Residential Development Plans To Include Harlem’s Own Tech Hub

Balton Commons. Image credit: CPC.

Multi-use building off 125th Street will add affordable housing, retail, and community space. On June 13, 2018, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on an application submitted by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for the designation of property located at 263-267 West 126th Street in Harlem as an Urban Development Action Area. The development will build a seven-story building containing residential, community facility, and commercial space. The development, named Balton Commons, is led by the development team comprised of Harlem-based M/WBE affordable housing developers, Lemor Realty Corp. and Apex Building Company, Inc., and Silicon Harlem, a Harlem-based organization focused on technology and innovation leadership in education.

The land use application seeks to approval to facilitate the construction of the project and disposition of city-owned property. The site consists of three unimproved lots. The existing zoning is a residential zone with commercial use allowed, a maximum height of 85 feet and a maximum FAR of 6.5 with community facility included.

Balton Commons will have 37 units and provide community facility space to the Central Harlem community. The units will be 100 percent affordable. The units include eleven studios, twelve one-bedrooms, eleven two-bedrooms, and three three-bedrooms. The affordability will range between 30% and 90% of the average minimum income in the area. Developers did not provide further information on what the AMI is for the area or how it will be calculated. The residential amenities include gym and outdoor activity space, rooftop with resident-focused programming, laundry, bike parking, and in-unit dishwasher. Some of the units will also include terraces.

The development will also include 4,500 square-feet of commercial space, 1,200 square-feet of retail space, and 1,300 square-feet of community facility space. The building will be 75 feet tall. Ground floor will include a coffee shop. Commissioner Larisa Ortiz asked about the rationale of having a coffee shop since the location is “off the beating path” compared to the busy 125th Street. The applicant explained that foot traffic is expected to increase with the construction to the Victoria Theater, which will have an entrance on 126th Street. The applicants are also in talks with Harlem-based coffee shops about leasing the space.

Ground floor will also include Silicon Harlem’s tech incubator and non-for-profit organization serving high school students. Silicon Harlem is a social venture that seeks to transform Harlem into a technology and innovation hub. Silicon Harlem is currently negotiating the lease for the space.

There were no speakers in opposition of the project at the public hearing.


By: Dorichel Rodriguez (Dorichel is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2017.)


One thought on “Residential Development Plans To Include Harlem’s Own Tech Hub

  1. You don’t say how minimum income is determined, which is important. Will they use the federal standard for New York? That would be unrelated to the specific Harlem area, and substantially higher.

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