East Harlem-compressedPhoto: Adnan Islam/Flickr

A 7,000 square foot vacant parcel of land at 126th Street and 3rd Avenue may finally be developed, potentially providing 1,000 new residential units, up to 70,000 square feet of commercial space and a renewed commitment to affordable housing in the area.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in conjunction with the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), released a Request for Proposal for the site earlier this month.

The RFP calls the project “a large, catalytic redevelopment that is expected to bring an influx of housing, jobs and activity to the neighborhood.” Conditions for selection include “hiring and workforce programs proposed” and “economic impact of the proposed project.”

The NYCEDC also announced an additional 200 units of affordable housing as part of the overall East 125 Street Development (E125) project, bringing the total number of affordable units to 800, thanks to agreements from The Richman Group, Equity One and Monadnock Development.

“The vision for this site reflects the needs and voices of the community, and is exactly the type of mixed-use, mixed-income development envisioned in Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, calling it “a plan that leverages the City’s investments to uplift whole communities.”

The NYCEDC has worked steadily toward the revitalization of East 125th, dubbed “Harlem’s Main Street,” since 2003, when they began research for a comprehensive revitalization plan. The plan was approved by the City Council in 2008. The goal is to “create incentives for new mixed-use development” and preserve “the scale and character of areas with a strong built context.” Notable projects include preservation of the Corn Exchange Building’s facade while adding office/retail and completion of a large-scale affordable housing complex at Third Avenue.

East Harlem has seen sluggish economic recovery since 2008, consistently reporting the highest unemployment rates in the city. Last year, 60 percent of households reported income under $39,000 per year and 38 percent lived below the poverty line.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopes this project will encourage further investment in the community. “This project [E125] seeks to address several longstanding needs …including affordable housing, open space, employment opportunities for local residents and support for local businesses,” she said.

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