Harlem historian Michael Henry Adams just sent over an advisory to let us know he’s bringing the fight over the proposed 125th Street rezoning to the mayor’s doorstep at his East 79th Street townhouse, with plans to protest the proposal at 8 tonight.
Not too far away, and also a target of the protest, Mr. Adams pointed out, is the home of the Planning Department’s director, Amanda Burden, who has spearheaded the rezoning.
Mr. Adams is strongly opposed to the plan, which he says would invite wide-scale gentrification and displacement, unnecessarily changing the neighborhood’s character.
“I think that it is deliberate, racist and elitist,” Mr. Adams said of the rezoning.
The city’s plan for 125th Street imagines remaking the thoroughfare, allowing for much denser buildings along the central Harlem street. The city wants to see it be a mixed-use regional center, though the local community board has been strongly opposed to allowing new residential development, saying commercial is preferable.
The City Planning Commission votes on the rezoning later this month, and it must be approved by the City Council in order to take effect.
So is there enough neighborhood opposition to stop it?
Mr. Adams, who said he was trying to bring attention to the issue, conceded that blocking the plan would be a difficult task, save a riot.
“Historically, one can look back at all the riots in Harlem from 1935 onward, and see that whatever destructiveness there was that accompanied those riots, there was a social benefit” that followed, he said, as the government took action.