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A Renewal Plan in the Bronx Advances

MELROSE COMMONS, the ground-breaking attempt by a South Bronx community to design its own urban renewal plan, has made it through the New York City bureaucracy.

The plan for about 1,500 housing units in a largely desolate 33-square-block area east of Yankee Stadium has in less than a year — close to record time — got the go-ahead from Community Boards 1 and 3, the Bronx Borough President’s office, the New York City Planning Commission and the various other city agencies whose oversight is required in the city’s complex land-use review process. Last month, it received final approval from the City Council.

Now comes the hard part.

“Does this mean there’s a project?” said Richard A. Kahan, chairman of the steering committee for the Bronx Center, a major development plan for a 300-block area of the South Bronx that encompasses Melrose Commons. “No. It means there’s a legal right to do a project.”

For that legal right to become a reality, real-estate developers will have to be found who are willing to take a chance on that area of the South Bronx, and Federal, state and city money will have to find its way to the project. Yolanda Garcia, president of Nos Quedamos (We Stay), the neighborhood group that created the final plan, estimated the cost of Melrose Commons at about $15 million a block. At 33 blocks, that comes to almost $500 million, a lot of money at a time when government financing of urban renewal is not expected to approach the levels of the past.

By Edwin Pagán

Edwin Pagán is the Director of Communications and Media for WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, as well as the webmaster for nosquedamos.org

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