A few months shy of the East Harlem rezoning’s two-year anniversary, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has released two Request for Proposals seeking plans to build mixed-use developments on two city-owned sites, which are slated to create a total of 350 affordable housing units and include space for retail and community services.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the city-owned lots come out of the years of community engagement that took place before the 2017 rezoning plan for East Harlem was approved, city officials say. The RFP seeks to redevelop the current East Harlem Multi-Service Center site located at 413 East 120th St., a former school which currently houses a dozen non-profit community-based organizations. Existing tenants will be relocated during construction and new community facility space will be required in the proposed development, according to HPD.
The second site is the NYPD parking lot on Park Avenue between East 118 and East 119 streets, which measures approximately 23,172 square feet and is currently used by the police department. Existing NYPD parking spaces will be temporarily relocated during construction, and the new development will include replacement parking, according to the plans.
Community Board 11 Chair Nalisa Orama said its members chose the two city-owned sites for redevelopment during the 2017 rezoning process, and more recently, the city held two community visioning workshops about the plans this May. Development at the sites is expected to include 100 percent affordable housing, with 30 percent set aside for formerly homeless households and new community or office space, according to the rezoning’s points of agreement.
RFP applicants are required to submit a relocation plan for the community-based organizations, and their proposals will be evaluated based on whether or not they meet those organizations’ needs. For the NYPD parking lot project, there will be a preference for proposals that “enhance the emerging commercial corridor in this section of Park Avenue,” according to the HPD press release.
“This came out of the suggestions for the rezoning, and it was a community-driven idea,” said Orama, adding that the board voted on the land use suggestions that were included in the final RFP (Orama said she recused herself from those discussion and votes because she is the current director for the East Harlem Multi-Service Center.)
During the East Harlem rezoning process, residents and local organizations who participated in the community engagement process came up with different ideas for each of the sites. For example, for the NYPD parking lot project, participants wanted to see a building that “emulated the culture of Harlem” and featured public art, like a stained glass installation. For the multi-service center, participants emphasized that they want any housing there to be offered at the deepest affordability levels for residents, according to the city surveys.
Applicants interested in the RFP may submit proposals for one or both sites before the deadline on Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. More information and a copy of the RFP are available online here.