A building trend that many leaders in Pelham Bay and other Bronx neighborhoods found troublesome looks like it is back.
The rapid development of multiple-family dwellings in east Bronx areas where there is currently a mix of apartment buildings and private homes seems to be increasing dramatically after the 2008-09 recession brought many of these projects to a standstill.
Councilman James Vacca has noticed a massive uptick in Department of Buildings filings for new construction of multiple-family dwellings in Pelham Bay and Pelham Parkway, recently.
The councilman has recently located DOB documents pertaining to new projects at 3066 Buhre Avenue, 1701 Parkview Avenue and 3109 Buhre Avenue, among others in community boards 10 and 11.
Another building was recently completed at 3064 Buhre Avenue.
“The building boom is back,” said Vacca. “People are going to be seeing a lot of new construction and it is going to be significant.”
In some cases, smaller homes are being torn down to make way for 18- to 25-unit buildings in locations where the zoning permits it, like Pelham Bay, which has a stock of older apartment buildings constructed before World War II.
This is a problematic trend when it comes to parking and infrastructure, said the councilman, adding that much of the downzoning in last decade does not apply to areas where larger buildings already exist.
“Most people who live in the immediate vicinity of this new construction are not happy,” the councilman said. “People are saying we don’t have the infrastructure and parking, and that overdevelopment is a quality-of-life issue.”
Many of the new and proposed Pelham Bay projects have plans that comply with parking rules calling for spaces for 50% of the units, said Vacca.
For example, the building proposed at 1701 Parkview has 22 units with 11 on-site parking spaces, and the one at 3109 Buhre has 18 units and nine spots.
Community leaders and one local real estate broker seemed to concur with Vacca.
“I feel that Pelham Bay is starting to be overrun by these large developments,” stated Michele Torrioni, Pelham Bay Taxpayers president. “I’d like to see some sort of law implemented (stating) that if you purchase a one- or two-family home, you have to build the same back.”
Irene Guanill, owner of Meet the Sellers realty on Middletown Road in the community, said that many of the new apartments could be rented to social service providers, but also that it is not clear who the investors who build each project are targeting as prospective tenants.
“I have noticed the same trend, and it is still not clear who the units are going to be rented to,” said Guanill, who added that tax abatements like the 421-a program and others are encouraging developers to demolish one-and two-family homes and replacing them with larger dwellings.
She believes this trend could have negative implications for the area.
Waterbury LaSalle Community Association board member Andrew Chirico added that local schools like P.S. 71 and P.S. 14 are already fully utilized and that more classroom space needs to be built before more housing is developed.
“We are going to need more than 50% parking; we are going to need 100%,” said Chirico. “This is just ridiculous; I cannot say this enough times.”
The developer of the recently completed building at Buhre and Jarvis aveneus, Pualin Lumaj, said that the building is fully rented and was receiving the rents that he expected.
His latest project, next door at 3066 Buhre Avenue, should be completed in a year, he added.
Patty Justiniano, a local Pelham Bay activist, said that in the case of 1701 Parkview Avenue, the rest of this block, running from the corner lot where the project is, contains small homes and she feels that what is proposed does not fit with this surrounding context.
This is the same concern expressed when the project was first proposed, as the Bronx Times reported in 2009.