Asked by Anonymous
thanks for your interest. The community boards are largely useless. I have been in Harlem for 14 years and in NYC my entire life. Happy to talk if you’d like. whohurtsharlem at gmail dot com
In a great report by Jeff Mays of DNAinfo he tells of the dispute between DOT and the Harlem community over narrowing Adam Clayton Powell Blvd because of speeding and safety issues on the avenue…
HARLEM — Starting in August, the Department of Transportation will begin a series of safety improvements to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard — one of the most dangerous streets in Manhattan — by adding dedicated left turn lanes, left turn signals at major intersections and widening and extending medians.
But one of the new measures, narrowing the lanes of what is considered one of Harlem’s most grand boulevards, has some area residents up in arms.
One group has collected more than 300 signatures against the change, calling it further proof of Harlem’s rapid gentrification. The chair of Central Harlem’s Community Board 10, too, is calling on the DOT to halt the change and hold more community meetings about the plan.
"Everything they want to do we support except narrowing the lanes. This is a big change for the community," said Henrietta Lyle, the community board’s chair. "Putting all of the other safety measures in place would help."
Julius Tajiddin, founder of the grassroots group Preserve Harlem’s Legacy, said he received enthusiastic support when he began circulating a petition on the issue. He said a history of protests and parades that occur along the boulevard, such as the African Day Parade, Mother’s Day Parade and African-American Day Parade, make it special.
"They are gentrifying the boulevard. It was always meant to be a grand, full boulevard. We’ve used it for parades and rallies, both religious and political. That means there is a certain history attached to the look of the boulevard," Tajiddin said.
"If you make it look like Midtown with pedestrian plazas, it loses that history," he added.
While I am glad to see that State Senator Bill Perkins is fighting this and not surprised that Sheena Wright of Abyssinian Development Corporation is for this there is a larger issue. Homogenization.
Do we want a city that has character? Diversity? Texture?
Already when we travel the globe more and more you find the same stores with the same layout with the same temperature. It is almost like when we travel we dont want to see or experience anything too different…so we make it the same.
Harlem is a unique part of New York that is being stripped of its most vital aspects by trying to make it like every other part of the city. That is why we are getting overdeveloped, getting chain stores and chain banks.
Harlem is not the same and has a long tradition of being different and marching to a beat of a different drummer.
I love a grand boulevard and have no problem with the midtown pedestrian plazas…but there are other ways to slow traffic besides narrowing the boulevard. The Netherlands put cobblestones back in their streets, Sweden took away the boundaries between sidewalks and streets in high traffic areas and used community art projects and planters to change the linear flow of traffic. We could add rumble strips or speed bumps. There are myriad ways of approaching the problem…but making Harlem the same as everywhere else isnt it.
The huge extension of the Ennis Francis Houses at 2070 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd onto the former parking lot on 123rd street between ACP and FDB has been a point of contention between the block association and ADC.
A quick and dirty history is that the ADC came into the property when it was truly a mess in the tower building on 7th Ave claiming to fix up the whole property. Part of their plan was to modernize and extend the scope of the property. The residents of the two story lowrise buildings on 124th street will be the first beneficiaries of the extension with ADC’s plan. Those residents will move into the new huge and out of scale building with the block it will face - 123rd street.
ADC told the block association that the lowrise buildings were in terrible shape and have endured terrible hardships just by living there and that is why they deserve these new apartments. Some residents say that since ADC took over the conditions in the low rises have gotten worse with many tenants not paying rent due to the decline.
So why is ADC having people move into the dreaded lowrises?
People have moved in recently and ADC is advertising
ADC has never been straight about what their intentions are with the Ennis Francis Houses and we at this blog can only attribute incompetence and disorganization rather than greed or malice to their actions.
Is that who we want being the face of the new Harlem?
We are excited to be reading about the development of the huge vacant lot on the South West corner of 125th st. by CNS Real Estate.
A Burlington Coat Factory outlet is slated for the third, fourth and fifth floors and according to this article
Last week, website LivingMaxwell reported that when Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey was yakking nutrition in TriBeCa, he excitedly revealed that the company was staking out a Harlem home. Our spies swear that Sutton’s site will host the healthy outpost on its ground and lower levels.
All this is great but I am always concerned with the details of tax giveaways. It is common for big businesses who come into our area to get hefty property tax abatements…sometimes up to 20 years! Red Lobster is getting a 20 year abatement next to the Apollo
These are huge companies who are not operating close to margins and don’t need these tax breaks. The tax burden will fall on the small businesses and homeowners in the neighborhood who have made our neighborhood desirable and will now be shouldering that much more of the burden.
Until you read other wise you can bet that CNS Real Estate, Burlington Coat Factory and possibly Whole Foods will be getting tax breaks while we foot the bill.
While it is great that north of 126th Street in Harlem is getting some zoning protections
“By limiting both height and density, it removes the incentive to demolish small buildings and townhouses and replace them with towers — and that keeps gentrification at bay.”
The rezoning will protect West Harlem’s low-lying scale and “guide future development” to mesh with the area’s prewar apartment houses and Beaux Arts, Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival brownstones, says City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden
“If my house blows up today, a developer under current zoning could replace the four-story brownstone with a 10- or 15-story building tomorrow,” said Pat Jones, co-chair of Community Board 9’s land use committee. “That out-of-scale development will no longer be possible.”
Heights would be capped at four to six stories on almost all crosstown, residential mid-blocks. They could rise only to six to eight floors on St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Aves. and up to 12 stories on Broadway, a review of the plan shows.
While this is sorely needed where was this a few years ago? Parts of Harlem are already lost or dying because of these land grabs. South of 125th street may not all of the same grand housing but it has grand people in modest homes that need protections as well.
I love that their are lots of sounds rising up about how the best of Harlem must be protected. And we are excited by the recent zoning changes above 126th st and the desire for extending landmark status in our neighborhood.
But this quote takes the cake
"Right now on Harlem we have no height limits, which is a major issue. We could have a brownstone of four, five stories and right next to it, a 28-story tower, which is contextually out of character," says CB 10 Land Use Chair Stanley Gleaton. "So what we want to do with this plan is be able to minimize that and also make sure our neighborhood is safe and sound and contextually consistent."
Where was Stanley Gleaton when ADC proposed to build an extension of the Ennis Francis Houses on 123rd st off ACP that doubles the height of the small brownstones on the block?
There are so many appalling buildings in Harlem that are shattering what is best of our community and the Land Use Committee has not pushed hard enough to reduce the heights of these proposed buildings.
If you start to care for something only after it has been wounded…you haven’t done enough. Better late than never …but fight harder now.
ADC continues to build its oversized extension to the Ennis Francis Houses with a cheap and sloppy approach. Watch the video below and see how the construction company employed the laziest possible way of breaking up a large piece of concrete.
There are techniques and companies that provide for what is called “controlled demolition”, i.e. best practices for doing this job with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.
some examples of one such technique / company:
"Ideal usage is in office blocks, shopping centres, residential buildings, and hospitals -anywhere thatrequires large lumps of material removed quietly and free of vibration.”
Houses shook, property fell off shelves and walls with no notice or warnings. ADC may be a religious organization buy they do not love their neighbors.
Abyssinian Development Corp. hurts Harlem with sloppy demolition procedures that shake the neighborhood
In the sad but telling piece in the New York Times today we see how overambitious zoning and overdevelopment impacts the “fragile but promising” Harlem economy.
Ms. Allen said some of the businesses that are arriving in the district, like the Red Lobster, represent a mainstreaming that suggest the area is “not even Harlem any more.”…
And though she clearly has her concerns about where Harlem may be headed, she is also hopeful. “It would be great to retain its villagelike quality,” she said. “I hope it can be sustained.”
There is no one bad actor in Bad Zoning but it can be pinned on the general idea that bigger is better. Amanda Burden saw Harlem as an “undeveloped resource” as opposed to a neighborhood. Of course there was undeveloped property that needed attention but rather than going slow and small the very fabric of Harlem was tested by the sudden changes.
A big part of what makes Harlem a draw for many people is it’s history and it’s intersection with American culture in particular in the last century.
True, little remains of when Harlem was Jewish (there are remnants though). Or when Harlem was Dutch (fewer still) but so much remains of what made Harlem relevant to the American and New York experience.
So I have been really saddened to read about Lenox Lounge possibly closing because the rent is being doubled from $10,000 to $20,000 per month. This is pure price gouging.
Just because you can get more money for something doesn’t mean that you should. This is a process of killing the golden goose. And Harlem is gold. But every speculator and overbuilder is reducing the integral strength of Harlem.
This mindset of “make as much as you can…now” is imperiling Harlem by overbuilding it and weakening what makes Harlem relevant and interesting.
One of the most unique features of our main strip - 125th Street- is the iconic artwork painted on the security gates of storefronts by “The Picasso of Harlem” Franco Gaskin. As new stores open rather than save these pieces and display them in the stores they are being discarded.
Not every business can last forever nor can every important piece of art be rescued. But if we forget how Harlem touched us, how can we touch Harlem in a way that protects it?
We will soon have a Red Lobster, an icon of suburban mall culture, on 125th st. To gain unlimited fried shrimp and lose the Lenox Lounge…what are we going to become?
This is a picture of the development that Abyssinian Development Corporation is putting up on 123rd st between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd and Frederick Douglass Blvd.
This is a normal cross street in Harlem. Notice the street in the picture… it is twice as wide as the street is in reality. This trick makes it seem like this building is in scale with the neighborhood.
It isn’t. This building is huge and is twice the size of any building on the block. A building this size should be on an avenue not on a cross street.
While the residents will have rent controlled or stabilized apartments the only way ADC will be able to make money on this big expensive building long term is to make that building full of market rent apartments.
This is bad development in true form. The expensive development will push out locals and destroy the aesthetic dimension of Harlem by overbuilding it and rot away the best aspects of community of Harlem as well.
Shame on ADC for serving Mammon instead of Harlem and shame on Danois Architects for helping them.
Harlem deserves better.
It was just announced today that Red Lobster is coming to Harlem and filling in the empty lot next to the Apollo Theater. While it is great that an empty lot is getting filled on our major thoroughfare the developers have qualified for ICAP which means that they will defer property taxes for at least a decade and probably more. That means that people who are already spending their time and dime on making their properties nicer and improving their businesses will get an increased tax bill and essentially subsidize Red Lobster even though they’ll be using more resources.
Harlem doesn’t need more shlocky chain restaurants that serves unhealthy food that takes money out of our community.
We need local businesses.
And while Red Lobster speaks to their “commitment to sustainable seafood” Red Lobster serves farmed salmon and farmed shrimp - two of the most ecologically devastating products on the marine environment. To say nothing of the absence of health benefits of these highly processed foods.
Harlem is in a health and financial crisis and we need the right kind of investment and this isn’t it.
Big international corporations based in Lakeland, Florida dont need property tax breaks while we get stuck with the bill and they don’t need to be serving more unhealthy food in our community.
ADC hurts Harlem by nakedly pursuing profit before serving people. They overbuild hoping to cash in in the future on high rents. They are part of the fuel of overdeveloping Harlem. The pressure to constantly grow and profit is unsustainable and will ruin what is best about Harlem. If ADC truly cared about Harlem they would build housing smaller than zoned, modify and fill vacant buildings before putting up new monstrosities and work with local banks that kee investment money in the neighborhood. But currently they are working with PNC Bank and taking Harlem money and taking it out of our community.