A church in Melrose may be facing the wrecking ball in the near future, to the dismay of some South Bronx residents.
At its virtual meeting on Jan. 26, Community Board 1 was asked for an update about a developer’s plans to demolish La Resurreccion United Methodist Church at 790 Elton Ave. and build supportive and affordable housing, including some apartments for veterans.
In recent years, the church, which was built in 1878, served as a center for community and political activities.
Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. told the board that he met with a homeowners group to hear their concerns about the project.
Chair Arline Parks informed board members that residents have submitted a petition to the board, urging their support.
A new district manager will be at the board’s helm to help the community address contentious issues like these next month. Anthony Jordan will replace Cedric Loftin, who retired in 2021. Jordan currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Community Development for the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro), after 10 years as District Chief of Staff for then-Rep. Jose E. Serrano. He is also a trustee at the New York City Montessori Charter School in the Bronx.
Jordan’s first day as district manager is Feb. 20.
The board discussed several new and not-so-new items that Jordan will take up when he starts. Public health and environmental issues topped the agenda. Parks voiced concern about gas-powered South Bronx peaker plants, whose licenses she said should not be renewed, citing pollution and public health concerns.
“There should be a strategy to shut those plants down,” she said of the peakers, which generate electricity during times of peak energy use.
Other meeting highlights included:
- Starting with the February 23 full board meeting, meetings will be livestreamed via YouTube. The board plans to switch from online to hybrid online-live format as well.
- The 40th Precinct has committed to attend Board 1 meetings starting in February, as a result of pressure by the board for more direct response to public safety concerns and rising crime.
- Councilman Salamanca is introducing legislation for monthly gun buybacks, with reward money coming out of the NYPD’s budget.
- A representative for State Sen. Jose M. Serrano said the senator is pushing for legislation to reduce public school class sizes to 25.
- Housing committee chair Freddy Perez informed the board that Phipps Houses requested a letter of support from his committee for a project calling for two adjacent residential towers at 110 E. 138th Street and 63 Exterior Street. It calls for about 500 apartments, including 169 for seniors, but has not yet gone through the state’s Uniform Land Use Review Process. The housing committee is worried the scale of the project will worsen pollution and traffic, and throttle emergency vehicles. In addition, board members said they had concerns for fire safety for elderly residents, based on the current plan.
- A representative from the Dash Real Estate Group asked the housing committee for a letter of support to renovate and restore a property at 427 E. 140th Street, along with a four-story addition, for an application to the landmarks committee, because the vacant lot is on landmark property. The as-of-right development would include 10 condos ranging from $375,000 to $775,000 and would cost $4.4 million. The committee worried that those rents are well beyond the reach of most local residents, and the development group has no plan for a super or maintenance or other fees.
- Both applicants have been asked to return to the next housing committee meeting on Feb. 8 because there was no quorum at the Jan. 11 meeting.
Those interested in applying for the board are encouraged to do so online through a portal by March 3. They should contact the Board’s office at 718-585-7117 for information.
Editors’ N0te: A prior version of this story incorrectly stated that the church at 790 Elton Ave. has landmark status from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. We regret the error.