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Truck stop set to open at controversial Central Harlem site

Truck stop set to open at controversial Harlem site
Truck stop set to open at controversial Harlem site 02:27

NEW YORK -- A controversial development proposal in Central Harlem has shifted gears in a major way.

Developer Bruce Teitelbaum was denied his request to rezone the land on West145th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell boulevards earlier this year. The mixed-income apartment complex is about to become a big rig parking lot instead.

The busy block had been bracing for a building filled with 915 mixed-income apartments and a green energy district. But facing pushback on the amount of deeply affordable housing available, Teitelbaum put the brakes on his big tower, and turned it into a truck depot, which is set to open Monday. Drivers will be able to idle their rides and step inside cubicles created in an old laundromat.

"It takes two to tango," Teitelbaum said, "and we have heard nothing from the local council member in months."

Teitelbaum said he is simply fulfilling a different need, without rezoning requirements.

"The trucks right now either have to leave New York and then drive back into the city, by the way, causing lots of traffic," said Teitelbaum. "A lot of trucks park and get tickets. This will afford them an opportunity to park in a safe, secure location close to where they need to be. And it works for them. And it works for us."

But the community says it does not work for them. City data shows East and Central Harlem have the highest childhood asthma rates in Manhattan. Neighbors, like Community Board 10 Land Use Chair Karen Dixon, said the area will not see the effects of the extra exhaust until it is too late.

"It raises the question, how much do you really care about the residents of this community?" Dixon asked.

"This is not what Harlem needs, not what Harlem deserves and not what we intended to do," Teitelbaum admitted. "In all fairness, during this process, people knew that there was a possibility that if we could not build affordable housing here, we'd have to pivot, repurpose the site and do something that was viable for us."

Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan did not respond to requests for comment, but tweeted her support instead for four affordable housing developments in East Harlem. In that neighborhood, Community Board 11 Chair Xavier Santiago said he wishes there were more mixed-use options like One45.

"Having those economic bands in place gives upward mobility for the next generation," Santiago explained, "because they can see, what they can achieve later in life."

Teitelbaum did not leave another rezoning attempt off the table.

"We are currently presently planning on going forward with our plan," Teitelbaum said. "However, I never say no to anyone."

"Use different sets of ears to listen," Dixon advised everyone involved, "and try to understand the art of negotiating and compromising, that it's two ways."

Community Board 10 released a formal resolution Friday condemning the truck depot. Read the resolution in its entirety here.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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