City Releases Plan to Rezone Jerome Avenue in the Bronx

Jerome Avenue near Burnside AvenueJerome Avenue near Burnside Avenue, on the border between Mount Hope and Morris Heights

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first major housing victory came when the City Council successfully rezoned East New York in Brooklyn. Now, his administration is going to try and push another contentious rezoning through the public approval process, in order to redevelop the auto shop-filled Jerome Avenue in the Bronx.

The Department of City Planning has just posted the first sets of documents laying out the plan to revitalize a large swath of the south and west Bronx. The new zoning would cover 73 blocks along Jerome Avenue, starting in the south at McClellan Street in Highbridge and running north up to 184th Street in University Heights. Along the way, Jerome also passes through Mount Eden, Mount Hope, Morris Heights, and Concourse.

Right now, the only new development that can happen along Jerome is commercial—retail, hotels, office space, or industrial buildings like auto shops and warehouses. The city wants to encourage the construction of large, mixed-use residential buildings, which will bring new retail, community services, and thousands of affordable apartments. DCP predicts that the rezoning will inject 3,250 new apartments into the area, 72,273 square feet of community facility space, and 35,575 square feet of commercial/retail space.

The proposed new zoning for Jerome Avenue, map by DCP

The proposed new zoning for Jerome Avenue, map by DCP

The rezoning would impose the mayor’s new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy on all 73 blocks, which means that any developer who builds there will have to rent at least a quarter of their apartments at below-market rates. While City Planning doesn’t specify how many affordable units could be built, the proposal estimates that a “substantial portion” of the new apartments will be below-market. In the last decade, more than 80 percent of the new housing units in Bronx community districts 4 and 5 (which cover much of the soon-to-be-rezoned area) were subsidized affordable units, according to DCP.

The new zoning would limit the heights of new buildings to 80 or 100 feet along much of Jerome Avenue, but new construction would be able to reach up to 120 feet around Burnside and Tremont avenues (at the north end of the corridor) and at the southern edge between West 167th and 170th streets. The densest development would be able to rise up to 145 feet at the south end of the rezoned strip, around McClellan Street.

And as YIMBY noted last summer, officials have also promised to upgrade the public spaces, parks, and streets in these neighborhoods. Neighbors worry about walking home at night under the elevated 4 train tracks on Jerome, which darken the streets even on blocks with street lights. The new zoning would also require setbacks along Jerome, to ensure light and air gets through between the new buildings and the tracks.

Auto shops line much of Jerome Avenue, and they employ hundreds of workers. Many of those auto shop employees are recent immigrants who speak limited English, and they’re not sure where they’d go if the shops were sold to developers and closed. The city estimates that the rezoning will displace roughly 100,000 square feet of auto shops and 100 employees, but the planning documents promise that another study will analyze the potential displacement in greater depth.

Next, the rezoning will have to move through each layer of the public approval process, clearing public meetings with the local community boards, the City Planning Commission, the Borough President, and the City Council. City Planning will kick off the process by hosting a public scoping meeting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 at the Gould Memorial Library Auditorium in Bronx Community College, which is at 2155 University Avenue. Typically during a scoping meeting, DCP officials will present the plan and then allow the public to ask questions.

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17 Comments on "City Releases Plan to Rezone Jerome Avenue in the Bronx"

  1. Unlimited English will make immigrants life exist on the area, rezone for better living or eating etc. (also language)

  2. Michael Dawkins | August 31, 2016 at 9:24 am |

    That area is definitely needs rezoning, it could use the development because its been neglected for so long.

    • staten islander | August 31, 2016 at 9:37 am |

      But I wonder how difficult it will be to rent apartments under an elevated line.

    • Bronx Resident | September 1, 2016 at 1:48 am |

      Absolutely. Very few residents own automobiles and the road chaos largely due to the garages and double/triple/sidewalk park vehicles makes the area dangerous.

      This is a very good location for very high density construction due to two rail rapid transit lines, a commuter train, and several bus routes.

  3. Jonathan Marin | August 31, 2016 at 10:58 am |

    I”m happy for this rezoning. I’d love for those autoshops to disappear. But the 4 train is already filled to capacity. Another subway line is needed.

    For any cynics out there I live in the Bronx so I know.

    • Bronx Resident | September 1, 2016 at 1:44 am |

      Don’t need another subway line.

      More frequent subway service during peak hours, better bus service, and protected bicycle lanes nearby (Grand Concourse) could solve the issue.

      • The 4 train is already at maximum frequency and above maximum capacity during rush hour. The MTA would need to increase service on the B,D line.

        • Bronx Resident | September 8, 2016 at 2:30 am |

          The 4 train could see reduced headways with CBTC. Aticulated trainsets could also free up space. The new SBS BX6 might absorb a few trips too. A lot of people ride down from 161st/167th etc to 149th/125th St to catch the 2/5/6 back uptown (vice versa) since the crosstown buses in the Bronx are so slow.

  4. Living near subway tracks is not a terrible thing. I lived along White Plains Rd for 5 yrs. Had to turn volume on my tv up everytime train passed. Now with better sound proof windows im sure not a problem. Would love to see new apartments along Jerome ave subway line. 158th and Jerome ave a new building is going up. Use to be sovenir stores for Yankees.

  5. Andrew Porter | August 31, 2016 at 11:51 am |

    In the late 1950s, I lived at 1115 Jerome Avenue across from the park and PS 114, and when I did so, that part was quite nice.
    .
    Incidentally, maybe it’s time to rename the Edward L. Grant Highway, which goes from Jerome and 167th Street, diagonally up to the beginning of University Avenue, through a spaghetti junction where the Cross-Bronx Expressway was rammed through by Robert Moses — aka destroyer of neighborhoods — to its original name: Boscobel Road. (Grant was a now-forgotten hero of World War 1.)

  6. @Tyrone: The building you mention is on River Avenue
    @158th. Jerome does not begin until 162nd St,

  7. I grew up one block east of Jerome Avenue and our apartment was at the back of the building, so we faced Jerome Avenue & the 4 train. The trains never bothered me but I never knew anything else.

  8. Could someone please enlighten me on C4-4D zoning? It looks like you can build up to 6 stories prior to the setback: http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/zoning/districts-tools/c4.pdf If that’s the case, natural light and air would be extremely limited in the photo of Burnside Avenue at the header of this article.

    • Rebecca Baird-Remba | September 1, 2016 at 4:44 pm |

      DCP is creating a special “Jerome Avenue District” near Burnside with this in mind, and since the zoning text has not yet been written, I can’t be certain, but the EAS says that the zoning will be written to encourage light and air. You can search for the sections of the EAS/scoping docs where they discuss it.

  9. Alexander Adams | September 13, 2016 at 10:52 am |

    All Upzonings should include $$$ set aside for Transit Upgrades and Continuing Maintenance of transit facilities along the corridor. TOD does not occur without the T! Transit should benefit in that this density would not be possible if the transit system did not exist. Current tight budgets require planners to think different on how to keep levels of service after the rezonings. Transit facilitates affordability of ALL Residents.

  10. Freddie Vega | October 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm |

    I use to live in Manhattan, and I had to move to the bronx. Cus of this rezoning thing.it about money. And it’s going down here were do I go next.

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