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Projects & Proposals > Bronx > Lower Concourse Printer Friendly Version
Lower Concourse Rezoning - Approved!
Existing Zoning and Context
Overview | Existing Zoning and Context | Proposed Actions | Public Review


Existing Context
The Lower Concourse area is located in the southwestern corner of the Bronx, Community District 1. The southernmost portion of the Grand Concourse runs through the center of the area, making this a high-profile gateway to the South Bronx. This area shapes the first impression of the borough for commuters on the subway, commuter rail, several bridges from Manhattan, and the Major Deegan Expressway. However, unlike the more historic parts of the Grand Concourse to the north, the southernmost portion of the Concourse is characterized by single-story automotive uses. The two blocks of Harlem River waterfront in this area are characterized by open air waste transfer and bus parking facilities and self storage and moving facilities. The rest of the area is characterized by a mix of multi-story loft buildings, single-story automotive and industrial buildings, and vacant or unimproved land.


In the rezoning area the Grand Concourse is characterized by single-story automotive uses, rather than the residential character of the rest of the Grand Concourse. 
Grand Concourse at E 140th Street Grand Concourse at E 161st Street
Grand Concourse at E 140th Street Grand Concourse at E 161st Street


Transit access is excellent in the Lower Concourse, with the first stops in the Bronx on the 2, 4, and 5 express trains, and the 6 local train. The entire proposed rezoning area is within walking distance of a subway station. Vehicular access is provided by the Major Deegan and Bruckner expressways, several arterial streets, including the Grand Concourse, Third Avenue, 149th Street, and 138th Street, and the 145th Street, Madison Avenue, and Third Avenue bridges into Manhattan.


Land Use and History
In the nineteenth century, an active port and numerous rail connections brought a number of industrial businesses including garment and piano factories to this area. Changes in the economy and the desire for larger modern industrial space led to a decline in manufacturing firms and jobs in this area during the latter half of the twentieth century. The Oak Point Rail Link was built along the Harlem River through this area in the 1990’s in order to divert freight traffic away from busy commuter rail lines. However, the waterborne route cut off access to waterfront lots in this area and precluded waterfront-dependent uses. The waterfront is presently characterized by uses which do not take advantage of their waterfront location such as bus parking, construction waste recycling, and personal self-storage. Despite decreases in employment and number of firms, a number of businesses remain in this area. Storage and light industrial uses, including personal self-storage, warehousing, distribution, and woodworking uses occupy about 40% of the land area within the Lower Concourse.

Waterfront lots are characterized by open-air uses, self storage, and moving companies and are separated from the Harlem River by the Oak Point Rail link.
Harlem River waterfront to the north of the Madison Avenue Bridge
Harlem River waterfront to the north of the Madison Avenue Bridge
Harlem River waterfront to the south of the Madison Avenue Bridged
Harlem River waterfront to the south of the Madison Avenue Bridge

However, the decline in manufacturing has left a large proportion of vacant and non-industrial space. Current studies show there is a 22% vacancy rate within existing buildings in the rezoning area. An additional 22% of the buildings are used for non-industrial uses such as office, retail, and community facilities. 13% of the total built area is used for personal self-storage, a low-employment use. Only three new buildings have been built since 1980, and only 10 have been built since the current zoning was enacted in 1961. New construction has consisted primarily of automotive service and personal self-storage facilities, rather than job-intensive industrial businesses.

Vacant land and lofts are located throughout the proposed rezoning area.
A vacant former gas station located at Third Avenue at E. 136th Street.
A vacant former gas station located at Third Avenue at E. 136th Street. 
A vacant loft building located at East 144th Street and Canal Place
A vacant loft building located at East 144th Street and Canal Place


Surrounding land uses and new investment
The areas surrounding the Lower Concourse to the north and south have seen a number of recent developments. The Port Morris/ Bruckner Avenue Mixed-Use zoning district, located directly to the south of the Lower Concourse study area, was first mapped in 1997 and expanded in 2005. To date, this rezoning has resulted in the conversion of several buildings into more than 300 new residential units, along with the rehabilitation of several existing row-houses and apartment buildings. The Gateway Center, currently under construction, will bring approximately one million square feet of new retail space directly north of 149th Street. Across from the Gateway Center, a new 9-acre waterfront park is under construction along the Harlem River directly north of the Lower Concourse.


Existing Zoning Map with Land Use
Existing Zoning Map with Land Use
PDF Document View a larger image.
Existing Zoning
The proposed Lower Concourse rezoning area consists primarily of M1-2 and M2-1 manufacturing districts. Residential uses are not permitted in manufacturing zones.
M1-2
A 21-block area currently zoned M1-2 comprises most of the proposed rezoning area. These blocks contain a mix of uses, including warehouses, self-storage, auto repair shops, partially-vacant multistory loft buildings, construction-related businesses, and several vacant lots. M1-1 districts generally permit light industrial, commercial and limited community facility uses. Manufacturing and commercial uses have a maximum floor-area ratio (FAR) of 2.0 and community facilities have a maximum FAR of 4.8. There are no height limits, and building heights and setbacks are governed by the sky exposure plane. The commercial, manufacturing, and community facility parking requirements vary with use.



M2-1
A five-block area consisting of two blocks along the waterfront and three adjacent upland blocks south of E. 138th Street are currently zoned M2-1. This area contains a mix of uses including parking lots and construction waste transfer on the waterfront, and personal self-storage, warehouses, wholesale distributors, auto repair, and vacant land. The existing M2-1 district has a maximum commercial/manufacturing FAR of 2.0 and parking requirements vary by use. M2-1 districts occupy the middle ground between light and heavy industrial areas. A range of manufacturing uses are permitted, but most community facilities are not allowed in the M2-1 zoning district.

C4-4
A 2-block area located south of E. 149th Street and west of Walton Avenue is currently zoned C4-4. These blocks contain a mix of uses, including permanent and temporary classroom space for Hostos College, a community basketball center, warehouse, and light industrial uses. C4-4 districts are medium-density commercial districts which permit commercial office and retail, residential, and community facility uses. Commercial uses have a maximum FAR of 3.4, residential uses have a maximum FAR of 3.44, and community facilities have a maximum FAR of 6.5. There are no height limits, and building heights and setbacks are governed by the sky exposure plane. The residential parking requirement provides one parking space for 50% the number of residential units. The commercial and community facility parking requirements vary with use.

R6
A two-block area consisting of a public school and its adjacent parking lot is currently zoned R6. These blocks are located south of E. 142nd Street, west of Morris Avenue, north of E. 140th Street, and east of Rider Avenue. R6 zoning districts have a maximum FAR of 2.43 for residential and 4.8 for community facility. The residential parking requirement provides one parking space for 70% of the number of residential units. The community facility parking requirements vary with use.



Overview | Existing Zoning and Context | Proposed Actions | Public Review




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