STUDIO | 2019-2020
Democratizing Mixed-Use Development: Recommendations for the Bronx CLT

With roots in the Civil Rights movement and a long history of helping marginalized people gain collective control of land, community land trusts (CLTs) are experiencing a wave of growth across the five boroughs of New York City. A land trust is a non-profit entity that removes land from the speculative marketplace and treats it as a common resource. The board of the land trust manages parcels owned by the trust on behalf of a particular community, present and future, and in accordance with a mission set out in its by-laws. The board typically uses the mechanism of a long-term ground lease to make buildings on the land available on an affordable basis to residential, commercial, and/or industrial owners, who are subject to conditions (such as perpetual affordability or environmental conservation) that align with the land trust’s mission.  In addition to combating real estate speculation and displacement, CLTs may also be a means of establishing transformative politics which aims to dismantle established economic, political, and societal inequalities.

Land trusts have traditionally enabled low-income households to achieve home ownership, or ensured the perpetual affordability of rental housing. More recently, there has been a strong interest in relying on the land trust model to maintain the affordability and community-serving character of commercial and industrial property and public spaces. This is the case with the Bronx CLT, the studio’s client organization in the Spring 2020 semester.
The Bronx Community Land Trust is a joint effort of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) and the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC). The goal of the CLT’s board and steering committee members is to acquire and maintain mixed-used properties in the Bronx that help them to fulfill their mission of creating community-controlled spaces for entrepreneurship, living wage jobs, recreation and fellowship, and affordable housing. In supporting this goal, the students formed three teams:
  • The property research team conducted ground-level research in three of the borough’s Industrial Business Zones – Zerega, Bathgate, and Eastchester – to identify potential properties for the CLT to acquire.
  • The site analysis team undertook programming and financial analysis for for three particular target sites: 1932 Arthur Avenue, 2005 Sedgwick Avenue, and 4006 Third Avenue in the Bathgate Industrial business zone. They produced development pro formas and zoning analysis for these sites.
  • The policy team drew on research and key informant interviews to investigate successful non-residential CLTs and other mission-driven mixed use development organizations. This team also assessed the policy environment in New York City and State to strategize around new policy and legislation that can support the CLT movement.
At a Glance
Bronx Community Land Trust
Laura Wolf-Powers
Ariana Cipriani
Abraham Cordova
Constantine Goudelias
Connor Green
Michelle Helfrich
Ian MacPherson
Bridget Maguire
Carlos Mandeville
Moises Reyes Vargas
Abby Rider
Yafi Shafer-Sull
Jade White
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