The Real Deal New York

Tensions flare over prospect of middle-class housing in Jerome Avenue rezoning proposal

Activists want low-income housing, but Bronx community board members have other visions

October 04, 2016 02:55PM

Gustavo Rivera and the proposed new zoning for Jerome Avenue (credit: DCP)

Gustavo Rivera and the proposed new zoning for Jerome Avenue (credit: DCP)

Developers looking to capitalize on the proposed rezoning of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx are likely to face strong community opposition, with activists and community board members clashing at the first public meeting.

The city officially outlined plans to rezone the 73-block stretch last month, which could make way for 3,250 new apartments, 72,272 square feet of community facility space and 35,575 square feet of commercial space . The area is currently zoned commercial, and if the rezoning is approved the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy will apply, meaning any developer who builds residential there would have to rent at least a quarter of the apartments at below-market rates.

At last Thursday’s meeting, stakeholders from the south and west Bronx clashed over whether the proposed new housing should primarily serve poor or middle class residents. There were also disagreements over whether auto shops on Jerome — which employ hundreds of workers — should remain, New York YIMBY reported. Housing activists from the Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) chanted “Affordable for whom?” and “Whose Bronx? Our Bronx.” They want protections for auto workers and a requirement that future housing developments serve local residents, who earn an average of $25,000 a year.

Bronx community boards 4 and 5, which together cover all of Jerome Avenue, disagree. They want any new housing to be set aside for the middle class, and ask new developments target families making at least 80 percent of the Area Median Income. That would mean a single person earning $50,800 or a family of three earning $78,336, would be eligible. They want the area rezoned for mixed-use development.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents the northern half of the area set to be rezoned, spoke up in support of the activists’ views and pressed the city to target non-profit affordable housing developers.

“It’s necessary that we acknowledge that this displacement is already happening,” he said, according to YIMBY. “We have to think about the folks who are already living here.” [YIMBY]Miriam Hall