Proposed Building for Homeless Across from Schools Draws Concern

By Eddie Small on April 28, 2014 10:14am 

 The proposed building would be across the street from the Eximius College Preparatory Academy and the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics.
The proposed building would be across the street from the Eximius College Preparatory Academy and the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MORRISANIA —  A proposal to provide transitional housing for homeless families at a building in the South Bronx has sparked concern from some locals who fear its location across the street from two schools could create unintended consequences.

The Acacia Network, a health, housing and economic development organization, went before Community Board 3 on Monday with plans to erect the shelter at 1356-1364 Fulton Ave. between 169th and 170th streets — which is located across from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics and the Eximius College Preparatory Academy, two high schools at 1363 Fulton Ave.

The proposed building would be about 80,000 square feet and 11 stories tall. It would contain roughly 76 units: four studios, 32 one-bedrooms and 40 two-bedrooms, Acacia officials said. The architect for the project would be Marin Architects, with an estimated total development cost of $18 million, officials said.

The plan calls for Acacia to eventually transition from housing homeless families to providing affordable housing units, but the exact timeline for that shift was still being determined, shelter officials said.

Some board members questioned the location.

"The reason why I'm sensitive to this particular development is because it's right in front of our public school," said the Rev. Bruce Rivera, chairman of CB3's housing, land use and economic development committee at Monday's meeting. "And that's what makes the nature of your proposal a little difficult for me, at this point, to swallow."

Ralph Declet, vice president of economic and real estate development at Acacia, responded by stressing that the site would be geared toward families with children. He described the company's projects as well-maintained and secure.

CB3 members also expressed ambivalence about the project given the amount of housing for people with special needs that are already located in the area.

"I think there needs to be more of an effort on the part of the city ... to be sensitive to communities that may have more, so to speak, than their quote unquote fair share," CB3 district manager John Dudley said.

The community board plans to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed building with the public sometime soon, but the date and time have yet to be announced, officials said.

Matthew Scampoli, director of communications for Acacia, emphasized that the building was still very much in the proposal stage.

"Being that it's preliminary, anything could really happen," he said. "And nothing could happen, too. It could end up being nothing. It could end up not happening at all."

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