With a real estate boom in the borough still continuing despite a sluggish economy, one building owner near the Pelham Bay station is planning to add five new stories of commercial/office space to the attractive transportation hub.
The owner of 3221-29 Westchester Avenue, currently a one-story building housing a strip of small stores, filed plans which were approved by the Department of Buildings on August 30 to make alterations, adding five additional stories to the existing structure.
“I am very excited about this project,” said owner Joel Fishman. “This is an as-of-right re-building of an underutilized site. We are creating a suburban-style office building that is two blocks away from Pelham Bay Station, and close to all mass transportation.”
Fishman said that the new building would feature a marble lobby, concierge service, and two elevators. He also indicated that the stores existing on the ground floor would remain, and that the structure would be a welcome addition to the community.
“This is not a red brick box,” Fishman noted of the 51,000 square foot, $15 million project. “This is a glass building that is a real architectural gem. It will have all the modern bells and whistles.”
Fishman said that local professionals such as doctors and lawyers would have an attractive neighborhood option. He also said that leasing activity for the site has already been brisk, and anticipates tax incentives.
One longtime Pelham Bay resident feels that the area is already over-saturated with office space, and that the congestion the project will bring is not good.
“We already have too much medical space at the office complex at Pelham Bay station and also at the site of the former Fiesta Bowling,” said Anita Valenti, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 60 years. “I cannot believe that the DOB is allowing this project to go forward.”
Others feel that with the number of vacancies in Pelham Bay, both commercial and residential, demand will not catch up with supply very soon.
“We have buildings all around here with vacancies, and we don’t have enough people or business to fill them,” said Ed Romeo, president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association.
However, Romeo added that he thought if something had to be built at that site, he prefers it to be commercial space.
“I guess commercial space would be the lesser of two evils,” Romeo explained. “I would be really opposed to more residential.
Despite the community concern, Fishman said this project would enhance Pelham Bay.
“I have been in this business for 40 years, and have built buildings like this in the Bronx as opposed to going elsewhere where it is easier,” Fishman stated. “This is going to be the biggest thing to come to Pelham Bay in many years.”