Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is starting work on the Harlem Pathmark development site it assembled two years ago for $70 million.
The developer filed plans in late September to demolish the home of the former supermarket to pave way for what is expected to be a large-scale residential or mixed-use project, Crain’s New York reported.
Extell bought the property at 149 East 124th Street for $39 million in 2014, and then bought out the supermarket’s lease for $21 million after the store’s parent company filed for bankruptcy. Barnett then snapped up a former U.S. Post Office on the same block for $10 million.
The site has sat quiet for two years as Barnett’s worked on other time-consuming projects such as his proposed supertall tower on Billionaire’s Row and another condo tower on the Lower East Side.
It’s not exactly clear, though, what can be built on the site. The Department of City Planning on Oct. 18 unveiled its plans to rezone a large swath of East Harlem to make way for more density.
Extell’s block, which is located between Lexington and Third avenues and East 124th and East 125th streets, was included in the rezoning plan, but the allowable density is not proposed to be changed in the city’s current draft. One reason may be because the site was included in a prior rezoning of 125th Street in 2008.
Land-use experts say Extell may be able to build up to 613,605 square feet of residential space if the firm opts into city programs that trade more density for affordable housing units or space for visual and performing arts. That could work out to roughly 600 apartments.
The zoning also allows for commercial use.
When Extell bought the site in 2014 from a partnership between an arm of the Rev. Calvin Butts’ Abyssinian Development Corp., an influential landlord in Harlem, and a nonprofit called the Community Association of the East Harlem Triangle, community members were outraged by the loss of a supermarket.
“I am extremely frustrated and angry at Abyssinian Development Corp.,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said at the time. “I believe they threw this community under the bus.” [Crain’s] — Rich Bockmann