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East Harlem rezoning effort is officially underway

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The city has launched the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for the rezoning

The proposal to rezone East Harlem is now officially moving forward after the city launched the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure on the initiative today. The rezoning, which spans a 96-block stretch in the neighborhood could bring 3,500 new apartments to the area, if the proposal is approved.

Unlike some of the less popular rezoning efforts undertaken by the current administration in Inwood, and East New York, this particular effort has the backing of several local residents (not all!), and is in large part inspired by the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, which in turn was championed by City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito (while she served as the City Council member representing the neighborhood).

UPDATE 4/27/17: A previous version of this story stated that there was little opposition to the East Harlem rezoning plan. Longtime neighborhood activist group, Movement for Justice in El Barrio has been vocally opposed to the rezoning plan in its current form, citing the displacement of long-term, low income residents from their rent-stabilized homes.

The city is calling for a large section of the new apartments built here to be permanently affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. The area under consideration for the rezoning is generally bounded by East 104th Street to the south, East 132nd Street to the north, Park Avenue to the west and Second Avenue to the east.

Pushing for the Second Avenue Subway’s expansion to East Harlem will also be a part of this proposal. In addition to the transit and residential component, the city is also hoping that such a rezoning will lead to the creation of 122,000 square feet of stores and restaurants, and 275,000 square feet of industrial and office space.

The major thrust of development will focus on East 116th Street, parts of Third Avenue, and on Park Avenue near the 125th Street Metro North stop. New developments along East 125th Street, East 116th Street, Third Avenue, Second Avenue and Park Avenue will all be required to activate their ground floor spaces to create a more lively pedestrian experience on those streets. Furthermore on Park Avenue, buildings will be asked to have a setback from around the height of the Metro North Viaduct, also to improve the pedestrian experience.

“Through the East Harlem Initiative, we will work on multiple fronts not just to invest in affordable housing, but also to safeguard affordability, empower residents and drive economic opportunity,” Maria Torres-Springer, the Commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said in a statement. “This will continue to be a community-driven process, building on the foundation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, to bring needed improvements to the neighborhood and opportunities for its residents.”

Along with the overall rezoning effort, the city is also pushing forward the plan to rezone an almost full-block site bounded by Madison and Park Avenues and East 111th and East 112th Streets. That particular project could bring 655 affordable apartments to the neighborhood, along with a supermarket, a YMCA, a healthcare facility, a job-training center, and a charter school.

In the first step of the ULURP, Community Board 11 now has 60 days to review the city’s proposals, following which this will head to the borough president’s office, followed by the City Planning Commission, and finally the City Council.