Rezoning Puts Harlem's First Class A Office Tower in Trouble, Developer Says

Harlem’s first Class A office tower in decades could be running into some trouble with the city’s proposed 125th Street rezoning, which is currently ambling its way through the public approval process. (We have more on the 125th Street rezoning in this week’s issue.)

At a hearing before the City Planning Commission this morning, the principal at co-developer Integrated Holdings, Derek Johnson, said that if the rezoning goes through as currently proposed, it would force height reductions and modifications to the 600,000-square-foot Harlem Park tower planned to rise by the Metro North station, jeopardizing leases with tenants who have agreed to take space in the building. The approximately 330-foot tower, developed by a partnership of Integrated, Vornado Realty Trust and MacFarlane Partners, would need to be shrunk to come in line with the 290-foot height limit in the rezoning.

Further, given the winds in the community calling for a much more aggressive height limit (Councilwoman Inez Dickens today said she did not want to allow buildings taller than the 160-foot Theresa Towers), the office building seems as though it could be altered significantly.

So why not rush to get the project in the ground now, before any rezoning changes take effect? We put that question to Mr. Johnson, and he said that his engineers have told him that the building will not be able to get built to a point that it would be exempt from the new rules, even though they plan to start construction in the next 90 days.

Mr. Johnson, citing the benefits of stable, high-paying jobs in the community, urged the commission to exempt his project, which is slated to be much lower than the 450-foot Marriott once proposed for the site. Though, with the community seeking heights almost 200 feet lower than his planned building, he seems likely to encounter resistance.

Rezoning Puts Harlem's First Class A Office Tower in Trouble, Developer Says