By Samantha Saly
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 4, 2007
Community Board 9 committee members voted to approve the Department of City Planning’s proposal to change the face of 125th Street at a public hearing Monday evening.
The board’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure committee voted 11 in favor, one opposed, with one abstention, and passed a resolution to amend the city’s rezoning proposal. Along with CB10 and CB11—whose districts would also be impacted by rezoning—the entire board will hold a final vote on Wednesday, as prescribed by ULURP bylaws. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will then have 30 days to submit his recommendation about the plan, taking into account the decisions of the community boards.
CB9’s amendment resolution addressed the size of the rezoning coverage area, affordable housing, and building-height restrictions in the city’s plan.
A few months ago, the board “never entertained the comment that there would be luxury condominiums on 125th Street,” CB9 member Vicky Gholson, Ph.D. said. Now, there is a “prevailing attitude that there are certain things that are going to be pushed through regardless of what the community wants."
Citing the neighborhood’s responsibility to low-income families, CB9 called for the commission’s proposal to increase the required amount of affordable housing in new residential developments.
“Since the Harlem Renaissance, there has been another renaissance taking place,” said John-Martin Green, chair of the arts and culture committee on the West Harlem Local Development Corporation. “This one seems to be not driven by art and culture but by gentrification.”
The resolution calls for the commission’s rezoning plan to include the “New Amsterdam Special District,” which extends from the south side of 126th Street to 130th Street between Amsterdam and Morningside/Convent Avenue.
CB9 also requested that the city lower building-height requirements and increase efforts to cultivate consistent streetscape design throughout the 125th Street corridor.
Although board members discussed previous attempts to extend the rezoning area further west, all the way to the Hudson River, the board’s resolution did not include such provisions.
“At the end of the day, it’s a predestined plan and they’re going to do what they are going to do,” CB9 member Yvonne Stennett said.
In an effort to encourage the arts within the 125th Street corridor, the city’s proposal requires local business owners to allot floor space for arts-and-entertainment use, but CB9 expressed concern that this initiative only applies to Central Harlem. CB9’s resolution addressed this issue, asking that those provisions be expanded further west and modified to include space allocations for local businesses as well as arts programs.
“What we want is the benefits that they’re putting in the core [Central Harlem]. We want for the west,” Bailey-McClain said.
During the hearing, CB9 also approved further amendments to the resolution they had already prepared. These additions seek to ensure that new buildings along the 125th Street corridor would meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “Silver” standards in accord with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlanNYC. In addition, the board entreatied the city to make a concerted effort in supporting female, minority, and disadvantaged business owners.
“We want to establish some sort of consensus, but we have to, in the end, do what is best for this district,” CB9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said.
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Now, there is a “prevailing attitude that there are certain things that are going to be pushed through regardless of what the community wants."
Posted by: anonymous (not verified) December 4th, 2007 @ 7:59am