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African burial ground site in Harlem will get affordable apartments, memorial

City council voted to approve the project’s zoning application

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This week, the City Council approved a zoning application that will allow developers to move forward with plans to convert the site of an African burial ground in East Harlem into a mixed-use project with “deeply affordable housing,” a cultural center, and a permanent public memorial.

The project was first introduced as far back as 2014, when plans for the project were hinted at as a replacement for the MTA’s now-defunct 126th Street bus depot. The development could have as many as 730 apartments, of which around 150 will be allocated to families of three earning $24,500 or less. At least half will target households with incomes ranging from extremely low to moderate.

“Today’s City Council approval paves the way for NYCEDC to create a memorial that will honor the historic contribution of African-Americans to East Harlem and our city’s history, while also bringing much-needed affordable housing and jobs to the East Harlem community,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James Patchett.

The development will span roughly one million square feet of space, spanning from First Avenue to Second Avenue, between 126th and 127th streets. A developer hasn’t been chosen yet, but one thing that the city has promised is that the African burial ground, which encompasses around 115,600 square feet in a triangular shape, will not be developed on, reports the New York Times.

“This is obviously a historical wrong that this project presents an opportunity to right,” said Patchett.