The City Council is expected to approve a modified plan to rezone 125th Street to allow for denser residential and commercial development today, but the rezoning’s most vocal opponents are not giving up the fight.
The Coalition to Save Harlem is mounting its umpteenth protest against the plan, which they contend “falls woefully short of what is needed for the future development of Harlem," outside the City Council’s legislative building at noon.
In their position paper, the Coalition is calling for a “moratorium on any new development in Harlem until community consensus is reached; A full public review of the modifications and points of agreement; A comprehensive and inclusive redevelopment planning process; A halt to predatory redevelopment and the associated displacement of residents throughout New York City; and policies that promote living-wage job development for Harlem residents.”
The (recently maligned) Harlem City Councilwoman Inez E. Dickens, and U.S. Representatives Robert Jackson and Melissa Mark-Viverito negotiated a community benefits agreement with the Bloomberg administration on April 15 that lowered maximum building heights in the rezoned area from 29 to 19 stories; increased the affordable housing requirement to almost 50 percent; provided $750,000 of funding for loans to small and medium-sized businesses; and allocated $5.8 million for a revamp of Marcus Garvey Park.
Now that the three neighborhood representatives are on board with the modified plan, today’s vote is pretty much in the bag. But community opponents are far from satisfied and taking yet another stab at halting the process.
The Coalition claims the community benefits agreement still leaves locally owned businesses vulnerable and that only 200 of the projected 3,858 residential units will be affordable to the average Harlem resident.
“There should be no luxury housing development on 125th Street,” the statement says. “The City must address the hundreds of potential housing units in vacant buildings owned by HPD and develop them into low-income tenant-controlled housing.”
The modifications also fail to impose adequate height restrictions: to maintain the "village" character of Harlem—they recommend that no building should rise higher than 130 feet on 125th Street.
“There is no mention of Street Vendors and ensuring their viability on 125th Street (or) how Harlemites will benefit from living-wage employment opportunities.”
Finally, they argue that the rezoning must address the serious environmental issues of the earthquake fault line which runs along 125th Street and the effects of the high water table areas on construction.
Meanwhile the self-proclaimed human rights advocacy group “Voices of the Everyday People,” lead by former male model Craig Schley, held a separate rally over the weekend and filed a lawsuit with the State Supreme Court yesterday to halt to rezoning of Harlem’s main commercial drag.
The flier for Saturday’s rally reads “IT AIN’T OVER!” and promises to reveal “the truth about Ms. Dickens ‘compromise’ and why we’re going to court.”