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ECF/ AvalonBay's East 96th Street project; via NYC DCP ECF/ AvalonBay's East 96th Street project; via NYC DCP
The New York City Educational Construction Fund and AvalonBay Communities are navigating through the city’s special approval process to build a 1.14-million-square-foot mixed-use development in East Harlem. The proposal is planned on a full-block site at 321 East 96th Street, between First and Second Avenues, and is directly across from the 96th Street station of the newly-opened Second Avenue Subway. The ambitious project proposes two new school buildings for three different schools, 20,000 square feet of retail, a rebuilt playground, and a soaring 68-floor residential tower that may yet be the tallest building to contain affordable housing in the city.
As currently proposed, the project will accommodate a 130,000-square-foot school building for the School of Cooperative Technical Education (“Co-op Tech”) and will relocate the school from its block. The current Co-op Tech school building will be replaced by a 9-story school building for the Heritage High School and Park East High School, which will be relocated from elsewhere in East Harlem. Lastly, an approximate one-million-square-foot residential tower will rise at the corner of Second and East 96th Street and is expected to house between 1,100 and 1,200 units, rising to 760-feet tall.
AvalonBay-Tower-1 Sectional and axonometric views of the proposal; NYC DCP
AvalonBay-Tower-1 Programmatic Site Plan; NYC DCP
Per the land use application, Perkins Eastman Architects are responsible for the preliminary designs of the buildings. The Heritage High School and Park East High School building will be situated along the east side of the block at First Avenue, and the Co-op Tech school building and the residential tower along Second Avenue. Between the two will be a reconstructed Marx Brothers Playground that is to be designed by Starr Whitehouse and —the same size as the one currently on the block.
Ava-4 View looking east down 96th Street showing new school building at First Avenue; Perkins Eastman Architects
Ava-4 View from 97th Street & Second showing the new Co-op Tech school; Image Credit: Perkins Eastman Architects
AvalonBay-6 View from 96th Street and Second Avenue of the residential tower's podium; Perkins Eastman Architects
The residential tower will be the second tallest building on the east side, north of Midtown tallest —the Zeckendorf Development currently under construction, 520 Park Avenue, at East 60th Street. The building is expected to contain 1,100 rental units and will comply with the newly-instituted Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program. Therefore, it is expected that 30% of its apartments (roughly 330 units) will be permanently affordable with ten percent of those units available to households earning 40% of the area's median income (AMI). The remainder will be affordable to those averaging 60% of the area median income. As required by MIH, the affordable units will be dispersed somewhat evenly throughout the building, which means many future lottery winners will also win access to stupendous views of the city.
Elevation view
The New York City Educational Construction Fund and AvalonBay are asking for several amendments to the zoning resolution and map. They include modification of height and setback restrictions, an upzoning of half of the block, and a reduction in parking requirements. If the application sails through the city’s ULURP process, construction of the new COOP Tech school is to begin in 2019 and to open in 2020; construction of the two additional schools are expected to open in 2022, and the residential tower is anticipated to open in 2023.
Further north in East Harlem, the de Blasio administration is planning a 60-block rezoning of the neighborhood between 104th and 125th Streets that would allow new towers to rise up to 30-stories tall. Predating the rezoning, Politico reports that the city has selected Jonathan Rose Companies and L+M Development Partners to develop a full-block for an all-affordable housing venture at Madison Avenue and East 111th Street.

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