NYCEDC is implementing a three-stage strategy to revitalize West Harlem.
The strategy is laid out in the West Harlem Master Plan. Building on previous community-based visioning and planning efforts, NYCEDC released the plan in 2002, after a year-long planning and community engagement process. Read the master plan press release on nyc.gov.
The master planning process pursued the following goals:
- Develop a blueprint for the economic development of the Manhattanville section of West Harlem,
- Enhance the neighborhood's character, and
- Fulfill the community's vision for the area.
A working committee representing a wide range of stakeholders was actively involved throughout the process. This helped NYCEDC to clearly identify the neighborhood’s constraints and opportunities, as well as the community's needs and desires, especially regarding the Hudson River waterfront between W125th and W135th Street.
Working with a multi-disciplinary team of experts, NYCEDC developed a master plan that sets forth a critical path for redeveloping Manhattanville in three gradual stages, starting from the waterfront. NYCEDC has accomplished significant steps to advance the master plan.
Stage 1: Waterfront Amenity
The plan's first stage calls for the development of a waterfront amenity that creates a destination point and sparks private investment.
NYCEDC advanced a lengthy and inclusive design process to move this recommendation forward, with Community Board 9 and WEACT for Environmental Justice as key community partners throughout the process.
This effort ultimately transformed a derelict and under-utilized section of the Hudson River waterfront, between West 125th and West 135th Streets, into the 2-acre West Harlem Piers Park (WHPP). Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, together with community leaders and elected officials, celebrated the park's opening in the Spring 2009.
WHPP connects to Riverside Park’s Cherry Walk to the south and includes new lawns, benches, landscaped areas for passive recreation, as well as pedestrian and bicycle paths, park furniture, and public art.
The park includes a pier designed for excursion boats, a recreational/fishing pier, a barge for commuter ferries, and a kayak launch.
Stage 2: Transportation Improvements
The plan's second stage calls for improving the neighborhood's connections to the transportation network and implementing a plan to beautify the local streetscape.
In 2005, NYCEDC started an extensive design process to advance this stage of the West Harlem Master Plan, working in close partnership with Community Board 9. The result is the W125th Streetscape and Intermodal Improvements project, which will complement and build upon the work at WHPP.
The project will improve the neighborhood's connection to WHPP, enhance the area's streetscape for the benefit and safety of pedestrians, and strengthen the connections among the different transportation modes present in the area. Construction commenced January 2014.
Specifically, the project will include:
- Widened sidewalks and new roadway alignments, crosswalks, and other traffic–calming measures
- Street trees and plantings
- Street and pedestrian lights
- Street furniture such as benches, bus stops, and bike racks
- Rehabilitated historic rail tracks and cobblestones in targeted locations
- Artistic lighting under the IRT line viaduct at W125th Street and Broadway and the 12th Avenue viaduct at W125th Street
Stage 3: Economic and Institutional Development
The plan's third stage is expected to create synergies with the other two stages. This stage calls for the implementation of an economic development process that combines zoning changes and the long-term management of development in the area to create jobs and economic opportunity.
The zoning changes were advanced through a 35-acre rezoning that was adopted in 2007 together with Community Board 9's "197-a" plan, a comprehensive, community-generated plan for the neighborhood.
The rezoning overhauled the low-density manufacturing zoning that had been in place in the area for decades. The new zoning allows a wider mix of uses and greater density in the area. In addition, it creates opportunities for street-level retail along 12th Avenue and residential development in the area east of Broadway, between W134th and W135th Streets.
The rezoning also established a 17-acre Special Manhattanville Mixed-Use District in the center of the neighborhood to facilitate the development of a new Columbia University campus.
The new campus will be developed to accommodate the university's long-term growth needs. It will include state-of-the-art educational and research facilities, particularly for modern scientific and technological research, as well as university housing, ground-floor retail space, and other support space.
The project is expected to include a north-south system of publicly-accessible open spaces that will integrate the campus into the fabric of the neighborhood. For more on this project, visit Columbia University's Manhattanville in West Harlem website.