Harlem Group Applauds Selection of Community
Vision as Benchmark for Harlem Piers Redevelopment

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Press Release

Date: Thursday, February 01, 2001
Contact: Sarah E. Massey, Communications Director, (212) 961-1000, ext. 304 or Sarah@weact.org

Harlem Group Applauds Selection of Community Vision as Benchmark for Harlem Piers Redevelopment

"We applaud the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for rejecting the inappropriate development proposals for the Harlem Piers waterfront and choosing instead to use the Harlem on the River community plan as a basis for development on the site. Their announcement comes after years of community planning and grassroots organizing to ensure that the Harlem Piers redevelopment is viable and vibrant," said West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT) Executive Director Peggy Shepard. "The Harlem on the River plan represents the missing link in the greenway bordering the Hudson River and incorporates green space and economic vitality for the West Harlem community," said Ms. Shepard.

Last month, the EDC announced its commitment to develop a Master Plan for the Harlem Piers waterfront area (St. Clair Place to 133rd Street, between Broadway and the Hudson River) and announced its pledge to work with local leaders, elected officials, and community members to design a development that reflects the community vision for the area. The community-driven plan for the Harlem Piers area, called Harlem on the River, was established through an extensive planning process initiated by WE ACT, in collaboration with Community Board 9, community members, businesspeople, local development groups, and elected officials. These groups participated in steering committees, design charettes, and public meetings to produce a community vision for the Harlem Piers. The process was facilitated by Mitchell Silver, a planner with Abeles Phillips Preiss & Shapiro, Inc.

The Harlem on the River plan features a landscaped park area along the riverfront for passive recreation and a walkway, bikeway and a pier for water-dependent uses. The plan also includes connections to Riverside Park to the North and South and restored piers for ferry service and riverfront uses. Community members and leaders realize the need for economic sustainability for the West Harlem area, and the Harlem on the River plan includes economic opportunities, such as a vibrant wholesale and retail marketplace with entertainment, art, and cultural uses. The plan proposes to improve traffic and pedestrian circulation patterns to minimize conflicts and increase safety, as well as increasing parking opportunities for all businesses in the area.

In 2000, WE ACT organized a mailing of thousands of postcards to the Manhattan Borough President and the EDC to stop plans for a tourist hotel and to request that the EDC accept the community vision, which features a park and retail shops. WE ACT has been invited by the EDC to participate in a task force, the Harlem Piers Working Committee, to advise and facilitate the planning and development for the site.

Harlem Piers Development Timeline:

1994: Harlem Piers area designated as part of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. Prior to 1994, numerous developments for site were proposed and failed.

1995: Fairway, a wholesale retail market opened a wholesale/retail market on Marginal Way and 133rd Street. Fairway subsequently asked the City and was granted temporary use of the waterfront for customer parking, which is the current use of the site.

1998: NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) issued an RFP for development proposals for the Harlem Piers area. Department of Parks and Recreation constructed "Cherry Walk," as part of a West Side riverfront walk and bikeway along the river's edge, ending just to the South of the Harlem Piers.

1998: West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT) received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a community-based vision in partnership with Community Board 9 for the Harlem Piers area.

1999: WE ACT and Community Board 9 completed Harlem on the River community-based plan and submitted it to EDC.

2000: EDC reviewed private developer proposals for Harlem Piers. WE ACT and community members advocated for the Harlem on the River community-based plan.

January 2001: EDC announces it will not accept private developer proposals; instead, Harlem on the River plan will be used as benchmark for Harlem Piers Master Plan study and development.

Press kits and color illustrations on disk for reproduction are available from WE ACT at (212) 961-1000, ext. 304.

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