Mayor Adams defends residential towers in the Bronx despite neighborhood rejection

This week, Mayor Eric Adams ratified his intention to create 349 affordable homes at Bruckner Blvd. in the East Bronx, including 168 rent controlled. The proposal implies a zoning change that must be approved by the Council and that for months has had a fierce rejection by residents of that neighborhood.

If the plan passes all the zoning challenges and outright opposition from that locality’s community board, it would add housing options to a community that produced only 58 new affordable homes between January 2014 and December 2021.

Among those new residential units, 99 would be reserved for the elderly and 22 for veterans in need. The project includes community care spaces and a supermarket.

Indeed, Bruckner Boulevard ranks on the map as one of the neighborhoods with the lowest rates of new housing of any county, even as Salsa County has received 10,000 new residents in the last decade.

For now, the controversial residential and commercial plan already had the approval of the City Planning Commission on August 24, 2022. But there is still a very long stretch to go through for its approval.

“A handful of voices that oppose these projects can’t stop the city. Safe, stable, and affordable housing should not be a privilege. But we can only provide that to all New Yorkers when we say yes to this kind of project”, indicated Adams.

From small buildings to big towers

The great challenge of the Adams Administration is to amend zoning texts in the five boroughs to push for more affordable housing for the working class.

In this case, the plots of land where the developers want to build this complex are designated low-density residential areas. Only houses and small buildings are allowed under codes R-3 and R-4 with a commercial district of zone C1-2.

Suppose the municipal chamber gives the green light to this project. In that case, it will have to approve changing the zoning to R6A, giving way to much higher-density residential buildings and spaces with larger commercials along Bruckner Boulevard.

For his part, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., asked for “compassion” for needy neighbors.

“The Bronx is my home. And as a member of this community and this administration, I say yes to more affordable housing and yes to more opportunities for New Yorkers to live and grow here. I make a call to my colleagues in the county to say yes to this project,” he asserted.

Likewise, this Thursday, union organizations supported Adams’ proposal under the idea that these developments provide well-paid jobs for construction workers.

“We are going to move forward to generate residential spaces so that hundreds of families can live better,” he considered. Kyle Bragg, 32BJ SEIU Union President.

“We don’t want these skyscrapers!”

The proposal to bring a handful of new buildings and a commercial area to this sparsely populated neighborhood has faced fierce opposition even before beginning the community board review process.

The rejection is due to the probable impact on service infrastructure and opposition to the appearance of “skyscrapers” in an environment that a group of neighbors believes will lose its residential character.

The opposition group has stated that the health and educational services are already collapsed in this town.

On the same shore as hundreds of neighbors, who for months have mobilized to protest this project, is the councilor of that electoral circuit, Marjorie Vásquez, who has made it clear to local media that he opposes “for the same reasons as his constituents.”

“The community has a very clear opinion, and they protest based on a series of reasonings that the developer has not addressed,” said the legislator of the 13th District of the Bronx.

The community board’s proposal is to reduce the total number of units and the building design that is not significantly taller than the other buildings in the area.

For example, among the arguments about the collapse of services Public School 14 was given as an example, which explicitly serves this sector and has been at more than 150% of its capacity since 2016.

In addition, the passage of Hurricane Ida last year also put this New York coastal town to the test, which recorded floods and prolonged service outages like electricity.

Amid this scenario repeated in other towns in the city, last June, the mayor presented a plan to use zoning tools to create affordable housing, support small businesses, and promote sustainability and the development of new projects for years to come.

The data:

Twenty-four votes from the Bronx Community Board 10 rejected the Bruckner Blvd rezoning proposal last May, versus a single member who approved it.