The City Planning Commission approved three new affordable housing projects; City Council schedules hearing. On February 1, 2017, the City Planning Commission adopted favorable reports for three Department of Housing Preservation and Development applications to dispose of city-owned properties in order to facilitate three new housing developments in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood. Each development will contain varying levels of affordability under HPD loan structures. The City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning has scheduled a public hearing on the Harlem developments for February 7, 2017.
This new seven-story mixed-use building, to be developed by the Lemor Realty Corporation, would be located at 225 West 140th Street in Central Harlem, Manhattan. The building would reach approximately 71 feet in height and contain 21,600 square feet of flooring. 19,000 square feet would be for residential use and 2,600 square feet for a community facility. The proposal does not require a Zoning Resolution or Zoning Map amendment, however, the property had been previously disposed for an unbuilt project, requiring the City to re-acquire and re-designate the site as an Urban Development Action Area Project.
The building’s planned 20 units would be 100 percent affordable for 40 years, afterwards only two units would remain affordable permanently. The units would have three tiers of affordability: five units targeted for families at 57 percent; twelve units at 80 percent; and, 3 units at 130 percent of the average median income.
The planned tenant for the community facility space is Street Corner Resources, a local gang-violence prevention program.
The CPC’s report noted that HPD had previously conveyed the site through the Department’s Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program but a use restriction had made development of the site infeasible and the site had remained vacant for over a decade. The report found that the project would “complement ongoing public and private redevelopment in the surrounding area.”
The Robeson development, to be developed by the Lemor Realty Corporation simultaneously with the Leroy development, would be located at 407-415 Lenox Avenue, and include frontage on both the western edge of Lenox Avenue and along the southern edge of West 131st Street. The application would facilitate the construction of a ten-story building, approximately 110 feet in height, and containing 82,419 square feet of flooring. 72,155 square feet would be for residential use, 7,555 square feet for commercial use, and 2,600 square feet for community facilities. The site is currently comprised of both city-owned and privately-owned property.
The building’s planned 79 units would be 100 percent affordable for 40 years, afterwards 22 units would remain affordable permanently. The units would have three tiers of affordability: 20 units targeted for families at 57 percent; 18 units at 80 percent; and, 40 units at 130 percent of the average median income.
Of the community facility floor area, 680 square feet would become additional office space for Street Corner Resources, which plans to house their main office the Leroy at 225 West 140th Street. 1,759 square feet would be used by New Hope Spring Grove Downtown Baptist Church of Christ for worship and social service programs.
Gale Brewer, Manhattan’s Borough President, recommended disapproval of the application unless the developer and HPD reached an agreement to lower the building by ten to twenty feet and make the percentage of permanently affordable units of housing equal to the percentage of city-owned property at both the Robeson and Leroy sites.
In its report, the CPC acknowledged Brewer’s concerns and noted that HPD had since informed the Commissioner that HPD would “continue to discuss the financing structure to confirm that the project remains financially feasible throughout the life of the project.” Regarding the height of the building, HPD analyzed the light impact and found that “shadow impacts on the yards along the residential side streets did not last for long periods of time, thus presenting a minimal impact.”
The new development would be a 15-story, 76,608 square foot building at 2395 Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. Currently, the site consists of seven privately-owned lots and one city-owned lot. An undersized Bravo supermarket operates on two of the lots.
The developer intends to receive an HPD loan under the agency’s Extremely Low & Low-Income Affordability Program. The building’s planned 75 units would be 100 percent affordable for 30 years, afterwards 19 units would remain affordable permanently. The units would have five tiers of affordability: 8 units targeted for families at 30 percent; 11 units at 40 percent; 11 units at 50 percent; 39 units at 60 percent; and, 6 units at 90 percent of the average median income.
The developer also sought a FRESH certification—which allows a developer to guarantee supermarket retail space in exchange for a residential bulk bonus—to allow it to request a five foot height increase to allow for the 150 foot building height. The Bravo supermarket would reopen in the new structure.
CPC’s report found the proposed development appropriate. The Commission noted that the supermarket would provide commercial continuity and serve as a link to the 125th Street commercial corridor. The Commission was also encouraged to learn that the supermarket operator had extensive experience in the food industry and the neighborhood, thus boosting the “potential viability of the store.”
CPC: Hearings on the Leroy, Robeson, and Frederick (ULURP Nos. 1700048 HAM, 170049 PQM, 170051 HAM, 170050 ZMM, 170052 ZRM, 170081 ZMM, 170082 ZRM, 170085 HAM, 170097 HAK, 170098 PPK, and 170099 PQK) (Feb. 1, 2017).
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).