Plans Filed for Yet Another Affordable Housing Development in Melrose

Development doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon in Melrose, The Bronx’s unofficial downtown neighborhood.

After a lull in construction for a few years, developments are either in the process of breaking ground, in the middle of construction, almost complete or just filing applications in the neighborhood.

Blue Sea Development, who has constructed a large number of developments in Melrose, has finally filed plans for their latest development to be located at 443 E 162nd which will be one of 3 developments adjacent to each other—the others being Elton Corners which is under construction and the 3rd being Bronx Commons which will house The Bronx Music Heritage Center.

According to NYC’s Department of Buildings website, the plans call for a new 12 story 340,678 square foot building with 303 residential units of “affordable” housing. Included in the space is 13,302 square feet for a community facility and 25,643 square feet for commercial use.

No details have emerged as of yet regarding the levels of affordability for the development but according to Les Bluestone of Blue Sea Development, they are hoping to, “break ground by July of this year.”

Other developments in various phases of construction and planning are:

  • 706 Courtlandt Ave|Under Construction|14,794 square foot, 5 story building with 16 residential units. Affordability unknown.
  • 407 E 160th|Under Construction|25,280 square feet 8 stories, 39 units market rate apartments. According to the developer, details of what the rents will be is, “…too soon to determine”.
  • Elton Crossing|Under Construction|258,000 square feet, 263 units with 60 units for homeless veterans.
  • Bronx Commons| (DELAYED) Groundbreaking scheduled for 2016|361,000 square foot development with  277 apartments and a 15,000 square foot Bronx Musical Heritage Center along with retail space.
  • La Central| (DELAYED) Groundbreaking anticipated for end of 2016/beginning of 2017|1.1 million square feet, 992 apartments (studios to 4 bedrooms, supportive housing for people with HIV/AIDS), 5 buildings from 8 to 25 stories, 50,000 square foot YMCA, 2 acres of public and private landscaped grounds, rooftop decks, astronomy tower and education center, rooftop farm, 10,000 square foot BronxNet studio and classroom space, 30,000 community space and over 45,000 of new retail space.
  • 655 Morris Avenue|Under Construction| 217,579 square feet, 15 stories with 176 units including retail and community space.
  • 3160 Park Ave|Under Construction|11 story, 185,000 square foot with retail and commercial space and 152 residential units.

This pushes the total number of units under construction or filed to over 2,200 units of varying affordability and unit types in Melrose.

Of course, this leads to the question of “affordable” for who exactly since we’ve seen that most of these developments have left out the majority of residents in the immediate area and community boards they’re built in. People either are over qualified or under qualified in the neighborhood to meet that sweet spot, the goldilocks zone if you will, to be able to attain one of these units.

We also have to keep in mind that developers can opt out of affordability after 15 years so what will happen then to all the hard work residents put into making sure Melrose became a vibrant, mixed income, mixed development neighborhood? The Melrose model is one of the most studied urban renewal models in the country particularly the grassroots efforts of the late Yolanda Garcia, founder of Nos Quedamos/We Stay to make sure the neighborhood was included in the process and not railroaded.

As the population in Melrose—and The Bronx—continues to rise, can our existing infrastructure handle it particularly mass transit which is already bursting at the seams?

Check out renderings for the other developments below:

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.