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Projects & Proposals > Bronx > 161st Street/River Avenue Printer Friendly Version
161st Street/River Avenue Rezoning - Approved!
Existing Zoning & Context
Overview | Existing Zoning & Context | Proposed Zoning | Public Review

Context and History
JOYCE KILMER PARK – Lorelei Fountain
JOYCE KILMER PARK – Lorelei Fountain
The 161st Street/River Avenue rezoning area is located in the southwest portion of the Bronx in Community District 4, a transit-rich area that is the civic administrative center of Bronx County, housing the offices of the Borough President, the District Attorney and the County Clerk, as well as the Bronx County Family Court, the Bronx Criminal Court Complex, and the newly constructed Bronx Hall of Justice.  The Bronx County Courthouse and Borough Hall is prominently located along the Grand Concourse at East 161st Street, between Joyce Kilmer Park and Franz Sigel Park.

161st Street is a high-profile east-west corridor in the Bronx. At its civic core, it intersects the Grand Concourse, which is the Bronx’ signature street, a wide boulevard (180 feet wide) featuring wide sidewalks, tree-lined malls, and a system of underpasses for major east-west streets.  To the west, 161st Street is accessible to the Major Deegan Expressway, three subway lines (B, D, and 4), and a new Metro-North station on the western side of the existing Yankee Stadium/proposed Heritage Field which is slated to open in 2009. To the east, 161st Street intersects Third Avenue, another key north-south street in the borough, and is accessible to the Metro-North Melrose Station at Park Avenue and East 162nd Street. Bus service in the area includes the Bx6 and Bx13 on 161st Street, and numerous north-south connections (Bx1, Bx2, Bx13, Bx15, Bx21, Bx32, Bx41, Bx55,) as well as express bus service to Manhattan along the Grand Concourse (BxM4A/ BxM4B).

The area surrounding 161st Street was mostly farmland until the introduction of rail transit in the latter part of the 1800’s brought the way to greater urbanization and development in the area. The early 20th Century defined 161st Street as the civic center of the Bronx with the construction of the Bronx Borough Courthouse, now inactive, at the intersection of 161st Street, Brook and Third avenues. In 1923, Yankee Stadium was constructed at southwest corner of 161st Street and River Avenue. In 1933, New Deal public funds allowed the construction of the Bronx County Courthouse at the Grand Concourse and 161st Street.

In the decades following the Second World War, the southern Bronx was the site of widespread abandonment.  Arson and neglect forced large portions of the population to leave the area. The Melrose neighborhood east of the rezoning area was hit especially hard, losing almost three-quarters of its residents, as populations fled the South Bronx.

Today the area is a stable yet growing community. Melrose Commons continues to attract population to the area with home ownership opportunities on formerly city-owned properties. The art deco buildings of the Grand Concourse, spared the devastation that much of the community experienced in the 1970s, remain an architectural hallmark of the Bronx.

The Bronx County Courthouse at Grand Concourse and 161st Street
The Bronx County Courthouse at Grand Concourse and 161st Street
The art deco buildings on the Grand Concourse remain an architectural hallmark of the Bronx. Recent improvements to the boulevard restore its grandeur and ease traffic and pedestrian movements
The art deco buildings on the Grand Concourse remain an architectural hallmark of the Bronx. Recent improvements to the boulevard restore its grandeur and ease traffic and pedestrian movements



Recent Investment
The New Yankee Stadium is slated to open for the 2009 baseball season.
The New Yankee Stadium is slated to open for the 2009 baseball season.
Recent investments in the area surrounding the 161st Street corridor have led to the renewal of the civic center of the Bronx and the South Bronx overall. Recent investments include the new Yankee Stadium, slated to open in 2009, on the northwest corner of 161st Street and River Avenue.  Parks are planned for the existing Yankee Stadium site, and sites along River Avenue and the Harlem River.  The Gateway Center, slated to open in late 2009, will bring approximately one million square feet of new retail space south of the proposed rezoning area at 149th Street and the Major Deegan Expressway, and will include additional waterfront parks.


The newly renovated Lou Gehrig Plaza adds much needed green space to this urban corridor
The newly renovated Lou Gehrig Plaza adds much needed green space to this urban corridor.

Lou Gehrig Plaza, which formerly was used for parking in front of Bronx Borough Hall, was reconstructed as a new public space as part of the Department of Transportation’s Grand Concourse reconstruction project.  Joyce Kilmer Park has undergone extensive phased renovation; over the past decade, the Department of Parks and Recreation has improved all areas of the park, including the Lorelei Fountain area, playground, pathways, fencing and benches. A Greenmarket is open in the park on Tuesdays for five months of the year. At the center of the 161st Street corridor is the new Bronx Hall of Justice, which includes approximately 670,000 square feet of office space for 47 courtrooms and court-related agencies.

The eastern section of the 161st Street corridor runs through the Melrose Commons Urban Renewal Area. Since the renewal plan was established in 1994, more than 2,300 affordable dwelling units and approximately 60,600 square feet of commercial floor area have been built or are currently under construction.  In addition, Boricua Village, located in Melrose Commons along Third Avenue, will accommodate a campus for Boricua College, as well as approximately 700 residential units and 30,000 square feet of commercial space.

Land Use and Existing Zoning
The 161st Street corridor is largely built out; therefore the rezoning is focused on three strategic nodes. From west to east, the three nodes are: the Transit Node, the Civic Node and the Residential Node. Land uses and zoning differ in each node. Details of each zoning district are described below. View the PDF Document zoning comparison chart.

Land Use Map
Land Use Map - PDF Document View a larger image.
Existing Zoning Map
Existing Zoning Map - PDF Document View a larger image.
Transit Node
Located at the intersection of 161st Street and River Avenue, the Transit Node is centered on a transit hub that includes stations for the elevated 4 train and the B and D subway lines, bus lines, and a proposed Metro-North commuter rail station on the western side of the existing Yankee Stadium/proposed Heritage Field. The rezoning area consists of one- and two-story commercial uses, including a McDonald’s restaurant and seasonal baseball-oriented bars and souvenir shops, surface and enclosed parking. The surrounding area is characterized by Yankee Stadium, 6- to 8-story apartment buildings, and parkland. The Transit Node is currently zoned C8-3 and R8 with a C1-4 overlay.

The northeast corner of intersection of 161st Street and River Avenue in the Transit Node includes entrances to both the elevated 4 train and the B/D subway station; the area is currently zoned R8/C1-4.
The northeast corner of intersection of 161st Street and River Avenue in the Transit Node includes entrances to both the elevated 4 train and the B/D subway station; the area is currently zoned R8/C1-4.
Single-story uses on the southeast corner of 161st Street at River Avenue; the area is currently zoned R8/C1-4.
Single-story uses on the southeast corner of 161st Street at River Avenue; the area is currently zoned R8/C1-4.
River Avenue, pictured south of 161st Street, is dominated by single-story baseball-oriented uses that remain shuttered on non-game days; the area is currently zoned C8-3.
River Avenue, pictured south of 161st Street, is dominated by single-story baseball-oriented uses that remain shuttered on non-game days; the area is currently zoned C8-3.


Civic Node
At the center of the 161st Street corridor is the Civic Node, which is generally located between the Grand Concourse and Morris Avenue and anchored by two major court houses.  Uses in the area to be rezoned consist of a parking garage, low-scale retail and office uses, a portion of the Concourse Plaza Mall parking lot, and two 10-story office buildings. Surrounding the rezoning area are the Bronx Criminal Court Complex, the new Bronx Hall of Justice, 6- to 8-story apartment buildings, a 10-story senior housing residential building (the former Concourse Plaza Hotel), and 25-story Concourse Village co-operative housing to the south of the Concourse Plaza Mall. The Civic Node is currently zoned R8, C8-3 and C4-6.

Entry to the Concourse Plaza Mall, which was constructed in the late 1980s, is across 161st Street from the Bronx Hall of Justice; the area is currently zoned C8-3.
Entry to the Concourse Plaza Mall, which was constructed in the late 1980s, is across 161st Street from the Bronx Hall of Justice; the area is currently zoned C8-3.
The newly-constructed Bronx Hall of Justice at Morris Avenue stands out along 161st Street.
The newly-constructed Bronx Hall of Justice at Morris Avenue stands out along 161st Street.

Residential Node
The Residential Node is one full block at the eastern end of the rezoning area north of 161st Street between Morris and Park avenues. The block is characterized by single-story commercial uses, low-scale detached residential buildings, a low-scale community facility, and a 6-story residential building. Open parking uses are also found on the block. The area surrounding the block includes the 19-story NYCHA housing on Park Avenue, the 9-story Bronx Hall of Justice, and an 8-story senior housing development across 161st Street. The Residential Node is currently zoned R7-1 with C1-4 and C2-4 overlays over small portions of the 161st Street block front.

Single-story retail uses and low-scale residential uses line 161st Street in the Residential Node; the area is currently zoned R7-1.
Single-story retail uses and low-scale residential uses line 161st Street in the Residential Node; the area is currently zoned R7-1.
The Residential Node includes low-scale homes, a two-story community facility, and multifamily apartment buildings; the block is zoned R7-1with two discontinuous commercial overlays.  Morrisania Air Rights NYCHA housing, pictured in the background, is across Park Avenue from the rezoning area.
The Residential Node includes low-scale homes, a two-story community facility, and multifamily apartment buildings; the block is zoned R7-1with two discontinuous commercial overlays.  Morrisania Air Rights NYCHA housing, pictured in the background, is across Park Avenue from the rezoning area.


R7-1
The  R7-1 district is a height factor district that allows residential uses to a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 3.44 and community facility uses up to 4.8 FAR.  There is no maximum building height, and the building envelope is regulated by the sky exposure plane. The optional Quality Housing regulations allow residential development a maximum permitted FAR of 4.0 on a wide street and 3.44 on a narrow street.  Under Quality Housing rules, the base height of the building at the street must be between 40-65 feet then must set back from the street before rising to a maximum building height of 80 feet. Off-street parking is required for 60%  of the residential units (50% for Quality Housing developments).


R8
The R8 district is a height factor district that allows residential uses up to an FAR of 6.02. Community facilities are permitted an FAR of 6.5. There is no maximum building height, and the building envelope is regulated by the sky exposure plane. The optional Quality Housing regulations allow residential development a maximum permitted FAR of 7.2 on a wide street and 6.02 on a narrow street.  Under Quality Housing rules, the base height of the building at the street must be between 60 to 80 feet then must set back from the street before rising to a maximum building height of 120 feet. Off-street parking is required for 40% of the residential units.


C1-4 and C2-4 Overlays
C1-4 and C2-4 are commercial overlay districts mapped within residential districts. When mapped within an R7 or R8 district, they allow commercial uses up to 2.0 FAR and limit uses to local retail and services. In a mixed residential/commercial building, commercial uses are limited to the ground floor. C2 districts allow a greater range of uses than C1 districts, including funeral homes and local repair services. Typical uses in both districts include grocery store, beauty salon, and restaurants. Off-street parking regulations for both districts vary with use, but generally most uses require one accessory parking space per 1,000 square feet of commercial space.


C8-3
The C8-3 district allows commercial and community facility uses in Use Groups 4 through 14 and 16. The most prevalent uses in C8 districts are automotive and heavy commercial uses such as auto repair and showrooms, warehouses, gas stations and car washes. Residential uses are not permitted. The maximum commercial FAR in C8-3 districts is 2.0. Community facilities are permitted an FAR of 6.5. There is no maximum building height, and the building envelope is regulated by the sky exposure plane. Off-street parking requirements vary with the use, but generally most uses require one accessory parking space per 1,000 square feet of commercial space.


C4-6
The C4-6 district allows residential, commercial and community facility uses. The maximum permitted FAR is 10.0 for community facilities and residential uses and 3.4 for commercial uses. There are no building height limits in this district and building envelopes are regulated by the sky exposure plane.  Under optional Quality Housing rules, the base height of the building at the street must be between 125-150 feet then must set back from the street before rising to a maximum building height of 210 feet on a wide street and 185 feet on a narrow street.


The Special Grand Concourse District (C) is mapped along the Grand Concourse intersecting 161st Street between the Transit Node and the Civic Node. The special district was established in 1989 to protect the scale, form and residential character of the Grand Concourse; the special district will not be affected by the 161st Street rezoning proposal.

 


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