The real estate mogul behind the on-again, off-again One45 housing project in Harlem is opening a “social service center” next to the controversial truck depot that has been operating on the site since the development failed, he told the Daily News. Thursday.
The center will operate out of several vacant stores on the stretch of 145th St. between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Blvds., where developer Bruce Teitelbaum has been trying since 2021 to build a massive apartment complex containing more than 900 housing units.
Teitelbaum said he will pay “construction costs” for the center, which is expected to be completed by Easter. Local nonprofit organizations will then operate a food pantry from there and also use it to offer clothing and counseling to people in need, he added.
“Now that pandemic-era SNAP benefits are being cut, the problem of food insecurity is only going to get worse, and we want to help,” Teitelbaum said, referring to a higher food stamp allotment for low-income New Yorkers that expired. earlier this month.
However, the new initiative does not mean that Teitelbaum will kill off its truck yard, which has prompted a strong reaction from the Harlem community.
“Not only is it fully operational; it’s bustling,” Teitelbaum said of the depot. “It is open and it will remain open.”
While operating the truck depot and upcoming social service center, Teitelbaum has another application pending with the city government for the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to build its One45 housing development.
The new app includes roughly the same levels of housing affordability, though it does have a few additional apartment units built in, such as reported by patch earlier this month.
Teitelbaum opened the warehouse in January, months after he withdrew his proposed One45 apartment complex after local councilwoman Kristin Richardson Jordan vowed to block his development plan.
Unlike the housing complex, Teitelbaum could open the truck stop under current zoning rules. Community activists and politicians have taken up arms over this, as it is bringing waves of heavy truck traffic to a neighborhood that already has a disproportionately high rate of childhood asthma.
Richardson Jordan, a Socialist Democrat, said last year she would fight tooth and nail to block Teitelbaum’s development application because the project’s housing affordability rates weren’t deep enough. Approximately half of the units in the project were supposed to be classified as affordable and reserved for low- and middle-income New Yorkers under Teitelbaum’s original proposal.
Richardson Jordan’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
Teitelbaum said the social services center may become permanent, even if it eventually gets the green light to develop the housing complex.
“The center will remain open to serve the needs of the community at least until a final decision is made on how the entire site will be developed,” he said.
Volunteers expected to make use of the social services space include Adama Bah of Team TLC NYC, a self-aid group that has provided assistance to many of the city’s newly arrived immigrants, and Rev. Walter Sotelo of NYC Love Kitchen, a food pantry.
“This community center is desperately needed, especially now that so many people need help,” Bah and Sotelo said in a statement. “We will be able to help thousands of people thanks to the developer’s decision to do the right thing.”