City condemns derelict Harlem townhouse, paving the way for new construction

April 16, 2012 09:30AM

Harlem preservationists have found themselves in a pickle over a row of townhouses on 126th Street between Park and Madison avenues, the New York Times reported.¬†Residents of nearby buildings have been filing complaints to the city for years, as several owners have abandoned properties on the block and allowed them to fall into disrepair. The once-charming structures, that were characteristic of the classic Harlem brownstone, became home to squatters and street-dwellers, much to locals’ dismay.

Those residents petitioned to the city to repair the buildings, the Times said, but because they are privately owned properties there was little the Department of Housing Preservation and Development could do. Neighbors boarded up the windows and sealed the properties to prevent illegal activity from infiltrating the walls, but were helpless in the face of failing support structures.

Now, one of these townhouses, 58 East 126th Street, was condemned to demolition by the city’s Department of Buildings, the Times said. But Harlem residents are worried that a bland condo will rise in its place, stripping the neighborhood of an essential part of its identity. [NYT]