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South Bronx waterfront due to get major infrastructure improvements

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The city is prepping for a megaproject on the Harlem River waterfront

Part of the proposed stretch of the development
Photo by Nathan Kensinger

It’s been nearly three years since a plan was first floated to bring a park and housing to a stretch of the South Bronx waterfront between East 138th Street and East 149th Street. Now the city is finally taking some big steps to make that a reality, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, the city is investing in infrastructure in that area (once known as the Special Harlem River Waterfront District, but now referred to as the Lower Grand Concourse Waterfront) in a major way. They plan to spend $194 million to create the park, make the streets in the area more pedestrian-friendly, replace water and sewer lines, and improve high speed internet access in the surrounding areas.

Alterations will begin on Exterior Street, starting along the waterfront near the Madison Avenue Bridge. Projects include widening the sidewalks, adding bike lanes, improving the lighting, and replacing the sewer lines.

More details on the overall development, however, are not set in stone at the moment. Some estimates, including one from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.’s office, say the development will bring 1,500 apartments to the area, but other estimates put it as high as 4,000 apartments. The Times reports that about 700 to 900 of the total units will be affordable.

Other additions that are a part of this megaproject include a waterfront esplanade, performance and meeting spaces, and retail. The city’s Economic Development Corporation is expected to select a developer by the fall of 2017 with construction expected to get underway in 2019.

Not everyone is happy about this, however; some Bronx residents feel the massive infrastructural improvements are basically inviting developers to wantonly build in the borough and in turn increases prices. Ed Garcia Conde, founder of Welcome2TheBronx, told the Times that this could be a means to “jump-start gentrification.”