Alternative plan for Harlem’s massive Lenox Terrace development gets rid of affordable units

February 12, 2020

Rendering courtesy of the Olnick Organization

Amidst pushback from locals and activists, the Olnick Organization has released a Plan B proposal for its Lenox Terrace expansion, reports the Post. Last week, the City Planning Commission approved an application from the complex’s owner to rezone part of the neighborhood and allow five 28-story towers with a mix of market-rate and affordable units to be built at the site. The alternate plan unveiled on Tuesday presents a scaled-down version that wouldn’t require a zoning change but also wouldn’t include any of the affordable units or public amenities in the original plan.

Olnick has owned the site—which spans between Lenox and Fifth Avenues from West 132nd Street to West 135th Street—since it opened in 1958. The original complex comprises six 16-story residential towers and five one-story commercial buildings connected by private landscaped areas. Eighty percent of the existing 1,700 apartments are rent-stabilized.

Their original expansion plans proposed constructing five additional towers that would bring more than 1,600 units to the site, of which 400 would be designated “affordable” under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, with 160 of those reserved for residents earning minimum wage. Critics of the plan worry that 1,200 market-rate apartments would lead to rapid gentrification in the area and more out-of-scale development.

The developer’s rezoning application—previously rejected by Manhattan Community Board 10 and Borough President Gale Brewer—has also raised flags for its commercial ambitions. The rejected application would have allowed large stores exceeding 10,000 square feet. The revised application that was approved by the CPC last week reflected a change to a residential upzoning with commercial overlay, which would allow for “smaller, local retail establishments” instead.

According to the Post, Olnick is now saying it could build four slightly smaller towers—rising to 200 feet instead of 284—”as of right” with no approvals needed. Under this plan, Olnick would forfeit all of the affordable apartments as well as the public amenities, which included new landscaping, an underground parking garage, and a facility for local urban farm Harlem Grow.

The Post also noted that Olnick’s rezoning proposal still needs approval from City Council where member Bill Perkins is strongly opposed to the idea of bringing “an influx of market-rate tenants to the complex.”

[Via NY Post]


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