Developer to Harlem pol who blocked project: “Truck you!”
Bruce Teitelbaum eyes depot for big rigs after Council member nixed affordable housing
A Council member who rejected a project in her Harlem district featuring 917 apartments — half of them affordable — now stands to get a truck depot instead.
Developer Bruce Teitelbaum told Patch he is pursuing a facility for “big rigs” at West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue, which he can do without sign-off from Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan.
The socialist politician had refused to support a rezoning for Teitelbaum’s project, One45, which would have doubled the affordability level required by the de Blasio administration’s mandatory inclusionary housing law.
As Jordan saw it, the project’s market-rate units, which accounted for 49 percent of the total, would have gentrified the area, and not every affordable unit would have been within reach of households earning 30 percent of the area median income. Teitelbaum said the project she wanted was not economically feasible.
Dan Garodnick, Mayor Eric Adams’ planning commissioner, whose top goal is to alleviate the city’s housing crisis, later called the project’s rejection a “missed opportunity.”
According to Patch, Teitelbaum said that under current zoning, a “rental depot for big rigs and trucks” made sense for the site because it is near highways and roads “and we have received a lot of interest in this regard.”
An adjacent gas station is already renting parking spots to cars and a bus, and the zoning seems to allow it, so the developers are moving ahead with the idea, a source told The Real Deal.
Teitelbaum could be bluffing about the truck depot, which would go on a plot that has been vacant since 2016, but he does not have much to lose. Richardson Jordan could remain in her Harlem seat for most of the next decade and keep her veto power over local rezonings, thanks to the Council’s custom of member deference.
Teitelbaum has investors to answer to, and they are not inclined to do nothing with their land, which has several small retail tenants including a KFC, until the Council member moves on or her colleagues agree to go around her.
The developers could also build a self-storage facility and market-rate housing, although nothing on the scale of what they asked Richardson Jordan to approve. They are still pondering their options.
Pursuing another rezoning would take at least a year — the median time is two and a half years, a watchdog group reported this week — and could cost $1 million, if not more, with no guarantee of success.
The last offer on the table, according to a message the Council member sent Teitelbaum in May, was 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. “Affordable to who[m]?” Jordan wrote, rhetorically.