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 HipHopRepublicans.com.