Mayor Eric Adams rallied on the City Hall steps Wednesday morning with members of 32BJ SEIU in support of an east Bronx rezoning ahead of a City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises hearing considering the proposal.
Last week the mayor bowed out of a similar rally in Throggs Neck backing the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning due to an “emergency meeting,” the Bronx Times reported. Adams still said he favors the controversial redevelopment that includes four new buildings with 349 apartments, 168 of which would be designated as affordable units.
Residents of Bronx Community District 10, where the redevelopment would be built, have responded to the project with fierce opposition, arguing it’s an upzoning that would hurt their designated low-density community.
At Wednesday’s rally, hizzoner said he supports the east Bronx redevelopment because he believes the only way to build more affordable housing is for every community around the city to shoulder part of the burden. He also took shots at the apparent NIMBYism that seemed to arise from opponents of the project.
“You hear everyone articulate and talk about the need for affordable housing ‘we need it, we need it, we need it,’” Mayor Adams said. “‘Let’s build housing, let’s build housing. Oh, but not on my block. Not in my neighborhood. Not near my park. Not near my school. No, that can happen.”
“If you do an analysis of where we’re putting this good housing, this is in an area where it has no affordable housing,” he added. “The lack of diversity in this community of believing that you can only have certain communities that you can develop in, that is not acceptable.”
Adams was joined by 32BJ President Kyle Bragg, city Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión and members of 32BJ and Laborers Local 79 – both unions that support the plan. Also in attendance were housing advocates and community stakeholders.
The mayor said this project is a way to build housing for the very union workers standing behind him, who are often shut out of the communities they help construct.
“Far too often, people who are the doorman, the cleaners or people who are the laborers, the contractors, the builders, they cannot afford to live in the space that they are developing in this city,” Adams said. “That is at the heart of this issue. And who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the men and women who are members of the unions that are behind us.”
Among the project’s 168 affordable units, 99 would be set aside for seniors and 22 would be reserved for veterans. The plan also includes a revamped grocery store and community space that could house after school programs.
Bragg said the redevelopment isn’t just an opportunity to build more affordable housing, but also to provide good jobs to members of his union.
“Multifamily housing not only provides affordable housing for the city, but it also provides good paying jobs with benefits,” Bragg said. “And that’s why 32BJ is happy to stand in support of this Bruckner project. We also are supportive of developments that we need in this community because it not only fills housing, but it’s also taking care of our seniors and our youth.”
But there is significant local opposition to the project, with City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, who represents the area, against it. In addition, all but one member of Bronx Community Board 10 voted it down. The City Planning Commission, however, let the project continue onto consideration by the City Council, who are hearing a presentation from the project’s developers Throggs Neck Associates LLC Wednesday.
Even some of the city’s major labor unions oppose the plan. In a statement, New York District Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger said his union opposes the redevelopment because its members were excluded from the project.
“The projects within the Bruckner Rezoning must be built with local union labor,” Geiger said. “A development that excludes the New York City District Council of Carpenters, the largest trade union in New York City, among many others, does not meet that standard. For that reason, we urge all council members to follow Councilwoman Velázquez’s lead and vote no on the Bruckner Rezoning unless all projects are built with union labor.”
This story was updated to include a statement from the New York District Council of Carpenters at 4:50 on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.