East Harlem Rezoning Proposal

Update: November 30, 2017 – Approved

On November 30, 2017, the NYC City Council approved the East Harlem Rezoning Proposal with modifications to several elements of the proposal, including maximum permitted height and density. View the modified PDF Document maximum permitted height limitations map, PDF Document maximum permitted density limitations map and the PDF Document final zoning map as adopted by City Council which are now in effect.

What is the East Harlem Neighborhood Planning Study?
East Harlem Study area
The East Harlem Neighborhood Planning study aims to examine key land use and zoning issues in the neighborhood, but also take a broader, more comprehensive look at current and future community needs to identify a wide range of strategies and investments for East Harlem’s growth and vitality. More specifically, the East Harlem study examines the East Harlem neighborhood located in Manhattan Community District 11, a vibrant community that is the focus of significant investments in health, transit, and streetscape infrastructure.

The East Harlem Neighborhood Planning Study is a part of Housing New York, the Mayor’s housing plan to build and preserve affordable housing through community development initiatives that foster a more equitable and livable New York City. Housing is considered “affordable” if a household spends no more than a third of its total income on housing costs.

East Harlem Neighborhood Study Rezoning Map
East Harlem Neighborhood Study Rezoning Map
PDF Document View a larger image of the map.

In 2002, the Department of City Planning (DCP) rezoned 57 blocks in East Harlem, east of Lexington Avenue and south of 124th Street to East 99th Street, much of which was zoned R7-2, a moderate density residential district. The goals of this rezoning were to encourage new residential opportunities, ensure future development was consistent with the existing neighborhood characteristics, preserve the scale of the mid-block and  lead to ground floor retail and services.

In May of 2013, Community Board 11, in partnership with the not-for-profit organization Civitas, published a planning and zoning study of the area between East 115th Street and East 132nd Street, bound by Madison Avenue on the west and Lexington Ave on the east.  Informed by over a year of community input, the report made recommendations to update zoning districts and increase density in certain areas, promote affordable housing and economic development, and preserve neighborhood character. 

A major factor of the study will also be a Neighborhood Health Initiative. On February 1, 2015, the Fund for Public Health in New York announced its partnership with the New York Academy of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and DCP to work on establishing a local wholesale food hub that will provide neighborhood bodegas and markets with fresh fruits and vegetables, among other goals.

The current East Harlem Neighborhood study expands upon these previous efforts by examining a large geography and incorporating a PDF Document plan for the preservation and the development of affordable housing. Additionally, the study proposes to identify areas where infrastructure and open space improvements are needed as well as areas of opportunity for economic and community development.

View the updated one page information in PDF Document English or in Spanish.

View the PDF Document CPC Pre-Hearing presentation from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development with updates on their Draft Housing Plan for East Harlem.

The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), together with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), is proposing a series of land use actions— including zoning map amendments, zoning text amendments, and amendments to the Milbank Frawley Circle-East Urban Renewal Plan—as a component of its East Harlem initiative, a comprehensive, community-focused effort aimed at identifying opportunities for the creation of new mixed-income housing and the preservation of existing affordable units consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s housing plan, Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan.

The East Harlem Rezoning Proposal builds upon and responds to the land use and zoning recommendations in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan (EHNP), which was developed through a holistic, community-based planning process by a Steering Committee comprised of local stakeholders led by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Community Board 11 and Community Voices Heard. Through a series of meetings on various neighborhood topics ranging from open space to zoning and land use, the Steering Committee produced the EHNP report, which includes 232 recommendations for addressing key neighborhood concerns raised during its engagement process.

In February 2016, the EHNP Steering Committee submitted its report to the City for review and to help inform the City’s planning efforts within East Harlem. The EHNP expressed concern that the trend toward new market rate development under existing zoning could change the character of East Harlem and erode opportunities for affordability. The Department of City Planning, using the work already completed by the Steering Committee and the Community Board as a baseline, has engaged in extensive coordination with interagency partners to identify actionable priorities in the Plan. This includes the mapping of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) to require that 20 to 30 percent of new residential units be made affordable on a permanent basis, which will lock-in affordability in the rezoned area for years to come.

The East Harlem Rezoning Proposal reflects DCP’s on-going engagement with Community Board 11, the Steering Committee, DCP’s interagency partners, and local elected officials to achieve the following land use objectives:

  • Create opportunities for requiring permanently affordable housing to ensure that the neighborhood continues to serve diverse housing needs;
  • Modify the existing zoning, where appropriate, to preserve the built neighborhood character;
  • Create opportunities for economic development while preserving the vitality of existing commercial and manufacturing uses;
  • Establish a Special District that establishes urban design controls that balance new development in response to existing neighborhood context and scale and improves the pedestrian experience; and
  • Ensure a successful neighborhood plan by establishing a planning framework that is inclusive of the relevant capital infrastructure needs and services to support current demand and future growth.

The proposed rezoning is expected to result in a net increase of approximately 3,500 dwelling units, a substantial proportion of which are expected to be affordable. The zoning would also strengthen the role of East Harlem as a major transit hub and job center by promoting creation of new job-generating commercial and industrial space. Over ten years, the plan is projected to spur an estimated 122,000 sq ft of stores and restaurants and 275,000 sq ft of office and industrial space.

The East Harlem Initiative is more than just zoning. To respond to non-zoning community goals highlighted in the EHNP, the Department of City Planning and other agencies are identifying and prioritizing new, expanded programs and services, and capital investments that will benefit the community and enable it to thrive. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

The proposed rezoning would replace zoning districts to focus new development on the Park Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Third Avenue, Second Avenue and East 116th Street corridors. This includes mapping Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) Areas to require that permanently-affordable housing units are a part of new developments along these corridors. The proposal would modify and re-map the boundaries of the existing Special Transit Land Use (TA) Districts in East Harlem, and would establish the new Special East Harlem Corridors (EHC) District along major thoroughfares within the rezoning area.

Following the referral of the proposed East Harlem Neighborhood Rezoning on April 24, 2017, DCP has developed a modified proposal called an Amended (A) Text. An A-text is an alternative zoning text that is responsive to the public review process, provides the public with a broader range of options for comment, and allows for a more complete consideration of options for the City Planning Commission to consider. Either the original zoning text or the A-text, or a version of those, may be adopted. The proposed A-text would establish height limits along portions of the Park Avenue Corridor and in specific areas along Third, Second and Lexington Avenues where height limits are not currently within scope for consideration. View the PDF Document original text that was certified on April 24, 2017 and the PDF Document amended text filed on August 7, 2017.

The Proposed Actions include amendments to the text of the City’s Zoning Resolution to:

  • Establish the EHC Special District along major corridors within the rezoning area including Park Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Third Avenue, Second Avenue, and East 116th Street corridors to establish special use, bulk, ground-floor design and parking regulations;
  • Create a new special permit related to the development, conversion, or enlargement of hotels within the proposed EHC Special District;
  • Modify existing provisions of the Special 125th Special District applicable to the portion of the special district located at the intersection of East 125th Street and Park Avenue to implement new special use, bulk, ground-floor design, and parking regulations;
  • Modify the boundaries of the TA District to reflect the current plans of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for prospective Second Avenue Subway locations, accommodate ancillary support facilities for the future phase of the Second Avenue Subway, and introduce bulk modifications to facilitate the inclusion of necessary transportation-related facilities in new developments within Special District boundaries; and
  • Amend Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution to apply the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program to portions of the proposed rezoning area, including areas where zoning changes would promote new housing.

On April 24, 2017, the Department of City Planning certified the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) applications (170358 ZMM, N170359 ZRM, 170360 HUM) for East Harlem to begin the formal review process. The proposal will now be referred out to Manhattan CB 11 for 60 days to review, after which it will go to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

ULURP Milestone Target Dates
Department of City Planning Certification April 24, 2017 – PDF Document View the presentation
Manhattan Community Board 11 Resolution July 3, 2017
Borough President Recommendation August 2, 2017
City Planning Commission Hearing August 23, 2017 – PDF Document View the Pre-Hearing Presentation
City Planning Commission Approval with modifications* - View the CPC Reports October 2, 2017
City Council Approved with Modifications** November 30, 2017

* CPC modifications:

On October 2, 2017, the Commission approved the proposed text amendment (C 170358 ZMM) with modifications to establish maximum height limitations throughout the entirety of the rezoning area, save the node at 125th Street and Park Avenue. These height limits would apply to non-contextual districts that did not include height limits in the original certified application.

  • These height limits allow for the full utilization of floor area, so that the fundamental goals of affordable housing production and economic opportunity are fulfilled.
  • They also ensure that no building – even on the widest avenues - would be taller than 32 stories in height (by point of reference, Taino Towers is 35 stories) and therefore in keeping with the varied existing built form of the neighborhood.

The following maximum height limitations would apply:

  • In proposed R10 and C4-6 districts, a maximum height limitation of 325 feet, or 32 stories would apply.
  • In proposed R9 districts, a maximum height limitation of 285 feet, or 28 stories would apply.
    • In R9 districts proposed within Special Transit Land Use (TA) Districts on Second Avenue, a modified height limit of 325 feet, or 32 stories, would apply in order to accommodate future subway infrastructure.

PDF Document View a map of the proposed maximum height limitations, as modified by the CPC.

** City Council modifications:

On November 30, 2017, the NYC City Council adopted the proposed map and text amendments (C 170358 ZMM and N 170359 ZRM) with modifications to maximum permitted height, maximum permitted density, zoning district boundaries and the minimum non-residential floor area requirement. The City Council also established which MIH options will apply within the study area.

  • Maximum Permitted Height: City Council approved modified maximum height limitations along Park Avenue, Third Avenue, Second Avenue and the intersection of Lexington Avenue and East 116th Street.
    • Along Park Avenue, maximum permitted heights ranging from 215 to 295 feet were adopted.
    • Along Third Avenue, maximum permitted heights ranging from 215 to 235 feet were adopted.
    • Along  Second Avenue, a maximum permitted height of 175 feet was adopted.
      • Developments within the Special Transit Land Use District featuring subway entrance facilities would be allowed a maximum permitted height of 215 feet, and developments with ancillary subway facilities would be allowed a maximum permitted height of 325 feet.
    • At the intersection of Lexington Avenue and East 116th Street, a maximum permitted height of 205 feet was adopted.
  • Maximum Permitted Density: City Council adopted modified maximum permitted density limitations along Park and Third Avenues.
    • Along Park Avenue, maximum permitted densities in proposed R10-equivalent districts were reduced from 12.0 FAR to 8.5 FAR in one area (a new M1-6 / R9 district) and from 12.0 FAR to 10.0 FAR in others (modified M1-6 / R10, C4-6 and R10 districts). Maximum permitted densities in proposed R9-equivalent districts were reduced from 8.5 FAR to 5.6 FAR in some areas (new R7D districts) and from 8.5 FAR to 7.2 FAR in others (a new R8A district).
    • Along Third Avenue, maximum permitted densities in the proposed C4-6 district were reduced from 12.0 FAR to 9.0 FAR in some areas and from 12.0 FAR to 10.0 FAR in others. The proposed R10 district along Third Avenue with a maximum permitted density of 12.0 FAR was modified to an R9 district with a maximum permitted density of 9.0 FAR.
  • Zoning District Boundaries: City Council removed certain areas from the rezoning proposal.
    • The eastern blockfront of Madison Avenue between 126th and 127th Street was removed from the proposed R7A district. An additional portion of the proposed R7B district adjacent to this area, between Madison and Park Avenue, was removed from the rezoning area as well.
    • The western blockfront of Park Avenue between 120th and 121st Street was removed from the proposed R10 district.
  • Minimum Non-Residential Floor Area Requirement: City Council adopted an amended text with modified minimum non-residential floor area requirements within the Park Avenue Subdistrict of the Special East Harlem Corridors District.
    • For R9-equivalent districts, the minimum non-residential floor area requirement was reduced from 1.5 FAR to 1.0 FAR.
    • For R10-equivalent districts, the minimum non-residential floor area requirement was reduced from 2.0 FAR to 1.5 FAR.
  • MIH Options: City Council adopted MIH Options 1 and 3 within the area of the rezoning where MIH will apply. Prospective developments within the adopted MIH area, which includes East 116th Street as well as Park, Lexington, Third and Second Avenues, will have to comply with either of these two options.
    • MIH Option 1 requires that 25% of residential floor area be made available to households earning 60% of AMI, on average. There is an additional stipulation that 10% of residential floor area will need to be made available to households earning 40% of AMI, on average.
    • MIH Option 3 requires that 20% of residential floor area be made available to households earning 40% of AMI, on average.

View maps of the PDF Document maximum permitted height limitations, PDF Document maximum permitted density limitations and the PDF Document final zoning map as adopted by City Council.

Engagement with the community and local stakeholders is an essential component of the planning process in East Harlem. DCP will lead a range of events throughout the land use review process to allow public participation, engagement, and comment on the East Harlem neighborhood planning process. Partnering with DCP on this Plan are the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Department of Small Business Services (SBS), NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), and the School Construction Authority (SCA).

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Community Board 11 convened a steering committee comprised of East Harlem community organization representatives and city agencies. The Steering Committee held public community visioning workshops on various neighborhood topics throughout 2016. The Steering Committee produced a comprehensive set of recommendations in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, which serves as a foundation for DCP’s efforts in the East Harlem neighborhood. For more information on the Speaker’s Steering Committee and its East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, check Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s webpage, where you can also submit your feedback.

If you would like to get involved, keep checking this webpage and our Get Involved page for upcoming events.

You can also subscribe to our mailing list to be notified directly of any updates and events.

For more information on the study, contact the City Planning Manhattan Office at 1-212-720-3480 or EastHarlem@planning.nyc.gov.