With Sharpton out, developer scrambles to save massive Harlem project

Teitelbaum could add 100 affordable units to win over local pol

New York /
May.May 05, 2022 01:30 PM
Bruce Teitelbaum, CEO of RPG, along with a rendering of One45 at 145th Street and Lenox Avenue (Getty Images, RPG, iStock)

Bruce Teitelbaum, CEO of RPG, along with a rendering of One45 at 145th Street and Lenox Avenue (Getty Images, RPG, iStock)

Developers of a controversial Harlem project are hoping more affordable units can be its saving grace amid opposition from local officials.

RPG CEO Bruce Teitelbaum, one of the investors behind the One45 project, plans to add more affordable housing in a proposal next week, The City reported. The pair of 363-foot towers proposed for West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue are slated to include 900 units, but only around the minimum of 220 are set to be affordable.

Teitelbaum didn’t say how many affordable units were being added, but a person familiar told the outlet it cold be around 100.

The project recently received approval from the City Planning Commission, where City Planning Chair Dan Garodnick said it was an opportunity to “put a dent” in the city’s “acute housing crisis.”

One45 has faced an uphill battle in City Council, where local member Kristin Richardson Jordan will determine its fate. The council often votes along the wishes of the local member on land use issues, known as member deference.

Jordan has said she would “only support housing in Harlem that reflects what Harlemites can afford.” The council member has called for 100 percent of the units to be affordable, including 57 percent set aside for those earning 30 percent or less of the area median income.

Such a project would not be economically feasible, but the proposal represents Jordan’s opening position in a negotiation for as much affordability as she can get.

Teitelbaum can afford to add affordability because in a tightening rental market, the market-rate units should generate more revenue than previously forecast to subsidize the affordable ones.

The developer could also zag in the other direction, building only market-rate and dropping the need for a zoning change, though the project would have to be significantly smaller.

The project has been thrown into disarray by the departure of the planned civil rights museum that was part of the project. Founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Judge Jonathan Lippman, the museum was originally supposed to occupy 48,000 square feet at One45.

Developer Don Peebles, however, announced the museum would move to his Affirmation Tower project in Hudson Yards. Sharpton has said has not committed to it, however, and has another option available.

Sharpton has urged One45 developers to use the former museum space for affordable and senior housing.

Jordan even voiced opposition to the cultural aspect of the project, saying in a tweet the developers were “exploiting Harlem’s legacy and Black history to displace Black families while personally enriching themselves,” calling the museum a “Trojan horse.”

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner





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