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This Bronx Housing Megaproject Aims To Be Another Via Verde

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Buried within an official Bloomberg administration announcement (one of the last, alas) touting the affordable housing progress of the last 12 years comes word of a new megaproject for the the Melrose section of the Bronx. The major overhaul for the largest tract of city-owned vacant land in the southern part of the borough, the five-building, 985-unit mixed-income development—bordered by Bergen Avenue, Brook Avenue and East 149th Street—will henceforth be known as La Central. (Since it's hoping to follow in the footsteps of neighbor Via Verde, a successful eco-friendly affordable housing development nearby, maybe a romance language-derived name was necessary?) There will also be retail, community facilities, open space, plus a new YMCA. Also, an astronomy lab, a rooftop farm, and a music studio. Because of course. FXFOWLE is the lead architect. The price tag? About $345 million.

The 985 units will be "affordable," aimed at low- to moderate-income tenants with incomes ranging from 30 percent to 100 percent of the area's average median income. Among them, 96 will be earmarked for "supportive housing ... which will serve formerly homeless veterans and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS." Again in the vein of Via Verde, the project will have environmentally friendly features, "including a cogeneration system, solar panels, low-flow water fixtures, grey-and black-water recycling for irrigation, and high-efficiency building envelopes."

Welcome2theBronx has photos of what the site looks like now: deserted. And here's the breakdown of what's to come...

· Building A: 211 affordable apartments; approximately 48,000 square foot YMCA-community facility; a diabetes prevention program operated by Montefiore Medical Center; rooftop farm; approximately 19,000 square feet of new retail space.
· Building B: 279 affordable apartments; approximately 24,000 square feet of retail space, including restaurant space; cellar level garage with approximately 138 parking spaces.
· Building C: 137 affordable apartments; Music Has No Enemies (MHNE) which will occupy approximately 5,000 square feet of community space consisting of a recording studio and curate workshops and open the recording studio to projects for and by the community.
· Building D: 160 affordable apartments; 10,000 square foot mental health clinic operated by Comunilife that will work with veterans living within the development and individuals within the community.
· Building E: 198 affordable apartments; Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab - a rooftop telescope to be used by the Bronx High School of Science; daycare facility.

· The approximately 7,000 square-foot triangular vacant lot at the intersection of Brook and Bergen Avenues will be developed as open space, accessible to the general public. Formerly known as the Bronxchester Urban Renewal sites, the winners of the RFP were BRP Development Corporation, Hudson Companies Inc., Common Ground, Comunilife, The Kretchmer Companies, ELH Mgmt LLC, and the YMCA. The project still has to go through the ULURP official review process before construction can begin, but nonetheless ground is projected to get broken in 2015.
· Mayor Also Announces Selection of Development Team for the Last Large City-Owned Development Site in South Bronx, Creating 985 New Affordable Apartments [nyc.gov]
· Breaking News: Massive $345 Million Development Announced For Largest Remaining City-Owned Land In The South Bronx [Welcome2TheBronx]