Work officially began Monday, July 24, on 160 units of supportive housing, 96 units of which will be set aside for adults with HIV/AIDS and formerly homeless veterans in the La Central multiuse development in Melrose.
A torrential downpour did not deter representatives from developer Breaking Ground, partner Comunilife and other assorted guests from holding a groundbreaking at the site of the planned building at 626 Bergen Avenue.
Breaking Ground will build and manage the building, while Comunilife will run a community health and wellness clinic on the ground floor.
Breaking Ground CEO Brenda Rosen said the project was a testament to what is possible when the public and private sectors collaborate for the good of the community.
“La Central is going to accelerate the revival of the south Bronx and create important new community amenities, all the while insuring the neighborhood remains affordable for Bronxites from all walks of life, including our most vulnerable neighbors,” Rosen said.
The project received $25 million in state funding, and will also receive operating funding through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative
Comunilife president and founder Dr. Rosa Gil said the company has been creating low income and supportive housing since 1992.
“The reason why is that we believe that housing is a right, not a privilege,” Gil said. “Our housing units and services help them build a foundation to become self-sufficient and live independently in their community and be good neighbors to all of us.”
The massive mixed-use project by developer Hudson Inc. is set to change the landscape of the neighborhood with a mix of market rate, affordable and supportive housing, community resources such as a YMCA, a planetarium and a new BronxNet studio, and 45,000 square feet of street level retail space.
The development will be also have a system of interconnected courtyards with playgrounds and garden spaces, as well as a skate park and a rooftop farm.
The million-square-foot development is estimated to cost $67 million, and is funded through several city and state agencies.
Altogether, La Central will feature 992 residential units in five buildings centered at 430 Westchester Avenue.
The supportive housing is part of the first phase of construction, which also includes two other buildings that will together create 660 units of affordable housing.
La Central is the largest project to fall under the city’s new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy that requires affordable housing to be built in all housing projects.
Affordable units will be distributed via lottery, with local residents getting first preference for half of the units, according to the developer.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said he was excited to see an influx of diverse housing, businesses and jobs into the area, but he said the biggest impact was the revitalization of the area’s reputation after decades of decay and neglect.
“It will go a long way towards showing the rest of the world that this corridor here is vibrant, that we are back, that we are no longer the Bronx of the seventies and eighties,” he said.