By Jon Schuppe
HARLEM — A $100 million city-backed makeover of a once-vacant square block in Central Harlem is entering its final stretch, with developers now looking to fill two new apartment buildings with middle- and low-income tenants.
Douglass Park, an eight-story apartment building at the southwest corner of Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 128th Street, will contain 70 apartments, all reserved for low-income residents. The Balton, at the northeast corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and West 127th Street, will be mixed-income, meaning that a quarter of the 156 units will be set aside for low-income tenants.
The buildings are expected to open early next year.
The projects are part of a wave of new residential construction currently underway across Harlem, the result of a multi-year effort by the city to encourage the development of new affordable and market rate housing in troubled neighborhoods. Many of the Harlem projects were already underway when the real-estate bubble burst in 2008, and are only now coming to fruition.
In this case, the developments were made possible by a 2008 rezoning of an entire square block that was mostly empty, save for one unoccupied building. The developer, Richman Group Development Corp. received help from several government agencies, mainly in the form of tax credits and low-cost loans.
Tenants of both buildings will be chosen through a lottery overseen by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Richman recently began accepting applications for the Douglass Park lottery; the deadline is Dec. 21. The application process for The Balton’s middle-income units will begin Dec. 1, to be followed by the low-income units in January, a spokeswoman for the developer said.
The developer is also looking for retail tenants to occupy ground-floor commercial space, which will probably include pharmacies, dry cleaners or “small food markets,” Richman spokeswoman Robin Druckman said.