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NYguy Jul 8, 2014 4:49 PM

NEW YORK | East River Plaza (3 towers)| 575-515-455 FT | 47-41-32 FLOORS

1,000 Apartments Could Be Built on Top of East River Plaza

By Jeff Mays
July 8, 2014


The developers of the East River Plaza mall are planning to add a residential tower with as many as 1,000 units atop the existing structure — and want to get some feedback from East Harlem residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

"Residential has always been contemplated. The infrastructure is there, the property has water views, is next to the FDR Drive and would be an iconic property," said David Blumenfeld, a principal of Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd. which owns the mall at 116th Street and the FDR Drive along with Forest City Ratner Companies, one of the city's largest developers.

"That's why we want this open community meeting to get a feeling about what people would like to see," Blumenfeld said of the meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. July 9 at Hunter College School of Socialwork. "We are going to present some ideas in regards to residential and get some feedback from the public."

The five story, 500,000 square foot complex, which opened in 2009, currently houses stores such as Costco, Target, Burlington Coat Factory and discount grocer Aldi, which opened its first Manhattan location at the mall in 2013.

In March, the mall reached full capacity after Planet Fitness signed a long term lease for 14,500 square feet and Mt. Sinai Hospital signed a 15-year lease to open a 14,500 square foot dialysis center.

The underlying zoning of the property is already designated for residential use and would only require a modification of the special permit used to build the retail center Blumenfeld said.

Blumenfeld added that a final decision on size or height has yet to be determined. But he said affordability will definitely be a part of any residential project at East River Plaza and that the company was looking to do a higher rate of affordable housing than the standard 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordable split.

"That's one of the conversations we are having," Blumenfeld said.

Elsewhere, East Harlem is booming with new, tall residential towers.

Ian B. Eichner's Continuum Company is planning two 32-story residential towers at Park Avenue and 125th Street. The $415 million, 600,000-square-foot development will have 650 units.

Community Board 11 originally balked at Continuum's proposal when the developer said only 65 to 70 of the units would be affordable before an agreement on community hiring goals was reached.

Extell Development recently purchased the Pathmark at Lexington Avenue and 125th Street for $39 million and is expected to build a residential building.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said his administration is willing to let developers build higher in exchange for increased affordable units. The mayor has set a goal of building and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next decade.

Community Board 11 member and housing advocate Alvin Johnson said he does not have a problem with building higher at East River Plaza as along as the project has a good amount of affordable housing.

"There's only one way to expand on the island of Manhattan and that's up," said Johnson. "All that I'm worried about is that we recapture the affordable housing that was lost in the last 10 years."

Holley Drakeford, sales manager at Giscombe Realty Group and a member of Community Board 11, said East Harlem is quickly becoming an attractive location for rental residential properties.

"You are going to see a lot of residential being built and it will really blow up when the Second Avenue Subway arrives," Drakeford said. "These developments will draw people from Midtown and a lot of young people that live on Long Island are dying to move to the city. Not many people can afford to live downtown anymore."

chris08876 Jul 8, 2014 5:14 PM

I keep saying this is only the beginning of a massive development boom that is coming. Its just getting started. 100,000 new residents per year I predict.

NYguy Jul 8, 2014 5:37 PM

Never figured on this site getting apartments, but it's big enough. And the push for housing has to go somewhere. There's that planned apartment tower at that mall in Rego Park...

chris08876 Aug 2, 2014 10:53 PM

NEW YORK | East River Plaza | 575 FT | 47 FLOORS | 515 FT | 41 FLOORS | 455ft | 32 FLOORS


Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest City Ratner unveiled the three towers they plan to build on top of the East River Plaza mall to the public at a meeting last month. But they wanted to hold off on unveiling them to the internet, going so far as to tell the journalists in attendance that they could not take pictures of the slideshow. That ended up not working out so well, as filmmaker Andrew Padilla (El Barrio Tours) somehow got his hands on one of the slides and tweeted it yesterday.
August 1, 2014

Perklol Aug 2, 2014 10:55 PM


"You are going to see a lot of residential being built and it will really blow up when the Second Avenue Subway arrives,"
Phase 2 would arrive by 2029 at the rate things construction/studies are going.

C. Aug 3, 2014 3:00 PM

Moar density! We need the housing!!

Busy Bee Aug 3, 2014 3:29 PM

Im assuming that this development would also include a complete design makeover for the East River Plaza?

NYguy Aug 5, 2014 6:15 AM


But they wanted to hold off on unveiling them to the internet, going so far as to tell the journalists in attendance that they could not take pictures of the slideshow.
Yeah, they would have been better off releasing more renders for us internet trolls themselves. But no, they basically issue a dare. Still, at least something's afoot...

chris08876 Aug 11, 2014 7:33 PM


Harlem residents concerned about East River Plaza tower


East Harlem residents are sounding off in meetings with Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest City Ratner Companies convened to discuss plans to build residential towers above the East River Plaza mall.

The proposed project would add 1,000 residential units above the shopping complex situated between East 116th and 119th streets along the FDR. The developers announced the project last month.

Some residents voiced concern over the loss of a quiet cobblestone street ending in a cul-de-sac on East 118th Street, DNAinfo reported. They also worry that parking would be lost, increased traffic would make streets unsafe for pedestrians and too little affordable housing would be built, according to the website.

Blumenfeld and Forest City Ratner currently plan to make 25 percent of apartments affordable, slightly above the typical 80-20 percent split, the website noted. Melissa R. Burch, an executive vice president at Forest City Ratner, pointed out that the developers also intend to turn the cul-de-sac into a community plaza with space set aside for small businesses

Perklol Aug 11, 2014 10:22 PM

Build it. They'll get used it anyway

NYguy Aug 22, 2014 1:22 PM

Gonzalez: East Harlem luxury tower plan is becoming Bill de Blasio's affordable housing test
In East Harlem, many are aghast at the sheer size of the towers, which they say will overwhelm a neighborhood made up largely of brownstones, walkup apartment buildings and narrow side streets.

August 20, 2014


A plan to build three luxury residential skyscrapers in East Harlem is turning into a pivotal test of Mayor de Blasio’s promise to tackle the affordable housing crisis in New York.

The proposed towers would be the tallest in Manhattan above 96th St. They are slated to rise 50 stories over the East River Mall, a big-box retail center along the FDR Drive north of E. 117th St. The mall and an adjacent 1,200 car parking garage were opened in 2009 by Tiago Holdings LLC, with $65 million in state and city tax-exempt bonds.

But East Harlem leaders say they were blindsided when Tiago, a partnership of Forest City Ratner and Blumenfeld Development, quietly applied to the city Planning Commission in April to build the new apartment towers.

With up to 1,200 proposed units — 75% of them at market rate — the towers will radically speed up the gentrification of East Harlem, says Matthew Washington, chairman of Community Board 11.

“Building above the existing retail gives us a creative way to build a new development where normally such an opportunity would not exist,” said Ashley Cotton, a spokeswoman for the project.

.....Leaders of the coalition, many of whom backed de Blasio for mayor, want City Hall to mandate a 50-50 split between luxury and affordable units for all new housing projects that want public subsidies.

In East Harlem, many are aghast at the sheer size of the towers, which they say will overwhelm a neighborhood made up largely of brownstones, walkup apartment buildings and narrow side streets.

“We fought to maintain our cobblestone street and the quiet cul-de-sac we have on E. 118th St.,” said Robert Anazagasti, who has owned a brownstone on the block for the past 20 years.

“The mall developers never talked about residential towers on top of the mall,” Anazagasti said. “Now they’ve pulled a fast one and want to make 118th the entrance plaza to their towers.”

But Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City Ratner, says they are listening to concerns.

“We believe buildings of this size, properly and nicely designed, will allow us to bring a significant number of affordable homes to the community and in a way that is architecturally interesting,” DePlasco said.

One person yet to be convinced is City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem and will play a decisive role in any Council vote on the project.

“This is a big deal in the scale and scope and the lack of affordable units,” Mark-Viverito said. “My staff is going to pay close attention to it. I told the developer, they have to get buy-in from the community, and so far the reaction from the community has not been positive.”

NYguy Nov 7, 2014 12:16 AM

East River Plaza West Tower

East Harlem
Blumenfeld Development GroupX and Forest City Ratner | Ten Arquitectos
48 stories | 575 feet
1,100 residential units | 1.1 million square feet (total residential development)

Ploppalopp Nov 7, 2014 12:22 AM

So is that the shape that they are going to be? Just 3 big grey boxes?

chris08876 Nov 10, 2014 12:37 PM

Revealed: Three-Towered Plan for East River Plaza, Harlem’s New Tallest Buildings


The three towers would rise atop two podiums placed over the existing mall and parking garage. Previously posted diagrams reveal the tallest of the group will stand 575 feet to its pinnacle, which is certainly tall for Upper Manhattan – taller than 1800 Park Avenue will be, even – but nothing extraordinary for New York City.

Still, the trio of high-rises would dwarf the surrounding tenements and even the public housing farther afield, with even the two shorter buildings clocking in at 515 and 455 feet tall. (The towers are only 47-, 41-, and 32-stories tall, but are boosted an extra 100 or so feet by the mall and transfer decks on which they would be built.)

From up-close, the designs take a more interesting turn. Variegated facades seem to emulate ODA’s work around the city or Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard. One of the towers would come all the way down to the street at “La Plaza,” which would rework the cobblestone dead-end of East 118th Street into an active public space. Glass cut-outs would be juxtaposed against future displays of public art over the black face of the current mall, integrating art and architecture into a coherent public space.

The project would also include 24,000 square feet of “low-rise” residences (perched 155 feet up, on a podium, and configured in the form of townhomes), plus another 25,000 square feet of amenities and cultural space.

Additionally, while it is difficult to tell in the renderings, the towers will be connected by two skybridges. The West Tower — the tallest of the bunch — will be the anchor, connected to the North Tower by a bridge at an elevation of 245 feet. Its link to the southern tower will be slightly higher up, at 255 feet.

More Info:

NYguy Nov 26, 2014 3:38 PM

Developers gear up to peddle plan for East Harlem towers, again
The developers of three controversial sky-scraping East Harlem apartment towers will again peddle their plan to neighbors next month.

November 25, 2014


The developers of three controversial sky-scraping East Harlem apartment towers will again peddle their plan to neighbors next month.

The Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest City Ratner released renderings of the project, which includes a trio of towers ranging from 32 to 48 stories, atop the East River Plaza mall.

There will be roughly 1,100 units including 275 affordable apartments for those earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income, which is $25,170 to $50,340 for a family of four.

“The benefit is, we are adding 275 units of affordable units to East Harlem without displacing anyone,” said David Blumenfeld, principal at Blumenfeld Development. “We’re creating product that’s needed in East Harlem.”

Community leaders have called for double the number of below-market-rate units.

“You have to have a 50-50 mix of affordable housing or that’s a lot of people that’s going to be gentrfying the neighborhood,” said Alvin Johnson, a member of East Harlem’s Community Board.

Blumenfeld said he isn’t budging.

The project, which will include a 30,000-square-foot community space, must still undergo the public approval process because of separate retail space that will include a Target, Old Navy, Costco and Planet Fitness, which will open in January.

Developers will present plans to the community on Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the East Harlem Multi-Service Center, 413 E. 120th St.

NYguy Dec 12, 2014 10:07 PM

East Harlem Residents Rally to Stop Three-Tower Project

December 12, 2014
by Jessica Dailey


East Harlem residents are not going to let three residential towers rise on top of East River Plaza without a fight. Since the plans were revealed this summer, there has been growing opposition among the community.

Blumenfeld Development Group and Forest City Ratner want to build three towers, with the tallest rising 47 stories and 575 feet, making it the tallest building in the neighborhood. The other two would rise 32 and 41 stories, and there would be 1,100 apartments total, 25 percent of which would be affordable.

But the opposition isn't swayed by affordable housing. The Daily News reports that El Barrio Unite, a community group, circulated a petition that calls the development "offensive and out of scale, requiring numerous variances that will truly make this an out-of-context project." They'll have a chance to voice their opinions at a public meeting on Dec. 16.

Opposition mounts uptown against trio of skyscraping towers atop East River Plaza mall
An East Harlem residents group stirred up opposition to a trio of skyscrapping apartment towers as the developers were preparing to solicit community support for the plans.

December 11, 2014

sparkling Dec 17, 2014 4:17 PM

Neighbors weigh in on developer bid to build trio of sky-scraping towers in East Harlem
A rendering of the new public open space on E. 118th Street, which developers say would provide public art and amenities for the surrounding neighborhood


Developers who hope to build three controversial residential skyscrapers on top of an East Harlem shopping mall stressed Monday that their project would not raze any existing homes.

“No one will be displaced because of the building,” David Blumenfeld, principal at the Blumenfeld Development Group, told more than 100 residents at a community meeting at the East Harlem Multi-Service Center.

It was the fourth and final meeting the development group and its partner, Forest City Ratner, planned to host to court locals as part of its bid to win city approval.

But skeptical neighbors who have seen area rents skyrocket say market-rate apartments entering the neighborhood will worsen rent spikes, leading to larger-scale displacement.

“The affordable units built will be far outweighed by the number of local residents displaced because of rising rents,” said neighborhood activist Andrew Padilla.

Developers hope to sway the city to approve their plan for a soaring three-tower, 1,100-unit complex on top of the East River Plaza mall, between E. 116 and E. 118th Sts. right off the FDR East River Drive.

They promise 75% of the apartments will be market-rate, while one-fourth will be set aside for those earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income, which in 2014 ranges between $25,170 and $50,340 for a family of four.


The project would also include a 30,000-square-foot cultural space, but a tenant has not yet been locked in, developers said.

Neighbors were split on the plan. Some echoed concerns of rising rents, while others said they were happy to see wealthier residents coming into the area.

Pat Cuomo, 65, who grew up in East Harlem public housing and now owns property in the neighborhood, was thrilled to hear low-income units would be spread out within the towers.

“I lived in the (Thomas Jefferson Houses), where it was segregation by income, by ethnicity and by color,” he said. “Those 25% that live in this project, it’s going to be a gift to them.”

The project must still undergo the public approval process because of separate retail space that will include a Target, Old Navy, Costco and Planet Fitness.

That process, which leads to a City Council vote and veto power from Mayor de Blasio, officially kicks off in early 2015.

chris08876 Apr 9, 2015 3:27 PM

1,100-unit Harlem project promises affordable housing but not union jobs, yet


A plan to build three, roughly 50-foot-tall towers on top of East River Plaza, a large shopping mall close to the river, would appear to have everything going for it as it seeks approval from the de Blasio administration and the City Council.

Forest City Ratner Cos. and Blumenfeld Development Group are already proposing that the one-million-square-foot development set aside 25 percent of its units to lease at significantly below market rate. That’s more than the 20 percent that had become commonplace over the years.

The project will be decided upon as the city prepares to unveil more details about the mayor’s aggressive housing plan, which aims to produce 80,000 new affordable housing units within a decade. One key piece of that plan is a requirement that affordable housing be included in all major housing projects that need rezonings.

Last year, the administration and the City Council were able to persuade a developer in Queens to set aside 25 percent of its units at the planned Astoria Cove complex but only after a long negotiation. The city agreed to subsidize an additional two percent, hailing the deal as a template for developing more affordable housing with cooperation from private developers.

But some players in development and finance questioned the deal, pointing to the ambitious 25 percent figure—and the fact that the Astoria Cove developers planned to use union labor, greatly increasing the project’s overall cost.

It’s not yet decided whether the East River Plaza development will use union labor—and according to one source close to Forest City, that’s quickly becoming a point of contention between Forest City and Blumenfeld, leaving the project “deeply troubled.”

Forest City has been seen, for the most part, as a friend to organized labor. Founder Bruce Ratner, a close ally to Mayor Bill de Blasio, has often championed the liberal cause and given extensively to Democratic candidates. There was one dispute over plumbing work for a modular building at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, but even that did not involve an accusation of using non-union workers—just one trade instead of another.

Michael J. McGuire, the director of the Mason Tenders District Council’s political action committee, said he had heard about such a dispute between Forest City and Blumenfeld. He said it made sense that Forest City would demand a full-union workforce.

“Absolutely. We always counted on partnering with Forest City Ratner, on multiple projects over the years,” McGuire said. “They always build union. I would be stunned if they agreed to go forward on a project without union labor.”

Edward Blumenfeld, the company’s president, denies the claims of a schism between the firms. He said he had been unaware of any disagreement over whether to allow an organized workforce, and said, “we’re moving forward.”


Busy Bee Apr 9, 2015 4:22 PM

Would the construction of the three towers basically necessitate a complete remodel of the mall itself?

Ploppalopp Apr 9, 2015 4:55 PM

^^^My understanding is that the mall would stay and the towers would be built into the mall itself. In all of the renderings, you can clearly see that the mall is still there.

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