Thursday, July 19, 2012

☞ REVIVE: The New Victoria Theatre Revealed


A rendering for the $143 million adaptive reuse restoration of the Victoria Theatre on West 125th Street has been released today in the Daily News.  The glassy two tower additions to the old vaudeville house will serve as a 210 room hotel and 229 room affordable rental building. Groundbreaking is now expected to happen by January 2013 and the 26-story, 360,000-square-foot development will be one of the largest construction projects to go up in the city for the upcoming year.  Read more in the Daily News: LINK

65 comments:

  1. What I want to know is how do I get my hands on that Puppies Leather sign currently being covered up by scaffolding?

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  2. Fantastic news. Impressive looking building, more jobs for the neighborhood and a hotel. Nice!

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  3. Just read a lot of the original theatre will be destroyed. That is a real shame. Wish they could have saved it, but maybe not doable?

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  4. Why are they cheering the DEMOLITION of the entire auditorium?

    That is a crime. It should be restored to its former glory and truly be used an arts center and theater. Yes they are saving the facade and lobby, but come on, not the actual theater?

    Again, the area is being sold a bad bill of goods in the name of yet more affordable housing for the underclass.

    I say , No, not acceptable.

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    1. "underclass"? Really? You meant to type that?

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  5. On the plus side, a new hotel. On the minus side, theatre destroyed and more affordable housing. One plus and two minuses. Take away the welfare housing and the theatre restoration would likely have been feasible.

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    1. I want to point out a flaw in your respective arguments (@mike212 & westsider). There was/is a never a promise that the entire building (facade, lobby & auditorium) would be restored. It's more reasonable that the entire building (facade, lobby & auditorium) would have been destroyed save this project coming along.

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  6. Why rental units and not a mix of market and affordable to buy?

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  7. "Welfare housing"? "Underclass"? Really?

    People are still confused about what modern "affordable housing" means? NYCHA isn't building new housing projects. I'm sure these will be units targeted to some percentage of area median income for households of different sizes, and the incomes targeted will probably be HIGHER than the existing incomes in the neighborhood, as has been true for a lot of the recently built and approved new "affordable" housing.

    Take a look at some of the current affordable housing lotteries and the income requirements: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/apartment/lotteries.shtml

    Some of them go up to $80,000! If you think that's the "underclass" then you have a skewed vision of reality.

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  8. Affordable housing is welfare by another name. It is the tax payer funding those who do not want to pay market rate. Enough already, Harlem needs tax payers not tax spenders.

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  9. "those who do not want to pay market rate." I guess personal income has nothing to do with it.

    Dudes are just choosing the PJs of out spite or sloth or both.

    I like how the discussion has turned.

    It seems either you are a Condo buyer, a Co-Op shareholder or you are on the dole.

    I guess the next step is to start demonizing the the deadbeats that are only paying 2 grand in rent instead of three.

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    1. Affordable housing is subsidized by someone else, call it the dole, welfare or whatever politically correct term you like, but other people are funding that lifestyle.

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  10. Wow! I don't even know where to start with y'all. I'm with Tacony Palmyra. I live in an affordable housing building - I'm a white, middle class public interest lawyer who doesn't make a huge salary but pays her taxes. I never realized that this makes me part of the "underclass" or taking advantage of "welfare housing."

    I can't afford market rate. The majority of harlem can't afford market rate. Affordable housing is a good thing because it keeps New York City, and Harlem, economically diverse. If you can't handle economic diversity or sharing a neighborhood with people who make significantly less than you do (but who add value to the community), what in the world are you doing in Harlem?

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    1. Like the title of the off broadway show sez--I love you you're perfect now change.

      Like SoHo--now completely unrecognisable from what it was that drew people there in the first place.

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    2. Unfortunately, it is people like you CMB, "public interest lawyers" who control the agenda in this. And what has it gotten us? I permanent lack of housing for all. I wish you had an understanding the economics of real estate - it is a profit making business, sorry about that..
      Every other City got an oversupply of housing in the boom, which resulted in prices coming down (often dramatically - see Miami, Las Vegas, Houston, etc).

      You are obviously connected, you got that apartment of yours. But, I bet if you didnt, you would have found something else - maybe not in Manhattan, or maybe you would have saved enough for a down payment and bought a place. Our policies clearly do not work. Why not make it easier to build more housing freely and see what happens. It works everywhere else, why not give it a try here?

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    3. Not "connected" at all. I walked into the leasing office and applied, just like anyone else.

      Yes, it is unfortunate that someone who actually cares about the public interest would have a major role in this issue. Well, at least it's unfortunate for the people like you who would like to drive out the people in the community they're moving into.

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  11. @tacony palmyra: Welcome to world of a few people who rise up to protest any housing that doesn't fall into the luxury category. It is a skewed vision of reality indeed. Affordable housing is for those who do not "want" to pay market rate? Underclass? A family of three with an income of $80,000 can hardly afford a $400,000 two-bedroom apartment, though they are presumably hardworking taxpayers. I applaud your efforts at educating people, but some of the posts that show up here, presuming to know better than the business community, the state, the city and all the rest of us, what Harlem needs, are very dedicated to their class war.

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  12. Agreed. with WestSider above.

    Sorry, if I do not go lockstep with the far left wing politics of NYC (and no, not a republican), Happy in the center.
    Yes, if the tax payer and developer subsidized housing was not part of this , then yes the theater would be restored for the BENEFIT of EVERYONE in New York City and Harlem. Not just the few who want cheaper housing at others's expense.

    They can spin it anyway they want, but these are facts.

    Historic theater demolished for subsidized housing.
    period. and sad.

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    1. I didn't realize that wanting to get rid of all the poor people in the neighborhood was a politically centrist position. Good god.

      And did you miss the part about the hotel and cultural arts center going into the space? Sounds like that is EXACTLY the kind of thing that will benefit everyone in New York and Harlem.

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  13. I went to the link Tacony.

    and most of them had requirements of $20-$30k a year.

    Make no mistake, this is housing subsidized for the few, by the many. It costs money to build, maintain, etc buildings. These programs only make it MORE expensive for everyone else to live here who does NOT demand a handout. Cut costs , red tape, delays and there will be more and better housing for everyone, and cheaper. This is called the free market. The housing bust has made housing cheaper everywhere BUT new york.

    I am also bothered that the politicians will agree to almost anything IF it has this ridiculous and political requirement. AS if the negative is outweighed by the new "affordable" housing. Destroying a landmark theater to build this tower does not make it okay. (we have plenty of vacant lots too for that).

    Another example is the ugly expansion of Chelsea Market that needs City approval. But, they added "affordable" housing to it, and now the poiticians back it. If the addition there is a negative impact the area, NO amount of housing will change that.

    I wish there was some common sense by our community leaders.

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  14. mike212--Do you really think it is common for the non "left wing" folks to preserve theaters. People who believe the market fixes everything don't generally believe in theaters that benefit everyone. In fact, the market untethered doesn't really care about "benefits" at all...

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    1. ^ well, Chris, as I often find, the ones on the left are the most intolerant of other opinions. Case in point: Me. I love the arts, old buildings, historic preservation, theater, BUT I do not believe it is good public policy to force subsidized housing on private development.

      I am reminded of the protesters for the Republican Convention 4 years ago in New York who said the republicans had no right to be in New York (I think there are still lawsuits pending..) HELLO, I am not republican , but they sure have a right to hold their convention here PLUS the revenue, taxes, tips etc is a GOOD Thing. It pays peoples' wages and we have more money for other things.

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  15. Hasn't the theatre been closed since the 80s? Where have all the folks been who are suddenly so interested in preserving this place?

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  16. There are many affordable market rate options, the other boroughs, that is real choice many take to live within their means.

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  17. The architectural rendering is powerfully symbolic, a gleaming new glass hotel carrying subsidized individuals on its back.

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  18. @M: There have been various discussions going on about what to do with the theater SINCE the 80's.

    It's only now that there has been any sort consensus about it. I guess you weren't around when BB King's wanted the property. Then they were going to put the Harlem Jazz Museum there after that.

    As for the rest: One wonders what happens when the Condo/Coop crowd inevitably runs out of room in Harlem and they take a liking to Newark, New Jersey.

    Barges for the poor?

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    1. What Newark and other cities need is investment by people of means.

      Do you really think cities and neighborhoods of only poor people is a good thing ? for anyone? I feel sorry for you then.
      Also, who said anything about riding Harlem of poor folks? There are still thousands upon thousands of subsidized units up here (NYHCA is not going away). I merely said that I do not think its okay to destroy an irreplaceable historic theater and put in a tower of subsidized housing (yes by others, sorry but that is a fact), where clearly the restoration of the theater would be the true community benefit to many more. They are restoring the lobby only - that is R I D I C U L O US.

      "lipstick on a pig" , "window dressing" , " bait and switch" take your pick, but that is what it is.

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  19. ha! But wouldn't those barges ruin the view from our newly gussied up riverfront?

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  20. Mike 212 - Developers in Harlem get huge, huge tax breaks to build up here since this area was once considered blighted. So I guess you don't mind corporate welfare. And by the way you never answered Christopher's question. Free markets don't care about preservation - people have to fight to save buildings through non-profit preservation societies. You need to read a little bit of NYC history to understand everything that goes on here. Your Econ 101 class didn't teach you all you need to know about your precious free markets.

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    1. These tax breaks are often contingent on including a number “affordable” units in the development. So you could say, the tax payers are again carrying these “affordable” units, welfare by another name.

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    2. Personally, I think diversity is a good thing, both racial, economic, business and the arts. In terms of economic diversity, Harlem is not economically diverse, in fact far from it. The housing projects anchor a disproportionate number of generational welfare in Harlem who enjoy free electricity and amazingly low rent. Providing more housing for low income people does not address the imbalance. You could argue much of Harlem is a welfare case. Harlem needs more residents who carry their own freight and have pride of ownership, not more subsidized low income individuals.

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    3. Happy to address all questions.

      1. Yes, the tax breaks are contingent on "affordable" ie. subsidized housing. Right now, if a developer wants to build housing, there is no financing available for free market. If developers are allowed to build free market apartments to meet demand, we would have a larger supply of housing and competition for the best tenants, and improved housing for all.

      Do I think developers are saints? NO! I do understand we need the landmarks law to protect our historic past. Ironically, historic districts often become highly desirable and increase in value. BUT you are correct, they should not be allowed to demolish in the name of maximum FAR buildings. In fact, I would argue we should landmark almost ALL pre-war buildings in the City.
      I am the one screaming that the bank building at 116th and Lex should not be demolished - and yes, they are building MORE subsidized housing at that site too.
      See that.. you can still be a free marketer and ask for government interference when needed.
      Forcing subsidized housing on private development , in my opinion is not good public policy. Again, in my opinion.
      FYI - I also believe in abortion rights, gay marriage, legalized prostittuton, etc BUT yup, also want lower taxes and less welfare. Shades of grey, people

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  21. I'm not really sure why the though this was a good place for a super tower of apartments.I could care less about the interior. I'm sure it will end up at salvage shops for a high profit.
    This should have become a business. A big box store or some sort of entertainment space. I would never put subsidized housing on a main intersection.

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    1. That's where the Trader Joes or Whole Foods should've been. ;-)

      I'm curious as to how many units will actually be "affordable. Folks make it sound like all the units that are not part of the hotel would be affordable.

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  22. Mike 212 - The developers get a huge tax break and the community in which they build gets some units of affordable housing. Again, you seem to have a problem with an individual getting an apartment that is not speculatively priced (due to your fanatical belief that there is such a thing as a true free market) but you have no problem with a developer getting its costs drastically reduced. The developers can go elsewhere if they don't like the deal - but they do like the deal! And these deals happen all over NYC - EV, Williamsburg, Chelsea, etc. And the deals are very, very good for developers - most are 20/80 housing plans and expire in 10 years. In many cases the affordable housing needn't even be on site. And the argument that if all units were market rate then prices would go down is b.s. - that doesn't happen in a seller's market. These "deals" are one of the few ways that communities have of not being completely overrun - a small bulwark against speculative development.

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    1. dear concerned, you are wrong.

      But typical of the far left wing propaganda that controls the agenda.

      good night.

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  23. 30+ posts about "affordable housing" and you've all missed the point. Harlem has WAY TOO MUCH AFFORDABLE HOUSING and our terrible schools are the proof/consequence. It is inexcusable what we are doing to yet another generation of children in Harlem. The public schools nearly all get 1s or 2s on Great Schools. It is unforgivable. We MUST PROVIDE MORE MARKET RATE HOUSING. It is the ONLY HOPE our kids have. Market rate renters won't stand by and let our schools ruin the lives of their kids. They simply won't put up with it. Long term Harlemites have proven time and time to be apathetic to the importance of school. Were it not for charter schools perhaps 5% of children in Harlem would read at grade level. How can we let this happen? Why is this not the first thought in everyone's mind when they hear that yet more subsidized housing is being built? Stop it!!! Enough!!!! We can't let this continue. We are ruining the lives of our kids. We must allow more market rate tenants to move in, they will demand and get better schools. And perhaps then, we can save our kids from the streets and prisons of NY.

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    1. Ignorant AND racist, Guest.

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  24. Seriously, Guest? Long-time Harlem residents haven proven that they are apathetic to the importance of schools? First of all, you contradict your own statement by bringing up charter schools. If Harlem residents were indeed "apathetic", charter schools would have little or no demand. That does not seem to be the case. All of these "free market" housing arguments and anti-affordable housing statements ignore the characteristics of the market in Manhattan. I think whoever says more market rate housing units in Manhattan will decrease prices is willfully ignorant. Manhattan is an island and is constrained to the amount of land available to build. Developers did not create this demand. It's pricing based on scarcity (which is why folks are moving up to Harlem in the first place). In the 80s, folks wouldn't step foot in here, but now that it's "cool" to live in Harlem, everyone is chasing properties up here because they've been priced out of every other market. I guess your argument for being priced out of Tribeca and SOHO is all the affordable market rate apartments there and in Harlem. Let's get something straight - people who live in affordable rate apartments pay taxes. That is a stupid statement to say they don't pay taxes. They pay wage taxes to the city.

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    1. "I think whoever says more market rate housing units in Manhattan will decrease prices is willfully ignorant." There is no topic more agreed upon in economics than the fact that more market rate housing either a. reduces prices b. reduces the rate of price increase. The Wharton School and MIT both did studies on stabilization in NYC and both agreed that prices would fall if stabilization were eliminated - but I guess you know more than they do???? there is a scarcity of housing in NYC- there is not a scarcity of space to build housing. we should build 300,000 more units. that's how you get affordable housing - see Vegas, Phx, Miami etc

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    2. Market rate apartments in Harlem are affordable for teachers right now and if we build enough new housing fast enough it will stay affordable for them. If all we build is "affordable housing" where you have to win a lottery to get it, then the teachers will be priced out (unless of course they win the lottery). There is no need to build a system based on chance. All should have equal opportunity to any rental apartment. Just build enough of them and everyone would have a nice place to live. You could build 40,000 units in the far east 120s. It would make prices plummet.

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  25. Regarding Harlem’s apathy towards education by some, I remember the charter school at St Nicholas Houses was opposed by residents by showing a child crying that he would lose his grass to play on to the charter school, that is not apathy to education, it is spectacular dysfunction towards education. In terms of tax contribution, a subsidized resident earning 20k is a small tax contributor for both city and state compared to a six figure market rate resident.

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    1. Westsider, that was a minority fringe and they never got traction. I see parents walking their children to and picking them up from HSA1 and there is a palpable sense of pride.

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    2. It was not such a fringe, Senator Bill Perkins was part of this protest that argued for grass play areas over education.

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    3. Don't get me started on Bill Perkins.

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  26. (although, mind you, that any parent at the St Nicholas Houses would oppose a charter school was pretty damn mind boggling. But there are always obstructionists.)

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  27. Not one response refutes the facts - Great Schools rates the schools - the City grades the schools - anyone who loves their kids wouldn't send them to a public elementary school in Harlem. Period. For generations Harlemites have proven unable/unwilling to demand better schools. Eva Moskowitz had dedicated her life to schools and yet she can't get enough traction from the deadbeat locals to get much done. She is fought against at every turn. Lawsuits, City Council opposition, picketing, planted news stories, you name it. Not only do the locals not help, they literally are in the streets, in the courts, in the media fighting against better schools. It's a disgrace. I stand by my comments. More market rate renters are the only hope of kids in Harlem. Eva and Geoffrey Canada need more allies, they've been begging for more allies. Market rate housing will provide these allies. I don't have the data to back it up, but it seems clear that more kids in Harlem graduate from prison than graduate from college. You have to look at the results. They are so obvious. Don't tell me people care. Don't tell me the current residents can affect the needed change. These are kids - they deserve better.

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    1. And where do you suggest we send the children of parents who can't afford your sacrosanct market rates? Straight to Rikers?

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    2. Those parents (or often single parent) should wait until they have careers and can support a family before bringing children into this world. Unfortunately many in Harlem have children and expect the tax payer to carry them.

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    3. Those parents have stabilized apartments - enough of the nonsense. The only people getting priced out of Harlem are market rate renters. Long term Harlemites either own a place and are reaping the financial rewards of being wise and buying something or they benefit from rents far below market levels. These people aren't getting priced out.

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    4. Um, Westsider. I'm a single Mum.

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    5. The single parent I am referring to are those who fill out the paperwork “father unknown” while there is a male at the hospital smiling in the baby photos.

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  28. Interesting that Eva had to put an op ed in the paper today (timely to this discussion). She is building amazing schools where kids become college ready and she has to fight to do it. It is so backwards. People should be BEGGING her to build more. Market rate renters back Eva and all she's accomplishing. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/charter_school_envy_0oh8SUU7Fv5y1CVeKCf0IK

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    1. Thanks for link, very enlightening.

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  29. After reading all these comments I think I'll add my 2 cents.

    I agree with the market raters on a few things, more people paying market rates equal more tax revenue into the coffers of the area which means more power when demanding services and the like. Also I agree that too many people in Harlem fight change of any kind and it always seems to be the same folks fighting the change. It is almost like the like the idea of an apathetic constituency, in fact I know that they like to keep the people dumb so that they can continue to plunder the wealth for themselves. Cue any dictator.

    On the other hand I disagree with the total dismissal of affordable housing. I think that housing should be made available to teachers, cops, EMTs, sanitation workers etc. These are hardworking people and really don't make a six figure salary, however, without them our cities would not run.

    What I do not support are the people who have 3 kids before they are 25, a bunch of "baby daddies" and they get to apply for the affordable lotteries. That to me is repugnant, like some one mentioned earlier if you cannot afford the kid don't have one. That however is a different part of this conversation.

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  30. Well, I am glad to see that my earlier comments flushed out that many do not think tearing down a landmark theater and building affordable housing instead is a positive, as the press release, politicians, and YES the developer would like you to believe.

    and make no mistake, they are tearing down the THEATER.

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  31. Also, I do support Jeffrey Canada and Eva Moskowitz.

    More power to them.

    The teachers union and those who oppose them, I just do not understand. Clearly the status quo is not working.
    Why wouldnt you want to try new ideas?

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    1. Because charters are non-union

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  32. So according to the link, the project buildings will be 26 stories high.

    The ACP State building is only 19 stories high.

    I thought there was a height moratorium to stop development like this.

    So the theatre is destroyed AND this project will stick out (and up) above Harlem like a sore thumb...

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  33. The project is blatantly applying for a zoning variance to build taller than ACP - "ESD will override the ZR (zoning regulations) and other local laws inclusive of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure review and certification process...The City of New York has been advised of and supports the Project and ESD’s participation in the Project and the overrides of the abover referenced sections of the ZR that are being requested."

    Wow. So much for the political process.

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    1. So, it is NOT approved As of Right?

      Yet another example of selling the neighbhorhood and its historic character down the river , in the name of subsidized housing.

      Build the housing on vacant lots. Save the theater.

      Harlem, Rise up!

      PERIOD.

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  34. "there is not a scarcity of space to build housing." We are not talking about the entire city. We are talking about island of Manhattan. Please read my post carefully. There is no scarcity of space on the island of Manhattan? Vegas, Phx and Miami are not islands and their cities are not structured similarly to New York City. Please link me to the studies that look at real estate in Manhattan. I would live to read it. Market rate apartments in Harlem are affordable for teachers in Harlem? Let's see. Streeteasy search for studio/1br rentals in all Upper Manhattan shows a median price of $1,600. Starting salary for a teacher is 45,530. That is 42% of gross income. I don't find that affordable.

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    1. BTW.....$45K is a great starting salary + summers off. Private sector jobs (especially in creative fields ) start at half that.

      Second, not everyone has to live in Manhattan. that is why we have a merged city with vast mass transit. I always wanted to live in Beverly Hills, doesnt mean I have a "right" to live there.

      Third, those median prices do not include rent stabilized, rent controlled, section 8 , nycha, 80/20, and all the other numerous subsidized housing. Yes, they are harder to get, but they do exist. just not online.

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    2. Re: Teachers in NYC- 45k starting salary. First off, many young people in NYC live dorm style splitting a studio or 1 bedroom. Two young teachers, splitting a median priced apartment equals $800 each- about 21% of gross income= very affordable, and while it's not ideal, it's realistic while they get their career started. Since they have their summers off- there is no reason why they can't supplement that income with a summer job...so now the housing expense would fall below 20%= extremely affordable. I don't know how much a teacher in NYC with several years experience makes but I am sure it jumps up considerably. A few years of living with a roommate and working year round combined with moderate other spending throughout that time and a median priced apartment of their own is not unaffordable.

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  35. Some really revolting comments here. And I just have to laugh at the idea of all of these market fundamentalist right-wingers/libertarian/Randians suddenly turned preservationists, because in this case it suits their argument against the horrifying prospect of people actually living in apartments they can afford. The "now that I've moved to Harlem, can all the poor people please leave" crowd.

    All I can say is that I hope all of the people you folks would deny housing to and throw into the street come to nest on your stoops.

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