A delicate agreement has been reached to permit the rezoning of Harlem's main corridor for new development, but critics argue the plans for new moderate-income housing won't prevent the gentrification of one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
"The Bloomberg administration's proposal to rezone 125th Street in Harlem cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday when the area's three City Council members signed off on a compromise plan that would limit the height of new buildings, add moderately priced housing and provide financial aid to businesses displaced by the rezoning.
The proposal was then approved by the Council's Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee in a 10-to-1 vote. The agreement between the City Planning Commission and the council members, Inez E. Dickens, Robert Jackson and Melissa Mark-Viverito, virtually assures the plan's passage by the full City Council later this month.
The rezoning of 24 blocks of Harlem, stretching from Broadway east to Second Avenue, and from 124th to 126th Street, centers on 125th Street - a cultural touchstone for African-Americans in the city and beyond. It has led to widespread opposition in the neighborhood because of concerns that it will change the character of the low-rise street and speed gentrification in the area, including forcing out long-term businesses and low-income residents.
But Councilwoman Dickens, who represents central Harlem, and who led what she and others involved described as contentious negotiations during the past three weeks, said on Tuesday that the agreement would provide sufficient protection for the neighborhood, which is among the poorest in the city."