State seeks proposals for massive development above South Bronx rail yard tracks

December 2, 2016

As the city’s land costs rise, interest has been focused on the South Bronx, including the potential for a huge waterfront development above the MTA’s Concourse Yards, as 6sqft previously reported. Now, Crains reports that Empire State Development (ESD) has invited developers to present offers for leasing or purchasing a 13-acre South Bronx rail yard along the Harlem River just north of the Willis Avenue Bridge and decking it over to build a residential or mixed-use project.

harlem river yards, south bronx, south bronx rail yards, empire state development, ruben diaz,
A train being towed at the Harlem River Yards northeast of the Willis Avenue Bridge.

The land is part of the 96-acre Harlem River Yards, owned by the state’s Department of Transportation and leased to a private company and a variety of industrial tenants. Only a state approval process is required to change the area’s zoning from manufacturing to residential or retail due to the current zoning structure which involves something called a general project plan.

The 12.8 acre site is just under half the size of the massive Hudson Yards development in progress above Manhattan’s west side rail yards and equal in size to last year’s proposal by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. which called for a similar decking of a 13-acre rail yard between Bedford Park and Kingsbridge Heights near Lehman College farther north in the Bronx, which Diaz saw as an opportunity to create over 1,000 apartments. Of this recent Harlem River Yards request for proposals, Diaz said, “I look forward to examining the level of interest this brings to the Harlem River Yards and how that interest could inform future opportunities for platform projects.”

The rail yard is currently in use for transferring goods between cross-country trains and trucks, a use the state plans to continue and would like that use to be reflected in proposals it receives. Proposals should also cover providing access to the waterfront, aiding the local economy and creating affordable housing.

As mentioned, the area has been the subject of interest recently as a prime spot for development. Controversial South Bronx Developer Keith Rubenstein of Somerset Partners in partnership with the Chetrit Group received approvals last year for a two-site, six-tower, mixed-use master plan on the Mott Haven banks of the Harlem River.

ESD head Howard Zemsky said, “It’s exciting, and very rare to offer the opportunity to develop more than a dozen acres of prime waterfront land in New York City.” The state will be conducting an on-site tour December 14 with proposals due by February 2.

[Via Crains]


Lead image courtesy of Empire State Development.

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