primarily occupied by an assortment of auto-related businesses and warehouses.
Under the Jerome Avenue proposal the properties would be upzoned to residential and commercial, permitting towers as tall as 22 stories in some parts of the district.