Community Board 10 voted in favor of a proposal to develop a series of lots on Frederick Douglass Boulevard into a high-rise condominium Wednesday night, ending a series of disagreements and negotiations between board members and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development that have dragged on for months.
The proposed development, slated for the 2282-2284 Frederick Douglass Boulevard lots in West Harlem, will have 12 stories and 89 condos, 18 of them classified as “affordable housing units.” The affordable condos will range in size from studios to three-bedroom complexes, and the units will cost between $730 and $1,220 per month. HPD representatives said that the building would also have 9,000 square feet of retail outlets on the ground floor, a parking lot for 150 cars below the ground level, and various community facilities throughout the complex.
“It’s a positive move in the right direction for us. ... I think affordable housing is definitely needed,” community board member Tamecca Anthony said. “I don’t think it’s always a perfect equation, but nonetheless, I think it’s our job to at least make sure it’s created.”
The area is currently occupied by three privately owned buildings and two city-owned lots used by the NYPD 28th Precinct to store impounded cars. The project had been contingent upon the NYPD’s releasing the impound lots to developers.
“It’s a good project,” HPD representative Hans Futterman said. “It represents a strong partnership between ... privately owned land, city-owned land, and the community.”
The CB10 Land Use Committee rejected an original plan at a meeting earlier this year. CB10 members protested the old plan, which was to create a secured parking lot for the NYPD impound cars within the residential parking facility in exchange for the lots.
HPD agreed to develop an alternative plan in which the precinct would be given 18 vouchers for residential use instead, which would also alleviate concerns of increased bottleneck traffic in the area. But HPD contractors stressed the importance of reaching a compromise with the NYPD, without whose cooperation the plan could not go forward.
“The NYPD, when they get control of vacant lots ... they hold on to it,” said Jabari Osaze, development supporter and Land Use Committee chair. “What ends up happening is they have control of these lots that are zoned for residents, and they never become residential, because they’re [the NYPD] using them for vacant lots. And so to find a developer that has convinced them to release that, that’s another reason that we needed to look favorably upon it [the proposal].”
While the issue was hotly debated, board members came out in near-unanimous support of it, with 27 members voting in favor of the development while only three voted against it.
Members raised questions about the disproportionate number of affordable units to condos that would go for market price, especially considering that members asked HPD representatives in a previous Land Use Committee meeting to attempt to come back with more affordable condos.
“You’re talking about 18 [out of 89] that’s going to be income-targeted? That’s ridiculous right there. It should be flipped,” resident K. Samuels said.
But HPD members explained that they were instead presenting CB10 with the same number of units at lower rates, which they claimed made more sense then presenting more condo units.
The target income level for the complexes is between $34,741 for a studio and family of one and $61,683 for a three-bedroom condo for a family of six. One board member reminded the room that the Harlem average median income is $26,000.
Land Use Committee member and realtor Danni Tyson said that while these condos may be outside the price range of many Harlem residents, they would be the perfect affordable units for young up-starts just out of college and looking for places of their own.
“That’s a class issue,” one resident called out. “Most students today are selfish when they get out of college.”
“That is a worthless project. ... What we need now is income-targeted housing,” Samuels said. “You’re talking about 6 percent of housing is owned in this community, that’s ridiculous. So the bottom line to me is, we’re getting more of the same.”
Sarah Lockwood contributed to this article.