During his annual State of the Borough Address last week, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that he wants an industrial stretch of Exterior Street between 138th and 149th streets along the Harlem River to be converted into a mixed-use waterfront district in the vein of Brooklyn Bridge Park, according to the NYDN.
A former manufacturing area, the stretch was rezoned in 2009 by the City Planning Commission for commercial and residential redevelopment. A planning report by the non-profit South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, or SoBRO (not to be confused with the neighborhood's much derided-moniker), concluded that the area can accommodate more than 2,000 units of housing, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, and 500,000 square feet of community facility space, public, parks, and waterfront access, illustrated by the above rendering of the site. The report intends to act as a "road map of how the vision can become a reality," the senior vice president of SoBRO told the News.
SoBRO has broached the subject of development with property owners along the Harlem River, with some positive reception. Current occupants include a school bus depot, a Verizon truck yard, and a food distributor. Waterfront access is a coveted commodity, and it's one the South Bronx severely lacks at present. Not everyone's a fan, thoughthe proposed plan has some residents up in arms over the possible conflation of waterfront access and new housing, because they fear spiffing up the waterfront is only worthwhile to the city and developers if it's accompanied by higher-end residential development. A local activist noted that Brooklyn Bridge Park itself is a product of gentrification. Perhaps in the future, underutilized points along the stretch in question will be cleaned up without throwing up new developments in tandem. But for now, the simple act of an idea and the presence of a few renderings constitutes a bold step forward for the shores of the South Bronx.
· Ruben Diaz Jr. calls for redevelopment of South Bronx waterfront [NYDN]
· All South Bronx coverage [Curbed]