The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) is pleased to share Sustainable Communities in the Bronx: Leveraging Regional Rail for Access Growth and Opportunity, which presents a vision for a more sustainable and equitable Bronx. This report is the culmination of a two-year community engagement process examining the potential for transit- oriented development (TOD) around existing and proposed Metro-North stations in the Bronx. Together with Bronx communities, DCP identified the potential for growth around underutilized transit resources and built relationships with local organizations and leaders ready to help realize a new vision for the borough.
The Bronx is currently growing at a rate unseen since the 1940s and is projected to grow by 14% by 2040, the fastest projected growth rate of any borough. This study makes recommendations that will foster sustainable growth in the borough by expanding transit-oriented development opportunities to create housing affordable at a range of incomes, improve job access for residents, and grow the overall economy of the Bronx, strengthening its position within the city and region. Eight study areas surrounding existing and planned Metro-North rail stations were selected for evaluation to determine strategic land use, transportation, and pedestrian realm actions to accomplish these objectives.
To achieve its goals, DCP undertook an extensive community outreach process focused on education, visioning, and implementation. Because the project study area was geographically dispersed over a large portion of the Bronx, DCP developed an array of educational tools such as graphics depicting the elements of successful neighborhood streets and the potential relationships between land use and TOD. These general tools as well as more targeted site-specific information were used to engage stakeholders within communities for each of the station study areas. They provided a common language to help facilitate discussion of objectives and development of strategies. As part of this process, DCP held more than 40 community/stakeholder meetings in a variety of formats. DCP’s extensive site-specific analyses combined with input gathered through partners and general outreach provided the groundwork for recommendations around each station area.
The six existing and two proposed Bronx Metro-North station areas include:
These station areas were selected based on an evaluation of four key factors: (1) potential to accommodate future growth, (2) lack of station visibility, (3) overall accessibility, and (4) opportunity to improve connections between modes of transit.
The report is divided in two sections: (1) Strategies for TOD around commuter rail in the Bronx, and (2) Station Area Studies. The findings are summarized in the following section.
Full Report (27.8 mb)
Project at a Glance
DCP identified a number of common challenges to successfully integrate Metro-North stations into the complex and distinct fabric of Bronx neighborhoods. In order to address these challenges, DCP developed a set of general strategies applicable to all study areas within the Bronx Metro-North corridor. These strategies, while developed through studying the eight Metro-North station areas, have potential applicability to commuter rail stations locally, regionally, and beyond. The strategies are described in four categories as indicated below:
(1) LAND USE AND ZONING
A framework for addressing outdated zoning, fostering appropriate mixes and densities of uses, and bolstering regional centers that will allow Bronx neighborhoods to better capitalize on transit assets.
Best practices to improve safety, street life, and walkability of neighborhood streets that connect Bronx residents with jobs, retail and services, and mass-transit options.
(3) INTERMODAL CONNECTIVITY & COMMUTER RAIL STATIONS
Improvements to create seamless connections between Metro-North and other modes of transit will provide greater accessibility for Bronx residents and local and regional workers, and improve overall ridership.
(4) RAIL-ADJACENT LOTS
IImprovements to create seamless connections between Metro-North and other modes of transit will provide greater accessibility for Bronx residents and local and regional workers, and improve overall ridership.
The study includes individual area studies for each station. It focuses on challenges and opportunities to strengthen these areas through targeted regulatory changes and physical improvements, and it offers for each area a set of recommendations developed in concert with stakeholders.
The University Heights station sits on the Fordham Road Corridor between an undeveloped portion of the Harlem River Waterfront and the Major Deegan Expressway. The area has the potential for significant housing and retail growth that would open up the waterfront to the community; however, its potential is significantly limited by barriers to access.
The Melrose station area played a key role in the dynamic history of the South Bronx and has been the focus of significant and successful public investment where more than 3,500 new units of affordable housing have been created in the last fifteen years with significant additional units planned. Despite the area’s assets and recent revitalization, the community lacks a cohesive urban fabric.
The Morris Heights Metro-North station and its surrounding features, which include Roberto Clemente State Park, are isolated from the community largely by topographical changes and a major highway. There is an opportunity to increase usage of the park and station, as well as increase access to the Harlem River Waterfront and River Park Towers housing development.
The Tremont Metro-North station is located along the re-emerging East Tremont Avenue commercial corridor. The area was recently rezoned to promote housing and retail growth; however, gaps in street trees, lighting, and inconsistent pedestrian paths result in a disjointed corridor.
The Williams Bridge Metro-North station sits along a busy corridor, has convenient intermodal connections, and is near a major medical facility that is one of the Bronx’s largest employers. A recent rezoning provides opportunity for additional growth and ridership. However, poor visibility and connectivity present challenges to achieving a strong mixed-use retail corridor.
The Fordham station area is home to a number of regional attractions and institutions including Fordham University, the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Garden, Little Italy, and one of the busiest retail corridors in the city, Fordham Road. With high ridership today, it has potential to become a stronger regional hub of activity.
MTA Metro-North Railroad has developed an overall concept to provide additional regional rail service by linking its east-of-Hudson service directly to Penn Station. It includes two proposed stations on the West Side of Manhattan, and four new stations in the East Bronx. This study examines two of the proposed Bronx station areas with the greatest potential for long-term transit-oriented growth.
The proposed Parkchester/Van Nest station is located along East Tremont Avenue between the Parkchester planned community and Van Nest neighborhood. The proposed station will help establish a new center for these neighborhoods, but currently it is characterized by inactive uses, difficult crossings, and a general lack of pedestrian amenities.
As the home to a number of large professional institutions and planned developments, Morris Park is a regional center for employment and education. The proposed station currently lacks pedestrian infrastructure and commercial uses to support the institutions’ needs. The new station would help bolster the area’s status as a regional employment center and be an asset to the community.
Throughout this study DCP built strong partnerships with stakeholders who are rooted in these communities. These partnerships have expanded opportunities for implementation of recommendations identified in this report, and in some cases, existing efforts have already jump-started action. To realize the full potential of recommended improvements, implementation will require:
Together the application of these strategies will create a more livable Bronx by increasing access to jobs and neighborhood amenities, providing mixed-income housing options for residents, and creating more sustainable communities surrounding Bronx Metro-North stations.
For more information on the Sustainable Communities Bronx Study, contact the Bronx Office of the Department of City Planning at 718.220.8500 or email Shawn Brede at:
See what some of our partners are doing in these communities!