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October 21, 2002
No. 274

Edward Skyler / Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Robert Hinckley (Governor’s Office) (518) 474-8418
Michael Sherman / Janel Patterson (EDC) (212) 788-3523


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today unveiled the West Harlem Master Plan, an in-depth study that incorporates guidelines for redeveloping the area bounded by 125th and 135th Streets, Broadway and the Hudson River in West Harlem. The first phase of the development plan, the revitalization of the Harlem Piers between 125th and 135th Street, will begin Fall 2003. The State has committed $4 million and the City has committed $2 million in funds to support the first phase, and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) board has recommended an investment of $5.5 million in the design and construction of the piers to the Empowerment Zone Corporation Board.

"The objective of the West Harlem Master Plan was to develop a cohesive plan for the economic development of West Harlem that reflects the character of the neighborhood and fulfills the vision of the community," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The Plan puts forth a complex but viable framework on which we can build successful commercial, community, institutional and waterfront development in Harlem, and it is testimony to what can be accomplished when we all work together. I want to thank the Governor for committing the necessary funds to get this project moving forward and I look forward to working with the State, the community groups, and the private sector in its implementation."

"Today we celebrate yet another important milestone in the economic redevelopment of Harlem," said Governor Pataki. "This $4 million commitment will jumpstart the transformation of what is now a city-owned parking lot into a waterfront destination that will connect inland neighborhoods to the Hudson River, and provide residents and tourists alike with improved access to Harlem. I commend Mayor Bloomberg and the City on a comprehensive Master Plan which complements the community’s vision, encourages economic development upland into West Harlem and continues the renewal of Manhattan’s waterfront from the Hudson River Park to Riverbank State Park."

"This is one of the most exciting projects that the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone has undertaken to date and an outstanding addition to what we are doing in Upper Manhattan," said UMEZ Board Chairman Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Esq. "It is a project around which our partners the City, State and the Federal government have coalesced and we look forward to making this exciting project a reality to the benefit of the residents of this community and to the City as a whole."

"This Master Plan for the Harlem Piers demonstrates the success of partnerships between the government and the community," said Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. "The Harlem Piers Master Plan will result in the transformation of this neglected area of the west side’s waterfront into a community amenity and regional attraction. The development of the Harlem Piers has been a priority of mine and I am proud to have contributed to this project."

The New York City Industrial Development Agency, the Office of Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, and former City Council Member Stanley E. Michels jointly funded the Master Plan. The 125-page study addresses three aspects of redevelopment: waterfront enhancement, transportation issues and economic development. The first section of the Plan calls for improvements to City-owned land which will transform a parking lot into an attractive and accessible waterfront amenity to a bring residents and visitors to the water and connect the area to greater Manhattan. It proposes several new piers along the waterfront between St. Clair Place and West 133rd Street to promote variety of activities including fishing, water tours, boating and ecological exploration.

In addition, new plantings and recreational areas would be established to attract bikers and pedestrians to the water’s edge. Private investment is encouraged to add to the creation of a waterfront destination and generate revenue to help maintain the area. The building could accommodate small shops, a visitors’ center and restaurant, and a not-for-profit community facility.

The second component of the Master Plan is centered on various transportation improvements to support the area’s growth. The Plan recommends a new MetroNorth stop at West 125th Street. Other recommendations include reconfiguring the Henry Hudson Parkway ramps and partially closing waterfront streets to improve pedestrian access to the area. Streetscape improvements along 125th Street, such as widened sidewalks, new tree plantings and a bike lane are proposed to draw visitors down the street to the waterfront.

The third component of the Master Plan deals with land-use and policy measures. It identifies the need to change outdated manufacturing zoning to allow a greater variety of uses and greater building bulk in the area near Broadway. In addition, the Plan seeks to reinforce partnerships with the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, the 125th Street BID and educational institutions, such as Columbia University and City College of New York, to promote more private investment. According to the Plan, retail development with an emphasis on food and entertainment should be established along the 12th Avenue Corridor.

"This is another successful collaboration by the City and State to revitalize communities throughout the five boroughs and to return New York City’s waterfronts to their neighborhoods," said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff. "This Plan will guide our efforts to revitalize the area and make it the bustling center of commerce and recreation it once was. Implementation of the Plan will also serve to reconnect West Harlem to the surrounding neighborhoods and greater Manhattan, both physically and economically."

"In a City that has more than 570 miles of waterfront, it is incredible how little of it is accessible to those who live nearby," said President Andrew M. Alper of the New York City Economic Development Corporation that administered the Master Plan on behalf of the City. "Improving our waterfronts, for both recreational and transportation uses, is key to the future success of New York City."

"New York is a city of neighborhoods and the release of this plan brings us one step closer to realizing our goals for West Harlem which include waterfront access, improved transportation, and utilizing unproductive manufacturing areas," said Director of the Department of City Planning Amanda M. Burden. "We look forward to working with all of the involved parties to refine this proposal and to maximize the potential of this important neighborhood."

Building on the past work of the community and, in close cooperation with Manhattan Community Board 9 and West Harlem Environmental Action, the Master Plan was developed in a two-year process with extensive input from an all-inclusive Working Committee, comprised of local organizations, various stakeholders, elected officials, government agencies and local institutions which met regularly with the EDC team.

EDC’s technical consultant team was lead by W Architecture and Landscape LLC. Other technical consultants included Ernst & Young LLP, DMJM+Harris, and The Sam Schwartz Company. The New York City Industrial Development Agency, the Manhattan Borough President and City Council funded the Master Plan.

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