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Developer Agrees to Replace Basketball Court Slated for Demolition

By Jeff Mays | June 17, 2011 3:48pm

By Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM—Community Board 10 voted to approve a rezoning that would allow L+M Development Partners to build 200 new units of housing in Central Harlem after the developer told residents of an adjacent building they would replace a basketball court that will be torn down as part of the project.

Residents at 1428 Fifth Ave. had expressed concerns about the loss of the court, which is heavily used by neighborhood kids. They also complained that the developer did not consult with affected community members about the planned changes.

The developer is planning a 12-story residential 95-unit market-rate condo building with 20,000 feet of retail space on West 116th Street and a nine-story, 100-unit housing affordable housing rental building with 9,000 feet of community facility space on West 117th Street. Both developments will be located between Lenox and Fifth Avenues.

Under the resolution approved by the board, L+M agreed to rebuild the court at a nearby location still to be determined.

They've also agreed to hire a third party liaison to work with residents and area stakeholders who could be affected by the construction. The developer will also hold regularly scheduled progress meetings.

The approval comes after the board told the developer to go back and listen to residents' concerns earlier this month. Locals had been concerned about the loss of a parking lot in the project and the use of a community room.

An L+M subsidiary acquired 1428 Fifth Ave. a year ago with the idea that they would build new buildings next to the property.

After meeting with residents, L+M agreed to work with a tenant committee to relocate the court and add a play space, said Veronica Keitt of the Impac Tenant's Association.

The developer also agreed to some other changes in the way 1428 Fifth Avenue operates such as allowing residents to use the community room more often and making sure residents have access to the new parking facility. Keitt chalked the issues up to a "lack of communication."

L+M wants to rezone the area so that it can add an additional 30,000 square feet of space which would mean an additional 30 to 35 units between both projects, L+M CEO and Chairman Ron Moelis told the board.

L+M is responsible for the Kalahari, a 249-unit condo that includes 125 affordable units, on the south side of West 116th Street between Lenox and Fifth avenues. L+M has also won acclaim for redeveloping P.S. 90, a six-story Beaux Arts building at West 148th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. The former school was abandoned because of asbestos problems.

Keitt said she's optimistic that residents' concerns will be addressed.

"I do believe (the developer) will make every attempt to right the wrongs many of the tenants have felt," said Keitt.