Six-acre Harlem site proposed for redevelopment

EDC reissued request for development proposals after community opposed first plan. On October 18, 2006, the New York City Economic Development Corporation reissued a request for proposals for a six-acre lot in East Harlem bounded by East 125th and 127th Streets and Third and Second Avenues after the community opposed the original winning plan.

The six-acre proposed site currently contains an MTA bus storage facility, which the selected developer must move underground, as well as local businesses. The City owns 81 percent of the project site and the EDC is working on the acquisition of the remaining lots through purchases or condemnation. City Planning is currently working on its East 125th Street/River-to-River study, a planning effort aimed at generating a development framework for the entire span of 125th Street between the Harlem and Hudson Rivers.

EDC released its original RFP in 1999 and awarded the project to Urban Strategic Partners, LLC, the developer of Harlem USA, another Harlem project on West 125th Street. The selected proposal, called Uptown New York, would have contained 700,000 sq.ft. of retail and commercial space topped by four towers with over 1.5 million sq.ft. of residential space. Strong community opposition led Community Board 11 to form a task force comprised of community representatives, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito to oppose EDC’s choice and propose a new plan to incorporate more affordable housing, economic development and local culture. In May 2006, EDC pulled its original proposal and agreed to issue a new RFP shaped in collaboration with the task force.

The second RFP calls for a maximum of 1.7 million sq.ft., reduced from 2.2 million in the first RFP, and limits the height to 21 and 15 stories, down from a 40-story limit. The plan envisions up to 300,000 sq.ft. for a national retail anchor; 120,000 sq.ft. of specialty retail, restaurants, cinemas, and nightclubs; 50,000 sq.ft. of local retail; 300,000 sq.ft. of media space; and 30,000 sq.ft. of not-for-profit performing visual and media arts space. For the residential component, the proposal calls for up to 1,000 mixed-income units with EDC granting a preference to developers planning 100 percent affordable housing.

Developers must submit responses by January 12, 2007. EDC will work with the community to review the proposals, hopes to designate a developer in September 2007 and commence land use review in mid-2008.

New York City Economic Development Corporation Request for Proposals, East 125th Street Development, Harlem (Oct. 18, 2006).

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