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Plan to relocate East Harlem playground to make way for massive rental rankles residents

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The rental project would bring 1,100 apartments and three new schools to the neighborhood

A proposed rendering of the project
Via DNAinfo

Some East Harlem residents have expressed concerns over a proposal to relocate a neighborhood park in order for AvalonBay’s massive rental project in the neighborhood to move forward, the New York Post reports.

Two state senators are pushing forward bills that would end the use of the Marx Brothers Playground at East 96th Street—they’re supposedly doing this at the request of the City Council and the de Blasio administration, according to the Post.

This move would enable AvalonBay to build its 1,100-unit project on the full block site at 321 East 96th Street. Currently the project is going through the city approvals process, and some local residents and parks advocates have argued that circumventing the existing rules in this way would set a bad example for developers looking to build in the neighborhood in the future.

Some residents have also expressed concerns about the scale of the project: the building will tower some 720 feet, and will be Manhattan’s largest building north of 60th Street, according to the Post.

City officials however have countered these claims by touting the benefits this project will bring to the neighborhood. Plans call for the creation of three new high schools, which will be built along with the residential component. According to what a mayoral spokesperson told the Post, they will be the first new high schools in East Harlem in 50 years.

In addition, the developers have agreed to set aside 330 apartments as permanently affordable units.

Finally, the playground will be built anew as part of this overall development, and will be located between the schools and the residential building. The bills proposed by the state senators could pass as early as today.