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Auto hub housing 45 businesses to set up shop in the Bronx


The industrial park facility will have 45 businesses that range from body repairs to oil changes on Leggett Avenue in Hunts Point. (10/6/15)
THE BRONX – An 84,000-square foot facility that houses over 40 auto businesses is set to open in the Bronx.
The industrial park facility will have 45 businesses that range from body repairs to oil changes on Leggett Avenue in Hunts Point.
The businesses were pushed out by the city’s Economic Development Corp. in Queens.
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Pedro Estevez, president of the United Auto Merchants, says he is looking for two other industrial parks to house 200 more auto businesses.
He says affordable housing units are being built on Jerome and Cromwell avenues where over 200 auto business currently reside. He says those businesses are going to be displaced because there is no other place to build there.
The grand opening for the auto facility is scheduled for January. Shortly after, businesses will start to move in.

Source: News12 The Bronx

Sunrise Co-op Press Conference

Pedro Estevez, president of the United Auto Merchants Association, said he’s an expert in licensing and permits and believes there is “stonewalling” from the DOB, which he claims is “in cahoots” with the Bronx borough government, which wants to “chase them out of the city.”

“The Mayor of New York had the authority to tell the Department of Buildings, give them a letter of no objection,” Estevez said. “But if you don’t give them their permits to bring this up to code, how are they going to do it? … We are hardworking people over here that deserve an opportunity to drive instead of strive.”

Sunrise Cooperative, consisting of tenant businesses being evicted from Willets Point, Queens, calls upon Council Member Julissa Ferreras to not abandon Sunrise’s effort to relocate to the Bronx, Mayor Bill de Blasio to intercede, and alleges a lack of diligence by the Urban Justice Center concerning the Bronx relocation site, at this press conference held on June 1, 2015 in Willets Point.

In English and Spanish.
Recording © 2015 LoScalzo Media Design LLC. Reproduction prohibited.

Jerome Avenue Rezoning Worries Auto Shop Owners

The planned rezoning of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, expected to bring new business and development to the area, is not yet underway but is already prompting a number of auto mechanic shops along the avenue to consider relocation, reports William Mathis in Norwood News.

“Once news of the rezoning came out, that’s it,” said Pedro Estevez, president and founder of the United Auto Merchants Association, a union representing mechanics around the city. “Hell broke loose.” Already this year, eleven repair shop operators have come to him looking for help to relocate their businesses he said, after landlords refused to renew the lease or drastically increased the rent.

He noted nearly all of the more than 900 members and affiliates of the UAMA lease space for their businesses while many have no signed leases. He fears that with rezoning, more auto businesses will have no choice but to close as property owners opt for more lucrative residential rental and development opportunities. “Rezoning is removing,” he said.

Local auto mechanics met recently with Department of City Planning officials to discuss the rezoning plans. Some of them have already relocated once, from Willets Point in Queens, in another rezoning move, and are none too happy. One of them, Marco Neira, 56, said: “The city promises and promises and then removes people.”

City officials tried to reassure the group.

Jessica Ortiz, a city planner with DCP, assured guests that even under rezoning, the city has no authority to remove people from already existing businesses. Ortiz highlighted a similar rezoning of 80 blocks of Webster Avenue in the Bedford Park and Norwood areas as an example of success. “New residential uses have come into the area,” she said. “But auto uses have remained.”

For more on the meeting, and details of what is known thus far about the potential sections to be rezoned, go to Norwood News.

By William Mathis

As Jerome Avenue Rezoning Is on the Mind, Mechanic Shops Show Signs of Impending Exodus

As the city undergoes the outreach phase of a large-scale plan to rezone the southern end of Jerome Avenue, its large swath of mechanic shops are beginning to stage an exodus.
“Once news of the rezoning came out, that’s it,” said Pedro Estevez, president and founder of the United Auto Merchants Association, a union representing mechanics around the city. “Hell broke loose.” Already this year, eleven repair shop operators have come to him looking for help to relocate their businesses he said, after landlords refused to renew the lease or drastically increased the rent.
He noted nearly all of the more than 900 members and affiliates of the UAMA lease space for their businesses while many have no signed leases. He fears that with rezoning, more auto businesses will have no choice but to close as property owners opt for more lucrative residential rental and development opportunities. “Rezoning is removing,” he said.
The news came during a meeting between city officials with the Department of City Planning and members of UAMA. The meeting addressed worries over the proposed rezoning. It’s been one of several meetings that discussed the plan, with the city leaning towards changing zoning laws for 73 blocks of Jerome Avenue, which cuts through several low-income neighborhoods of the Bronx.
City officials arrived with a presentation about the planning process, but audience members kept their concerns about the uncertain future of their businesses front and center throughout.
Estevez set a confrontational tone for the evening in his opening remarks given in both English and Spanish. “They will have to change the zoning to be residential,” he said. “This means that people will have to abandon their places.”
“The city promises and promises and then removes people,” cautioned Marco Neira, 56. He recently moved his auto repair business to the Bronx after he was forced out of the Willis Point section of Queens by a similar rezoning effort by the city. He said that over 300 auto workers lost work at repair shops in Willis Point. Forty-five managed to reopen in the Bronx.
Audience members also expressed distrust of the city’s push to create affordable housing in the area. “Affordable housing’s not for us,” said Liz Thompson, a retired health worker. “It’s not affordable.”
City officials explained that the rezoning plan is only in the study phase, with no specific dates or certainty of how the rezoning will take shape. According to city officials, the area being studied stretches two miles, from 167th and 184th streets, covering the neighborhoods of High Bridge, Mount Eden, Mount Hope, University Heights and Morris Heights. The communities are home to 345,000 residents and 3,700 workers.
Jessica Ortiz, a city planner with DCP, assured guests that even under rezoning, the city has no authority to remove people from already existing businesses. Ortiz highlighted a similar rezoning of 80 blocks of Webster Avenue in the Bedford Park and Norwood areas as an example of success. “New residential uses have come into the area,” she said. “But auto uses have remained.”
“We want to understand from you, what kind of services you need,” Manny Dominguez, Executive Director of NYC Business Solutions for the Department of Small Business Services, said to the crowd.
But listening was not enough. The crowd repeatedly raised the issue that an impending rezoning will force out auto businesses or otherwise have negative effects on their businesses.
Estevez proposed that the city develop what he called an Industrial Business Zone, specifically zoned for auto repair and similar businesses. This would, he said, create a secure area for auto businesses where they would not have to worry about the threat of future rezoning plans.
But the city was in no place to make promises on outcomes. “The purpose of today is dialogue, to understand your needs,” said Robinson Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner with the Department of Small Business Services. “The solution will come later.”

By WILLIAM MATHIS
Source: norwoodnews.org

When Rezoning Isn’t Just About Housing: Planning The Future Of Jerome Avenue

Over the last few months, the Department of City Planning has lost the PR battle over the proposed Jerome Avenue rezoning. Residents and activists accused the city of trying to create a new neighborhood called “Cromwell-Jerome,” a reference to DCP’s initial plans for a zoning study, and in response, officials dropped “Cromwell” from the title.

Meanwhile, fearmongering has fanned the flames of gentrification, leading some tenants to wonder if the city will simply seize industrial businesses for redevelopment, like the misguided urban renewal programs perpetrated during the first half of the 20th century. Poor renters are understandably worried about being pushed out, in an area where the median household income hovers around $27,000 a year.

In reality, planning officials hope to revitalize a narrow, 73-block stretch around Jerome, from 167th Street to just south of Fordham Road. They want to improve parks, the streetscape, retail, community services, schools, and economic growth, instead of simply pushing through more housing development.

Most of Jerome is zoned exclusively for heavy commercial uses, like auto repair shops, car washes and gas stations. That means rezoning the commercial strip to allow mixed use residential development will likely be at the top of planners’ lists.

But the long-established auto shops on Jerome worry about being priced out. “What is going to happen to all these owners who have invested their life savings in the businesses?” asked Pedro Estevez, the head of the United Auto Merchants Association who spoke passionately at a Saturday visioning session hosted by DCP.

“Automotive businesses occupy 60% of the corridor. But right now, no residential can be built,” he added. He argued for a dedicated Industrial Business Zone around 174th Street, near Jerome’s southern edge—a move that would preserve some of the area’s existing commercial and manufacturing zoning.

A neighborhood activist told City & State that auto-related businesses on the strip are already seeing rent hikes of 300%, and their landlords aren’t offering them lease renewals. (We recently wrote about one auto shop development site where that may be the case.)

What’s been obscured, among all the handwringing, is that City Planning isn’t just thinking about zoning. They’re working with the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation to improve the neighborhood’s green spaces, and develop ways to make Jerome Avenue feel less forlorn at night. Longtime neighbors who attended Saturday’s meeting said they were afraid to walk alone on Jerome after dark. The auto shops shut by 6 or 7 p.m., and there are few restaurants or bars to draw foot traffic and liven up the forbidding spaces beneath the elevated 4 train.

Planners and parks officials might borrow solutions from Under the Elevated, the Design Trust for Public Space’s study on how to revitalize public space under the city’s bridges, train lines and highways. The MTA and DOT could attach permanent lighting to the underside of the subway tracks, much like the the brightly lit pedestrian arcade that’s already been built beneath the LIRR tracks at Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica. At Saturday’s meeting, Bronxites enthusiastically supported the idea, because it’s a relatively inexpensive fix that would greatly improve residents’ safety and peace of mind.

Zoning for retail would also help attract restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to Jerome, creating jobs and foot traffic that don’t exist now.

And officials insist that Jerome, along with East New York, will be holistic neighborhood studies that take into account what communities actually want. They want to change the precedent set by nearly 15 years of unpopular rezonings, notably the Bloomberg-era Fourth Avenue and Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezonings in Brooklyn.

“It’s incredibly refreshing the way they’re going about it, it’s not just numbers and housing,” said a City Planning spokeswoman. “It’s a comprehensive effort to work with communities and see what they need. When we talk about density, what people are really saying is that my school is overcrowded and my park is a mess. We’re talking about what is this going to be, in terms of deliverables for this community.”

So where’s the money coming from? The spokeswoman pointed to de Blasio’s ambiguously named Neighborhood Development Fund, a billion-dollar slice of the city capital budget. $700 million of the fund would be devoted to efforts led by the Parks Department, DOT, and similar agencies, for projects like the Jerome Avenue lighting.

While neighborhood improvements sound great, we wonder if the rezoning will actually help spur housing growth in the Bronx, which has the lowest new building permit numbers in the city after Staten Island. And real estate industry hysteria over the 421-a abatement—which may require developers to hire union labor when reforms take effect next year—probably won’t help either.

Over the last few months, the Department of City Planning has lost the PR battle over the proposed Jerome Avenue rezoning. Residents and activists accused the city of trying to create a new neighborhood called “Cromwell-Jerome,” a reference to DCP’s initial plans for a zoning study, and in response, officials dropped “Cromwell” from the title.

Meanwhile, fearmongering has fanned the flames of gentrification, leading some tenants to wonder if the city will simply seize industrial businesses for redevelopment, like the misguided urban renewal programs perpetrated during the first half of the 20th century. Poor renters are understandably worried about being pushed out, in an area where the median household income hovers around $27,000 a year.

In reality, planning officials hope to revitalize a narrow, 73-block stretch around Jerome, from 167th Street to just south of Fordham Road. They want to improve parks, the streetscape, retail, community services, schools, and economic growth, instead of simply pushing through more housing development.

Most of Jerome is zoned exclusively for heavy commercial uses, like auto repair shops, car washes and gas stations. That means rezoning the commercial strip to allow mixed use residential development will likely be at the top of planners’ lists.

But the long-established auto shops on Jerome worry about being priced out. “What is going to happen to all these owners who have invested their life savings in the businesses?” asked Pedro Estevez, the head of the United Auto Merchants Association who spoke passionately at a Saturday visioning session hosted by DCP.

“Automotive businesses occupy 60% of the corridor. But right now, no residential can be built,” he added. He argued for a dedicated Industrial Business Zone around 174th Street, near Jerome’s southern edge—a move that would preserve some of the area’s existing commercial and manufacturing zoning.

A neighborhood activist told City & State that auto-related businesses on the strip are already seeing rent hikes of 300%, and their landlords aren’t offering them lease renewals. (We recently wrote about one auto shop development site where that may be the case.)

What’s been obscured, among all the handwringing, is that City Planning isn’t just thinking about zoning. They’re working with the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation to improve the neighborhood’s green spaces, and develop ways to make Jerome Avenue feel less forlorn at night. Longtime neighbors who attended Saturday’s meeting said they were afraid to walk alone on Jerome after dark. The auto shops shut by 6 or 7 p.m., and there are few restaurants or bars to draw foot traffic and liven up the forbidding spaces beneath the elevated 4 train.

Planners and parks officials might borrow solutions from Under the Elevated, the Design Trust for Public Space’s study on how to revitalize public space under the city’s bridges, train lines and highways. The MTA and DOT could attach permanent lighting to the underside of the subway tracks, much like the the brightly lit pedestrian arcade that’s already been built beneath the LIRR tracks at Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica. At Saturday’s meeting, Bronxites enthusiastically supported the idea, because it’s a relatively inexpensive fix that would greatly improve residents’ safety and peace of mind.

Zoning for retail would also help attract restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to Jerome, creating jobs and foot traffic that don’t exist now.

And officials insist that Jerome, along with East New York, will be holistic neighborhood studies that take into account what communities actually want. They want to change the precedent set by nearly 15 years of unpopular rezonings, notably the Bloomberg-era Fourth Avenue and Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezonings in Brooklyn.

“It’s incredibly refreshing the way they’re going about it, it’s not just numbers and housing,” said a City Planning spokeswoman. “It’s a comprehensive effort to work with communities and see what they need. When we talk about density, what people are really saying is that my school is overcrowded and my park is a mess. We’re talking about what is this going to be, in terms of deliverables for this community.”

So where’s the money coming from? The spokeswoman pointed to de Blasio’s ambiguously named Neighborhood Development Fund, a billion-dollar slice of the city capital budget. $700 million of the fund would be devoted to efforts led by the Parks Department, DOT, and similar agencies, for projects like the Jerome Avenue lighting.

While neighborhood improvements sound great, we wonder if the rezoning will actually help spur housing growth in the Bronx, which has the lowest new building permit numbers in the city after Staten Island. And real estate industry hysteria over the 421-a abatement—which may require developers to hire union labor when reforms take effect next year—probably won’t help either.

One planner who works with the city’s Housing and Preservation Department told YIMBY that some Bronx rezonings hadn’t attracted much development. Two South Bronx areas rezoned in 2009, Lower Grand Concourse and River Avenue – 161st Street, have only seen one new residential project each. He added that the Jerome Avenue process could help, since it involved the community more than City Planning had in the past.

“Maybe the community engagement will result in more services coming to the area, and that could trigger more residential development,” he said.

BY: REBECCA BAIRD-REMBA
Source: http://newyorkyimby.com/