The City Council has approved the rezoning of a 92-block stretch of the Bronx’s Jerome Avenue, making it the fourth rezoning to pass under the De Blasio administration as part of an effort to create and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026.
Fernando Cabrera, one of the City Council members who worked on the rezoning, called it “a major victory for the people of the West Bronx.” (Some spectators gathered at the council’s chambers did not agree; chants of “No rezoning,” “Whose bronx? Our Bronx!,” and “Housing is a human right” broke out at the beginning of the meeting.)
“This is an opportunity for the Bronx to get what it rightfully deserves,” Council Member Vanessa Gibson, who reps district 16, said during the meeting. “We deserve investment yesterday, we deserve it today, and we deserve it tomorrow.”
The approval has been a long time coming: The measure was unanimously approved by the City Council’s Land Use and Zoning and Franchises Subcommittees in March, and by the City Planning Commission in January. It follows the administration’s rezoning of East New York, Far Rockaway, and East Harlem.
The Jerome Avenue rezoning proposal ultimately received the backing of the local community boards and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., but not before concerns were addressed within the rezoning proposal about the displacement of Jerome Avenue’s robust auto body shop industry and the preservation of the area’s existing affordable housing.
“The people of The Bronx are not opposed to improvement. However, the rezoning of the Jerome Avenue corridor must work for everyone,” Diaz said in a statement. “The agreements that have been secured by my office and the City Council will help do just that, and I look forward to working with the administration to begin the implementation of the initiatives and programs they have agreed to provide.”
The rezoning framework that was approved on Thursday preserves 2,500 units of existing affordable housing, up from an early commitment to preserve 1,500 units. There will also be a new, 458-seat primary school, and a new gym/auditorium hybrid at P.S. 247. The city has also agreed to create a fund of $1.5 million to help owners of area auto body shops relocate, and build two new schools to ease concerns of overcrowding. The overall capital investment in the area as a result of the rezoning will be $189 million.