Adams throws support behind controversial Bronx rezoning

Mayor spends some political capital on project fiercely opposed by locals

Mayor Eric Adams with Bruckner Boulevard
Mayor Eric Adams with Bruckner Boulevard (Getty, NYC Department of Planning)

On a drizzly morning outside City Hall, Mayor Eric Adams gave a team of aspiring developers in Throggs Neck some sunny news.

The mayor on Wednesday threw his support behind the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning, a proposal which would bring four developments with 349 apartments to the quiet corner of the Bronx.

“This project is just right,” Adams said at a rally organized by the laborers union. “This is the right project for the right time.”

The proposed rezoning has drawn pitched backlash since it was proposed last July by a team of local landowners and businessmen.

In 2004, the Bloomberg administration downzoned Throggs Neck, locking in place a quasi-suburban neighborhood with large lawns, parking lots and short buildings. While the proposed developments would climb no higher than eight stories, opponents claim the neighborhood’s infrastructure, schools and transit system could not handle the new residents.

The development’s supporters, Adams among them, call that textbook NIMBYism.

“This is in an area where it has no affordable housing. The lack of diversity in this community, of believing that you can only have certain communities that you can develop in, that is not acceptable,” the mayor said.

Adams cited the New York Housing Conference’s finding that Throggs Neck’s community district has added just 58 affordable homes since 2014.

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“While we have a housing crisis, we have drawn a line around certain communities and say, you cannot build here,” Adams said. “Not in our city, not in our place where we believe everyone deserves to live.”

Adolfo Carrión, a former Bronx borough president who heads the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, backed up his boss. HPD provides critical funding to affordable projects across the city, and the Throggs Neck developers say they will work with HPD to secure funding for one of the four development sites, a 99-unit, 100 percent affordable development for seniors.

The project already has the approval of Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, but one critical elected official remains to be convinced: Council member Marjorie Velázquez, who won her seat with the backing of pro-housing group Open New York, was noncommittal in a Council hearing after the mayor’s speech.

“We bear the brunt of an outdated and insufficient sewer system, a lack of resiliency planning, a lack of transportation infrastructure and a lack of adequate, truly affordable housing,” Velázquez said.

The project likely hinges on Velázquez’s support, as the Council almost always votes with the local member on land use matters. Velázquez laid out four pillars the development must have to earn her backing: community engagement, a commitment to hire local labor, real affordability and assurances the projects will not further strain local infrastructure.

A representative for the developer told Velázquez that they have a formal labor agreement with 32BJ SEIU and a memorandum of understanding to hire Local 79 Laborers. They have held conversations with the carpenters’ union, but no agreement has been reached.

An environmental impact study has already found the project would not stress Throggs Neck’s systems. And the developers have likely left some wiggle room to achieve more affordability than is mandated by the city’s inclusionary housing law.