Former Bronx Gulf Center to Become MTA Electric Bus Depot





I remember it was rather cold this day and nearly lost my fingers flying the drone around the complex. Entering the complex was rather easy since the drive-in gate was unlocked and unsecured. From the first look of it, the site was definitely an illegal dumping ground. The still-standing batting range with its intact green netting and overgrown golf hill facades stuffed with weeds. The place definitely had a family atmosphere minus the mini rainforest. The golf tee pavilion was a site to behold standing in the grass looking dead center to the structure. Beneath my feet, I could make out various colorful branded golf balls all over the ground. I eventually took a couple golf balls home as souvenirs knowing full well that next time I won't be as lucky to enter the property again.






A former golf driving range shows purpose for Bronx residents to become an all-electric bus depot.

The 12-acre complex (550,000 square feet) has compounded and bemused Morris Park residents since its operating existence. Formerly named Family Golf Center, Inc., and a current sign on the property covered with graffiti, Bronx Gulf Center. Residents of the area noticed anyone rarely was found to be going here to tee up before it closed down in January 2010 abruptly. The property has sat abandoned for years before in local news changing hands from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to Grid Properties and Gotham Organization in 2018. 

Underneath golf driving range stand.

A forest of trees and bushes around the former mini-golf course obstacles. 


1940s auto wrecker business on Gun Hill Road, Courtesy of NYC Municipal Archives



The former entertainment complex changed owners several times during its name reshuffle before the MTA took back the property from the prior tenant who defaulted on the lease. The MTA at one time was even assessing the property to be used as a new transit facility. Instead, it built the present Gun Hill Bus Depot and leased the remaining property in the interim as a golf driving range and to the nonprofit Astor Little League which operated the adjacent baseball fields. The MTA instead built a smaller bus depot present at Gun Hill Road. The property was sold to Grid Properties and Gotham Organization for $30.5 million in 2014. The former is a development company focused on retail-centered assets and the latter is responsible for residential housing northward of 30,000 units. Grid and Gotham are long-time partners in multipurpose properties. 

Administrative building and pro golf shop.





The developer proposed an outlet center named Baychester Square which would have featured six blocks of restaurants and retail amenities in 2017. The two-story shopping complex would also have 350,000 buildable square feet and 1200 parking spaces. In addition, two affordable housing buildings of 200 units would be built for seniors with little league fields as their future views next door. An option, if any public financing is available. Developer code word for if the city doesn’t pay for it we won’t build it. Unfortunately, development has been squashed by the City Council. Baychester Square would have sat within a triple intersection of pedestrian and vehicular traffic congestion consisting of the Hutchinson River Parkway, East Gun Hill Road, and the New England Thruway. Across the street constant traffic is already an issue with the nearby Bay Plaza shopping complex. 

Current Gun Hill Road Bus Depot to the left.

Batting Cages





Unfortunately, those traffic thoroughfares were a cause for concern for Community Boards 11 and 12, who see the foreseeable traffic nightmare. Community Board 12 supported the proposal. Baychester Square would have sat just opposite The Mall at Bay Plaza which has several tenants which include TGI Fridays, Planet Fitness, Aldi, Dunkin Donuts, and Home Depot. Andy King, a local councilman who faced harassment and ethics violations, opined that the development was irresponsible since it does not guarantee senior housing and competes 100 yards away with Bay Plaza mall. Former Councilman Andy King suggested other purposes of the land should have been used for a hotel or an education and training facility for young adults. 




MTA Electric Bus Depot Render, Courtesy of MTA Press Release


Those plans never came to fruition due to the City Council nixing development. Now, according to an
RFP released by the MTA, they are looking for a developer to build out a first-of-its-kind electric bus charging facility. This electric bus depot will be able to charge 225 buses at one time as the MTA ambitiously looks to reach its 2040 zero emission goals. Thanks to its $51 billion Capital Program the MTA will be acquiring about 60 fully-electric buses ordered in 2021. However, the bus depot will also be used as a last-mile three-story logistics warehouse that is proposed to generate revenue for the MTA due to its proximity to the I-95 and full use of industrial zoned land in the 550,000 square foot parcel.




Complex Name: Family Golf Center, Inc, aka Bronx Gulf Center

Location: 1825 E. Gun Hill Road, Bronx, NY

Status: Cleaned up and boarded. Still standing as of August 08, 2022.

Sources:


1. Roberts, Daniel, “Abandoned driving range up for bid," July 23, 2010, New York Post

2. Goodstein, Steven. “Shopping center to be built at former golf range,” April 29, 2018, BronxTimes

3. Eldredge, Barbara, “What is ULURP? And Why Do We Have It,” November 24, 2015, Brownstoner

4. Rocchio, Patrick, “Councilman King: shuttered Golf Center could be put to better use,” June 10, 2014, BronxTimes

5. Mitchell, Alex, “Councilman King protest vacant Gun Hill Road gold range,” June 7, 2019, BronxTimes

6. “Gun Hill Golf Range Still Vacant,” June 7, 2019, The Bronx Info

7. Shahrigian, Shant, "Councilman Andy King faces suspension, fine after Ethics Committee substantiates harassment, corruption allegations," October 22, 2019, Daily News

8. New York City Transit, "MTA Issues RFP for Bronx Electric Bus Depot Development,", March 22, 2022, MTA Press Release

9. Cohen, Jason, "MTA issues RFP for first of its kind electric bus depot on Gun Hill Road,", March 22, 2022, BronxTimes





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