Stagg Group is still in the design stages of a new luxury apartment building in Riverdale, but they’ve already hit the ground running.
The developer has begun groundwork on its 3745 Riverdale Ave. property following a plan approved by the city Department of Buildings for 48 units and 14 stories. But Stagg wants to increase the number of units, make the units smaller, and potentially go up in height. And although Stagg agreed to keep the Community Board 8 in the loop about the project plans, the development is as of right and doesn’t require zoning changes, leaving the community board with little influence over the project.
The development will have market-rate luxury units with 30% designated as “affordable” for households earning up to 130% of the area median income (AMI) pursuant to Option C of the 421-a tax break. But 130% AMI for a one-person household is a salary of $108,680, with a $2,838 monthly one-bedroom rent.
“Someday I hope to be able to afford affordable housing,” resident Jodie Colón said at a CB8 meeting on Feb. 7.
Jay Martino, senior vice president of construction at Stagg said the company is considering expanding the project to 15 floors across 70 or more units and looking into having more apartments with fewer than three bedrooms.
“We feel that the units as they are, are too large,” Martino said. “They don’t fit our model and we are going to manipulate them and come up with something that benefits our model and also serves the economics of the site.”
The units are planned to be 1,200-1,300 square feet, but Martino said that in order to make the project economically feasible they have to make adjustments, pointing to an 800 square-foot range.
Stagg bought the property for more than $6 million on Jan. 25, presenting itself as 3745 Riverdale Avenue LLC, according to the deed.
State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Riverdale Democrat, urged Stagg to offer apartments for families with children, even if it means fewer units.
“I suppose a family with children can live in a one-bedroom, but to tell you the truth, that’s not desirable,” Dinowitz said. “So, we’re talking about two- and maybe three-bedroom apartments. There should be at least a reasonable amount of those, I believe, in a building that goes up in the community.”
Jim Grossman, who helped lead opposition against a formerly proposed Montefiore project at the same empty lot, said “it’s just the wrong size for this location.”
“Riverdale shouldn’t be turned into a downtown Manhattan,” Grossman said. “We need the Department of Buildings and our local elected officials to help us stop what you’re trying to do, and what others will follow, if you build a building this big.”
Land Use Committee member Rosemary Ginty pointed out that the zoning allows for commercial or retail space, but Martino said that the developer is prioritizing parking over other uses.
When questioned how Stagg is proceeding with construction without having answers on its design, Martino said he is confident there will be an amended design by the time the foundation is placed.
“We think it’s going to be a beautiful project that’s going to sort of close that gap that you have while cleaning up the untidiness of the area, at that particular site,” Martino said.
Councilman Eric Dinowitz, who lives in and represents Riverdale, told the Bronx Times it is hard to comment on the proposal without a plan being presented, or parking and apartment distribution details. He questioned what the development will do to uplift the community.
“That’s one of the issues with as of right,” Dinowitz said. “They have a right to build almost whatever they want as long as it’s within the zoning regulations.”
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.