New Directions: An Introduction

A 197-A Plan for Manhattan Community district 11 (Revised 1999)


Manhattan Community District 11 ("CD 11") was designated by the City of New York in 1967. This designation brought three neighborhoods of East Harlem and one Manhattan Island under one jurisdiction - El Barrio/Spanish Harlem (East 96th Street to 125th Street),(click here to see map -161K)) the area known as the East Harlem Triangle (East 125th Street to East 142nd Street) and Little Italy (3rd Avenue to the Harlem River). The mainland CD 11 area contains approximately 946 acres and is bounded to the south by 96th Street, to the west by Fifth Avenue, 142nd Street to the north and by the East and Harlem Rivers to the east. East Harlem also includes Randall's and Ward's Islands which together contain an additional 495 acres.

While the district shares a rich and varied past, its hallmarks today are diversity and opportunity. The community assets of new government initiatives, excellent location, transportation systems, recreational amenities and an active citizenry must be fully capitalized if the "New Directions" described herein are to be achieved.

Manhattan Community Board I I prepared this 197-A Plan as a policy guide for the future growth and development of East Harlem and Randall's and Ward's Islands as outlined in the New York City Charter under section 197-A.

· Increase housing opportunities for all income groups
· Strengthen existing retail and business corridors
· Rehabilitate all vacant residential buildings by the year 2004
· Strengthen educational and employment opportunities
· Strengthen cultural resources and recreational space
· Improve the quality of life

For many years, CB# 11 residents have worked very hard to improve the conditions in their community. Many united into Community Based Organizations, ("CBOs") that have actively addressed the myriad problems that confront the community. These efforts represent a variety of visions that reflect the neighborhood's diverse cultural, historical, religious, political backgrounds and sub-neighborhoods. The challenge since 1991 has been to produce a 197-A Plan that is inclusive of the shared ideas, visions and proposals of the community into one plan. This plan called "New Directions" is a culmination of that effort.

New Directions serves as a policy guide to the City of New York, its agencies, and to the people of East Harlem.. The City should use these recommendations to guide land use decisions and delivery of services to East Harlem, Randall's and Ward's Islands.

Quality economic and community development is important to the people of East Harlem. Public services should provide decent and affordable housing, accessible health, quality education, recreational and cultural services, and safe streets. Current public services must not be allowed to deteriorate. Delivery and maintenance of public services should be enforced by the City of New York. This 197-A Plan aims to address the land issues in East Harlem, a comprehensive vision for the future, current service delivery issues and current and future capital needs.

Residents of East Harlem began the 197-A Plan process more than a decade ago.

In 1988, the planning consulting firm, Buckhurst Fish Hutton Katz and Jacquemart working with CB# 11 and the City of New York, prepared a study called East Harlem: A Development Strategy.

In 1990, the El Barrio Convention, sponsored by CB# 11 , East Harlem Interfaith and the East Harlem Renewal Agency, brought community-based agencies and planning groups together to develop a set of planning principles. The recommendations of the El Barrio Convention were presented to NYS Assemblyman Angelo Del Toro, who proposed a wider coalition subsequently convened as the East Harlem/El Barrio Coalition for Community Planning and Development. This Coalition met weekly for three months. Mr. George Calvert drafted the consensus document called The Will to Plan: East Harlem's Comprehensive Housing Program which called for a total of 2,850 mixed units of housing, new and rehabilitated, over a five year period. This housing plan was adopted by CB# 11 in March of 1992, but was never incorporated in the Mayor's Ten Year Housing Plan.

In 1991, Columbia School of Architecture and City College collaborated in a proposal called the A Phillip Randolphh Village which made creative suggestions for the vacant land above East and West I I 7th Street including the Millbank-Frawley Circle Urban Renewal Area.

In 1992, CB# 11 began preparations for a 197-A Plan and requested assistance from the Manhattan Borough President, Ms. Ruth W. Messinger. Later that year CB# 11 held a weekend working retreat in upstate New York, which was sponsored and attended by the Manhattan Borough President. This retreat resulted in the agreements on the housing section for this 197-A Plan.

In 1993, the New York City Department of City Planning ("NYC DCP") prepared a report titled Neighborhood Land Disposition Plan: Northern East Harlem which recommended land disposition strategies. Unfortunately, this study did not include the southern portion of El Barrio/Spanish Harlem-East Harlem. Many of its land-use suggestions are included in this 197-A Plan.

In 1993, An Upper East Side civic organization, CIVITAS, commissioned Buckhurst Fish Hutton Katz and Jacquemart for a Madison Avenue Study, which involved, a significant amount of public participation and concluded with the first in-depth look into Madison Avenue from 96th Street to East 125th Street..

In 1993, the East Harlem Neighborhood Based Alliance conducted a study of East Harlem which resulted in the publication of the Strategic Neighborhood Action Plan. This plan also involved significant public participation and defined clearly the myriad of social and economic issues facing East Harlem life and residents.

In 1993, CB# 11 's Chairperson, Mr. Harry Rodriguez requested the Manhattan Borough President's Office to assist with synthesizing all prior studies and reports for the basis of the 197-A Plan. The Borough President's Office recruited CUNY Hunter College graduates in the Urban Planning Department who produced a report titled East Harlem At the Cross Roads. This report was presented in November of 1994. (The next year it won a national award from the American Institute of Certified Planners for "Best Application of the Planning Process"),

In 1995 CB# 11's Chairperson, Mr. Eddie Baca requested all of the Community Board Committees to review East Harlem: At the Cross Road and submit comments and recommendations to the newly created 197-Plan Committee chaired by Mr. George E. Calvert, who began weekly meetings starting April 27, 1995. The "Roundtable" studied all the above mentioned documents and met regularly through the spring and summer, public meetings that were open for walk-in ideas and suggestions from any source in the community. The CB 11 197-A Plan Committee specifically requested the advice of all City agencies, in particular, the NYC Housing Preservation Development ("HPD") and the NYC Department of City Planning ("DCP") and targeted community leaders knowledgeable in specific areas relevant to this 197-A Plan.

This sought advice was presented at the Manhattan Community Board 197-A Plan Committee meetings scheduled on May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 - June 7, 14, 21, 28 - July 12, 25 and August 2 and 16, 1995. After each 197-A Plan Committee meeting, the chairman incorporated new suggestions and comments into a new draft 197-A Plan for the next scheduled committee meeting. Thus East Harlem entities participated and viewed the progress on a weekly basis. Monthly drafts were foxed by CB# 11 to all 197-A Plan Committee members and to HPD and DCP.

By September of 1995, twenty one pages of a new 197-A Plan Recommendations had been compiled. From September to December 1995, the Manhattan Borough President's Representative, Mr. Mitch Silver, met frequently with President Baca to update and produce a final draft of the 197-A Plan.

In January of 1996, the Manhattan Borough President Office mailed six hundred copies of the final draft 197A Plan Recommendations to wide mailing fist. A Notice of a CB# 11 Public Hearing on the 197-A Plan Recommendations was attached to the 197-A Plan Recommendations and mailed to East Harlem entities.

On February 2, 1996, the 197-A Plan Public Hearing was held at La Guardia Community Center and was recorded on tape and video. This CB# 11 Public Hearing allowed for public participation twice during the day, from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 P.M. and from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Over sixty community residents and agencies attended this 197-A Plan Recommendations Public Hearing and thirty individuals presented written and oral testimony. Useful suggestions included comments from NY City Councilman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and NY State Assemblyman Francisco Diaz, Jr. The input and recommended changes to the 197A Plan recommendations were carefully reviewed by the CB# 11 197-A Plan Committee. A final draft on the 197-A Plan Recommendations were mailed to all fifty CB# 11 members.

On February 20, 1996, the final 197-A Plan Recommendations were unanimously approved with a quorum present at the full Board meeting of CB# 11 .

From March to September 1996 the 197-A Plan was further developed with the Manhattan Borough Presidents Office and CB# 11 1 which resulted in the approved recommendations and for conformity to the 197-A Guidelines of Form and Content and Sound Planning Policy.

On September 26, 1996, the completed East Harlem 197-A Plan was submitted to the NYC Department of Planning for review and implementation by CB# 11 . Their review and careful response stimulated a series of open meeting in 1997, under Board Chairperson Mr. Harry Rodriguez. A new Task Force was appointed by Mr. David E Givens, chairperson of Community Board 11 in the fall of 1998. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields gave her full support.

That 197A Task Force, again led by Mr. Calvert, has prepared the "Revised Edition" submitted to relevant agencies and to the Manhattan Community Board #11 herewith.

· The social implications of every action should be assessed.

· The long-term implications of every action should be assessed.

· Planning should be inclusive. Consultation with CB# 11 and community-based agencies and business organizations is critical.

· Planning among City agencies should be coordinated. All actions should examine inter agency coordination to avoid fragmented planning.

· East Harlem should assert its role in the great East Side of New York.

"Nieuw Haarlem " started in Community District 11. It was . divided only recently into " East" and "West" and "Central" Harlem. A partnership of the three districts in the great uptown area called "Harlem" is essential.

Planning strategies address specific local neighborhood needs as well as the district wide needs. To address the local neighborhood needs this 197-A Plan recommends a Neighborhood Planning Strategy and as for district wide needs a Cross Roads Strategy.

The neighborhood planning strategy provides a starting point for site specific development strategies. Each neighborhood has defining aspects giving it identifiable characteristics. Street scape, cultural and ethnic identity or existing institutions are some preexisting factors that can lead to a framework for future development.

The creation of Cross Roads is found in the second part of the 197-A Plan. We have identified Cross Roads to be established in East Harlem. Each Cross Road provides, or has the potential to provide, a particular type of development - transportation, retail/commerce or cultural. These Cross Roads form an interlocking system that supports and enhances the East Harlem community. Collectively, these Cross Roads constitute a comprehensive economic, social and cultural infrastructure that, when fully realized, will serve to strengthen the neighborhoods, the entire East Harlem, and the City of New York.

Other Sections of the 197-A Plan

History of East Harlem
Demographic and Socio-Economic Profile
Land Use and Zoning
City-Owned Vacant Property
Housing and Urban Renewal
Economic Development
The Waterfront
Tranportation and Infrastructure
Institutional and Historical Resources
Non-Profits At Work In East Harlem
For Profits At Work In East Harlem

Maps (all pertain to Community Board # 11)
The maps are in Gif format. File sizes are big, but you can better see the details in the maps.

Community Board District # 11 (162K)
Population of Race and Ethnicity by Census Track (679K
Land Use (Color 579K)
Zoning Map (244K)
Major Housing Developments (329K)
Urban Renewal Areas (328K)
Empowerment Zone (630K)
Economic Developement (628K)
Public Transportation (672K)
Historic District and Landmarks (610K)
Crossroads (589K)


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