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Yonkers Residents Say “No Thanks” To Housing Proposal

Housing proposal in Yonkers becomes a controversial issue with locals

By Jeff Vasishta October 6, 2016
705 Bronx River Road. Photo courtesy of Ernie Garcia/The Journal News)

If you see something, say something—and area residents are saying something to developers: “No.”

The Stagg Group, which has proposed a major, transit-oriented development for the area, is being met with resistance from local residents over concerns of “scarcity of street parking and overcrowding.”

No parking and too crowded? In New York? You don’t say?!

Related: Affordable Housing: Providing Housing For Those In Need, Or Making Developers Richer?

The Stagg Group, however, contends that the proposal for a 216-unit apartment complex at 705 Bronx River Road makes sense, given that it’s within walking distance of the Metro-North Railroad’s Fleetwood Station in Mount Vernon. They have requested a zoning change from city officials—changing the block in question from its current business and low-density apartment zones to high-density apartments—allowing the development to proceed, which the Stagg Group believes is the best use of the property, saying:

“We’ve had commercial people come to us for a supermarket, retail, a Burger King—and we didn’t feel that made sense for the neighborhood.”

The new building the Stagg Group is proposing would include luxury units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms (mostly one and two-bedrooms), of which 22 would be designated for affordable housing. The design also includes 320 spaces of underground parking—ten more than is required by the city.

Still, that doesn’t seem to be enough to appease the neighbors, many of whom packed a recent standing-room only City Council hearing on the project. Said Rory McNeelance, board president of the Mona Lisa (671 Bronx River Road):

“We do understand that neighborhoods need to change and evolve, but simply put, this building is too large. There’s going to be a huge burden on an already strained infrastructure on Bronx River Road. Traffic, parking, schools, public transportation, it’s already overcrowded.”

Proposed 374 Unit Apartment Building. Image courtesy of studiorai.com
Proposed 374 Unit Apartment Building. Image courtesy of studiorai.com

This opposition is not without precedent—ground was recently broken by Ginsburg Development Companies for a three-story, 55-unit luxury building called 1177@Greystone, and the development was met with similar concerns and criticisms from residents who increasingly feel their concerns are going unheard.

“I don’t understand how the city can approve these projects without considering parking,” says Rosalie Palazzolo, who lives in the vicinity of these projects. “We’ve had residents go to the Planning Board meetings, but it’s falling on deaf ears.”

Residents like Palazzolo feel they understand their neighborhoods better than those enacting planning policies, adding to their frustration. Currently, planning policies in both Yonkers’ and Westchester County advocate for the construction of high density housing near mass transit. And Yonkers takes it a step further, thanks to an ordinance reducing the amount of parking apartment buildings near train stations must have—operating under the assumption that the building’s tenants will opt for mass transit instead of vehicle ownership.

Those who already live in the area remain skeptical, and will surely continue to attend meetings and hearings in an effort to have their concerns heard—assuming they can find a parking spot.

Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeff Vasishta

Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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