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Press Release

NYCEDC and HPD Announce Commitment to Bring Affordable Housing to East Harlem

Mar 08 2017

Former bus depot on 126th Street to be revitalized with hundreds of units of housing, 20% of which will be affordable to families earning at or below 30% of Area Median Income

Will also be home to a permanent memorial to the historic African Burial Ground, public open space, and new jobs.

NEW YORK, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President James Patchett and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer today announced a commitment to bring deeply affordable housing to the site of a former MTA bus depot on East 126th Street in East Harlem.

The City has committed that 20 percent of the site’s residential units will be affordable to families making 30 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI), which is $24,500 per year for a family of three. 38 percent of East Harlem households currently earn less than 30 percent of AMI.

This commitment to deep affordability accomplishes a key goal outlined in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. It bolsters an earlier commitment by the City that at least 50 percent of residential units in the Bus Depot redevelopment will be affordable to families earning no more than 80 percent of AMI, ensuring that some of those affordable units will be accessible to East Harlem residents with extremely low incomes.

The Bus Depot project is currently making its way through the City’s public land use review process, after which the City will select a specific redevelopment project through an open and competitive RFP process. The site could provide approximately 730 total residential units, in which case approximately 150 units would be affordable to families of three earning $24,500 or below. Another approximately 220 units would be affordable to families making 80 percent of AMI or less.

At the heart of the Bus Depot site’s redevelopment will be a permanent outdoor memorial to the historic African Burial Ground that was located on a portion of the site along with a related indoor cultural center. The project will also provide commercial space for new jobs and community facility space while improving connections to the surrounding neighborhood.

"The bus depot redevelopment project provides an opportunity to create a permanent memorial for the historic African Burial Ground, while also responding to the needs we've heard directly from East Harlem residents such as affordable housing and good jobs," said NYCEDC President James Patchett. "Today's commitment means that 20 percent of the housing in this project will be accessible to families hit hardest by the affordability crisis facing our city. I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership in securing this commitment and my colleagues at HPD for working to ensure this project truly delivers for the East Harlem community."

“Committing a meaningful portion of the units to extremely low-income households is the first step in securing the full plan for housing development on this site,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. "We look forward to reviewing the proposals we receive in the future RFP, and will continue to work with the community to ensure this development is not only representative of community housing and commercial needs, but also includes an adequate memorial of these historically important grounds.”

“The former bus depot site represents an important opportunity to memorialize the historic Harlem African Burial Ground, while also providing affordable housing for the El Barrio/East Harlem community,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “For over a decade, my office has worked with the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force to help develop a vision for this important historic site. The commitment to require 20 percent of the units for families of three earning less than 30% AMI ($21,750) achieves a key goal outlined in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan and ensures that we continue to create housing for lower-income members of our community. I look forward to continued productive discussions with the Task Force, the City, and the community on this proposed development site.”

"Ensuring that this development will have apartments available for families earning 30% of AMI is incredibly important to help address some of the housing needs for East Harlem," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "I look forward to working with the community to create a memorial for the African Burial Ground that we can be proud of while developing a good open space plan."

“This project will embrace our community’s history and commemorate those enslaved and free Africans who we valued as productive members of our village,” said Reverend Dr. Patricia A. Singletary, co-Chair of the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force. “We expect tourists from around the globe to visit and have a positive impact on the village of Harlem today while experiencing its past.”

Since its creation in 2009, the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force has been dedicated to preserving the history of the Harlem African Burial Ground and creating a permanent memorial. It is co-chaired by Speaker Mark-Viverito and Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Singletary, Pastor of Elmendorf Reformed Church, the descendant church of the Low Dutch Reformed Church that established the burial ground almost four centuries ago. The Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force is made up of a wide cross-section of community stakeholders, including scholars, experts in historic and cultural preservation, clergy, and community residents.

Additionally, the City has worked closely with the 126th Street Bus Depot Task Force, which includes representatives from Community Board 11, to establish goals for the overall redevelopment.

Since January 2015, the Task Forces and the City have worked collaboratively in a community-based planning process for the redevelopment of this site, so that it honors the lives and contributions of those who were buried there while also meeting longstanding community needs such as affordable housing and quality jobs. This engagement process has determined specific uses for activating the site that will benefit the community while raising awareness about the site’s important history. Going forward, a specific development project for the site will be selected based on significant community input.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.