Affordable housing project along the Harlem River OK’d

Image: courtesy of GF55 Partners.

Mixed-use project would provide 314 affordable rental units and replace a former welfare intake center. On February 16, 2011, the City Planning Commission approved the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s proposal to allow L+M Development Partners and Artimus Construction to develop a 314-unit affordable housing project on a City-owned lot between the Harlem River Drive and Park Avenue’s elevated Metro-North railway in East Harlem. The 296,486 sq.ft. project, known as Harlem River Point, would replace a four-story building formerly occupied by a Human Resources Administration welfare intake center. The block is bounded by East 131st Street, Park Avenue, and Harlem River Drive.

L+M and Artimus would construct three connected buildings ranging in height from three to thirteen stories. The project would provide 2,340 sq.ft. of commercial space, a 3,000 sq.ft. courtyard, and space for a 10,300 sq.ft. day care center. According to HPD, 60 apartments would be available to families earning up to 40 percent of the area median income, 184 units would be available to families earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, and 70 units would be set aside for families earning between 80 and 130 percent of the area median income. HPD requested permission to dispose of the City-owned site and to rezone the block from R7-2 to R8 with a C2-4 commercial overlay.

At the Commission’s hearing, the Commissioners asked about the distribution of the income-tiered apartments and the proposal’s noise remediation efforts, considering the site’s proximity to the elevated railway and Harlem River Drive. The apartments targeting families earning between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income would be distributed across the project, but would be concentrated in the northernmost building. Commissioner Anna Levin stated that it would be ideal to have the income levels spread throughout the project, but an Artimus representative explained that the decision was based on obtaining necessary tax credits. L+M’s Spencer Orkus testified that the buildings would have sound-attenuating windows and articulated acoustic walls to buffer the courtyard along Harlem River Drive and Park Avenue.

Manhattan Community Board 11 and Borough President Scott M. Stringer supported the project. Erika Lindsey, an urban planner from Stringer’s office, testified that the project would increase pedestrian traffic in the area. Lindsey said the development team should be commended for their efforts to educate the community about the housing application process in advance of the City’s housing lottery.

The Commission unanimously approved the project.

CPC: Harlem River Point/1945-1951 Park Avenue (C 110096 HAM – UDAAP); (C 110097 ZMM – rezoning) (Feb. 16, 2011) (Architect: GF55 Partners).

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