96th Street Development

East 96th Street Development


  • 2 new state-of-the-art buildings for 3 high schools (COOP Tech, Heritage School and Park East HS)
  • 1,100 to 1,200 new apartment homes
  • Over 300 units of permanently affordable housing
  • A 1.5 acre revitalized and upgraded playground with new turf ball field
  • Up to 25,000 square feet of new retail space
  • Adjacent to new 2nd Avenue subway station


The New York City Educational Construction Fund and its development partner AvalonBay Communities, which currently operates 22 apartment communities in the greater New York area, have reached agreement on an exciting public/private partnership to build a mixed-use development adjacent to the new 2nd Avenue subway station at East 96th street.

The NYC Educational Construction Fund's mandate it is to encourage comprehensive neighborhood development by constructing mixed-use real estate projects which feature new school facilities. Under this mandate the ECF boosts the capacity of the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to construct new facilities and improve current schools, thereby increasing the number of seats for the entire school system. The ECF was created by the New York State Legislature in 1967 and since that time has constructed projects that have added over 18,000 school seats, 4,500 units of housing and 1.2 million square feet of office space in New York City.

The ECF builds combined-occupancy structures on city-owned land conveyed to the ECF by the City of New York. The school facility portion of the mixed-use project is financed via the issuance of tax exempt bonds with a term of up to forty years. ECF uses ground rents, lease payments and/or tax equivalency payments from the non-school portion of projects to finance construction of its school facilities. Future revenues from the non-school portions of the development are used to pay the debt service of the school facility. Through these innovative public-private partnerships, ECF is able to allow the City of New York to accomplish more than it otherwise would be able to. And with this development opportunity, ECF is able to bring educational and economic opportunity to East Harlem, so that more children will have access to quality education leading to empowering employment, and more families will have access to safe and affordable housing.

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As planned, the development will include 1,100 to 1,200 new apartment homes to provide much-needed rental housing to meet increasing demand in East Harlem and beyond. This will include 300+ permanently affordable apartments (30 percent of the total units) for households with incomes averaging 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), promoting community stability for local residents. Of the 300+ permanently affordable apartments, 100+ will be available to households with incomes at or below 40 percent of AMI.

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The mixed-use development will include two new state-of-the-art buildings providing much needed expansion space for three public high schools in East Harlem.

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Designed to address community needs, extensive new improvements will be made to a new Marx Brothers public playground, which will be revitalized to at least the same size as the prior playground. A new multi-use turf ball field is currently being planned, along with children’s playground and passive recreation areas.

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The project will potentially create as many as 1,000 new construction and permanent jobs. We will work with the City and community-based organizations to place an emphasis on hiring local minority and women-owned businesses and providing internships for Coop Tech students seeking to transition to permanent employment. The project will include up to 25,000 square feet of new neighborhood-friendly retail space. This new development, adjacent to the new subway station, will generate meaningful economic activity and more vibrant street life in the neighborhood.

ECF and AvalonBay are looking at a number of other strategies, in collaboration with community partners, to create programs providing economic benefits to the East Harlem community. These workforce strategies will also align with the recommendations and priorities included in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, where it was identified that community stakeholders are seeking to “encourage local employers, including building management companies, to hire local residents.”

Strategies we are exploring include:

  • Internships with the School of Cooperative Technical Education (Coop Tech). Coop Tech is a vocational program that offers students, ages 17-21, exposure to a variety of trades including welding, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, solar panel installation, building maintenance, auto maintenance, culinary arts, salon services, vision technology, computer networking, graphic design, and medical billing. The program has a half-day model where students can attend their traditional Department of Education high school or High School Equivalency program for half a day and then attend Coop Tech for the remainder of the day. As outlined in the current Coop Tech Worksite Application, students participate in paid internships while gaining real world work experience. AvalonBay and ECF would like to substantively advance the career preparation of Coop Tech graduates through the creation of internships in East Harlem, relevant to their training.

  • Partnership with Hire East Harlem. Hire East Harlem is the East Harlem Community Alliance’s (EHCA) workforce development initiative. Employers are able to post job openings on the program’s website and recruit local candidates through a variety of local organizations. This partnership would be focused on joining EHCA and placing East Harlem residents into permanent jobs with AvalonBay, its vendors, and the commercial tenants of the development project. AvalonBay could work with the Hire East Harlem’s Talent Network to post jobs available at their buildings (both at the development site and in other parts of the city) in order to source local candidates for eventual openings.

  • Collaboration with HireNYC. HireNYC is a free program that connects the City’s economic development projects to the publicly-funded workforce development system. HireNYC identifies citywide resources to meet a company's recruitment and hiring needs and facilitates opportunities, such as job fairs and hiring events, to connect New Yorkers to employment in their local area. Through coordinated partnership with the HireNYC program and community workforce organizations, AvalonBay aims to recruit a high number of East Harlem residents for the entry and mid-level jobs to be created. A potential goal would be to fill 30% to 50% of eligible new jobs with residents who live in East Harlem, which would also be aligned with HireNYC hiring goals.

  • General Preparation for Employment. AvalonBay is evaluating investments in general workforce preparation to support East Harlem candidates to acquire permanent jobs both at the development site and with other employers. AvalonBay will be determining how to target this work with local workforce providers to prepare local residents for employment with project partners, including subcontractors involved in constructing the buildings onsite.

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The mixed use development addresses the top concerns identified in the 2015 East Harlem Community Survey conducted by Community Voices Heard (CVH), including the need for:

  • Developing permanent affordable housing in the community with varied levels of affordability,
  • Creating local, living wage jobs,
  • Providing enhanced educational opportunities and youth programs.

Furthermore, the project will serve to reinforce and integrate the following Priority Objectives stated in the final East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.

  • Open Space and Recreation
    • Ensuring public open space meets the needs of East Harlem residents now and in the future
    • Leveraging public site development to create sufficient park space for East Harlem residents now and in the future
  • Schools and Education
    • Aligning specialized programs and services with the needs of East Harlem schools, and increasing funding to support them.

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Since this project is just beginning its approval process, a completion date is not yet available. The approvals process is currently underway and work will start as soon as possible after all approvals have been received.

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