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UAMA & Jerome Avenue Partnership Uniendo Esfuerzos Para Resolver Problemas de la Rezonificación

El presidente y fundador de UAMA, Pedro J Estevez, asiste en representación de la industria automotriz a el día de trabajo celebrado por Jerome Avenue Partnership.

Por Mauricio Rocha

Nueva York–El 22 de octubre de 2019, fue celebrada una de las reuniones de seguimiento de “Jerome Avenue Partnership”, grupo de trabajo formado por varias instituciones de ayuda comunitaria, entre ellas UAMA, quien estuvo representantada por su Presidente y fundador. La actividad tuvo como objetivo crear una tormenta de ideas que ayuden a buscar soluciones a la crisis ocasionada por los cambios que ocurrirán en el corredor de Jerome Avenue debido a la inminente rezonificación

UAMA ha batallado arduamente para lograr una justa solución frente a los cambios surgidos por La planificacióno en el corredor de Jerome Ave donde muchas empresas
latinas, minoritariass y mujeres serán desplazadasde sus negocios y hogares.

Muchas negocios de la industrias automotriz han estado en este corridor por más de diez años y desean continuar allí. La comunidad es diversa y está compuesta por varias culturas,
incluyendo negocios de inmigrantes, latinoamericanos y africanos occidentales.

En su desertación un asociado de JobsFirstNYC dijo: “El Corredor Jerome Avenue ha sido rezonificado y eso significa que muchas de las empresas que están en el vecindario, ya no estarán ahí después de la rezonificación.

Esto afectará a muchas personas en vivienda y negocios. Este corredor es uno de los últimos lugares en la ciudad de New York en el que todavía predominan tiendas familiares, no almacenes, y que desaparecerán con la rezonificación

¿Qué significa eso para esta comunidad? Eso significa que las personas que han vivido o trabajado en esta comunidad durante décadas pueden ser desplazadas.

“Jerome Avenue Partnership se formó para reunir a las partes interesadas locales, las instituciones y los residentes de la comunidad para pensar realmente en lo que podemos hacer juntos para aliviar parte de ese dolor de la rezonificación”.

“La misión de Jerome Avenue Partnership traerá consigo un crecimiento económico inclusivo y sostenibilidad para los residentes locales, empleadores y trabajadores afectados por la rezonificación de Jerome Avenue. Esperamos preparar a los empleadores y trabajadores actuales para este impacto y aumentar la retención, el empleo y la educación de los residentes actuales. Queremos asegurarnos de que los residentes locales conozcan estas oportunidades. La ciudad tiene muchas oportunidades para desplegarse junto con la rezonificación. Hay un debate en curso entre la gentrificación y la revitalización de una comunidad, y queremos estar seguros de que estamos revitalizando esta comunidad “, dijo el asociado de JobsFirstNYC.

De las aproximadamente 1000 empresas diferentes ubicadas en Jerome Avenue, 200 de ellas son empresas automotrices aproximadamente. La industria automotriz es la industria con la mayor concentración en Jerome Avenue, que representa el 20% del total de las empresas. Estas 200 empresas automotrices abarcan desde talleres de reparación de automóviles, talleres de neumáticos, sonido y seguridad para automóviles, talleres de vidrio para automóviles, concesionarios de automóviles y estacionamientos. El resto de los negocios en el Corredor Jerome Avenue abarcan 23 industrias diferentes, tales como: peluquerías, salones, bodegas, bares, clubes, bancos, tiendas minoristas y más.

UAMA como representante del 20% de la población y negocios de este corredor, aboga para que todos los residentes, empleados y locales comerciales localizados en el área, sean incluidos en esta discusión y tomados en cuenta para todo beneficio que se logre en este proceso.

La reunión sirvió para consolidar las ideas sobre diferentes formas y mecanismos de resolver los problemas que actualmente afectan al corredor de Jerome Avenue, entre ellos: el desarrollo de la fuerza laboral, el desarrollo económico y la estructura socio-económica. Jerome Avenue Partnership está trabajando con los desarrolladores para asegurar una cantidad determinada de empleos para los residentes locales y para asegurar la capacitación y las habilidades adecuadas que les puedan llevar a otros puestos, si eligen cambiar de profesión.

Este diálogo continuo es una forma de involucrar a la comunidad y asegurarse de que se escuche su voz y sus perspectivas.

“Sé que Pedro está trabajando diligentemente con los trabajadores automotrices que se ven desproporcionadamente afectados por la rezonificación de Jerome Avenue. Estamos tratando de pensar cuál es el próximo capítulo para esos trabajadores mecánicos”, dijo un asociado de JobsFirstNYC.

Una idea es crear un centro o un centro donde los miembros de la comunidad de Jerome Avenue puedan ir a buscar ayuda con su desplazamiento, el aumento de los costos de alquiler y otras aspectos relacionadas con la rezonificación. También queremos asegurarnos de que todos tengan acceso a las oportunidades que Jerome Avenue Partnership ofrece a los residentes.

Estén atentos para más actualizaciones sobre este tema que es una preocupación más importante para el condado del Bronx y zonas aledañas.

UAMA Joins Jerome Avenue Partnership to Work to Resolve Rezoning Issues

UAMA President and Founder, Pedro J Estevez attends a meeting for the Jerome Avenue Partnership.

By Mauricio Rocha

New York–On October 24, 2019 The United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA) joined the The Jerome Avenue Partnership for a meeting to brainstorm solutions to the gentrification crisis happening to the Jerome Avenue Corridor. President and founder of UAMA, Pedro Estevez, represented his association at the meeting. UAMA is dedicated to achieving a resolution in this ongoing battle, where many Latino, minority, and women owned businesses will be priced out of their shops and homes on Jerome Avenue. Many auto-businesses have been there for over ten years and wish to continue in their industries there. The diverse community is made up of various cultures including immigrant-owned businesses from Latin Americans and West Africans.

An associate from JobsFirstNYC said, “The Jerome Avenue Corridor has been rezoned and that means many of the businesses that are in the neighborhood will no longer be in the neighborhood, post rezoning. Lots of people will be impacted by this whether it is housing, venues, or businesses. This corridor is one of the last few places in the city that is still predominantly mom-and-pop stores, not big box stores, and that is going to change with rezoning. What does that mean for this community? That means people that have lived or worked in this community for decades may be displaced. This partnership was formed to bring together the local stakeholders, institutions, and community residents to really think about we can do together to alleviate some of that pain from rezoning.”

“The mission of the Jerome Avenue Partnership will bring about inclusive economic growth and sustainability for local residents, employers, and workers impacted by the Jerome Avenue rezoning. We hope to prepare current employers and workers for this impact and increase the retainment, employment and education of current residents. We want to make sure local residents are aware of these opportunities. The city has lots of opportunities to roll out in conjunction with the rezoning. There is an ongoing debate between gentrification and revitalization of a community, and we want to be sure we are revitalizing this community,” said the associate from JobsFirstNYC.

Of the approximately 1000 different businesses located on Jerome Avenue, 200 of them are automotive businesses, approximately. The automotive industry is the industry with the largest concentration on Jerome Avenue, accounting for 20% of the total businesses. These 200 automotive businesses range from auto repair shops, tire shops, auto sound and security, auto glass shops, auto dealerships and parking lots. The rest of the businesses on the Jerome Avenue Corridor range from 23 different industries, such as: barbershops, salons, bodegas, bars, clubs, banks, retail stores, and more. UAMA is advocating to include the local residents and employees in this discussion, at a time when the face of the community is changing

At the meeting we brainstormed ways to solve the ongoing issues plaguing the Jerome Avenue Corridor, including workforce development, economic development, and structure. This ongoing dialogue is a way to engage the community and make sure their voice and perspectives are being heard. The Jerome Avenue Partnership is working with developers to secure a set amount of jobs for local residents and to secure proper training and skills that can carry on to other positions, if they choose to change professions.

“I know Pedro is working diligently with the auto-workers who are disproportionately impacted by the rezoning of Jerome Avenue. We are trying to think about what the next chapter for those auto-workers is,” said an associate from JobsFirstNYC.

One idea is coming up with a hub, or a center where members of the Jerome Avenue community can go to seek assistance with their displacement, rising rent costs, and other struggles dealing with the rezoning. We also want to make sure that everyone has access to the opportunities the Jerome Avenue Partnership offers to residents. Stay tuned for more updates on this ongoing topic that is a major concern to the borough of the Bronx and beyond.

City Council Allocates Funding for Jerome Avenue’s Auto Mechanics Training

UAMA President and Founder, Pedro J. Estevez meeting NYC District 16 Council Member, Vanessa L. Gibson.


BRONX–OCTOBER 02, 2019 —New York City Council representatives stimulate the local automotive industry. For the 2019/2020 fiscal year, New York City Council members Vanessa L. Gibson, representing the 16th District of New York City, allocated $10,000 while Fernando Cabrera, representing the 14th District of New York City, allocated $18,000, both of which are for the United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA) to train 12 auto mechanics from the Jerome Avenue rezone area known as the Jerome Avenue Corridor, which consists of over 400 mechanics working in this neighborhood. Over 175 of these mechanics have signed an application, confirming their interest in expanding their knowledge and training in automotive technology.
This much needed funding will make a huge impact in the lives of the 12 mechanics, who will be trained in the latest automotive technology, enriching their capabilities of how to repair vehicles in the future. This will simultaneously prepare them for the Auto Service Excellence (ASE) certification exam. Once auto students pass the ASE exam, they will be nationally qualified as automotive technicians. UAMA has been advocating on behalf of these mechanics for years and welcomes this opportunity to create an impact in their community.
At the same time, other city council members like Andrew Cohen, who represents the 11th District of New York City, allocated $2,500 to select 100 business to be part of a borough-wide compliance program. UAMA has been helping with compliance in the Jerome Corridor area of the Bronx for over ten years. We hope this will inspire other elected officials to continue to support the innovative work in the automotive field.

Respectfully from the Desk of:
Pedro J. Estevez
UAMA Founder and President

UAMA President and Founder, Pedro J. Estevez, meeting NYC District 14 Council Member, Fernando Cabrera.

Seeking Solutions to the Problems Caused by the Rezoning of the Jerome Avenue Corridor

NYC District 13 Councilman, Mark Gjonaj, and United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA) President, Pedro J. Estevez.

Originally by Victor Gomez in Spanish, translated by Pedro Estevez into English.

New York City District 13 Councilman, and Chair of the Small Business Committee of NYC, Mark Gjonaj, met with the President of the United Auto Merchants Association (UAMA), Pedro J. Estévez, to find a solution to the problem caused by the rezoning of the Jerome Ave corridor.             

In this meeting the council member showed interest in the Estévez’s ideas, which consist of the construction of an Automotive Industry Center (auto mall) where these small companies will be located in the “vertical form and not horizontal” as they currently are in the corridor.

For years Estévez has been advocating for the automotive industry, searching for solutions to the businesses’ problems by the rezoning of sectors like the corridor of Jerome Avenue and other areas of the City.  Estevez explained that if these small businesses were all located in a vertical way, it would  minimize the footprint to a fraction of the size, since over 200 businesses are currently located in an area covering over 2 miles in Jerome Ave in a horizontal way.

The president of UAMA, Estevez, explained to the chair of the Small Business committee and council member of the 13th District,Mark Gjonaj, that these small businesses are being stressed by the City, and to understand that the rezoned corridor of Jerome Avenue places these businesses in danger of displacement and consequently, the loss of their lifelong investments.

Estevez reiterated to the council that the idea of the relocation of these businesses to a vertical location in an Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) where each of these business owners, would be proprietor of their occupying space and ultimately will be the way to end the limitations they have been under for years.  

The City Council welcomed the approach of the UAMA President, Pedro J. Estevez, and recognized his leadership. For more than twelve years he has been educating, advocating, and defending small auto businesses in New York City.

Califican desalojos de negocios como abuso de poder contra la comunidad latina

1245-51 Jerome Antes de la Rezonificación

1245-51 Jerome Antes de la Rezonificación

DESPUES de la Rezonificación

DESPUES de la Rezonificación

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Por Víctor Gómez               

Califican desalojos de negocios como abuso de poder contra la comunidad latina

NUEVA YORK.- El presidente de la Asociación de Comerciantes de Automóviles (UAMA) por sus siglas en inglés, Pedro J. Estévez,  reclamó a las autoridades competentes de la ciudad aceptar su proposición para la preparación y reubicación de los comerciantes del sector automotriz que están en peligro de desalojamiento del corredor de Jerome en el Bronx producto del plan de rezonificación que es ejecutado por la ciudad de new york lentamente.

El dirigente empresarial teme que los dueños de negocios del citado corredor sufran las mismas consecuencias que los negocios de Willets Point que fueron dejados a su suerte después de esperar en el 1080 de Leggett Ave, donde las autoridades municipales prometieron un traslado seguro de los terrenos que ocupaban anteriormente pero los echaron a la calle pasando una  calamitosa situación.

Estévez se preguntó si los comerciantes del corredor Jerome sufrirán la misma desgracia que  sufrieron los desalojados de Willets Point y considera que aparentemente están tomando el mismo sendero acostumbrado, dada las circunstancias de que si no han cumplido con uno tampoco lo harán con otros.

Estévez, exigió de las autoridades cumplir con sus obligaciones respetando la historia de los negocios del corredor de Jerome donde están ubicados por décadas, donde ellos pagan sus impuestos, emplean a cientos de trabajadores de donde estos mantienen todas sus familias residiendo en el mismo vecindario y que sean favorecidos con nuevos locales en una zona industrial donde puedan estar permanente.

Advirtió que UAMA y los propietarios de negocios del corredor  de Jerome no permitirán bajo ninguna circunstancias que le suceda lo mismo que a los negocios de Willets Point, ya que al parecer las autoridades y los dueños de edificios se salieron con la suya, asegurando que los asociados de esta importante arteria  tienen la amarga experiencia basada en la evidencia.

Pedro Estévez, calificó como un abuso de poder de autoridad a lo que están sometiendo a la comunidad latina y aseguró que si los 45 negocios que quieren establecerse en el  1080 de Leggett Ave fueran de otra nacionalidad los afectados no estuviera sucediendo el atropello inmisericordes, llevando a la quiebra a propietarios de negocios que solo necesitan que la ciudad los ayude en la terminación a la obra y cumplir con los compromisos inmediatos que le vienen reclamando los acreedores.

“Lo que se requiere es una decisión política de las autoridades y todo el que este envuelto  en esta delicada situación, por lo que le pedimos que no los golpeen en la cara, que no los humillen, ni los derroten, ni los dejen morir de hambre junto a sus familiares y empleados, que se compadezcan y que no tomen la pobre decisión de liquidarlos”, puntualizó  Estévez.

 

 

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.
MORE: Bronx Top Stories | Trending Stories
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/