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Ambitious Harlem 'High Line' Pitch Includes Affordable Housing

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Is Harlem the next locale to seriously undergo talks of reinventing infrastructure for public use? DNAinfo reports that there's chatter of bringing a High Line-inspired elevated park to a portion of Amtrak line near the West Side Highway. The park, known as Harlem Promenade, would connect the community with the nearby Hudson River waterfront and could also bring a hefty amount of affordable housing to the neighborhood: air rights from over the track could net up to $170 million to help construct the park while also allowing developers operating inside the creation of a special district to build up to 2,000 units of affordable housing in the underserved neighborhood, DNAinfo reports. The special zoning district would stretch from 123rd to 158th streets on Broadway and would require developers to dedicate 50-percent of housing as affordable and allow them to build up to 16 stories. Currently, the neighborhood is zoned for building up to 12 stories.

The park is the brainchild of Housing Partnership employee and West Harlem resident Dan Cohen, who has even gone so far to identify buildings along Broadway that could receive the air rights. Developers would be offered incentives to bring the businesses back to Broadway that would be displaced by the construction of the larger buildings.

Problems that have arisen surrounding the concept include the question of what would be considered affordable in Hamilton Heights, where the median income is $40,000 versus other parts of Manhattan where the median income is twice as much, as well as the special zoning district's effect on the recent rezoning of the area in the wake of Columbia's announced expansion. As of now, the park is no more than an idea, but it's an idea worth at least mulling over.
· 'Harlem High Line' Proposal Could Bring Affordable Housing [DNAinfo]
· Harlem Promenade [official]