Community Board 10 members say Harlem does not have enough landmarked areas, and they have come up with a plan to change that and to make the neighborhood's development more manageable. NY1's Real Estate reporter Jill Urban filed the following report.
Harlem is a neighborhood rich in heritage and architectural character. A majority of the buildings in the neighborhood are 100 years or older, but despite all that history, the one thing Harlem doesn’t have is historic designations.
"We are very under-represented when it comes to landmark and historic districts. Harlem, by comparison, we are at 3.6 percent of our buildings are historically landmarked, whereas Manhattan in general is 10.6 percent and the Upper West Side is 26 percent," says CB 10 Landmarks Chair Betty Dubuisson.The community has proposed a new plan to help preserve the integrity and history of Harlem by increasing its landmark distinctions. The plan submitted by Community Board 10 looks at nine study areas with the hopes of creating a range of landmark designations.
"Within those study areas, the four components of landmarks are 'individual,' which is really looking at the exteriors of the building. The next is the 'interior,' we have for example the Lenox Lounge," says Dubuisson. "For 'scenic,' we have Rucker Park as an example and for an historic district we only have two right now, which are Strivers Row and Mount Morris Park, and we are looking to extend those two."
With so much development in Harlem, the plan also includes a rezoning component that would require all new construction to fit within the scale and context of the neighborhood.
"Right now on Harlem we have no height limits, which is a major issue. We could have a brownstone of four, five stories and right next to it, a 28-story tower, which is contextually out of character," says CB 10 Land Use Chair Stanley Gleaton. "So what we want to do with this plan is be able to minimize that and also make sure our neighborhood is safe and sound and contextually consistent."
The plan has been approved by the full community board and is now moving through the channels at the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Department of City Planning.
It could take some time before a version of the plan would come to fruition, but for now the ball is rolling to make sure the richness of Harlem is preserved.