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El Barrio Could Get a Lot More Crowded Under Rezoning Proposal

By Gustavo Solis | January 14, 2016 2:43pm | Updated on January 17, 2016 7:43pm
 This map outlines specific parts of the community recommended for upzoning. The rezoning is estimated to add 440 affordable housing units each year, according to the Steering Committee.
This map outlines specific parts of the community recommended for upzoning. The rezoning is estimated to add 440 affordable housing units each year, according to the Steering Committee.
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East Harlem Steering Committee

EAST HARLEM — El Barrio residents could be getting a lot of new neighbors under a new zoning proposal.

Under the plan, developers would be allowed to build high-density mixed-use buildings — with affordable housing — in large swaths between First and Park avenues under the East Harlem Steering Committee plan.

The committee also calls for a lower Area Median Income (AMI) to determine affordability than what is currently proposed in the Mayor Bill de Blasio's city-wide rezoning plan.

RELATED: What is AMI?

“Affordability is one of the most critical things in EH,” said Sondra Youdelman, the Executive Director of Community Voices Heard, who presented part of the recommendations. “People were concerned that what the mayor has proposed … the levels of affordability do not meet the needs of the community.

East Harlem’s rezoning would set the lowest affordability threshold at income levels of 30 percent AMI or $23,000 for a family of three. Under the mayor’s plan, the lowest AMI threshold is 60 percent or $46,000. The neighborhood’s median household income is $33,500.

The plan would add about 440 units of affordable housing to the neighborhood each year, according to the Steering Committee. 

Specific zoning changes proposed by the committee include:

►Creating a preservation area along Madison Avenue between 126th and 132nd streets, as well as scattered sites throughout the district.

►Zoning portions of First, Second, and Third avenue to trigger Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and allow for more density.

►Increase mixed use zoning along Park Avenue between 115th and 132nd streets to create a commercial or industrial space.

►Requiring ground floor commercial use along Lexington Avenue.

►Requiring 100 percent affordable units for any project built on public land.

Other recommendations include encouraging developers to build daycare centers or workforce training centers by not counting community spaces toward their density limits, creating a Community Garden District to support green spaces, upgrade infrastructure to prepare for future population increase.

The entire presentation is online.

The Steering Committee will present all of their recommendations during a public meeting on January 27 at El Museo Del Barrio.