A massive mixed-use development proposal could transform the Wakefield area, but it wouldn’t be completed for more than a decade.
The 4.65-acre project site – a current parking lot – would bring more than 1,200 income-restricted apartments across six towers sandwiched between the Harlem and New Haven Metro-North lines in Wakefield, just south of East 241st Street and Wakefield Avenue.
But the project requires rezoning and special permits and has not yet been reviewed by the city Planning Commission, community board, borough board or City Council.
New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat who represents District 81, said that the scale of the project raises concerns. He was also surprised by the 10-year construction period, saying he thought the project would be built sooner.
“There’s a tremendous need for housing,” Dinowitz said. “I always get a little concerned when something that big is being proposed, because it is huge.”
Residents get worried when they hear about buildings with 80 units, Dinowitz added.
The lawmaker is concerned about an increase in traffic, potential infrastructure issues like sewage capacity and whether there will be enough spots at local schools for the new wave of residents that the project would attract.
The apartments would all be affordable for households earning between 30% and 100% of the area median income and there would be commercial space and a park on-site, according to the scope of work draft submitted to the city Planning Commission. The buildings would have studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom options, according to Newman Architects, the New Haven- and Washington D.C.-based firm designing the project.
The six buildings would be built in three phases over 10 years, with construction projected to start in 2023.
“If this project is something that the community feels good about, then I would feel very comfortable, and providing that much housing at a time when we desperately need housing is good,” Dinowitz said. “But we always have to look at all the potential downsides before we jump on a bandwagon.”
The site currently houses a 400 space-parking lot that the NYPD leases from Webster Leasing, LLC. The leasing company owns most of the proposed project site, but a portion of an MTA-owned parcel south of the site juts in between Webster’s two lots, which the company wants to acquire.
The project site is in a zoning district meant for one-story manufacturing and storage buildings, so Webster Leasing needs a zoning map amendment along with special permits for the building heights and a two-level parking garage with 617 spaces.
Webster Leasing, LLC, would develop the project along with Joy Construction Corp., and Best Development Group, LLC.
The developers expect to utilize public funding, according to the scope of work draft.
They say in the document draft that the project would create about 750 construction jobs across the 10-year period, as well as 375 permanent jobs.
A public scoping session of the proposal is scheduled for Aug. 23.
Editor’s Note: The project is not being proposed within the district of City Councilman Kevin Riley, but is located in Councilman Eric Dinowitz’s.
Aliya Schneider is contributor for the Bronx Times. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.