East Harlem is awash in tall buildings, but they come mostly in the form of postwar public housing projects – home to a small city’s worth of New Yorkers, but ultimately not the prettiest structures around.
The Continuum Company, led by Bruce Eichner, is looking to change that. On the western side of Park Avenue between East 124th and 125th Streets, he intends to develop a 32-story apartment tower, and has tapped the increasingly prolific ODA Architecture, led by the indefatigable Eran Chen, to do the design. We’ve come across some new renderings of the project, which depict 1800 Park Avenue from fresh and up-close perspectives.
The tower will be quite large (actually a two-phase project), holding 682 apartments (20 percent of which will be let at below-market rates) spread over 633,700 square feet of residential space, plus 63,200 square feet of commercial space. The project was originally slated to include parking rather than commercial space on the second floor, but the developer sought and won a variance to swap out parking for retail.
This is a wholly beneficial move for both the developer (who will gain profitable floor area while dropping expensive parking) and the community (which will gain additional jobs with the extra commercial square footage), not to mention the environment. The development will now have just 123 spaces, not the 304 required by the zoning code.
While we applaud the variance, the fact that East Harlem has parking minimums at all is a black mark for the Department of City Planning. If New York is to be a leading global city in the fight against carbon emissions, minimum parking requirements should be the first thing to be questioned, on a city-wide basis. But in Harlem, which has had rapid transit ever since the Third Avenue El reached 125th Street in 1878, they’re downright insane.
Rising 352 feet to its roof, 1800 Park Avenue will be far and away the tallest building in Harlem, surpassing the 19-story Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on West 125th Street – a hulking brutalist eyesore typical of the urban renewal period. Construction on its rival about to begin, with permits filed in July, and by this time next year, ODA’s tower should be reaching into the skyline.
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