Enrique Norten’s Design Approved for Park and 125th

Commission approves iconic design for 518-foot mixed-use development in Harlem. On September 8, 2004, the City Planning Commission approved a 493,646-square-foot mixed-use development containing 230 hotel rooms, 100 residential units, office space, retail space, and a 369-space public parking garage. To achieve the size and design, the developer, 1800 Park Avenue LLC, sought a rezoning of the project site to allow the hotel and an increased floor area as well as two special permits to allow the parking garage and modify height and setback. Marriott International would lease the hotel component.

The project site, on the west side of Park Avenue at East 125th Street, is at a vital axis point of the Central and East Harlem neighborhoods and is immediately adjacent to the MTA MetroNorth 125th Street station. The area is primarily residential with mostly four to six-story residential buildings. The tallest building is 33-stories, located at 3rd Avenue and 123rd Street.

The proposed new building, designed by Mexican architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos/MDA Designgroup, would have a base building covering the full lot area. At a 150-foot height, the building would dramatically taper to a slim tower and rise to a 518-foot height. Terraces on each floor of the tower would slightly differ in length from floor to floor, creating a wave-like wall along the building edge. The slim tower would front Park Avenue. Retail would be located on the street level along both Park and East 125th Street.

At the public hearing, the developer and Marriott stressed that Harlem currently has negligible hotel, conference, and banquet spaces. Norten’s testimony focused on the project’s ambition to provide Harlem with a signature structure. The community group, Civitas, spoke in opposition, requesting that the Commission wait until 125th Street was rezoned.

With a reduction in tower height from 550 to 518 feet, a loss of two stories, the Commission approved. Most commissioners related their vote to the importance of providing Harlem with a distinctive building. Commissioner Richard Eaddy noted that, due to its distinctive design, the 518 ft. tower would not be a precedent for other tall structures. The rezoning, from C1-4 and C4-4 to C4- 7, was determined to be appropriate because of the site’s excellent access to transportation. In approving the special permit for the height, the Commission found that an as-of-right building would result in a taller, inefficient building and would fail to create a signature design.

ULURP Process: The Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on May 10, 2004. Manhattan Community Board 11 voted 20 to 3 to approve if local and union job commitments were given and justification for the height and apartments was proven. On July 7, 2004, Borough President C. Virginia Fields conditioned approval on the developer’s commitment to hire local minority and women-owned businesses.

The Commission held its hearing on July 28, 2004 and voted to approve on September 8, 2004. Commissioners Dolly Williams, Irwin Cantor and Vice Chair Kenneth Knuckles were recused. City Council review is pending.

CPC: Harlem Park Hotel (C 040443 ZMM rezoning); (C 040444 ZSM special permit); (C 040445 ZSM special permit) (September 8, 2004) (Michael Caridi, Majic Development Group LLC, Paul Travis, Washington Square Partners, Development Advisor, Michael Bailkin, Stadtmauer Bailkin Biggins LLC, for 1800 Park Avenue LLC; Enrique Norten, Michael Duddy, for TEN Arquitectos/MDA Designgroup).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.