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NEW YORK CITY-A 30-block swath of the South Bronx would be rezoned to include 3,400 housing units and as much as 841,000 square feet of new commercial space under a plan the Bloomberg administration released on Monday. The unveiling marks the beginning of the public review process for the rezoning along the southern end of the Grand Concourse, part of the “South Bronx Initiative” first announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.

At present, the neighborhood is predominantly industrial, with about 20% of the building space vacant, according to the Department of City Planning. The industrial sector would be protected under the new zoning, but the city also hopes to encourage the development of market-rate and affordable housing to accommodate the South Bronx’s increasing residential population. Current zoning in the so-called Lower Concourse district does not allow residential development.

DCP says the rezoning would mark the first use of inclusionary zoning in the Bronx by encouraging the development of 600 units of permanently affordable housing. Developers would only be able to build the maximum allowable residential floor area if they provide permanently affordable housing either on-site or off-site in new or existing buildings, according to DCP. Tax abatements and public financing will be available through the inclusionary housing program.

Another goal of the rezoning is to promote a wider range of uses in an area that is well served by mass transit. It would open up the Lower Concourse to retail and hotel development along with eliminating the 10,000-square-foot size limit on grocery stores. Additionally, DCP plans to map a 2.2-acre public park along the Harlem River at 144th Street to complement a nine-acre waterfront park currently under development just north of the Lower Concourse district.

In a release, city planning commissioner Amanda Burden says, “The Grand Concourse symbolizes the aspirations of the Bronx and we expect that this rezoning will catalyze new investment and economic opportunities.” Along with the Lower Grand Concourse, the South Bronx Initiative focuses on Melrose Commons as well as the Bronx Civic Center along the East 161st Street corridor. DCP will soon begin public review on a rezoning of the East 161st corridor to spur a mix of office, retail, and residential development.

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