Harlem resi towers project heads to contentious Council vote

City Planning approved Bruce Teitelbaum's One45

Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan and New York City Department of City Planning's Dan Garodnick (Getty Images, One45, NYC.gov Department of City Planning, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)
Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan and New York City Department of City Planning's Dan Garodnick (Getty Images, One45, NYC.gov Department of City Planning, Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal)

A controversial proposal for residential towers in Harlem is now in the hands of the City Council.

The City Planning Commission on Monday voted in favor of One45, a two-tower project that could bring more than 900 apartments to West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue, of which more than 200 units would be affordable. Ahead of the vote, City Planning Chair Dan Garodnick said the project was an opportunity to “put a dent” in the city’s “acute housing crisis.”

Only two commissioners voted against the project, Leah Goodridge and Anna Hayes Levin. Goodridge, appointed to the commission last year by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, said the development did not include enough affordable housing.

“We shouldn’t accept any crumbs,” she said. “To me, this is a crumb.”

Levin, a commissioner since 2009 appointed by successive Manhattan Borough Presidents Scott Stringer and Gale Brewer, cited the lack of details about a civil rights museum proposed as part of the project as one of the reasons for her opposition.

City Planning’s approval was not a surprise, but the project faces an uphill battle in the City Council. Local Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan has voiced opposition to the project, which could trip up the proposal’s progress through the city’s land use review process. The council typically votes along with the wishes of the local member on land use issues, though there have been exceptions.

In a statement, Jordan said she would “only support housing in Harlem that reflects what Harlemites can afford.”

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She said developer Bruce Teitelbaum has been “disingenuous and has no real desire to work with the community to make One45 a great development.” The council member indicated that in order to secure her approval, 100 percent of the apartments would need to be affordable, with 57 percent set aside for those earning 30 percent of the area median income or less.

The project is further complicated by the uncertainty of a civil rights museum that was proposed as part of the project. The museum, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Judge Jonathan Lippman, was originally supposed to occupy 48,000 square feet at One45, but last month, developer Don Peebles announced that the museum would move to his Affirmation Tower, a project envisioned for Hudson Yards whose future also remains ambiguous.

Teitelbaum wrote a letter to City Planning commissioners last month, saying negotiations for opening the museum at his project were ongoing, according to Politico. A representative for Sharpton’s National Action Network told Patch that it was still working with the developer to build the museum at One45.

Representatives for Sharpton and Teitelbaum did not respond to requests seeking comment on Monday.

In an email, Peebles said on Monday that he is still in discussions regarding moving the museum to the proposed Affirmation Tower.

“I have been informed that there is no firm deal at the other location,” he said. “Our number one objective is to make sure the Civil Rights Museum is built and opened so that visitors to NYC from around the world will learn the history of the movement that enfranchised Black Americans.”

Peebles previously announced that a deal had been reached to bring the museum to Affirmation Tower. The state has yet to release a revised request for proposals for the Hudson Yards site, and officials have hinted that they would prefer affordable housing on the property.