Preservationists spent years decrying the state of the decrepit, city-owned school at 425 Grand Concourse in the South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven, until the city announced that it would demolish the landmarked Gothic building, formerly P.S. 31, in April. Now the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has released an RFP (request for proposals) to redevelop the property into affordable housing.
HPD plans to rescue elements of the 1899 school building—including terra cotta gargoyles, heads and the engraved P.S. 31 sign—and will require that the future builder incorporate those salvaged pieces into the new development’s design. At least 15% of the units must be three-bedrooms, and no more than 15% of the apartments can be studios. The mixed-income project must also include ground floor retail that provides local services, and possibly a community facility space.
Proposals also have to meet the standards set by the Enterprise Green Communities Program, which requires cost-effective and environmentally friendly construction for affordable developments.
The property spans 30,000 square feet on the northeast corner of East 144th Street and Grand Concourse, at the southern edge of a block bordered by Walton Avenue and East 149th Street. The closed Garrison Playground sits right next door, and the RFP calls for developers to improve or maintain the walkway between P.S. 31 and the playground. The city will also give preference to plans that include an annual budget to help maintain the playground.
The site will be upzoned from C4-4 to C6-3, doubling its development rights and density. Since the project will have to undergo the seven-month-long ULURP process, City Planning will approve the rezoning at the same time as the development.
This part of the Bronx has seen rapid change in recent years, from pricey rental and condo conversions near the Bruckner Expressway to a hotel boom. And in his State of the City speech, Mayor de Blasio promised to invest $200 million in the Special Harlem River Waterfront District, a forlorn stretch of industrial properties between the Bruckner and the East River that were rezoned in 2009.