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The past few years have been challenging for Harlem, with the health crisis leading to the closure of many small businesses and significantly disrupting the lives of long-time residents. However, the neighborhood is showing signs of recovery, with sidewalks gradually filling up with shoppers and diners once again.

Exciting new developments on the horizon include the National Urban League Building (NUL), which will host the NUL's new headquarters, the Urban Civil Rights Museum, Harlem's first Trader Joe's, a new Target store, and 170 units of affordable housing. Additionally, the Studio Museum of Harlem is set to reopen in a new building later this year, and the long-anticipated Victoria Theater redevelopment opened its performance spaces, hotel, and dining components.
Higher interest rates and the market pause caused by the pandemic have made financing new developments difficult. Furthermore, various challenges facing the city have made it uncertain where the housing market is headed. However, now with a 1.4% rental vacancy rate, it has become very apparent the city needs to build much more housing.. While city and state leaders grapple with addressing the housing crisis, funded developers are forging ahead with projects. Three previously stalled projects in Harlem that are now back on track include a Passive House at 11 West 126th Street, a luxury rental building at 1975 Madison Avenue, and a mixed-use rental at 2535 Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

In this article:

2535 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
2535 Frederick Douglass Boulevard Harlem
1975 Madison Avenue
1975 Madison Avenue East Harlem
The Dovecote, 11 West 126th Street
The Dovecote, 11 West 126th Street Harlem

Initially planned over a decade ago, The Dovecote at 11 West 126th Street was set to become Manhattan's first ground-up Passive House condominium. Building permits filed in 2014 by developers Urban Artisan and Build Forward revealed a six-story, six-unit project to feature a pre-fabricated structural wall system with high-performance insulation, ensuring superior energy efficiency. Set for completion in 2016, construction progressed on its modest frame, blending seamlessly with the street wall and complementing its neighboring temple-fronted house of worship, built in 1922 and now home to the Pilgrim Cathedral of Harlem.
Construction of The Dovecote came to a halt in 2018, and the global pandemic further delayed progress. However, work resumed in early 2023, and a recent site visit shows the facade is nearly complete, adorned with near-full-height windows and beautifully designed stone panels resting above floor slabs. The team explains that the facade incorporates panels engraved with an original poem by Rita Dove, a site-specific mosaic by Emmett Wigglesworth, and ornamental panels by Kent Bloomer.
Tile detail
A yet-to-be-approved offering plan was filed in December 2016, first revealing the condo's name and projecting a sellout of $8.67 million. Pricing has likely increased since then, and three-bedroom units are now expected to start at $1.5 million. Brown Harris Stevens will lead sales and marketing. The team touts the offering as an exclusive collection of floor-through residences seamlessly integrating premium interior finishes with cutting-edge Passive House construction to create an ideal living environment. Shared amenities are to include a fitness center, virtual doorman, private storage, and a common roof terrace.
11-west-126th street The Dovecote in mid-March 2024 (CityRealty)

(Credit: DXA Studio)
Just east of The Dovecote, across Fifth Avenue construction has recently commenced on a 97-unit rental building at 1975 Madison Avenue. In early 2020, we lamented the loss of the 1871-built Victorian Gothic-style church that once graced the site, home most recently to the Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church. After years of costly 'band-aid' repairs, a portion of the church's ceiling collapsed, and the foundation was deemed unstable for major renovations. To ensure the church's continued operation, the congregation partnered with private developer The Davis Companies to redevelop the large site into a mixed-use development. Despite objections from parishioners, preservationists, and Manhattan Community Board 11, the demolition was deemed necessary to bring the historic church into the modern era.
St. James Methodist Episcopal Church The demolished St. James Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1871
Spanning the entire eastern blockfront of Madison Avenue between East 126th and 127th Street, the development parcel will host a new seven-story home for the church on the northern portion of the site 1981 Madison Avenue. This new structure will feature a new sanctuary, choir rehearsal rooms, a community center with classrooms, a gym, a computer lab, and the pastor's apartment on the top floor. Construction on this building has already topped out.
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The new Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church
Rendering of new sanctuary
Just south of the new church and community facility building, construction has recently begun on a new eight-story, 97-unit rental building located at 1975 Madison Avenue. Designed by DXA Studio and constructed by Broadway Construction Group, the building's design will have floor-to-ceiling windows set within a masonry facade of double-height vertical piers. The color and vertical emphasis of the brickwork pay homage to the 19th-century neo-Gothic church that once occupied the site. The team expects the residential project to be completed in Q4 2025.
Elevation of the ground-up 97-unit rental building to rise at 1975 Madison Avenue
Kitchen 1975 Madison Avneue Concept rendering of kitchen in the new rental (expect a standard affair)

Last but not least, further uptown and west at 2535 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, foundation work has finally commenced on an eight-story mixed-use rental building between West 135th and 136th streets. Developed by Elmo Realty, the new building will consist of 53 rental apartments and ground-floor commercial space. Designed by Koh Architecture, the building will feature a light-colored masonry facade, oversized picture windows, and a subtle cornice line.
Healing From Heaven Temple The demolished Healing From Heaven Temple (via Wikimedia Commons | Beyond My Ken
Given Harlem's significant concentration of houses of worship, it's no surprise that each of the aforementioned projects either replaces a church or stands alongside one. 2535 Frederick Douglass Boulevard was previously home to the Healing From Heaven Temple, a community Christian church with African motifs that added unique character to the city's streetscape.
Acquired in 2015 by Moujan Vahdat's Elmo Realty, the low-slung corner church was demolished in 2018 and sat fallow while developers were under investigation by New York State prosecutors for allegedly paying off local clergy members to gain ownership of their churches. The weed-strewn lot remained in development limbo throughout the pandemic until late last year when work finally commenced to dig the foundations. Completion of the new building can be expected sometime in early 2026.
2535 Frederick DOuglass Construction beginning in December 2023 (CityRealty)

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