Thursday, February 12, 2009

Harlem is not for Sale! Stop the Rezoning act of 125th Street.

By Brandon Brice

Big lights, commercial real estate and an expansion of SOHO are a few projects in the making for the upcoming agenda of the City’s Urban Planning Commission for rezoning Harlem’s 125th street. Harlem, a haven for black culture, arts and socio-political movements, has recently over the last five years experienced the effect of intense gentrification, which has directly affected small business and longtime home owners. Before the controversy of the Harlem rezoning act, Harlem residents battled the prestigious Ivy League institution Columbia University over the rapid expansion of land and property, thus resulting in intense rental spikes for low income residents.

The Harlem Rezoning Act project will rezone 125th street from Broadway to Lexington, bringing in commercial industries and high rise apartment buildings, which eradicates small mom and pop stores and pushes low income residents and elders further out of northern Manhattan. As a Harlem resident, the act does Harlem no justice; because it does not assure that jobs or job development will be guaranteed once the act is set forth. New York City is rezoning on a grand scale with three out of the five boroughs, Bronx, upper Manhattan and Brooklyn being direct targets of land usage and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Harlem’s rezoning act shouldn’t be confused with supporting the positive outcomes of revitalizing neighborhoods, if an area is low income or drug infested then the need for gentrification is justified. Unfortunately, this rezoning act has not taking into consideration the economic ramifications for long term residents and low income families.

Harlem’s average income for its residents and families is under $30,000 dollars a year, which directly is under the mark of projected income for the area. In the month of November at an Apollo town hall meeting, a young mother and life long resident with three children asked for helped because she couldn’t afford the increasing rent. If the cities “rezoning act” is a cover up for moving out low income families, expanding collegiate facilities that local residents will never be able to utilize or building commercial properties that Harlem residents still can’t afford, then Harlem is not for sale!

Brandon Brice is a graduate of Howard University and is a former graduate of the New Jersey Eagleton Institute of Politics fellow at Rutgers University. As a long time member of Republicans for Black Empowerment, Brandon is an active contributor to


Anonymous said...

And exactly where is Mr. Charlie Rangel as Harlem turned into a photo copy of the upper Westside?

Bianca said...

Money talks in this case...unless you can get this on television and have someone bring it up's no point, Harlem will be up for sale...Not too many people care about Harlem's black culture or a whole bunch of low income blacks. Especially renters....This same thing is happening here in California.

Anonymous said...


You are on point with this article and right on time. When are you going to run for something in harlem?

Anonymous said...

The Truth about the 125th Street Re-Zoning


 46% of all new housing units will be income-targeted
 900 of those units are guaranteed at 60% of AMI ($44,760 right now)or below; 200 units will be offered at 40% of AMI ($29,840) or below; 700 of these units will be permanently affordable
 Inclusionary Home Ownership Pilot Program- to provide home ownership options to on permanently affordable units generated through inclusionary zoning
 New Home Buyer Assistance- 350 income targeted units will provide ownership opportunities using HPD’s Down payment Assistance Program for first time buyers
 Homes for Young Families- 50% of all affordable units will be 2 bedrooms or larger
 New Park Avenue Affordable Housing- 300 more units of affordable housing 230 of which will be at 60% AMI and below
 Housing on 125th Street For all new housing in the central core of 125th Street with frontages on the avenues, 124th or 126th Streets

Small Business

Assistance for small, non-big box, non-formulaic franchise businesses

 Enlarged Business Expansion Zone- business assistance programs for new sites anywhere from 116th Street to 135th Street between 5th & 8th Avenues
 Harlem business Assistance Fund- to cover broker fees for potential relocation of any displaced business currently on 125th Street to a new space on 125th or elsewhere
 Forgivable Loan Program- no interest, forgivable loans to assist impacted businesses on 125th Street
 Small Business Set-Aside- 10% of all new office and retail space generated on City-driven commercial development projects with grants available of up to $10,000
 Small Business Outreach- UMEZ & EDC will market small business services door to door
 125th Street Regional Arts and Business District- A marketing brochure is being developed to promote the commercial and cultural attractions of 125th Street
 Small Business Fairs- UMEZ will collaborate with SBS and business lenders to promote to small businesses on 125th Street
 Economic Development Consultant- EDC will establish a community liaison to coordinate small business services and implement the key components of the 125th Street Plan.

Arts & Culture

 Arts Bonus- available in all sites along 125th Street between Morningside and Second Avenue in the C4-4D, C6-3 and C4-7 districts.
 Local Arts Advisory Board- will make sure that locally engaged arts groups receive preference on new arts space that is created from the arts zoning bonus (3 appointed by the City Council and 2 by DCA)
 Arts Space Lease Terms- For these new spaces, locally engaged arts groups will begin with a 15 year lease with the option to renew for two more 5 year terms
 New Arts Tenant at Mart 125- RFP issued with preference for free ownership or low cost lease with the option for future purchase to local arts group. RFQ issued for local arts groups. About $15Million will be provided for space build-out

Marcus Garvey Park

 Capital Improvements will be made to Marcus Garvey Park’s Amphitheater, Park House, perimeter walkways and recreation center upgrades…almost $6 Million in capital improvements.