News | West Harlem

After years of waiting, renovations coming to Randolph Houses

  • Yue Ben / Senior Staff Photographer
    TIME TO FIX ME | Long-awaited renovations to the A. Phillip Randolph Houses on 114th Street are coming this year after city agencies finalized agreements late December.

After years of delays, the A. Phillip Randolph Houses on West 114th Street will finally undergo much-needed renovations starting later this year, after city agencies finally reached agreements with contractors late December.

The buildings on the south side of the street are currently dilapidated and empty—the 159 families living there had to vacate in 2006 because of decaying conditions—while the north side is home to 455 residents, according to the New York City Housing Authority website.

According to a Department of Housing Preservation and Development spokesperson, the financing agreement for the renovations was reached in December 2013, and construction is expected to start this spring.

The project will add 167 units of privately managed affordable housing to the complex, restore the 147 NYCHA-managed units, and build a new community center. The new affordable units will be open to families at or below 60 percent of the city’s Area Median Income—in New York City, this means an income of up to $49,800 for a family of four.

“We’ve worked closely with the Randolph houses residents,” Kenan Bigby, vice president of Trinity Financial, one of the developers for the project, said. “I know they’re excited to get to the point where this project will be done.”

The project—which brings together NYCHA, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Trinity Financial, and West Harlem Group Assistance, Inc.—has been in the works for almost 10 years. The houses were first slated to be rebuilt in a 2005 affordable housing initiative, but a specific plan was not released until 2012.  

NYCHA spokesperson Zodet Negrón said that although the agency is starting work on the first phase, they have yet to declare a date for completion. 

Residents have long complained that the buildings on both sides of the street have fallen into a state of disrepair—like many NYCHA developments around the city, budget shortfalls have led to long waitlists for repair requests. A New York Daily News article published in November quoted multiple residents who said they were skeptical of the upcoming changes.

“The buildings were all in dire need of entire renovation,” A. Phillip Randolph Tenant Association President Robertus Coleman said in a 2010 Spectator article. “The ground floor apartments were sinking, pipes needed to be repaired. To tear down the whole thing was the best way, so residents had to be relocated.”

At the time, residents complained that the city was neglecting the housing complex even as luxury condominiums filled nearby blocks in Harlem.

Coleman declined to be interviewed for this article.

A financial agreement finalized in December 2013, however, could mean the project is finally moving forward.

“That is moving forward, there will be participation from within the community for hiring, for construction jobs as well as permanent job opportunities,” City Council member Inez Dickens said at last Thursday’s Broadway Democrats meeting.

“I feel pretty good about it. I think it’s going to change the neighborhood,” Ernest Brown, a resident of the houses, said.

Eva Kalikoff contributed reporting.

news@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ColumbiaSpec

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