The Foodtown grocery store on Bruckner Boulevard will be redeveloped according to the promoters’ proposal.
Photo: Google Maps
The Bronx’s Throgs Neck waterfront neighborhood is known for its bungalows, including old three-season beach houses that overlook the Long Island Strait. Much like Breezy Point in Queens, many homes are owned by firefighters and police. Between the yacht club and the Trump-branded golf course on the East River waterfront, it’s like a conservative slice of Suffolk County tucked away in a corner of the Bronx. But to hear a certain group of residents say it, the neighborhood’s suburban feel is threatened by a proposed redevelopment of the one-block-long Foodtown building on Bruckner Boulevard into four new residential and mixed-use buildings. As Throgs Neck has grown from predominantly Italian and Irish to a much more diverse society, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood over the past two decades, some longtime white residents, now in the minority, not only oppose the project but also use it as a way to criticize the changes that have already taken place.
The project is supported by a group of locals, including the owner of the Foodtown grocery store, and would include 339 units across four buildings, with around 100 designated as affordable. The two tallest buildings will reach up to… eight floors. According to James Cervino, who is part of the developer group and owns one of the buildings on Bruckner Boulevard, these affordable units will be for “teachers, firefighters, nurses – people who need an apartment with the salary of ‘a teacher. or a teacher’s salary. The project would include a sports and recreation center and an office for the coastal protection association he heads. “You can’t get a better kind of mom-and-pop development than this,” he said.
But the modest scale and local good faith haven’t stopped locals like George Havranek from talking like a super big is coming to Throgs Neck. He launched a online petition which begins with “LOSE YOUR ZONING – LOSE YOUR COMMUNITY… THE CITY OF FOOD becomes a TURNING OPPORTUNITY”, which has accumulated over 4,000 signatures in one month. “I have lived here all my life and have seen horrific changes in the area before,” wrote one person who signed. “WE DON’T NEED MORE LOW INCOME! “
One signer, Anthony Passaro, 78, who says he has lived in the area for 12 years, told Curbed: “The area is still good; no violence, no one is in trouble. And I think it would be a shame to build one of these big buildings and you don’t know what kind of people they’re going to put in there. These are the common complaints from NIMBY groups against higher density buildings, but in a private Facebook group called Friends of Community Board 10, the opposition is speaking louder on the quiet part. In a series of posts Curbed reviewed, several neighbors referred to people of color who have moved to Throgs Neck in recent decades in extremely derogatory language. “Don’t we have enough animals that have moved in? Let’s just make room for more and really make this neighborhood a war zone, ”one person said in a since deleted post.
Throgs Neck and Schuylerville, the neighborhood directly across from Bruckner and Foodtown, have retained their single-family home character thanks in large part to a 2004 rezoning that only allows single and two-family homes and commercial buildings. In the years that followed, the production of new housing in Throgs Neck plummeted, and there has one of the lowest levels in town. “I know we need more housing in my area,” said Kevin Daloia, a longtime resident of Schuylerville. “There isn’t a large amount of housing – or housing – for new people or people looking for housing assistance.” But Marjorie Velázquez, a candidate for the region’s Democratic city council due for election in the November general election, says there isn’t enough infrastructure, from transport to public services to school resources, to support new residents and promised to vote against the project.
On August 4, dozens of residents filled the wide sidewalk outside Foodtown for a rally against the project. The predominantly white makeup of the crowd contrasted sharply with the actual demographics of the neighborhood. Sammy Ravelo, a Dominican US presidential candidate for the Borough of the Bronx and a former cop who owns a house in the neighborhood, told those gathered, “I worked in the 46th Borough. Every time a building rose, crime followed. Some other Latinx residents have spoken out against the project online too. But the organizers of NIMBY know they have an optical problem: A video shot during the demonstration overhears a participant saying, “Next time you’ll have more speeches from minority owners – if you look at it, they’re all white.” “