Last Wednesday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer signed his office’s recommendations for the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) West Harlem rezoning. The hope is to protect the character of the West Harlem neighborhood surrounding Columbia as the university attempts to expand by limiting the scale of buildings and encouraging the development of permanent affordable housing.
As a result of a multiyear consultation with the local community, the DCP’s zoning plan will mostly maintain similar density of development in the neighborhood and impose new height limits. It will also add street wall requirements to make sure silver-colored buildings and other buildings considered “uncharacteristic” cannot be built.
“I am proud today to issue my approval for the West Harlem rezoning proposal, a historic undertaking that will protect the distinctive residential character of this neighborhood for decades to come,” said Stringer in an email to the AmNews. “This rezoning reflects the input of thousands of stakeholders in West Harlem and five years of work toward crafting a community-based planning consensus that could be a model for the rest of our city. It is a promise kept to the residents of West Harlem–and a proud moment for all who are involved.”
The rezoning will comprise 90 blocks of Community Board 9, mostly bounded by West 126th Street to the south, West 155th Street to the north, Edgecombe, Bradhurst and Convent avenues to the east and Riverside Drive to the west.
Earlier this year, Stringer testified before the DCP to discuss what needed to be done to ensure that Harlem residents weren’t pushed aside.
“In 2007, the community had its first opportunity to understand the impacts of Columbia University’s Manhattanville expansion,” said Stringer back in January. “While many acknowledged Columbia’s expansion would benefit the city’s economy, they also worried it would leave the surrounding area vulnerable. We soon realized that current zoning was, and remains, extremely outdated, leaving the community susceptible to new out-of-scale development and displacement of long-time residents.”
Zoning hasn’t been updated in the neighborhood since 1961.