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East Harlem Residents Propose 60-Block Rezoning

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Rezoning: everybody wants one. DNAinfo reports that last night, East Harlem residents put forth five possible rezoning visions for a 60-block area that stretches from Madison, Park, and Lexington Avenues between East 115th and 132nd Streets.

The area hasn't been rezoned since 1961, when the "towers in the park" zoning laws were put in place. This created superblocks of high-rise apartment buildings surrounded with green spaces that took streets away from the grid. Additionally, there are no height restrictions. Given that development in Harlem is taking off, the community board wants to ensure that all developments support the "the present and future needs" of the neighborhood.

Since July, the community has held workshops to propose ideas for the rezoning, and five possible visions were put forth last night:

1) Keep the current "towers in the park" laws with some minor changes.

2) Downsize height limits since there are currently no restrictions. They don't want developers to knock down what's already there in order to build taller.

3) Create "a mixed-use commercial district featuring manufacturing, residential and commercial spaces" as part of an economically-driven rezoning. Residential buildings would have retail or commercial spaces along the streets, and commercial development would be encouraged along 116th Street.

4) A mixed-use rezoning that encourages housing, with incentives for affordable housing.

5) A hybrid plan, incorporating elements from each of the other four and tailor the laws for specific blocks, like bringing more commercial activity to Park Avenue along the Metro-North viaduct.

The community wants to have a plan in place by early 2013 in order to have a formal proposal ready for the next Mayor.
· East Harlem Plans for Future With Rezoning Proposals [DNAinfo]