Sugar Hill project OK’d

Thirteen-story building would house the Faith Ringgold Children’s Museum, a day care center, and provide 124 affordable housing units. On September 15, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved Broadway Housing Communities’ rezoning proposal to facilitate the development of a thirteen-story affordable housing project in the Sugar Hill section of West Harlem. Broadway Housing proposed rezoning the northwest portion of a block bounded by West 155th and 153rd Streets and St. Nicholas Place and St. Nicholas Avenue from C8-3 and R7-2 to R8A. The rezoning area comprises two lots and portions of two others. Broadway Housing owns a two-story parking garage facing West 155th Street, and the City owns an L-shaped lot to the south of the garage that faces St. Nicholas Avenue and is occupied by the Department of Environmental Protection. Broadway Housing plans to replace the garage with a thirteen-story, 124-unit affordable housing project known as Sugar Hill.

Broadway Housing would market 99 of the units to residents earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, and the remaining units would be marketed to residents earning up to 80 percent of the area median income. The building would provide space for the Faith Ringgold Children’s Museum on the ground floor and a day care center on the second floor. It would also feature green roof terraces and a 114-space underground parking garage.

In order to provide a suitable entry plaza for the building, Broadway Housing requested a surface easement along the northern portion of DEP’s lot fronting St. Nicholas Avenue and West 155th Street. DEP currently uses the area for vehicle storage. The landscaped, publicly accessible plaza would provide the primary entrance for the project. In return, DEP would acquire an easement from Broadway Housing over a 4,312 sq.ft. strip along the project site’s southern border.

At the Commission’s July 28 public hearing, Broadway Housing’s founder, Ellen Baxter, stated that the Sugar Hill project would be the organization’s seventh affordable housing development in the area. Kramer Levin attorney Valerie Campbell, representing Broadway Housing, said the rezoning would complement the City’s current efforts to rezone West Harlem. Brian Cook, director of land use at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, stated that Borough President Scott M. Stringer supported the rezoning, testifying that the area’s C8-3 zoning “did not make sense” at the location. Cook noted that the project would meet many of the goals identified in Community Board 9’s 197-a plan by providing jobs and low-income housing.

The Commission unanimously approved the rezoning.

CPC: Sugar Hill (C 100277 ZMM – rezoning) (C 100274 PPM – dispo. of easement) (C 100275 PQM – acq. of easement) (Sept. 15, 2010) (Architects: Adjaye Associates and SLCE Architects).

CITYLAND Comment: The City Council’s Planning, Disposition & Concessions Subcommittee approved the plan at its October 5 hearing. The full Council is expected to vote on the plan on October 13, 2010.

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