Melrose and Concourse Village will benefit tremendously from the newly adopted rezoning of East 161st street from Park Avenue , the eastern most part of the new zoning area, across to the west towards River Avenue right at the new Yankee Stadium. The new zone then proceeds south along River Avenue to East 153rd Street right where the new Metro North station opened earlier this year as well as the Gateway Mall which also opened earlier this year. (click on any image to expand the view of that image)
What exactly does this mean for us in Melrose as well as our neighbors in Concourse Village? Simply put with a minimal rezoning of just a few lots in what is the most important corridor of The Bronx, we are set to gain more office buildings as well as more residential units in an area that is still growing considering there is a recession and decline in real estate projects in general.
For those of you who do not know, East 161st Street is the heart of The Bronx as it is the main thoroughfare in Civic Center. Within 3 blocks you have The Bronx Borough Hall, Yankee Stadium, what will be the Heritage Park once the old Yankee stadium is demolished, the old Criminal Courthouse, the new Bronx Hall of Justice, Concourse Plaza Mall which currently houses the office building where the offices of the Borough President are located. On the western end of that corridor you have the 4, B and D trains at River Avenue/E 161st Street and the easternmost end of the new zoning area you have the Melrose Metro North station at 162nd Street and Park Avenue.
The new zone is divided into 3 nodes each with specific goals and are as follows:
The Transit Node, which comprises River Avenue from East 162nd Street down to East 153rd Street, will encourage high-density development adjacent to the 4, B and D train station at 161st Street and River Avenue. Some of the lots that are now rezoned will allow for 10, 18 and 27 story office towers. Of all 3 nodes, the Transit Node will eventually have the most dramatic impact on the area once a developer comes up with an idea to properly integrate office towers of such heights in the area which should not be difficult since they will be located at the nexus of The Bronx's courthouses.
- Civic Node focuses on the heart of, well the Civic Center and runs from Concourse Village West between East 159th Street and half a block North of East 161st Street down East to Concourse Village East and Morris Avenue. This node will focus on the fact that there is a wide open gap between the Concourse Plaza Office building and the Melrose Office Building which is occupied by the mall's parking lot. As described above, this gap can now be filled in with a 10-13 story office building with enough set back to still allow access to the mall itself and the movie theatre. There are also a few underutilized lots with only 1-2 stories of commercial use where a 6-8 story commercial building can be built.
- Residential Node is at the easternmost end and meets the Melrose Commons area of Melrose as well as the currently-under construction Courtlandt Corners. This node will now allow for development on the current commercial and residential lots which are occupied by 1 story commercial and 2-3 story 2-3 family homes. With 161st Street being such a busy street, this area is very underutilized and does not benefit the neighborhood as is improved. Where the commercial building sits at the northeast corner of 161st Street and Morris Avenue, a 12 story residential building will now be allowed with a commercial overlay to allow for ground floor commercial. The entire block which it sits on has now been rezoned for such development.
Once developers take advantage of the new zone and the City of New York does its part now that it has approved the zoning, the 161st Street Corridor will be a beautiful street linking the Transit Node where the 4, B and D trains are located, Bronx Borough Hall, Yankee Stadium, Civic Center with the new Boricua Village and its vertical 14 story campus for 2,000 students, 4 residential apartments of low to mixed incomes and middle incomes (approximately 700 apartments in total) and Courtlandt Corners currently under construction which an additional 323 units.
This is truly an exciting time to be living in Melrose. A big Melrose THANK YOU to the City Council and Department of City Planning for approving the new zoning on September 30, 2009! Thanks for your continued support in rezoning a once neglected and abandoned area!
Diagrams compliments of New York City Department of City Planning.