Harlem affordable resi project withdrawn, appears dead

Council member rejects 51% affordability as “not close”

From left: Bruce Teitelbaum and Kristin Richardson Jordan along with a rendering of One45 (Getty Images, One45, iStock)
From left: Bruce Teitelbaum and Kristin Richardson Jordan along with a rendering of One45 (Getty Images, One45, iStock)

Harlem had 458 new, affordable apartments in its grasp. Instead it will get none.

Developers withdrew their application for the zoning they needed to build the mixed-use project after the local City Council member, Kristin Richardson Jordan, rejected it as not affordable enough — even though it would have been perhaps the most affordable development of its kind ever built in the city.

Barring an extraordinary turn of events, the 917-apartment plan, dubbed One45 for its proposed location on West 145th Street, is dead. Rezoning applications are time-limited, so without City Council approval early this month, the developers led by Bruce Teitelbaum would have to start the year-long process again.

However, there is little reason to believe that Jordan, a rookie Council member who ran on a far-left platform, will change her view that any housing unaffordable to tenants earning 30 percent of the area median income is bad for Harlem.

Unless the Council makes an exception to its tradition of deference to the local member on rezonings, which did not happen in this case, any application in her district for the next four or eight years will require her signoff.

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Teitelbaum and his partners could build an entirely market-rate project under current zoning, but said during the rezoning process that they had no plans to do so. It is conceivable, though, given Jordan’s hard line, that they might now reconsider that option to salvage their investment in the property. Teitelbaum did not immediately comment Tuesday morning.

The Council member sent Teitelbaum an email on Sunday breaking down the affordability of the developers’ last-ditch proposal. It called for 457 market-rate units and 458 affordable ones, including 112 for tenants earning 30 percent of area median income, 255 for tenants at 50 percent of AMI, and 91 for tenants at 125 percent of AMI.

(Source: Kristin Richardson Jordan)

(Source: Kristin Richardson Jordan)

Although no racial impact study had been done for the project, Jordan had already determined it was rife with “negatives,” according to her message, including “definitely displacement.” There is no history of racial impact studies being done for single projects in the city, although last year the Council required them for neighborhood-wide rezonings.

“I want to let you know that we gave this latest new proposal claiming ‘51% affordable’ some thought but with 450+ market-rate units, with no racial impact study, with even the 255 units at 50% AMI being almost twice the immediate area’s median income of 30% AMI so again affordable to who?” Jordan wrote.

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