State mulls South Bronx megaproject over rail yard

Plan calls to deck over 13-acre property about half the size of Hudson Yards

South Bronx rail yard (credit: Empire State Development)
South Bronx rail yard (credit: Empire State Development)

State officials are gauging interest from developers for a proposal to deck over a rail yard in the South Bronx, a project that isn’t contingent on city approval for a rezoning.

Empire State Development [TRDataCustom] last month released a request for expressions of interest asking developers to submit their proposals for leasing or buying the 13-acre parcel along the Harlem River just north of the Willis Avenue Bridge, then building a residential or mixed-use project on top, Crain’s reported.

This is not the only decking proposal in the borough. Earlier this year Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. released a report saying that a similar proposal to deck over a rail yard in the northwest section of the borough could make way for some 2 million square feet of development.

The state’s plan – unlike the borough president’s – doesn’t need a city rezoning, though, because the area is governed by something called a general project plan. Officials could change the zoning from manufacturing to residential through a state approval process.

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“It’s exciting, and very rare to offer the opportunity to develop more than a dozen acres of prime waterfront land in New York City,” ESD Head Howard Zemsky said in a statement.

The property is now being used as a transfer station to move cargo between cross-country trains coming through the area. ESD plans to keep that use going forward. The proposal calls for providing waterfront access, developing affordable housing and contributing to the local economy.

The site, which clocks in at about 12.8 acres, is less than half of the size of Hudson Yards, and roughly equal to the size of the area Diaz, Jr. proposed to redevelop.

ESD plans to hold a site-tour in mid-December, with proposals due by February 2. [Crain’s] – Rich Bockmann