Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Bill Perkins and New York City Council Announce Historic Agreement to Rezone East Harlem and Advance Community Plan

The Council’s modified plan secured $222 million in new investment including support for public housing, new affordable units, open space, and balanced economic development all while preserving the character and vibrancy of El Barrio/East Harlem

El Barrio/East Harlem, NY – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Bill Perkins and the New York City Council today announced an agreement to rezone El Barrio/East Harlem and secure investments for many priorities of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. The comprehensive proposal reflects years of community-based planning aimed at addressing pressing neighborhood challenges, including the preservation and creation of affordable housing, encouraging local hiring and preserving the vibrant cultural heritage of El Barrio/East Harlem, all while substantially reducing the height and density originally proposed by the Department of City Planning earlier this year. Speaker Mark-Viverito spearheaded the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee, which led a robust and inclusive process in which 1,500 participants defined community needs and developed a ground-up vision for the future of El Barrio/East Harlem.

Today the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Committee on Land Use voted to approve a significantly modified zoning application for East Harlem. The proposal is slated to advance to the full Council for a vote on November 30, 2017.

“For the past 18 months, we have engaged in meaningful conversations with stakeholders, community leaders, business owners and local residents and today I am proud to announce the City will make commitments that adopt this community-based vision on zoning and accompanying investments in El Barrio/East Harlem. As the cost of living in New York City continues rising, we recognize that the creation and preservation of affordable housing is imperative to ensuring New Yorkers can continue to live and thrive in our diverse neighborhoods. Advancing the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan is a major victory: from expanding affordable housing and providing substantial and unprecedented investments in our neighborhood’s public housing stock to boosting employment in local businesses and revitalizing La Marqueta, this rezoning plan presents a comprehensive vision for our community’s future. As we create new affordable housing, we also recognize the importance of protecting the integrity of our neighborhood’s character and cultural identity. That is why we came together to reduce the density and the height across the neighborhood to levels more in keeping with the character, beauty and vibrancy of El Barrio/East Harlem. I thank  the Administration for working with us on this issue and our partners in the Steering Committee, particularly Council Member Bill Perkins, Community Board 11 and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, for their collaboration and input to make El Barrio/East Harlem a better place to live for our constituents,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises also voted today to approve the Sendero Verde project, which will include 680 units of affordable housing with 30% of the units at 30% AMI (10% of those reserved for the formerly homeless). The mixed use project will be one of the most energy efficient buildings in NYC, and will be the largest Passive House certified building in the U.S. It will include more than 100,000 square feet of community facility space including a new YMCA, a new charter high school run by DREAM, and new space for Union Settlement and Mt. Sinai. Four of the community gardens that currently exist on this site today will be reincorporated into the new site plan and developers have been working closely with the gardeners to ensure their needs are being met in the new design. A large public plaza in the center of the site will be open to the public. The site is located in East Harlem between E. 111th and E. 112th Street and Park and Madison Avenues.

In recent years, East Harlem has lost approximately 360 affordable units a year due to expiring subsidy programs, while market rate housing is being developed throughout the neighborhood without any affordability requirements. The City can use rezonings to trigger Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which requires developers to set aside a percentage of new development as permanently affordable. Today’s vote ensures that at least 20-25% of all new residential units in East Harlem will be affordable and available to low-income New Yorkers. As a result of the new zoning, approximately 1,288 affordable units will be developed on private sites through MIH.

Additionally, separate land use actions over the past four years under Speaker Mark-Viverito’s leadership have created 2,143 affordable housing units in East Harlem, 475 of which are affordable to households at or below 30% of AMI. The plan also includes a commitment to prioritize three additional public sites for affordable housing development in East Harlem. This rezoning community plan is part of the Speaker’s on-going commitment to making El Barrio/East Harlem affordable and accessible to existing residents for decades to come.

“The East Harlem rezoning plan is an important step in responding to rising unaffordability. Not only will the plan create much needed income-restricted housing, it will provide critical investments in housing preservation, anti-tenant harassment, and NYCHA capital upgrades are long overdue in this community. I commend Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership and applaud the work of the residents and community members who participated in this important process,” said Council Member Bill Perkins.

Council Modifications

The Council modified the rezoning plan to align more closely to the community-based planning vision and evaluated the location of vulnerable rent stabilized housing to minimize displacement pressure. The Council modifications include the following:

  • Park Avenue
    • North of 118th Street – decreased density from 12.0 FAR to 10.0 FAR, and lowered the height limit to 275’ (with the exception of 125th Street transit node and City-owned sites). Lowered the height in 8.5 FAR districts from 285’ to 215’;
    • South of 118th Street – decreased density from 8.5 FAR to 7.2 and 5.6 FAR, with lower height limits to better integrate into the existing community context, as well as preserve existing rent stabilized housing.
  • Lexington Avenue
    • Intersection of Lexington Avenue and 116 Street – lowered the height limit from 285’ to 205’
  • Third Avenue
    • 124th Street to 122nd Street – decreased density to from 12.0 FAR to 10.0 FAR, and lowered height limit from 325’ to 235’;
    • South of 122nd Street – decreased density from 12.0 FAR to 9.0 FAR, and lowered height limit from 325’ to 215’
  • Second Avenue
    • Lowered height limit from 285’ to 175’ (with exceptions for MTA certain MTA facilities)

“The East Harlem plan before the Council today is a significant improvement over what was first put forward by the administration, thanks to the work of Speaker Mark-Viverito and the community members who worked with us to craft and fight for the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. This rezoning will create guaranteed, permanent affordable housing, and it will do so responsibly, with height limits and long-overdue investments in open space, schools, and infrastructure,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

 East Harlem Neighborhood Plan

In 2014, the City announced that East Harlem would be one of the first neighborhoods to be rezoned as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing Plan to construct and preserve affordable housing throughout the City. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, based on her commitment to participatory governance and inclusive planning, convened a Steering Committee of local stakeholders and launched a two-year community-based planning process to create a comprehensive neighborhood vision that could inform future policies and plans. The Steering Committee hosted a series of community visioning workshops where residents shared their ideas and concerns on a broad range of topics, including housing, economic development, arts and culture, health, education and transportation. This process culminated in the creation of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan (EHNP) in February 2016, which included over 200 recommendations to guide the future zoning and community investments for the neighborhood.

ULURP Process

In April 2017, the Department of City Planning (DCP) released its proposal to rezone East Harlem. Many of the zoning changes in DCP’s proposal mirrored the EHNP recommendations with some key differences, including a smaller rezoning geography and greater height and density especially along Park and Third Avenue. The plan was modified and improved over the next seven months through the ULURP public review process, and as Speaker Mark-Viverito continued to solicit local input through the Steering Committee and community forums. The City Council modified the rezoning plan to align more closely with the ENHP rezoning framework.

Neighborhood Investments

Additionally, Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Member Perkins secured an unprecedented series of commitments that were advocated for by the EHNP Steering Committee. These commitments ensure that comprehensive community development will accompany the rezoning, and include the following:

  • A $50 million investment in repairing NYCHA public housing in East Harlem.
  • Develop new affordable housing on City-owned sites identified through the neighborhood planning process.
  • Create a proactive and coordinated system to preserve affordable housing and protect tenants.
  • Establish a Certificate of No Harassment program to deter tenant harassment.
  • Revitalize the historic La Marqueta with $25 million investment.
  • Build new waterfront park between 125th – 132nd Streets ($101 million).
  • Repair existing portions of the East River Esplanade between 96th-125th Streets ($15 million).
  • Open a new Satellite Workforce 1 Center to connect resident to employment services, as well as investing in job training and local hiring.
  • Pilot a Landlord Ambassadors Program to provide technical assistance to East Harlem property owners.
  • Fund and support the East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust.
  • Prioritize the development of over 2,600 affordable homes on publicly owned land.
  • Support mission-driven groups interested in developing affordable housing on underutilized sites.
  • Explore opportunities to finance the development of affordable artist housing.
  • Allocate $4.7 million to build a comfort station in Harlem River Park.
  • Allocate $18.1 million to build intergenerational playgrounds to accommodate seniors in local parks.
  • Improve way-finding to Randall’s Island.
  • Increase access to employment opportunities for local residents.
  • Fund a Safe Routes to School study and implement new routes in East Harlem.
  • Modify parking and commercial delivery loading / unloading regulations along 125th St.
  • Build a new SBS station on 125th St and Lexington Ave.
  • Allocate $5.5 million to construct a new East 125th Street Plaza.
  • Provide funding to the East Harlem COAD (Community Organizations Active In Disasters).
  • Explore locations for a new Evacuation Center for East Harlem residents.
  • Create three new Community Schools in East Harlem: PS 83 Luis Muñoz Rivera, PS 108 Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro Educational Complex, and Esperanza Preparatory Academy School.
  • Roll out 3-K for All across East Harlem over a two-year implementation period.
  • Install air conditioners in all East Harlem schools.
  • Increase number of schools that offer Career and Technical Education programs.
  • Implement the Building Community Capacity Program to support cultural preservation efforts in East Harlem.
  • Designate historic and culturally significant buildings as landmarks.
  • Fund targeted local marketing for the NYC Well program.
  • Expand mental health first aid training.
  • Create DOHMH East Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center.
  • Coordinate with Agencies to incorporate green infrastructure into city projects.
  • DEP will seek opportunities in the district to connect with existing homeowners and new developers to expand the Green Infrastructure Grant Program to private properties throughout CD11.
  • Working with community stakeholders, plan for the development of an enclosed consolidated DSNY sanitation facility for M10 and M11, which meets LEED gold standards.

“Community Board 11 proudly served on the Steering Committee for the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering, which after more than a year of community engagement and planning, put forth a comprehensive set of recommendations that address a range of needs in our community. These recommendations include but are not limited to housing preservation and development, economic and workforce development, transit and school infrastructure, as well as zoning and land use that seeks to both preserve the existing built form of our community while ensuring that future development is contextual and inclusive of and affordable to existing East Harlem residents. Along with our project partners New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Community Voices Heard, Community Board 11 worked to ensure that the city’s rezoning plan was in response to the input received from all the community stakeholders and participants at a series of public forums and workshops. We continue to be committed that any plans for the zoning and development in our community must be in line with the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan,” said Diane Collier, Chair of Community Board 11.

“Union Settlement strongly supports the rezoning changes passed by the City Council today, and we want to particularly thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership on this issue. The Speaker created a new and bold model for how rezonings should be conducted in New York City, emphasizing a ground-up approach that appropriately begins by listening to the voice of the community.  The City Council’s changes to the Department of City Planning’s proposal, and well as the recent commitments made by the Mayor, bring the reality of the East Harlem rezoning much closer to the vision that the community laid out in the consensus East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.  I want to thank the Speaker, the Mayor and the many community groups and individuals who were involved in developing that plan, and look forward working with everyone to ensure that the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan continues to be the touchstone for evaluating development proposals in East Harlem far into the future,” said David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement.

“It has been an honor and privilege to participate in the development of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.  I applaud Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council staff, my fellow Steering Committee members, and the East Harlem community for engaging in a ground-breaking neighborhood planning process.  The rezoning announced today, and the associated commitments from the Administration and various city agencies, reflect what we can accomplish when we work together for the good of the community.  I look forward to working with the Speaker and with our new Councilwoman, Diana Ayala, as we continue to implement the neighborhood plan,” said Chris Cirillo, Executive Director of Lott Community Development Corporation.

“As a member of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee, El Museo del Barrio is proud the commitments to community investment that the Speaker, City Council, and Mayor have agreed to confer onto East Harlem upon approval of the neighborhood’s rezoning. We look forward to working with the city and East Harlem residents in ensuring these commitments are honored, most especially the commitments to build more affordable housing for artists, the preservation of culturally and historically significant buildings, and East Harlem’s participation in DCLA’s Building Community Capacity project,” said Patrick Charpenel, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio.

“CIVITAS would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her unwavering support towards implementing portions of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan through the current rezoning process. We have been working together for over three years to bring residents renovated parks, contextual inclusionary housing, cultural preservation, new schools, pedestrian safety improvements and other local commitments. She has fought hard to implement a community building process and height limits that will prove beneficial to future rezoning communities in the Upper East Side and other parts of the City,” said Alexander Adams, Executive Director of CIVITAS.

 “Free legal representation is a critical tool in the effort to preserve affordable housing and prevent tenant displacement. We welcome the City’s commitment to funding both a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction citywide, as well as anti-harassment and tenant protection legal services in East Harlem. We are proud to serve and stand alongside East Harlem tenants in the fight to defend their rights and their homes,” said Peggy Earisman, Director of Manhattan Legal Services, which has one of its offices in East Harlem.

“Speaker Mark Viverito and Borough President Brewer have demonstrated a tireless commitment to our community’s priorities. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan faithfully captures the community’s vision for how it wants to live and we feel immensely proud of the outcomes the steering committee has been able to achieve under their leadership,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director of the New York Restoration Project.

“El Barrio Operation Fightback would like to express its support for the East Harlem rezoning proposal passed by the City Council today. As a steering committee member and subgroup lead focused on affordable housing preservation during the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan process, it has been amazing to see the effort of so many residents and community organizations culminate into a proposal that will guide the neighborhood in a positive direction for years to come. While the rezoning itself focuses on requiring private developers to set aside new units for low-income New Yorkers, the several affordable housing preservation commitments secured by Speaker Mark-Viverito ensure a strategy for long-time residents to stay in their homes,” said Gus Rosado, Executive Director of El Barrio’s Operation Fightback.

“Positive Workforce would like to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for all her hard work ensuring the recommendations in East Harlem Neighborhood Plan and from Community Board 11 were adopted by the City Council. We support the Speaker’s hard work ensuring there is sufficient funding for construction job training – many East Harlem/El Barrio residents will now have the opportunity to gain meaningful and sustainable employment,” said Vincent Torres, Executive Director of Positive Workforce.

“We are grateful to Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito for the creation of a revolutionary neighborhood planning process in which local East Harlem residents and community leaders were able to work together to identify and incorporate our community’s unique strengths and needs into the rezoning process.  We are thrilled to see so many of the ideas created in the plan coming to fruition, including the implementation of 3K programming and an increase in the number of community schools, and know that the bonds formed between community organizations, residents, and government agencies will continue to make our neighborhood stronger long after the rezoning is completed,” said Richard Berlin, Executive Director of DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI).

“More than two years ago, the East Harlem community came together to determine its own fate. Thousands of local residents spent hours upon hours to learn the language of zoning and shape a neighborhood plan that targets city investments while ensuring that long-term residents can stay in the neighborhood now and long into the future. It is a model for community-driven neighborhood planning that is worth paying attention to. The Speaker’s vote reflects the spirit, the vision, and many of the most important details of that Plan. We salute her commitment to community-driven neighborhood planning,” said Betsy MacLean, Executive Director of Hester Street Collaborative.

“As a member of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee, the New York Academy of Medicine is pleased that the rezoning approved today by the City Council reflects the recommendations made through this unprecedented community-planning process,” said Dr. Judith Salerno, President of New York Academy of Medicine.

“As a school that embraces a large population of at-risk and special education students, and a community-based approach to education, Innovation High School supports the provisions proposed by the Speaker. The proposal would foster programs that are aligned to Career and Technical Education standards and enhance support for community partnerships. We anticipate that our existing academic program, youth development and family and community engagement efforts would all be strengthened,” said Stephen Falla Riff, Executive Director of Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation.

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