Last year, Bronx Borough Developer, I mean President Ruben Diaz Jr called to study three Bronx rail yards for possible decking to spur further development throughout our borough.
Today he has issued the findings of the report which singles out the Concourse Yards in Bedford Park and nixing out the 149th Street yards in Melrose and Broadway Yards in Riverdale as currently logistically unfeasible.
The report states:
“One yard, however, was found to have tremendous potential for future development: the Concourse Yard located adjacent to Lehman College. These MTA yards, located between Jerome Avenue on the east, Paul Avenue on the west, East 205th Street on the north and roughly East 198th Street on the south, has long been seen as a key outpost for potential development. In fact, this outpost likely represents the greatest potential for mixed-use development of any piece of public land in the borough.”
Estimated costs for decking over the area are anywhere from $350-$500 million and the BP’s office is calling on reaching out to area stakeholders to push forward with a request for proposal for such a project.
In the mix are recommendations for several acres to be used to expand Lehman College’s (3 acres), co-op, condos, townhomes, and rental units not to mention community facilities.
“Based on information compiled by our office on other similar projects, it is estimated that the low-end cost to build a deck over the 13 acres we have proposed for potential development would be between $350 and $500 million. This is a real opportunity to not only provide much-needed homeownership, mixed-income housing and retail space, but to allow Lehman College to expand by better connecting it to the Bedford Park neighborhood and making it a true community campus. To best maximize potential development, a rezoning to some extent must occur. The Center Yard is currently zoned R6 and C8-2, while the South Yard is zoned R6 and M1-1. Rezoning the C8-2 and M1-1 portions to R6 would create a near “as is” scenario. Under this scenario, the Center Yard zoned as R6 and the Quality Housing Option with a 3.0 residential Floor-to-Area Ratio (FAR) would garner approximately 1.3 million square feet worth of development. Given the spatial constraints of the South Yard with trains exiting the yard to connect to the 4 train elevated line, we propose that 3 acres of the 8.47 acres be considered for expansion of Lehman College. Under a R6 zone with a 4.8 community facility FAR, 627,264 square feet could be realized. Without a significant upzoning, approximately two million square feet of development could be realized. Given the enormity of the Center Yard, new right-of-ways would need to be mapped north-south and potentially east-west. This layout gives an opportunity for the Center Yard to have a contextual approach. Along the exterior of the yard on wider streets, development of taller cooperative, condominium or rental buildings with local and mid-box retail could be accomplished, while on the middle right-of-way(s), townhouses that include a mix of homeownership and rental on a quieter strip, would create a new village atmosphere in the middle of Bedford Park that would complement existing housing and retail stock.”
In the report, it states that decking over the Concourse Yards in Bedford Park can result in 2 million square feet for development over a 13 of the 19 acre area.
This is a pretty dense proposal for a neighborhood not known for such high density considering all the wide open spaces of Mosholu Parkway, Jerome Park Reservoir, Van Cortlandt Park, Lehman College, and even the very yards we speak of. A neighborhood dominated by mostly 6 story buildings.
R6 zonings do not have height limits but are limited by the neighborhood’s sky exposure plane according to New York City zoning regulations. The plane begins at 60 feet from street level and can potentially lead to developments that are more than twice the height of the typical buildings in Bedford Park.
Although the area has good transportation connections with the 4, B, D lines proximate to the site, the report fails to study the impact on our transportation system that thousands of new units, not to mention thousands of new residents would have on Bedford Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.
In most reports we’ve seen for big developments in The Bronx they speak about our great transportation network but never really delve into the issue that they are already overburdened let alone go into how it will effect our transit system and vehicular traffic.
We’re advocates for homeownership as it solidifies neighborhoods but will it be affordable? The same can be asked about the rental housing stock that could potentially occupy the space.
We want to hear from area residents, what do you think about this potentially happening in the relatively quiet neighborhood of Bedford Park.