The Department of City Planning (DCP) is proposing zoning map and zoning text amendments to the 90- block area within the West Harlem neighborhoods (Hamilton Heights, Sugar Hill and Manhattanville South) of Manhattan Community District 9. The affected area is generally 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.
In response to future development concerns raised by Community Board 9, community residents and the Borough President during the Columbia University Special Manhattanville Mixed Use District (C 070495 ZMM, N 070496 ZRM) ULURP review process in 2007, the DCP initiated the West Harlem rezoning in recognition that zoning changes were needed for the broader West Harlem neighborhood (adjacent to the Special Manhattanville Mixed Use District) to provide better protection against out-of-scale development. In 2008, DCP along with Community Board 9, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and NYC Council Member Robert Jackson established the following land use goals for the rezoning:
- Preserve the strongly-established and varied character of the West Harlem residential neighborhoods;
- Consider opportunities for new mixed-use development in the existing manufacturing district, located between West 126th and West 130th streets, bound by Amsterdam and Convent avenues.
- Explore the community’s east-west corridors to allow for development opportunities, where appropriate, while utilizing the Inclusionary Housing Program to promote affordable housing.
The West Harlem rezoning area predominately consists of two existing medium density residential districts, R7-2 and R8, generally located north of West 130th Street. These broadly-applied zoning districts have remained unchanged since 1961 and allow for unpredictable building forms (“tower-in-the-park” developments) that do not closely reflect the unique and varied character of area’s low-rise brownstones, rowhouses and mid-rise apartment buildings.
The southern portion of the proposed rezoning area (between West 126th to West 129th streets, bound by Amsterdam and Convent avenues) is currently constrained by an existing M1-1 zoning district, which limits opportunity for expansion of existing buildings and new construction. The current zoning does not provide a comprehensive framework for orderly growth that is sensitive to the well-established character and does not offer zoning incentives that could support affordable housing development.
City Planning crafted the proposed rezoning through close consultation with Community Board 9, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and NYC Council Member Robert Jackson. The proposed rezoning, consistent with the land use policy goals articulated by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s West Harlem Special District Plan and the Community Board 9’s 197-A Plan for Community District 9, seeks to achieve the following objectives:
- Reinforce the special character of West Harlem’s residential neighborhoods by updating the existing zoning with new contextual zones to require predictable building forms that complement the existing urban fabric;
- Activate the existing manufacturing area to support economic development and mixed use while favoring a variety of uses over residential;
- Strengthen the West 145th Street corridor by allowing development opportunities, where appropriate, while designating the Inclusionary Housing Program to incentivize affordable housing