Bus Depot Development To Include ‘Deep Affordability’ In East Harlem

The city Economic Development Corporation hasn’t released many details about a planned 1.1-million-square-foot development on the site of a former MTA bus depot in East Harlem, but officials announced this week that 20 percent of the eventual apartment units will be offered at “deeply affordable” rates.

The future development — located on East 126th Street between First and Second avenues — will contain hundreds of apartment units, 20 percent of which will be offered at 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $24,500 per year for a family of three, officials said to source.

“Ensuring that this development will have apartments available for families earning 30% of AMI is incredibly important to help address some of the housing needs for East Harlem,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a statement.

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The city had already committed to make 50 percent of the eventual apartment units available at no more than 80 percent AMI, officials said in a press release. The 20 percent of units offered at “deeply affordable” rates will factor into the 50 percent, an EDC spokesman said at a Wednesday meeting of the Community Board 11 land use, landmarks and planning committee.

The city has taken an unorthodox approach while seeking approval for the bus depot development, which will include residential development, commercial space, a community center and a living memorial on the site of an African burial ground. The city is currently in the process called Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), but has not yet submitted a Request For Proposals (RFP). The city hopes to prepare an RFP by 2018.

Because the city has not decided on a development proposal, city officials are being asked to vote on land use rights without a concrete idea of what eventually will be built. Officials won’t know what the development will look like, how big it will be or how high it rises.

City officials presented a massing model of a possible “reasonable worst case development” during Wednesday’s meeting, and CB members weren’t overly thrilled with the size of the hypothetical development.

A spokesman from the City Planning Commission said they wanted to get the “grunt work” of the ULURP process completed before submitting an RFP so that the eventual proposals are of better quality.

The CB 11 land use, landmarks and planning committee did not vote on the development’s land use application during its meeting on Wednesday.

Photo by Google Maps street view

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