Bronx Residents Fight Jerome Avenue Rezoning

At a public hearing last Wednesday night in the Bronx, residents filed into the Concourse Village Community Center to oppose the proposed rezoning on Jerome Avenue. Throughout the night, residents approached the podium to make their case to Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson of the 16th District and members of Bronx community boards 4 and 5

If approved, the rezoning will transform a 92 block area which consists of Highbridge, Mount Eden, Morris Heights, and University Heights, but will bear the most immediate consequence on the Jerome Avenue corridor. The corridor sits below the elevated 4 subway line that runs from Brooklyn to the Bronx and is currently home to a number of auto industry workers, a majority of whom are immigrants and don’t own but rent their mechanic spaces.

Outside the public hearing, Bronx residents protested the Jerome Avenue rezoning.

One of the echoing concerns of residents throughout the night was that auto workers in Jerome Avenue would be displaced as a result of the changes. The Draft Environmental Impact Solution released by the Department of City Planning (DCP) has already addressed these fears by admitting that an estimated 77 businesses and 500 plus jobs associated with those businesses will be lost if the rezoning is approved. Despite this, DCP argues that the rezoning is beneficial for the long-term vision of the community, but Bronx residents at Wednesday’s public hearing were skeptical about whose vision the city had in mind.

“We believe it’s time all areas of the Bronx get the money and the development that it deserves,” said Fitzroy Christian a Bronx resident who has lived off Jerome Avenue for over 40 years. ”But we’re saying it has to be developed and done for the people who live here now. We’re not asking you to come in and tell us what your vision of us and our community and our future should be,” continued Christian.

Many residents expressed fears that the rezoning, which will result in an influx of over 3,000 residential units, will change the character of the neighborhood. The theme that endured throughout the night was that the Bronx would mimic other boroughs which, as a result of rezoning, saw a spike in rent prices and forced long-time residents to move out and look for other places to live.

Bronx Residents held up flyers in the crowd during the Wednesday night’s public hearing.

“If you let this rezoning go through, you are going to be responsible for putting people out of their homes, and I will be one of them,” said Bronx resident, Michelle Genross to a round of applause and chants, signaling agreement from other residents in the room.

“I came here because I was displaced from Brooklyn,” said another Bronx resident, Kara Lynch as she spoke into the microphone.

The city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy, which is the city’s deterrent to the displacement of residents states that a percentage of newly developed buildings in the rezoned area be allocated as affordable housing. But the policy came under fire with many residents questioning whether the program would be truly affordable

“We want housing at rents we can afford to pay.” said one resident during his testimony.

Despite the overwhelming number of residents who opposed the rezoning, there were a few who came out in favor of it. A business owner reasoned that the area was over-saturated with auto shops, showed support for the rezoning and asked if his neighborhood could be included in the study area. While a Bronx based developer in support of the rezoning lobbied for space to expand local charter schools and other amenities for students.

“I desperately oppose this rezoning,” said Bronx resident Maria Forbes at Wednesday night’s public hearing.

In her remarks, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson expressed enthusiasm about the possibility of the rezoning but reaffirmed her commitment to protecting the interests of Bronx residents. 

“This Jerome neighborhood plan is a unique opportunity for our community to receive much needed, long overdue, and well-deserved capital investments,” said Councilmember Gibson during her testimony.

“However, I will not let those investments come at the price of our vibrant neighborhood and our long-time residents,” she said.



One Response to "Bronx Residents Fight Jerome Avenue Rezoning"

  1. Rick  December 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    This is a farce. They are rushing to build more subsidized housing at the expense of existing businesses. Why do we need more Subsidized housing, and of all places, who thinks we need more in the Bronx? This article talks about creating 1,000 jobs, what about the 1,000’s that will be displaced. The people that get these subsidized apartments will never get jobs because they are knocking down all the building, and forcing out businesses that provide the types of jobs that would, and d,o employ these people. Can we stop being so politically correct as to pretend that these future tenants are going to work on wall street or in mid-town. These people work in garages, warehouses, fabricators- all business being closed to build R-7 apartments.
    Years ago they determined that building giant “projects” was a bad idea because they incited crime and further poverty, so the practice stopped for 3 decades. De Blasio is now turning the entire Bronx into a mega-Project. Nobody really believes that the we are going to fill new office buildings full of upwardly mobile young professionals on Jerome Ave., do they? I hope not. There are not, and never will be a meaningful number of office jobs in the Bronx! Try to rent 2nd floor office space in the Bronx right now. Unless you are next door to a court house, you can’t give it away.
    Don’t forget, the economy is about as strong as it is likely to get. Things are pretty good. What happens when things go south? Who is going to pay for the “entitlements” that these 10,000’s of new subsidized residents are going to be collecting. When the economy slows, taxes decrease. Where will the money come from. Can’t keep stealing it from the rich. They already pay more than their share. Yes, I said it! More then there share! A “rich” NYC landlord pays 60-75% of its Profits to the government! The first 25% of gross income in real estate goes to PROPERTY TAXES! Then add to that the 35% Fed. income tax and another 10% in State income tax and finally, god help you if you live IN NYC and pay even more local tax!
    Speaking of the rich, who do you really think benefits from this rezoning? Existing Landlords will be selling their $1,000,000 garages for $2,000,000+ to developers. Developers will build $4,000,000 apartment buildings and sell them to the City for $6,000,000.
    Finally, more dumb thinking. Why pick Jerome Ave to re-develop? Because the train is there to move people to Manhattan. As stated above, most of these new residents are NOT going to commute to white collar jobs in Manhattan. The El makes Jerome Ave a dark, dingy, dangerous road to live or walk on as it is now. Once they place 6 story buildings on either side for 40 blocks and quadruple the population density – it will be a death trap. It will be even more dark and disgusting. Just a miserable place to live. How about parking? It stinks their now. What about when NO parking garages are permitted in the new residential zones and there are 1,000’s of more cars owned by the 1,000’s on new residents. Again, do we really think these new “up scale” residents the City tells us are moving in will not have cars, simply because the train is there? I don’t think so!
    This is a mistake on so many levels, it boggles the mind. In 10 years, when the economy has slowed and NYC is circling the drain toward bankruptcy, idiots like De blasio will simply say “OOps, who could have seen this coming”. Then he will rush off to his $100,000 per afternoon speaking engagement.


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