Harlem resident met with city planners in a public forum yesterday afternoon to discuss whether a major rezoning plan will enhance the historic neighborhood or rip out its heart. The zoning plan, covering 124th, 125th, and 126th Streets, paves the way for condos, a 21-story office tower, a hotel, and more.
Rezoning supporters say the plan instills order into the economic transformation the neighborhood is already undergoing, with chain stores and bank branches popping up all over (the zoning commission already limited 125th Street proliferation of bank branches). Apollo Theater Foundation president Jonelle Procope said the plan "demonstrates a true understanding of Harlem, where culture is not simply important, but fundamentally woven into the fabric of community."
However, opponents fear the "g-word"--gentrification. They expect higher-priced housing and commercial spaces will inevitably shove current occupants out of Harlem altogether, not to mention the loss of its non-skyscraper profile, which one community board members said has "village character. You really do see people walking down the street saying hello to each other."