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Annals of Urban Planning Ambition: Getting To Know The South Bronx Greenway

South Bronx Green Streets gbnyc

Green building standard bearers and ambitious sustainable design ideas have had a rough of it week here at gbNYC, which makes it that much better that we’ve got some good news to report as the week draws to a close. That it involves the South Bronx (the South South Bronx) might still be surprising to those whose perception of that neighborhood is informed by Mel Rosenthal’s “In The South Bronx of America” photographs — your Fixer would probably be among those, although I’ve been back to the ‘hood recently enough to know that they make a tasty burger here. But the South Bronx has quietly become a mini-fixture here at gbNYC, and is home to one of the greenest schools in New York City, and Melrose Commons, a LEED for Neighborhoods certified ‘hood in the South Bronx, is the only neighborhood in NYC to have won that honor. (The post on that Melrose Commons is still missing from the WordPress site, sadly) As impressive as those achievements are, though, they pale in comparison to the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s ultra-ambitious plans for the South Bronx Greenway, which re-imagines what’s still one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods as a bike-friendly, super-green neighborhood of the future with miles of green waterfront space in Hunts Point. This might be a good time to check out those Mel Rosenthal pictures again, and shake your head at what a weird, fascinating city we live in.

The South Bronx Greenway isn’t necessarily a new idea — Mayor Bloomberg first floated it back in 2006 — but it has changed significantly since it was first discussed. Streetsblog posted a cool video on the Greenway last year, but the implementation of the ambitious neighborhood-wide facelift is close enough, Streetsblog’s Noah Kazis reports, “that people are getting excited about each construction truck that comes into the area.” To see the renderings hosted at the NYCEDC’s site, it’s easy to see why, although the images look less like the South Bronx than like, well, artist’s renderings. But as Kazis reports at Streetsblog — which, once again, does really excellent work on a zoning-related story — the plan to remake the South Bronx is very real, and fairly close to becoming a reality. Oh, also:  it’s very, very ambitious.

“The redesigns of Lafayette Avenue and Hunts Point Avenue, as well as new waterfront park space at Hunts Point Landing, will all begin construction this summer, according to the [NYCEDC],” Kazis writes. “Those streets will receive landscaped medians, expanded sidewalks, and new bike lanes. Work on Food Center Drive, which will include the first physically protected bike lane in the Bronx, is scheduled to begin this fall. “Construction of the Randall’s Island connector, which will eventually tie the South Bronx Greenway into the Manhattan bike network, is scheduled to begin in fall 2011, according to EDC. Adding a biking and walking path from the South Bronx to Randall’s Island will give residents better access to the island’s recreational facilities and provide a safe route to the new bike lanes planned for First and Second Avenue in Manhattan.”

It should be fun — and certainly more fun than bemoaning the troubles at Riverhouse and the withering of green roofs in NYC — to watch the South Bronx Greenway bloom, and we’ll be doing just that all summer.

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