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Curbed Cup 1st round: (7) East Harlem vs. (10) Astoria

Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Max Touhey |

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!

East Harlem (7)

Today’s first Curbed Cup battle pits two neighborhoods that are bracing for major development in the coming years.

A massive rezoning took center stage in East Harlem, much like it did in many parts of New York City this year. The rezoning, which concerns a 96-block stretch in the neighborhood, is expected to create 4,000 new affordable apartments, upgrades to NYCHA projects, and several infrastructural improvements. While the rezoning was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council last month, the entire process raised concerns about the acceleration of gentrification in the neighborhood, and whether the new affordable apartments would be truly affordable to East Harlem residents.

One of the affordable projects that’s already moving forward is the Sendero Verde development, a passive house project that will bring 680 affordable rentals to a large site located between East 111th and 112th Streets, and Park and Madison Avenues. This project will also include a new YMCA, several community gardens, and a charter school.

But it’s not all affordable development, East Harlem is moving toward more high-end projects as well; case in point: Bjarke Ingels’s undulating rental building, which has now topped out. AvalonBay is looking to bring a 68-story rental to East 96th Street along with three schools, and just this month, plans were announced for a 19-story building with 400 apartments, set to rise on East 125th Street.

Amid all the new development, the city also paused to respect the neighborhood’s past and approved the creation of a public memorial, a cultural center, and affordable housing at the site of a former African burial ground at the now-defunct 126th Street bus depot.

Astoria (10)

Astoria may have been overshadowed by the incessant development in Long Island City over the past decade, but the neighborhood is slowly but surely starting to sprout some big projects as well—though many local residents might not actually want that.

After years of back and forth, work finally moved forward on the Durst Organization’s Hallets Point megaproject; the first of seven rental buildings topped out in September, and eventually this development will bring 2,000 new rentals to Astoria’s waterfront. The megaproject will also bring a grocery store, new retail, and park space to the neighborhood.

Astoria has now also become more connected thanks to the city’s hugely popular ferry service opening up a new route to the neighborhood in August this year. The ferry service might become all the more important considering the MTA has shutdown two subway stations—at 30th and 36th Avenues—for eight months of repairs. All these developments will dramatically transform the neighborhood in the coming years.

In this battle of neighborhoods bracing for big changes in the future, which one will come out on top? Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win.