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Residents To Unveil Plan To Save Hip-Hop’s Birthplace

The tenants of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx will hold a press conference on Tuesday (January 15) to announce their plans to preserve the location’s status as one of the few remaining affordable-housing complexes in New York City. The building also holds a special place in the history of hip-hop music, as it has been long considered to be the “birthplace” of the genre. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc threw a party in the building’s community room where he showcased his innovative method of mixing break beats. That party is widely recognized as the starting point of what would soon become known as hip-hop music. In February 2007, tenants of 1520 Sedgwick received notice that the property would be sold to a private investment group and removed from New York City’s Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program. In 2007, the building was officially recognized by the State of New York as being eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Although the distinction is welcome, it was not enough to ensure that the building would retain its affordable housing status. But then last month, the owner and proposed buyer of the property offered to step out of the deal and give the tenants a chance to purchase the property themselves. Although New York real estate prices are notoriously high, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development and the Housing Development Corp have pledged millions of dollars in subsidies to the plan. Kool Herc and Senator Chuck Schumer will both attend Tuesday’s press conference, where the tenants financial plan for the preservation of the property will be unveiled.

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