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Plan to build hundreds of apartments in Harlem rejected; residents celebrate

Posted: 7:08 PM, Feb 26, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-26 22:41:11-05

HARLEM, Manhattan — A plan to build hundreds of new apartments in the middle of Harlem has been rejected.

The Lenox Terrace apartment complex was once famously called “Harlem’s Best Address" — the neighborhood’s first luxury housing development created on land made available during the city’s 1949 Slum Clearance Plan.

Over the decades, the six towers that make up Lenox Terrace also became, and remain a destination for working, middle class and retired black and brown New Yorkers.

Many Lenox Terrace residents are happy about the news. The buildings, built by the Olnick Organization in 1958, has been a place for upwardly mobile people to move into for decades.

Olnick wanted to perform a rezoning development and build more. The plan was to have a third of the units be affordable housing and have the rest of the units available at market rate. Developers got the approval of the City's Planning Commission earlier in February.

Residents felt the development would destabilize and gentrify the area.

Tenant Association President Kaloma Cardwell had questions for the Olnick Organization.

“At stake is, will this be a community that is for working class people? Will this be a community that’s for black and Latinos, and even low -income Asians and whites? The proposal jeopardizes all of that," he said. "Perhaps equally important is that Harlem has a community of people who care about all of those groups that I just named.”

The Olnick Organization released a statement to PIX11.

"The subcommittee's recommendation is unfortunate and fails to take into account the above," the organization said in a statement. "We will continue pressing the case for this plan and working with residents, community leaders and elected officials in the coming weeks to reach an agreement before a vote by the full City Council."

Olnick and the Lenox Terrace tenants have had a long, contentious history. A group of residents are suing Olnick claiming that Olnick illegally deregulated apartments. The class action suit has been in the courts for a decade now.