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City Planning Approves 425 Units of Affordable Housing in Soundview, Bronx

Project Rendering. Image Credit: CPC.

Two mixed-use buildings, containing 425 affordable residential units for families and seniors, will be developed in Soundview, Bronx. On October 18, 2017, the City Planning Commission issued a favorable report on an application for a zoning map and text amendment by the Park Lane Residence Company. This application will facilitate the development of two mixed-use buildings with 425 affordable housing units in Soundview, Bronx. The project area is bounded by Turnbull Avenue to the north, Lafayette Avenue to the south, Pugsley Avenue to the east, and White Plains Road to the west.

The block containing the project area is currently home to the Park Lane Apartments, located at 1965 Lafayette Avenue, a 21-story building with 352 residential units, one superintendent’s unit, 248 outdoor parking spaces, sitting areas, a basketball court, and two accessory swimming pools. The building is a Mitchell-Lama project. The proposed development will occur on what is now a 79-space accessory parking lot and a basketball court.

One new building will contain 292 affordable housing units and 19,938 square feet of ground-floor retail. The second building will provide 133 affordable housing units for seniors. Both buildings will be 14 stories tall. The buildings will connect in the basement, where there will be a 67-space parking garage. The development will also include a fitness center, recreation rooms, an outdoor recreation area, central open space, and a new basketball court.

After the development is finished, the block will contain the two new mixed-use buildings, the Park Lane Apartments, and the existing eastern parking lot.

The zoning map amendment will rezone the project area from an R6 district to an R8, R8/C2-4, and R6 district. The R8 district allows for mid- to high-density residences. Rezoning to an R8 will allow the existing Park Lane Apartments to be in conformance with zoning. Rezoning to an R8/C2-4 will allow the proposed mixed-use development to occur.

While all 425 units are proposed to be affordable, the zoning text amendment will ensure that some units remain permanently affordable through Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. The applicant proposes using either Option 1 or Option 2. Under Option 1, 25% of units must remain affordable to households earning 60% of the Average Median Income (“AMI”) and 10% of units for households earning 40% of AMI. Option 2 requires that 30% of units remain affordable for households earning 80% of AMI. Both options require that none of the designated affordable units target households earning more than 130% of AMI. Option 1 would produce 107 permanently affordable units and Option 2 would produce 128 permanently affordable units.

On August 7, 2017, Bronx Community Board 9 voted in favor of approving the application with conditions. The conditions include: (1) extending the Mitchell-Lama affordability for the existing building; (2) making repairs and upgrades to the existing apartment building and common areas; (3) developing a youth initiative program for the tenants; (4) beautifying and maintaining green spaces in medians; (5) providing seniors and veterans preference to new buildings with dedicated facilities for senior and community programming; (6) collaborating with local non-profits to ensure up to 25% of the construction workforce are local residents; (7) having the developer commit to create high-quality building services jobs that pay union wages and benefits; (8) having the developer contribute $2,000 per year to a nearby school for programs.

On September 13, 2017, the Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., recommended to approve the application with conditions. The Borough President’s condition is more two- and three-bedroom units and a reduction of studio units in the affordable family building. Currently, 67% of the proposed units are studios and one-bedrooms. The Borough President’s goal is that at least 40% of units be two- and three-bedrooms, with at least 10% of total units being three-bedrooms. This is so that families can be accommodated in the building intended for families.

On September 19, 2017, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the application, where four speakers testified in favor of the application. The four speakers were from the applicant team. No one spoke in opposition to the application.

The City Planning Commission found the application appropriate for facilitating the development of new affordable housing, and solidifying the benefits of the existing residential building.

CPC: 1965 Lafayette Avenue Rezoning (C170392ZMX; N170393ZRX) (Oct. 18, 2017)

By: Shelby Hoffman (Shelby is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2017.)