125th Street in East Harlem ~ a Work in Progress?



Image of East Harlem Media, Entertainment & Cultural Center via nycedc

125th Street in East Harlem has seen a constant stream of renovations and building over this past one year.  As per The Real Deal, the biggest project filed with the city last month is coming to East Harlem, courtesy of the Richman Group and the project scheduled for 201 East 125th Street. We thought this might be a good time to review what we know about projects coming to East Harlem this year, and we will update, as the year unfolds.

Rendering of the Manhattan Greenway in East Harlem. Image courtesy NYC Mayor’s Office

Before we begin, here’s an update on the Second Avenue Subway digging currently taking place. Rig #1 near 119th Street and Rig #2 near Lenox Avenue, along 125th Street. These rigs are conducting soil tests for Phase Two. The machines dig 160 feet down to survey for soil quality and locate buried utility lines. The workers are outside contractors – not MTA employees – so they can not answer many questions, but the Second Avenue Subway Community Center on East 125th Street between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue can help answer all your questions. Stop by, check out their display. Thank you to NHEMA for this update.


Let’s begin on 125th Street and the East River, with the $100M commitment toward an East Harlem waterfront project, creating a ‘Manhattan Greenway’ between East 125th and East 132nd Streets. The project will create a seven-acre park and a pedestrian and bicycle path. Badly needed repairs are also scheduled to be made on the waterfront between East 96th and East 125th Streets. The East River Greenway Project is expected to get underway in 2020 with an anticipated finish date in 2023, working with New York City Parks Department and the Economic Development Corporation.

Image of East Harlem Media, Entertainment & Cultural Center via nycedc

The Harlem Media, Entertainment & Cultural Center (Harlem MEC) is set to rise at 201 East 125th Street, the former site of an MTA bus depot. It will house over 300,000 square feet of creative office space, retail, 30,000 square feet of not-for-profit arts space, a 98,000 square-foot hotel, 24,000 square-feet of open public space, and 1,000 units of housing.

The project stalled for many reasons, including the issues related to the city proceeding with eminent domain to take land between 125th and 127th Streets and Second and Third Avenues.  The issue of Eminent Domain was recently address in a New York Daily News article, interviewing two owners of businesses hurt or closed by this decision ~ Damon Bae, the owner of Fancy Cleaners and Evan Blum, the owner of one of my favorite shops, Demolition Depot.  And in a subsequent article on January 12, 2018.

cleaners taken by eminent domain photo 2-4-18, south east corner of 126th Street & Third Avenue

Included in this project will be The 126th Street African Burial Ground Memorial (and mixed-use project) honoring the site’s history.

The 19-story, mixed-use building from the Richman Group was also in the number six spot on The Real Deal’s list of the 10 biggest real estate projects planned for New York City throughout all of 2017.

And the empty lot across the street, between 126th-127th Streets and Second Avenue…..

City-owned lot on Second Avenue between 126-127th Streets. Image via Google Images

On Tuesday, January 22, 2018, the city Economic Development Corporation released a request for proposals, outlining its goal to create a hub with at least 300,000 square-feet of customizable wet lab, and other work space, for the signature initiative, LifeSci NYC, a 10 year, $500 million plan announced in 2016 for city-owned sites in Kips Bay, Long Island City, and the East Harlem site on Second Avenue at 126-127th Streets.  According to Patch East Harlem, the large city-owned lot on Second Avenue between 126-127th Streets could become an “Applied Life Sciences Hub.”  The Economic Development Corporation is seeking private and philanthropic funding for the facility, in addition to the $100 million commitment by the city.  LifeSci NYC could create as many as 16,000 new jobs. Stay tuned at NYCEDC.

North facade of New York Proton Center (NYPC)

The New York Proton Center (NYPC) will be located at 201-225 East 126th Street, with an anticipated completion date in 2019. The three-story, 115,300 square-feet center is expected to treat 1,500 patients a year.

Proposed Sanitation Depot on East 127th Street: At the location 207 East 127th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), along with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), proposes to acquire approximately 119,000+ square feet of space at this location, which is approximately 48,000+ square feet, to house the Manhattan District 11 Garage (M11). This proposal would relocate M11 from its current City-owned facility on East 99th Street.  In other words, the proposal would relocate garbage trucks from 99th Street to the 127th street location, next to the proposed African Burial Site Memorial, next to the proposed Proton Beam Cancer Treatment Hospital, next to a school (nursery-12), next to public school 138, and next to the River Side Park Field, which is home to the Harlem Jets. The community continues in its efforts to alter this plan ~ and points out the stark difference between the garbage facility built on Spring Street in SoHo vs the proposed garbage facility planned for this East Harlem location.

A Google Map shot of 212 East 125th Street, on the corner of Third Avenue

The Above Google Map image of 212 East 125th Street (corner of Third Avenue) was purchased by Hakimian Organization and Certes Partners from Second Phoenix Holding for $10 million in November, 2018. We have no insight into what will change with this property. The Hakimian Family owns substantial commercial and residential properties throughout New York.

Looking east from Metro North, with a view of Pathmark on the right (south side) of 125th Street

The now-shuttered Pathmark supermarket lot, located at 160 East 125th Street, was purchased by Extell for $39 million from Abyssinian Development Corporation, along with the neighboring post office for $10 million in 2014. Permits were filed in 2016 for demolition and in April, 2018 we learned from therealdeal.com that, “Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is in active negotiation for a $500 million loan, backed by three Manhattan developments and shares in Central Park Tower, according to documents filed with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.  Roughly $375 million of the funds will go toward refinancing the three projects, all of which are in the early stages of development, the documents state.  The projects include the Pathmark site in East Harlem, which Barnettassembled for $70 million in 2014. He took out a $65 million mortgage on the property at 160 East 125th Street, and has yet to release plans for the nearly block-long site, between Lexington and Third avenues.”

Rendering of 175 East 125th Street, The Salvation Army, adjacent to the Bjarke Ingels project. Image via Salvation Army
New Salvation Army building on the corner of 125th/126th Streets and Third Avenue, next to the Bjarke Ingels building on 126th Street (2-4-18)
East Harlem
Construction of Salvation Army building on the corner of Third Avenue and 126th Street. April 26, 2018

The image above is a rendering of the Salvation Army project, which is currently under construction at 175 East 125th Street, adjacent to the Bjarke Ingels project. The new ten-story Salvation Army building will be an affordable senior residence and include a community center and church on the first two levels, offices and fitness rooms, cafe’, library and meeting rooms for residents on the third floor. Apartments will start on the fourth floor. Residents will have access to a basement-level basketball court and laundry room, and a rooftop dining hall.

Bjarke Ingels ‘Gotham’ East on East 126th Street. Image via Blumenfeld Development Group

The Bjarke Ingels project, Gotham East, will have an entrance on 126th Street, with an overhang seen from 125th Street, near Third Avenue. It will offer 250 units for rent, with 20% set at affordable rates. The eleven story building is scheduled for completion in 2018.

photo taken 2-4-18  East 125th Street between Lexington and Third Ave
Progress on Bjarke Ingels building, East 125th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue, April 26, 2018
Here is a shot taken on October 18, 2018 from Third Avenue at 125th Street, with the vacant property ‘Pathmamrk’ on the left, the almost finished Salvation Army on the right, and in the middle, the rising Bjarke Angeles ‘Gotham East’ reaching over the DMV building from 126th Street.
Bjarke Ingel – Gotham East, 158 east 126th Street (2-4-18)
Bjarke Ingels-East Harlem
Bjarke Ingels building on East 126th Street just west of Third Ave. April 26, 2018
Progress on the Bjarke Ingels building on 126th Street in East Harlem. April 26, 2018


Historic firehouse located at 120 East 125th Street

The abandoned firehouse, built in 1889 and closed in 2003, was given a new life by the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI)

Below, and just two doors down from CCCADI, permits were filed for a single-story commercial structure to be built in what is now a parking lot located at 110 East 125th Street.  Owned by the Durst Organization, the 24-foot tall structure will hold 4,500 square feet to be used as commercial space.

110 East 125th Street via Google Maps. The Durst Organization owns the empty lot + the property to the right in the image above.

It must be noted that the Durst organization also owns the adjacent property along Park Avenue  (1815 Park Avenue) and the large lot (below) on the west side of the MTA (1800 Park Avenue). The listed architects for 110 East 125th Street are Gerner Kronick + Valcarel. No completion date announced.

Empty lot on Park Ave between 124/125th Streets in East Harlem, now owned by Durst Corp.

There are no permits filed for the above image of lot located at 1800 Park Avenue located on the south west corner of 125th Street and Park Avenue, next to the Metro North Station, now owned by the Durst Organization, which was originally advertised as the future home of the tallest building in East Harlem by the Continuum Company prior to the Durst purchase.

Google Maps image of properties owned by the Durst Organization, to the east and west of the MTA on Park Avenue/125th St.

The 3D Google Map above shows clearly the properties owned by the Durst Organization ~ to the left is the large empty lot, 1800 Park Avenue. Moving east on the other side of Metro North, 1805 Park Avenue and adjacent lot, 110 East 125th Street.

The Durst Organization refinanced the property in August 2018, and this money will also go toward the sites at 1800 Park Avenue, 1815 Park Avenue and 110 East 125th Street. There are no official plans for the site.

Directly across the street, the beautifully renovated historic Corn Exchange Building, thanks to the Artimus Corporation.

Renovated historic Corn Exchange building, 125th Street and Park Ave, north west corner

To the west, the building below, 62-64 East 125th Street, adjacent to the empty lot, is scheduled for demolition.  Across the street is the new luxury rental building, Harlem 125, at 69 East 125th Street, with its commercial space the new home of the Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center.


62-64 East 125th Street, scheduled for demolition


The historic Trowel & Square Building, 26 East 125th Street

Renovation of the facade of the historic Trowel & Square building at 26 East 125th Street, above and below.

Rendering of facade renovation at 26 East 125th Street
Ron Moelis & the National Black Theater site. Image via therealdeal

The National Black Theatre, on north east corner of Fifth Avenue and 125th Street is teaming up with L + M Development Partners to redevelop the theater into a mixed-use building with 240 residential units and space for a new 30,000 square foot theater.  This will more than triple the guidable square footage on the site from about 68,000 square feet to over 240,000 square feet. The building will be torn down and prepared for redevelopment. Elizabeth Dee Gallery, a tenant at that location for just one year, forced to relocate.

The Metro North Station located at 125th Street and Park Avenue has been awarded, along with four other MTA Stations, funds for a much needed renovation that will include new signage, platforms, lighting and WiFi connectivity. The Harlem East Merchant Association (NHEMA) currently holds a variety of community activities at The Place, under the station.

While East 125th Street may appear to be going vertical, back on the ground there are many neighborhood shops, restaurants, and organizations   ~  keeping the integrity of this community.

While you’re there, check out 50 recently completed East Harlem painted gates as part of the #100GatesProject, many of them all along East 125th street, to Second Avenue ~ and new public art installation, Atlas, in Marcus Garvey Park, visit a historic firehouse converted into a cultural center, and a four-story salvage shop! Walk through Urban Garden Center, walk over to the iconic Graffiti Wall of Fame, and take a tour of El Barrio’s historic murals. Visit Hunter East Harlem Gallery Taller Boricua, Elizabeth Dee Gallery and The National Black Theater.

Just a note, pointing out Shake Shack, due to open in the Fall of 2018 on Fifth Avenue at 125th Street, opposite The National Black Theater.

Rezoning from NYC Planning.

Where is all the Affordable Housing? Check the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) right here.

Read the Statements of Community District Needs and Community Board Budget Requests for 2018.

Stay tuned.

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