HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) – The future of a block in Harlem has touched off an intense debate. 

Real estate developers want to bring two new apartment buildings to West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue, saying the city desperately needs new housing. But many Harlem residents believe the development would lead to greater gentrification of their community. The city council held a hearing on zoning for the new project on Tuesday.

Developers of the One45 project want to transform a vacant lot, abandoned gas station and local businesses into two state-of-the-art towers with new retail shops, space for community organizations and 900 apartments. 

“This project is responding to a citywide housing crisis,” said Tristan Nadal, a representative with One45.

Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan believes One45 will negatively impact longtime Harlem residents, bringing more congestion and soaring housing costs.

“We’re looking at a project that two out of every ten Harlemites could feasibly hope to live in,” Jordan said.

During a heated city council hearing Tuesday, Harlemites testified for hours hoping to convince a council committee to reject One45’s zoning application. Resident after resident claimed the developer has ignored local voices.

“We are the last Black community on the island of Manhattan and we need to take a stand. If I sound angry about this it’s because I am,” Jordan said.

“You all think this project is best for Harlem and it’s good for Harlem when Harlem is literally saying that it is not,” said Councilmember Amanda Amanda Farías.

One45 builders insist they have listened and responded, adding senior housing to the project while striving to create opportunity. Outside City Hall on Tuesday, construction workers rallied in support of One45.

“This development is projected to create over 1,150 jobs, including 550 permanent jobs,” Nadal said. 

The project initially included a civil rights museum, but the museum is no longer part of the plan. Developers say the project will include a new home for the National Action Network. Its current House of Justice would be demolished to make way for the new towers.