The Department of City Planning recently decided to include the Urban Design Lab’s (UDL) proposal for 125th Street in their plan for the rezoning of 125th Street. The plan was based on the UDL’s collaboration with the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID). Previously, the BID and the UDL’s recommendations had been listed as an alternative to City Planning’s proposal. As a result of this recent decision, the BID and the UDL’s plan will be given primary consideration for implementation for the remainder of the city’s rezoning approval process.
The goal of UDL’s collaborative study with the BID is to present a community-based vision, to help secure the future of cultural presentation and production in Harlem, and to encourage the ongoing revitalization of 125th Street as a premier arts, culture, and entertainment destination.
The proposal outlines the physical, social, public management, and economic arguments for establishing a cultural bonus as the principal zoning tool for the further development of 125th Street.
The proposed cultural district will create temporary as well as permanent employment opportunities, and will generate a variety of spaces for cultural use and leverages the opportunities for pedestrian and tourist connections with major redevelopment projects. The district has the potential to unite business, culture, education, job creation, and entrepreneurship and increases the overall economic vitality of the community. It will spur the development of a cultural industry that will facilitate the growth of not-for-profits and other small cultural businesses. Finally, a cultural district will attract a critical mass of people necessary to sustain local small businesses.
With the inclusion of the cultural bonus in City Planning’s rezoning proposal, the UDL’s work is more likely to be implemented so that it can help preserve the cultural heritage of Harlem.
Richard Plunz, Kenneth Kaplan, Michael Conard, Kubi Ackerman, David Maurrasse, Bernard Malafaia, Alanna Talty.