Bronx leaders are calling for proposals for the first full-service hotel near Yankee Stadium and the borough’s civic center since the Concourse Plaza’s heyday more than 50 years ago.
The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation has released a Request for Expressions of Interest for the redevelopment of a 2,411 parking-space garage next to Heritage Field that is currently half vacant during home games at Yankee Stadium.
The request calls for the creation of a LEED-certified hotel and conference center that would include at least one penthouse-level restaurant complementing the Hard Rock Café at Yankee Stadium. It may also include a Latino Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as suites for teams coming to town to play the Yankees, and retail space, according to the RFEI.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and BOEDC president Marlene Cintron made the announcement that RFEIs, which aren’t final proposals, are currently being accepted, at a press conference in front of the garage at River Avenue and East 153rd Street on Monday, September 19.
“A major hotel and conference center has been a priority of the people of the Bronx for decades, and we are getting closer and closer to seeing that dream become a reality,” Diaz said. “For years, my office and the BOEDC have heard from both developers and hotel operators expressing their desire to develop a new hotel and conference center in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium.”
The RFEIs are due for submission to BOEDC by Tuesday, November 15. Diaz had specifically called for the creation of major hotel near Yankee Stadium in his 2011 State of the Borough address, and said his office is leading the effort to bring a hotel to the location.
“BOEDC is delighted to spearhead this historic effort in the development of the Bronx’s first full service hotel and convention center at the foot of Yankee Stadium,” Cintron said. The project should add about 125 jobs and help to increase the value of other parcels of land located nearby.
Joining Diaz and Cintron at the announcement were Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Assemblyman Carl Heastie, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, Bronx Chamber of Commerce CEO and president Lenny Caro, and Community Board 4 chairman Wenzell Jackson.
“We built the greatest stadium in the world, and because of this we have become a tourist attraction,” Caro said. “The borough of the Bronx has so many tourist attractions to offer. By building a hotel here, we will be the diamond of the five boroughs, creating jobs and boosting the economy.”
When asked about the possibility of a Community Benefits Agreement for the project, Diaz said that it was still premature to be thinking of one, and that he and BOEDC are looking for the one, right developer. He also said that it was his office, and not municipal bondholders, who are leading the effort to build the hotel.
One of the goals of the project is to stabilize the financial situation of Bronx Parking Development Company, said BPDC vice-president Chuck Lesnick. BPDC runs parking garages around Yankee Stadium on land leased from the city, the RFEI states.
“The new hotel will be located at a midpoint in the recreation corridor between Times Square and the Empire City Racino at Yonkers Raceway, and will attract tourists, along with visiting ball clubs, to this vital area,” Lesnick said.