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East Harlem bus depot on burial ground will give way to memorial

Along with the memorial, the city also wants to bring 730 apartments to the site

A massive new development is in the works for the 126th Street bus depot site in East Harlem with plans for apartments, retail, and offices, the Commercial Observer reports. The focal point of this development however is a memorial to African slaves who were buried at the site in the 17th century when part of it housed a church and the other a burial ground.

Plans for the memorial were first revealed in the summer of 2014 when the New York Post reported that the former bus depot would close in January 2015, and the ownership of the land would transfer back to the city from the MTA. The burial itself had been discovered seven years prior by construction workers. Community members have since campaigned to have a memorial at the site.

Last week, the city’s Economic Development Corporation released a scoping document for the site in the City Record. A scoping document outlines the maximum development allowed at the site, and keeping that in mind the site could have 730 apartments spread out over 655,215 square feet, half of which would be affordable units. There could also be a maximum of 315,000 square feet of retail and office space. About 30,000 square feet will be set aside for the memorial. In addition, the EDC is hoping to develop a 300-car parking area above ground, and an 18,000-square-foot outdoor area.

Planning is still in the early stages, but a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the site will likely get underway early next year so the city is able to alter the existing zoning at the site and sell it to a developer. The city plans to issue an RFP once the ULURP is completed.