Revealed: Strivers Plaza, 275 West 140th Street, Harlem

Strivers Plaza, rendering from Radson DevelopmentStrivers Plaza, rendering from Radson Development

At the corner of West 140th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, a new affordable housing project will soon rise, called Strivers Plaza. The eight-story building at 275 West 140th Street will be built by Radson Development, and financed under the New York City Housing Development Corporation’s New Housing Opportunities Program.

The building will hold 54 below-market-rate apartments across 47,000 square feet of residential space. Fifteen of the apartments will be studios, 12 will be one-bedrooms, and 26 will be two-bedroom units, with one apartment set aside for the superintendent. There will also be a small 500-square foot community facility space.

275 West 140th Street will also include an 8,000-square foot supermarket on the ground floor, in accordance with the city’s FRESH supermarket incentive program for food deserts. While a normal market-rate builder would only be allowed to build to a floor area ratio (FAR) of 4.0 on the site, Radson gets bonuses for both the affordable housing and the supermarket. The project’s FAR is therefore 5.6, upping the overall density by 40 percent.

The developer narrowly avoided having to include parking in the project, by virtue of the fact that the lot is 9,992 square feet in size – eight square feet below the threshold over which 17 spaces would be required by the zoning code.

275 West 140th Street (empty lot at center), image from Bing Maps

275 West 140th Street (empty lot at center), image from Bing Maps

The land beneath the future building – now just an empty lot, wedged between tenements and a subsidized housing complex and near public housing towers – has traded hands twice in the past few years. The local Abyssinian Development Corporation bought it in 2010 for $3 million, and then sold it onward to the current owners in late 2012 for just $27,000 more than they paid two years earlier.

The name Strivers Plaza is an allusion to nearby Striver’s Row, on West 138th and 139th Streets. The row house development there was built in the 1890s, and achieved prominence during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and ’30s. As the neighborhood became the center of African-American life in the city, the homes were bought by upwardly mobile black professionals, before the streets declined in later decades.

Aufgang Architects has a formidable portfolio of affordable housing projects, and will design 275 West 140th Street as well. The project is slated to break ground early next year, according to the developer.

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