The Real Deal New York

Cuomo orders probe into de Blasio’s controversial $1B East Harlem real estate plan

State must determine whether playground site that would house resi tower is parkland
October 24, 2017 11:50AM

From left: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Marx Brothers Playground (Credit: Getty Images and NYC Parks)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday ordered a state investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial plan to move an East Harlem playground, which would make way for a $1 billion mixed-income residential tower at 96th Street and Second Avenue.

Before the city can proceed with plans for a high-rise tower on the site, the state must determine whether or not Marx Brothers Playground is officially parkland, the New York Post reported. The city planned to relocate the playground in order to make way for a 1,100-unit, mixed-income residential tower.

But Cuomo ordered an investigation of the land’s historical records and uses to determine whether or not the site is simply a playground or counts as parkland. He said the latter “should not provide zoning bonuses to private industry,” but playgrounds “are a different classification and may be eligible for zoning incentives, and no state approval of alienation is necessary.”

The governor believes that the land will ultimately be classified as parkland, which could complicate the project.

The $1 billion project is a partnership between developer Avalon Bay and the NYC Educational Construction Fund. The project calls for a 720-foot tower and three schools.

According to the Post, Avalon Bay has spent more than $467,000 lobbying the city since 2014. [NYP] — Kathryn Brenzel