On October 29-30, 2019 ULI members from New York, with one member from the United Kingdom, completed a two-day Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) for Bronx Community Board 4 around the potential siting of a soccer stadium in the South Bronx. The TAP was tasked to study the neighborhood, consider the potential impacts of a soccer stadium near Macombs Dam Park, and make recommendations as to the best approach the community could take to ensure that a new development would provide tangible benefits to local residents and become a connected and engaging addition to the neighborhood.
Chaired by Miriam Harris of Trinity Place Holdings, the 10-member panel of real estate professionals with development, design, finance, and legal expertise, studied the site, the briefing materials provided by Bronx CB4, and interviewed a wide variety of community stakeholders. The panel broke out their recommendations into three categories for Bronx CB4 to consider as the NYCFC stadium discussions progress: Design and Programming; Connectivity; and, Planning for a Community-Focused Neighborhood. All the strategies taken together provide the City of New York and the developers of the contemplated NYCFC stadium in the South Bronx with a road map for how to positively contribute to the neighborhood year-round.
More than Just a Stadium – Design and Programming
Due to the location of a proposed stadium, it would be extremely advantageous if the stadium becomes a multi-purpose asset for the community and serve a wider purpose outside of its primary role as venue for NYCFC home matches. The facility could serve as a community hub, a venue for health and wellness programs, business incubation, neighborhood sports activity, and so much more. In keeping with contemporary stadium design trends, the stadium should encourage the blending of the inside and outside experience. These design and programming considerations would also provide clear benefits to NYCFC, giving them the opportunity to build stronger bridges within the community.
Despite the notable access to multimodal transportation options within the study area, vehicular congestion remains a problem. It would be vital to take steps to encourage NYCFC fans to use public and alternative transportation options – including rail, bus, walking, and biking. This would better manage traffic flow and lessen the impact of vehicular congestion on game days. The existing transportation infrastructure, including rail lines and roadways, is critical for efficiently moving fans into and out of the neighborhood. As beneficial as the transportation options are, the existing infrastructure also creates a barrier between the neighborhood and any newly built waterfront amenities such as Bronx Point and the Bronx Children’s Museum. As development along the waterfront continues to expand, it is of utmost importance to build better and more innovative connections from the east side of the rail lines and the Major Deegan Expressway to the Jerome Avenue corridor and beyond.
Planning for a Community-Focused Neighborhood
It is necessary to improve connections, particularly pedestrian ones, as it lays out the groundwork for a more cohesive and unified neighborhood. Although the neighborhood is extremely walkable, many continue to choose vehicular transit due to the abundance of underutilized parking lots and structures and many shuttered businesses, especially outside of Yankees game days. With careful planning and targeted zoning changes, River Avenue could become a bustling, dense, mixed-use corridor. One of the report’s proposed zoning changes is the conversion of an underutilized parking structure that runs along River Avenue into a multi-story affordable housing unit. Implementing these new connections will help both community members and visitors seamlessly and actively experience all the neighborhood has to offer.
In addition to Harris, the panel included Brian Collins (Silverstein Properties), James Lester (Pioneering Group Development), Neil Macomish (Scott Brownrigg), Phu Duong (NBBJ), Bret Collazzi (HR&A); Michael Samuelian; April Schneider (Stantec); Vivien Krieger (Cozen); Nathaniel Zueske (Studio V).