Harlem development on W. 116th/117th Streets heard

Two-building project would include affordable rental building and market- rate condominium building. On July 13, 2011, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on L+M Development Partners Inc.’s proposed 266,500 sq.ft. mixed-use project for a through-block lot on the north side of West 116th Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Fifth Avenue in Harlem. The midblock project site is occupied by a basketball court and a parking lot. L+M plans to redevelop the site with a twelve-story market-rate condominium building fronting West 116th Street and a nine-story affordable rental building fronting West 117th Street.

The eastern portion of West 116th Street, including the project site, is zoned R7-2. The rest of the block to the west is zoned C4-5X. To facilitate the development, L+M requested that the C4-5X district be extended east to include the entire block. The rezoning area includes a Baptist church and two mid-rise residential buildings. 

The proposed condominium building would provide 95 marketrate units and 22,000 sq.ft. of ground floor retail space. The 100-unit affordable housing building would include 11,500 sq.ft. of community facility space on its ground floor. L+M would market 80 apartments to low- and moderate-income families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income and twenty units to families earning 40 percent or less of the area median income. A terrace accessible to the condominium residents would separate the two buildings.

Manhattan Community Board 10 and Borough President Scott M. Stringer supported the proposal. Stringer, however, expressed concern about the higher density commercial uses that would be allowed in the proposed C4-5X district along the narrow West 117th Street. The borough president requested that L+M consider prohibiting office uses on or above the third floor and hotel uses on or above the second floor along West 117th Street.

At the Commission’s public hearing, L+M’s Tell Metzger explained that after certification, L+M considered altering the project by siting the affordable housing along West 116th Street and the condominium building along West 117th Street. Metzger, however, stated that L+M had reverted to its original plan and would site the affordable housing building along West 117th Street. Metzger pointed out that L+M planned to file a restrictive declaration or include a restriction in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s loan documents that would prohibit certain uses above the second floor of the building along West 117th Street. In response to a question regarding accessibility of the terrace, Metzger stated that it would be available only to condominium residents due to marketing and financing constraints, but added that this arrangement remained an “open issue.”

A representative of the Kalahari, a residential building at 40 East 116th Street, complained that L+M’s community outreach for the project had been “sorely lacking.” She did, however, note that the Kalahari welcomed the siting of the condominium building on West 116th Street, noting that it would support the continued revitalization of the 116th Street corridor.

The Commission has until September 19, 2011 to vote on the proposed rezoning.

CPC: Hearing on West 116th/117th Streets Rezoning (C 110243 ZMM – rezoning) (July 13, 2011) (Architect: GreenbergFarrow).

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