Pelham Bay’s future is dense

This demolition project on the corner of Roberts and Parkview avenues is the site of the latest high-rise building being slated for development in the Pelham Bay area. Photo by Victor Chu

High rise projects slated for the Pelham Bay area have residents crying foul, with many calling for a further downzoning of the area to prevent these large-scale developments from being built in the future.

The projects, in various stages of completion, are at 3427 Bruckner Boulevard, 3439 Bruckner Boulevard, 321 Westchester Avenue, and 3030 Middletown Road – and more may be in the works.

The latest to seek Department of Buildings’ approval is at 1701 Parkview Avenue, at the corner of Roberts Avenue. The property was recently sold to a Pelham Bay builder, who, according to NYC DOB documents, is Alfred Reyes, the president of Parkview Estate LLC.

DOB demolition permits were filed on November 28 for the 3-story building, presently occupying a corner lot, but the agency rejected the plans for a mixed-use 7-story building on January 12.

By and large, the community has been opposed to most of the projects from the get-go, especially 3030 Middletown Road, a 7-story, 44-unit coop due to the lack of parking.

“If they can’t sell the apartments in the current market, they will stay vacant, just like much of Waterbury Estates,” said Ann Jack, a Community Board 10 member.

The Waterbury Estates development has been plagued by poor sales, with as many as 20 or more homes still unsold and a tenant was recently arrested in a police department drug bust. Local residents question whether there is a need for more new housing.

At 3221 Westchester Avenue, five floors are being added to an already existing 1-story commercial taxpayer. The space, at the corner of Continental Avenue, will be marketed for medical use, but no parking is being provided.

“There is no place to park and they are going to add five additional floors,” said Anita Valenti, of the Pelham Bay Taxpayer and Community Association, about 3221 Westchester Avenue. “We have medical at the former Fiesta Lanes. We don’t have parking and that is what the community really wants. Councilman Jimmy Vacca is working on downzoning major streets in Pelham Bay like Westchester Avenue.

Valenti said that she has also heard rumors that a small parking lot located at 3268 Westchester Avenue may also be ripe for development, but these rumors have not yet been confirmed.

Community activist Dotti Poggi said that Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 is calling for construction of high-density housing in areas near subway lines, like Pelham Bay, to mitigate an expected population boom in coming years.

“PlaNYC 2030 has a goal to increase the amount of housing available on hand,” Poggi said. “Any place located where there is a subway line in the five boroughs is being slated for high-density development condensing shopping, schools, and transportation, to reduce green-house gas emissions and make the city more efficient.”

Poggi said that she thinks all of the civic groups in the area need to band together to tell the administration that while they consider PlaNYC’s goals noble, community considerations need to be taken into account.

“We are now fighting City Hall and what Mayor Bloomberg is working hard to accomplish,” Poggi said. “We have to get together and say ‘we understand that the city needs housing, but we don’t want to give up our quality of life.’”

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