City Council committee OKs AvalonBay’s 673-foot East Harlem tower

Under terms of the deal, a third of the roughly 1000 apartments will be affordable

Melissa Mark-Vivertit, rendering of 321 East 96th Street and AvalonBay's Timothy Naughton
Melissa Mark-Vivertit, rendering of 321 East 96th Street and AvalonBay's Timothy Naughton

AvalonBay Communities can move forward with the 60-story tower it planned for East Harlem after a City Council Committee approved the project on Thursday. The approved development will allow Mayor Bill de Blasio to add more than 300 of the tower’s approximately 1,000 apartments to his affordable housing tally.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also supported the project, saying Thursday that “the public benefits helped mitigate concerns” from area residents about the building’s proposed colossal height.

Marina Ortiz, founder of the East Harlem Preservation group, previously called the plans “frightening” and criticized the affordability restrictions, which range between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income, as inadequate for the community.

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AvalonBay’s tower will fill up an entire block between 96th and 97th streets between First and Second Avenue. Plans include a public park and two new school buildings. The city’s Educational Construction Fund is a partner on the project, and an existing playground will be relocated to make way for the high-rise.

The developers qualified for the rezoning in exchange for affordable apartments, under a de Blasio-championed policy called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. But neighborhood groups have resisted many of these projects and a handful have been scrapped altogether. Last year, Queens councilman Jimmy Van Bramer succeeded in stamping out plans for an entirely affordable project proposed by Phipps Houses in Sunnyside.

And in East New York, which was rezoned last year, no private developer has attempted a project that requires a rezoning[Crain’s] — Will Parker