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    Is Harlem’s rezoning of 125th Street “ethnic cleansing?”

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | December 15, 2007

    (This is an off-topic post about my neighborhood, but since it is my blog, I get to do what I want).

    This Village Voice article by Maria Luisa Tucker examines the debate over the rezoning of 125th Stret , which is important to me as that is both the main street where I grew up and the main street where I live now. (I, unlike almost everyone else in the youngish New York writing world, do not live in Brooklyn).

    The rezoning could transform the street into a canyon of high-rises—up to 29 stories high on the north side of the street—for luxury condos and national chain stores. The plan suggests tearing down vacant buildings as well as thriving small businesses and bringing as many as 5,700 new residents into the already congested area.

    Harlem historian Michael Henry Adams has called it the biggest change to Harlem in 100 years. Developers and city planners hail the rezoning plan as a much-needed boost to the local economy. But some Harlemites call it ethnic cleansing.

    There are a bunch of  million+ luxury developments popping up around Harlem, near where I live, including Loft 124 (which still has 5 units left betwee $984K and $1.79 million) and 29-story Fifth on the Park with a church at its base Things in the neighborhood have changed. There is a Citarella along 125th street, which made me blink. The corner bodega where I used to wait for the M11 to go to school is now a cash-only Italian restaurant with an outdoor deck. And a few months ago, my downstairs neighbor and I (investment banker) saw a Korean-American guy walk by with golf clubs. We looked at each other and were like, “There goes the neighborhood.”

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