NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tenants of a historic Harlem apartment complex are gaining traction in their fight against a proposal to expand their community.
So far, the developer’s plans have been rejected, most recently by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
At a meeting Wednesday, developers signaled that they’re willing to change their tune, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.
Five new apartment buildings, larger bustling retail and green space at Lenox Terrace was billed as a necessary upgrade for the community.
But now, Brewer has joined a growing list of people who are not buying it.
“It was a game changer in terms of central Harlem, so we looked at it not just in terms of the individuals who reside at Lenox Terrace, but also the people who live in the community,” Brewer said.
The plan would add 4,000 new residents in the three square blocks next to Harlem Hospital.
Brewer said that’s a density that will overwhelm the overcrowded Nos. 2 and 3 trains, schools and other services needed in the area, costing the city millions. Add to that concerns about the height of the new buildings and the desire for more than the proposed 500 affordable units.
“I don’t know if it’s a redo or a start over, but it’s a major change I think before it’s going to be satisfactory to the community,” Brewer said.
Developers are now making their pitch to the city Planning Commission, but this time they say they’re willing to make some concessions.
Ethan Goodman represents developer the Olnick Organization, which has owned Lenox Terrace since the beginning.
When asked what some of the tangible changes the developer is willing to make, Goodman said, “The plan to increase affordability, both on the existing Lenox Terrace development and in the new development,” Goodman said.
Details about the concessions, which include scaling back the rezoning and making one new building entirely affordable, are still being worked out and are based on access to tax incentives and subsidies.
“What we’re talking about, residential contextual zoning, it means something that is in character, scope and scale for the community,” said Savanna Washington of Lenox Terrace Association of Concerned Tenants.
They want the changes to preserve what has always made Harlem and Lenox Terrace so special.
City commissioners will accept public comment about the proposal until the beginning of January. They will vote on the plan the following month.