During the State of The City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $200 million investment in the South Bronx waterfront for development as a focus of his administration’s agenda. The Mayor also announced that new ferry services being touted for the East Bronx and Far Rockaway in Queens will cost the same as a subway fare — something which Welcome2TheBronx insisted had to occur in order for it to be an equitable service that truly serves the people of The Bronx.
Mayor de Blasio announced that a $200 million capital investment of the Special Harlem River Waterfront District in the Lower Concourse Rezoning District, “can stimulate the development of 4,000 new units of housing – much of it affordable — and provide the parks, schools, and commercial development that support a growing, thriving population.”
He went on to say:
“Another transformative opportunity lies in the Lower Concourse neighborhood on the waterfront in the South Bronx, a section of our city that was for so long synonymous with urban decay.
But the South Bronx is coming back strong, and waterfront development will be a big step forward.
When we look at this project, we don’t think about what used to define the Bronx; we think about all that will define the Bronx in the future.
We look forward to partnering with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and our colleagues in government to make an investment that will bring hope and opportunity to a place with enormous potential.”
Originally, many feared that the Special Harlem River Waterfront District would be mostly market rate but this commitment from the City strengthens that the 4,000 units will have a bulk that is affordable but as always, the question remains, affordable for who? What percentage of the total number of units will go towards truly affordable housing? The plans that Welcome2TheBronx reported on also includes ferry service in this area so at least this would hopefully include the same level of affordability that the Mayor stressed for the new routes along the East River.
The Mayor also spoke about the controversial rezoning for the Jerome Avenue Corridor (missing was the Cromwell-Jerome name which many, including myself, saw as a rebranding of existing neighborhoods. In these areas, de Blasio insisted that it will include mandatory inclusionary zoning where developers will be required to build affordable housing and under this administration that means that a portion remains permanently affordable.
Also as discussed in the State of the City address were issues to “ending chronic veterans homelessness by the end of the year,” and also provide 10,000 units of housing for our aging, senior population across the city.
As for the arts, 1,500 units of “affordable” live/work space will be created for artists including 500 “dedicated affordable workspaces for the cultural community.”
Minimum wages was also a strong part of his speech as the Mayor indicated a strong push to make New York City’s minimum wage $13/hour by 2016 and $15/hour by 2019 — a very ambitious plan but much needed to help pull our Bronx residents from the cycle of poverty as well as residents from the rest of the city.
For the first time ever in my memory, gentrification was discussed by any Mayor in any State of the City address although what de Blasio said was rather walking the middle of the line quite safely and nothing really aggressive to address the realities of gentrification.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Welcome2TheBronx/
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Welcome2TheBronx/