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City's Plan to Rezone East Harlem Begins

By Dartunorro Clark | April 25, 2017 3:37pm
 The city claims 3,500 units of housing will be created under the plan. 
The city claims 3,500 units of housing will be created under the plan. 
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

EAST HARLEM — The process of dramatically reshaping East Harlem has officially begun. 

On Monday, the city triggered the multi-step formal review process to rezone a 96-block swath of the neighborhood between East 104th and 132nd streets from Park to Second avenues, and between East 126th and 132nd streets between Madison and Fifth avenues.

The process, called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) requires the local community board, borough president, the City Planning Commission, City Council and ultimately the mayor to review the proposal. 

The city claims 3,500 units of housing could be created under the plan, "a significant proportion of which must be permanently affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program," a release from City Planning said. 

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement claims there will be no "significant adverse socioeconomic impacts" related to the rezoing. The 70-page document estimates that 27 residents and 14 businesses, including an estimated 209 jobs, would be displaced by the plan. 

The rezoning proposal suggests allowing for higher density in residential and commercial areas, with new buildings rising as tall as 35 stories, City Planning said. There would also be better pedestrian access, public space and transit infrastructure.

City Planning Commissioner Marisa Lago said in the release that the public review process "represents one more link in a chain of community engagement and activism in East Harlem," referring to the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, which includes a series of recommendations borne out of community forums. 

Under the plan, some stretches like Madison Avenue would undergo limited rezoning, with construction there limited to eight stories.

The city's plan also includes the addition of a special “transit district” for the anticipated Second Avenue Subway that would house equipment such as elevators and ventilation systems.

The city estimated that the rezoning could boost the square footage of commercial and industrial space in the area over the next decade, with as additional 122,000 square feet for stores and restaurants, and an additional 275,000 square feet for industrial and office space.

“Through the East Harlem Initiative, we will work on multiple fronts not just to invest in affordable housing, but also to safeguard affordability, empower residents and drive economic opportunity,” said Maria Torres-Springer, commissioner for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in a statement.

“This will continue to be a community-driven process, building on the foundation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, to bring needed improvements to the neighborhood and opportunities for its residents."

Manhattan Community Board 11, which covers East Harlem, will have the first crack at reviewing the plan. A public hearing is scheduled for May 16 at 6:30 at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, 2180 Third Ave.