An innovator since its inception in 1984, L+M Development Partners, Inc. has a reputation for creative approaches to mixed-use and mixed-income developments and emerging market-rate housing that include improving the neighborhoods in which it works.
As vice president of Community Affairs for L+M and its affiliate C&C Apartment Management, Yasmin Cornelius is responsible for leading, planning, and executing the community relations programs in Harlem by working with community leaders and government officials. She facilitates job creation, and the creation of needs-based programs for the community. “You are talking to a person whose mother sacrificed and fought landlords who were neglecting their rental properties, but is now able to buy her own apartment,” she pointed out. A City College of New York graduate and current New York State committeewoman for the 70th Assembly District in Central Harlem, Cornelius boasts, “I grew up on 110th Street and Seventh Avenue—Harlem born and raised.”
L+M’s work in Harlem involves new construction and historic renovation projects, among them: Edgecombe Preservation with 15 buildings spread across Harlem; Harlem Genesis on 119th Street; and Harlem River Point South on East 131st Street. PS 90 on West 148th Street, a former school abandoned in the 1970s, was converted into a beautiful, award-winning, luxury condominium building completed in 2011.
Some of the Harlem partners are Artimus Construction Company, East Harlem Triangle, Apex Building Company, Friendly Hands Ministry, and NYC Housing & Preservation Department. Also, L+M uses Building Skill, a nonprofit committed to providing New York residents with good paying jobs at local construction sites in underserved communities. Lower and moderate income requirements for Harlem apartment’s range between $30,000—$86,000.
Harlem is currently a hot market for apartments, and Cornelius explains, “It’s usually a one to two-month turnaround time for people to move into apartments. The good news is that a lot of people are not being evicted. And, a lot of people are not leaving their apartments. It’s not about is it hard to get in, it’s about understanding that vacancies do take time. We’re not an eviction-based management entity. We spend a lot of time making sure eviction is the last thing that happens.”
When L+M took over property on East Harlem’s 116th Street, the neighborhood was recovering from the tragic Con Edison explosion a few years ago. Through Cornelius’ efforts, Healthy Choice—a popular deli returned, opening in a brand new space. Canaan Baptist Church’s senior citizen center will have a grand opening there by the end of the year. At 425 West 125 Street, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer has settled into her easily accessible office space and Levels Barbershop is packing them in. Make My Cake is scheduled to be a tenant.
The distinctive façade of The Kalahari Harlem, a 249- unit mixed-income condominium gives the building an unmistakable presence on 116th Street in the heart of Harlem and the area known as Little Senegal. A model for mixed-income homeownership, half of the units are income restricted therefore affordable to families earning between 80% and 175% of area media income, and half are market-rate. The Kalahari Harlem is home to MIST a $21 million entertainment complex featuring an art and film screening center and popular restaurant. L+M’s development partner in the project is Full Spectrum of New York.
“Our commitment is for local residents to have access to quality business locations. We look at what a com-munity could use. We might see a senior citizen center or afterschool program or a health program or a youth center,” Cornelius said. “Multiple partners come togeth-er to address the needs of the area. We try to provide programs through community providers that already exist to make life better for the residents. I played a role in many of these projects. It’s important to make these connections because, if you know what’s happening and what the void is in the community, then it’s an easy connection.”
L+M supports a range of organizations in Harlem that serve the community. Ron Moelis, CEO and co-founder, has an involvement with Harlem Lacrosse that includes support and expansion of the program to middle school girls at Promise Academy II. Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation (SASF)’s STEM-focused College and Career Programming at Frederick Douglass Academy receives support from L+M. At the CUNY Food Policy Institute, L+M partners with Youth Action YouthBuild to deliver a healthy food-focused job training program to young people. In East Harlem’s Acacia Network, the company provided a credit education and enhancement initiative to promote the eligibility of East Harlem residents for local affordable housing lotteries.
“As a person who has seen the quality of housing and the number of opportunities for housing slowly slipping from longtime residents in Harlem, it was imperative that I would be a part of assisting,” said Cornelius. “Being at the table, I make sure that displacement does not occur and longtime residents have an opportunity to preserve where they live. It’s a labor of love for me.”
In addition to its work in Harlem, L+M has develop-ments in Brooklyn. The Bronx, Queens, Westchester County, San Francisco, New Orleans, and New Jersey. The NJ Historic Preservation Office recognized them for their work restoring downtown Newark’s former Hahne and Co. flagship department store building into a vibrant shopping and mixed-income development. The company has developed other properties in Newark as well as other cities in New Jersey.