Proposed Webster Ave makeover has small business owners worried

The City Planning Commission held a meeting this morning regarding a rezoning project for Webster Avenue that has some small business owners concerned.

The proposal gives the street a large makeover, with 740 new affordable-housing units, 100,000-square feet of commercial space and new sidewalks.

The proposed rezoning project, which will stretch from Fordham Road to East 205th Street, has small business owners worried that they will be forced out.

"We're doing a couple of things to help small stores, adding more shoppers and restricting larger stores," said Carol Samol from the Bronx Borough Office of Department City Planning.

The plan is a guide for long-term development. It states that individual property owners will be able to decide if they want to rebuild or not and that any new building will have to be residential or commercial, but no chain stores will be allowed.

The borough president, The Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden and Montefiore Medical Center all threw their support behind the project at the public hearing. Despite the support, residents said they hope the neighborhood doesn't change too much.

City officials expect some developers to start construction by March.

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