125th Street in East Harlem has seen a constant stream of renovations and building over this past several years. We thought this might be a good time to review what we know about projects coming to East Harlem this year, and continue to update as the year unfolds.
In addition, the Second Avenue Subway extension will provide direct passenger connections to the Lexington Avenue (4/5/6) subway line at 125th Street, and an entrance at Park Avenue to allow convenient transfers to the Metro-North 125th Street Station.
CityRealty article (January 2023) on 45+ New Developments Changing the Face of East Harlem – and some are along the 125th Street/Park Avenue corridor.
A recent report by GMJ&A to CB11 on May 13, 2020 gives an in-depth view of East 125th Street, a work in progress.
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 will answer all your questions. Stop by, check out their display.
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.
One East Harlem now topped-off at 201 East 125th Street, the former site of an MTA bus depot. It will contain 300 affordable apartments and 100 market-rate units, as well as 65,000 square feet of commercial area, with retail space that will span two floors and contain dedicated parking in the lower level; in addition, 5,000 square feet dedicated to local retail; 10,000 square feet of public open space; and 5,000 square feet for cultural facilities – in particular, Groove With Me, the youth development dance center and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), who will continue to maintain their historic firehouse a block and a half away at 120 East 125th Street.
One East Harlem is a 19-story mixed-use building designed by S9 Architecture. The reinforced concrete structure prominently rises above its surroundings and will yield over 420,000 square feet of newly built space. Work broke ground last summer and required the demolition of a couple low-rise structures occupying the site. Richman Group Development, Bridges Development Group, and Monadnock Development are the developers of the project, and received a mix of public and private funding from Citigroup, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the New York City Housing Development Corporation.
Amenities for residents include a business center, outdoor lounge area above the podium and at the rooftop level, a fitness center, and sub-grade parking. The closest subways are the 4, 5, and 6 trains at the 125th Street station, located at the intersection of East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. One block further to the west is the Harlem-125th Street station on Hudson Line of the Metro-North. Occupancy is expected sometime in 2021.
One East Harlem’s residential amenities will include a business center, outdoor lounge area, a fitness center, and below-ground parking. Additionally, the project is expected to create nearly 300 construction jobs and over 140 permanent jobs. Food Bazaar opened in September, 2022.
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.
201 East 125th Street facing the new Salvation Army building. The new Proton Center on 126th Street can be just barely seen on the right side of the picture,, behind the construction. Image taken October 28, 2019. 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. As of May, 2019, Demolition Depot has relocated to a five-story building located at 159-161 East 126th Street, directly across from the entrance to the new Bjarke Ingels luxury rental building.
Included in this project will be The 126th Street African Burial Ground Memorial (and mixed-use project) honoring the site’s history. We recently learned that due to the pandemic and subsequent city budget deficit, the African Burial Ground project is now on pause. The full-block burial ground site dates back to the founding of the village of Harlem by the Dutch, whose Low Dutch Reformed Church of Harlem maintained separate cemeteries for people of European and African descent.
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. The property is designed by S9 Architecture. The complex will be part of a larger six-acre NYC EDC project that will run from 125th to 127th Streets and from Third to Second Avenues. It will include the Proton Center, operated by Memorial Sloan Kettering, Montefiore Health System and Mount Sinai.
As a side note, the beloved Crack is Wack mural by Keith Haring, which was recently restored, is located right around the corner on a handball court at 128th Street and Second Avenue.
And the empty lot across the street, between 126th-127th Streets and Second Avenue…..
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.
The New York Proton Center (NYPC) opened on June 6, 2019, located at 201-225 East 126th Street. The 140,000 square-foot facility, which cost $300 million to build, will begin patient consultations in late June, 2019. The radiation therapy will use protons, precisely targeting the solid tumors in sensitive areas that traditionally were difficult to treat. The Proton Center is the result of a partnership between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Health System, and Mount Sinai Health System.
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.
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. The Hakimian Family owns substantial commercial and residential properties throughout New York. They have filed for a full demolition permit for the four-story building. The permit indicates that they will build a 12-story mixed-use building.
A partnership between Certes Partners, The Hakimian Organization and Red Pine Capital Partners has received $59.4 million in development financing for The Enclave, a 113-unit multifamily project in Manhattan. Cushman & Wakefield arranged the variable-rate financing through SCALE Lending.
The Enclave’s development site spans 212 E. 125th St. through 215 E. 124th St. Upon completion, the property will include two towers and retail frontage as well as approximately 1,500 square feet of private courtyards, 34 parking spaces, a gym, lounges and outdoor patios.
The now demolished 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.
Above, Pathmark. Below, now a very large empty lot extending from 124th to 125th Streets along Lexington Avenue.
Stepping into the past, it is interesting to see one of the residential structures that was on the now empty Pathmark lot. The image above, via Urban Archives, is of what was known as The Kopper’s House and located at 167 East 124th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue, where the USPS resided a few years ago.
Above and below, an empty lot where Pathmark once stood. View looking toward 125th Street at the DMV building and Smile Luxury Rentals.
Extell Development announced the appointment of Cushman & Wakefield to market the Class A office building located with the address, 180 East 125th Street (the Pathmark site). The original plan was for a nine story, 441,600 square-foot office building designed by architecture firm Gensler, HHQ.
However, in Fall 2022, Extell reapplied for a permit to change plans, eliminating offices and deciding on residential units. The project, which was estimated to begin in March, 2023, and a completion date of April, 2025 – now on hold with news that MTA purchased the lot from Extell.
On May 4, 2023 we learned that the MTA paid Extell $82M for this Harlem site, with the intention of using this lot as part of a new station for the Second Avenue Subway.
New Salvation Army on the corner of 126th Street and Second Avenue, with the Bjarke Ingels building next door – as of June 7, 2019Another view of the new Salvation Army building (below) with the abandoned Pathmark property in the background. Image taken from Third Avenue at 127th Street.
The building of the property, Salvation Army, below.
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.
Image above taken on May 31, 2019, looking east with the luxury rental building Gotham East in the forefront and Salvation Army to the left ~ both well on their way to being completed.
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 233 apartments in a mix of studios, one and two bedrooms, with twenty percent of the units offered under the affordable housing program. Affordable Housing Lottery was launched with 47 low-income units and twenty-three apartment set aside for middle-income.
Above, fitness center & lounge. Below, rooftop terrace with pool at Gotham East. The project, sometimes called ‘The Smile’, will have a retail component on the ground level and underground parking. Market rate leasing will be handled by Nest Seekers.
Amenities for residents will include a fitness center, lounge, workspace, and a rooftop terrace with a pool and landscaping.
We can’t mention The Smile without mentioning the remote control bed and storage spaces that lower from the ceiling! Check out the YouTube video above.
Corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue as The Smile was rising above the DMV.
Below, East 126th Street, with The Smile as a work-in-progress.
Moving West, on the south side of the street, we come upon the historic 124 East 125th Street (below), built in 1907 by architects Bannister & Schell, Apple Bank started life as the Haarlem Savings Bank.
Above image of the interior of 124 East 125th Street, the Harlem Savings Bank, in the year 1907, shortly after it opened. Image via the Daily News.
Below, a photo of the same space as Apple Bank in 2017.
124 East 125th Street reincarnated into an Apple Bank until 2018, when the bank moved to a location further east on the same street.
The historic 21,556-square foot building was turned over to the charter school Harlem RBI, through the limited liability company Dream On 125 in December 2017, and sold in 2020 to Maddd Equities for $15 million.
In March, 2021 it was reported that MADD Equities purchased the adjacent lot, on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street, making way for a larger development site which will include retail/commercial and community facilities.
The north-west corner of 125th Street and Lexington will be demolished and the above rendering will replace the Apple Bank structure and buildings to the east. The 100,000 square-foot new complex will include office, retail and a community center. Designed by Aufgang Architects (also doing the redesign for the Victoria Theatre down the block), it is expected to be an eight or nine-story structure. Ground-breaking expected in 2022, with completion expected in 2024.
Moving West, historic firehouse located at 120 East 125th Street (below).
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.
It must be noted that the Durst organization owned the adjacent property along Park Avenue (1815 Park Avenue and 1801 Park Avenue) recently demolished (below), and sold the property to MTA for a building housing an entrance to the subway with an elevator. The Durst Organization, feeling that MTA has stalled his projects, filed a lawsuit over prolonged discussions.
Across the street (image below), on the north east corner of 125th Street, corner of Park Avenue, is the historic Lee Building. The 12-story office building located at 1825 Park Avenue was purchased in 1979 for $40,000 by Eugene Giscombe, owner of Giscombe Realty Group. It was sold in 2016 to the company Savanna for $48 million.
…..and ~ Oops ~ unfortunately Savanna had to relinquish the building to avoid foreclosure in December, 2023.
1825 Park Avenue is also a current home to a Chase Bank and the well-known Zaro’s Family Bakery, moving into the space in December, 2019.
A look-back at the mural that was on the side of the building 1801 Park Avenue (below) next to the 125th Street Metro North Station, adjacent to the Park Avenue Hotel, East Harlem.
Above ~ a wonderful image of New York Central (now MTA Metro North) and Trolley lines at the Second and Third Avenue Els. Image via Uptown Grand Central by way of a wonderful exhibit at Second Avenue Subway Community Info Center entitled “Building the Second Avenue Subway for East Harlem.” The Center is located at 69 East 125th Street.
Planned renovation at Metro North will begin on June 24, 2019 and is expected to take approximately thirty-two months.
The Durst Organization retains ownership of the large lot (below) on the west side of the MTA (1800 Park Avenue).
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, which was originally advertised as the future home of the tallest building in East Harlem by the Continuum Company prior to the Durst purchase.
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. However, when interviewed by New York Yimby in March, 2020, Douglas Durst indicated that after the completion of Sven in Long Island City, he would like to work on the Durst lot at 1800 Park Avenue. Stay tuned.
While we wait ~ enjoy the murals, Uptown Grand Scale, surrounding both sites.
The Ginjan Cafe’ opened in the historic Corn Exchange Building, 81 East 125th Street in August, 2019.
Above, interior of The Ginjan Cafe’, located at ground level in the historic Corn Exchange Bank Building, on the corner of 125th Street and Park Avenue.
To the west, the building below, 62-64 East 125th Street, adjacent to the empty lot, is scheduled for demolition.
62-64 East 125th Street, now you see it (above), now you don’t (below).
Plans for 58-62 East 125th Street are in the very beginning stages. Stay tuned.
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. In a statement in early 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo renewed his commitment to complete the 2nd Avenue Subway project, bringing the subway from 96th Street to 125th Street.
Below, just west of Madison Avenue, the historic Trowel & Square Ballroom building.
Renovation of the facade of the historic Trowel & Square building at 26 East 125th Street, above and below.
The Trowel & Square building sit next to the popular ladies boutique, The Brownstone.
Moving West, 13-15 East 125th Street (below), now a storefront church (Holy Ghost Pentecostal Faith Church for All Nations), with unique snake ornaments on either side of the facade. The symbol is associated with Hermes, the Greek messenger god (the Romans called him Mercurius). The symbols were generally found on commercial buildings from the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The above location (13-15 E. 125th Street ~ two converted row houses) became the Democratic Clubhouse from 1888 to 1906. Shortly after, it was demolished and a three-story structure was built, and it became home to the New York Edison Company, later to become Consolidated Edison Company (ConEd) until the 1920s. The building has had a variety of occupants since then.
Directly across the street sits the shuttered Harlem Fresh Market. No word on what might take this space.
Below, the National Black Theater on the corner of 125th Street and Fifth Avenue before demolition.
Below, a closeup of the exterior artwork by Aderisi Akanji, running along the bottom of the building on Fifth Avenue and 125th Street.
Below, scaffolding surrounds the National Black Theater on Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, July 2021. Getting ready for demolition.
Below, the building has been completely demolished.
Below, an illustration of the new National Black Theater, corner of 125th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The National Black Theatre, on north east corner of Fifth Avenue and 125th Street is teaming up with Ray Harlem to create a building comprised of approximately 222 units, studios, one and two bedrooms, home office and junior bedroom options, flexible spaces, and affordable units. Included will be an Artist Housing Initiative with housing for local artists and creatives. Residents will have access to some very cool amenities like artist studio, library, co-working lounge, wellness space, and community courtyard on the main amenity floor. The rooftop will include a community kitchen and terrace.
Permits to demolish the row of buildings at 2023-2033 Fifth Avenue between 125 and 126th Streets, which includes the National Black Theatre, was filed this week (December 2020).
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 ~ along with the mural project, Uptown GrandScale, and new public art installation in Marcus Garvey Park, visit a historic firehouse converted into a cultural center, 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, and The National Black Theater.
Just a note, Shake Shack, opened December 18, 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.
Don’t get lost. Buy an East Harlem Map.
On the other end of 125th Street, take a look inside the renovated Victoria Theatre on West 125th Street.
Take a look back at a vintage map c. 1911 from the New York Public Library Digital Collection, Plat 33: Bounded by Third Avenue, E. 125th Street, First Avenue, East 124th Street, East River, Exterior Line of Water Grant, Pleasant Avenue, and East 125th Street (above).
On the other side of Fifth Avenue, in Harlem, 125th Street will be looking forward to the demolition of Rite Aid (35 West 125th Street), with plans by developer Mark Urging to building a 21 story building with 162 residential units. The ground floor will include room for retail space and an art gallery! No date for groundbreaking or completion. Further down 125th Street at Lenox Avenue, the National Urban League Headquarters and Civil Rights Museum opening in 2023 just west of Lenox Avenue, with Target and Trader Joe’s signing leases for the new space.