South Bronxites who’ve gone apartment hunting regularly ask how affordable the city’s “affordable housing” really is for them. The developers behind the new La Central complex in Melrose say their site is not only affordable for low- and middle-income renters, but that they didn’t cut any corners to make it so.
Along with its 496 apartments, the new complexes at 556 and 600 Bergen Ave. in The Hub offers tenants a rooftop community garden, a YMCA, retail space, and a state-of-the-art production studio for BronxNet.
On June 16, community leaders and politicians took part in the official ribbon cutting ceremony for buildings A and B of the five-building development. The event feted the grand opening of the $345 million housing complex, which fills the borough’s largest remaining parcel of city-owned land.
La Central was originally slated for completion in 2023.
“Our vision for La Central, to leave no square foot unturned, becomes reality starting today,” said Aaron Koffman, managing principal of one of the complex’s developers, the Hudson Companies. “With affordable housing powered by sustainable energy generation, community and educational space for all ages and vibrant recreational space for the neighborhood, La Central will be a hub within The Hub for the South Bronx community.”
The apartments in the two complexes range from studios to four-bedrooms, at monthly rents between 30% and 130% of the area median income.
Bronx Borough Pres. Ruben Diaz Jr. predicted the project “will transform not only the neighborhood, but the borough and the city by serving as a model of how to do affordable development right.”
Rents begin as low as $395 for studios, $426 for a one bedroom, $521 for a 2 bedroom, $594 for a 3 bedroom and $669 for a 4 bedroom. The buildings are a two-minute walk from the 149th Street & 3rd Avenue train station on the 2 and 5 lines.
With increasing numbers of New Yorkers getting vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, La Central’s boosters say they have adopted a health-first model.
“La Central will provide housing, retail, community facility space, and supportive services that are needed more than ever as the South Bronx community recovers from the impacts of the pandemic,” said NYC Housing Development Corp. president Eric Enderlin.
Financing for the buildings was made through the City’s housing plan https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/about/the-housing-plan.page, aimed to help New Yorkers buy and maintain 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. Since its inception in 2014, the city has financed approximately 178,000 affordable homes.
One new tenant said she was “very excited to be here.” Sharmecka Potts, 32, who moved in from Harlem, said “I needed a bigger apartment. We needed something spacious, something roomy for me and my children. I have five children and where we were at before was a two-bedroom. We needed something bigger, and now I have a four-bedroom, so I’m very excited to be here.”
All of the applicants obtained their apartments through the city’s lottery system.