Ruben Diaz Jr. pitches Bronx’s answer to Brooklyn Bridge Park

Waterfront development would allow housing, commercial space, public parks
February 25, 2014 05:20PM

An industrial stretch along Exterior Street, between 138th and 149th streets in the Bronx, is vying to become the borough’s answer to leafy and tourist-friendly Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called for the area’s transformation into a mixed-use waterfront district in his annual State of the Borough Address, citing a 2009 rezoning by the city Planning Commission that allows for both commercial and residential development in the area.

“Bronxites should have quality waterfront access, and this project could make that happen,” Diaz said in his speech.

The site could hold over 2,000 units of housing, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and 500,000 square feet of community facility space, public parks and waterfront access, the non-profit group South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation said in a planning report that was finished in January. Diaz will use the plan as a guide to begin gathering support from city agencies and developers.

Some community members, however, cautioned against tying a waterfront revamp to high-end development, noting that in cases like Brooklyn Bridge Park, industrial zones converted to parkland were the product of gentrification.

“I think it sets up a dynamic where it’s only good enough to provide waterfront access if there are higher-end residential properties,” Mychal Johnson, a local activist, told the New York Daily News. [NYDN]Julie Strickland