Harlem Development - Not Looking Good

Hey readers,

So as many of you are aware, Harlem is undergoing rezoning, which unfortunately Councilwoman Dickens supported. The idea is that they were supposed to bring better development to the 125th St empowerment zone. How's that looking? Check out the article below (h/t Erica Nailor!)


April 5, 2009 --
Dreams of a Harlem renaissance have been deferred.

At least 14 projects along 10 blocks of 125th Street have been
delayed, mothballed, killed or downgraded as a much-heralded
development boom fails to materialize on uptown's iconic main street.

Instead of planned office and retail towers, a pro-sports television
station, high-rise hotels and a culinary-arts school, there are vacant
storefronts and trash-strewn lots.

Dozens of often bitter mom-and-pop businesses -- including
neighborhood staples like Bobby's Happy House, M&G Diner and Manna's
Soul Food -- were booted for high-rises that never rose.

The dormant development sites have doubled the retail-vacancy rate
along one five-block section of the strip to 16 percent, said Barbara
Askins, head of the 125th Street Business Improvement District.

"This is the grand letdown," said Evan Blum, owner of The Demolition
Depot salvage store.

He criticized the city for banking its redevelopment efforts on
corporations instead of local business owners.

"All they know is corporate America, and corporate America is kaput
now. It's us little guys that got kicked out, that are unique and
specialized, that bring people to New York," Blum said

The biggest blow to revamping 125th Street, also known as Martin
Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was the death of "Harlem Park," a proposed
$435 million tower at Park Avenue that at one point was to include TV
studios for the Major League Baseball Network.

That killed two projects on neighboring lots and fueled a 31 percent
decline in the asking price for one of the lots, said Randy Modell of
ABS Partners Real Estate.

Lawsuits have delayed at least three other projects: transformation of
the burned-out Corn Exchange building into a culinary school; a $40
million office and retail tower; and several phases of a planned
6-acre, city-administered entertainment and residential complex in
East Harlem.

We need new leaders with the foresight to not make us overly dependent on Big Business. Perhaps it's time to hire a councilperson who is wants to review this rezoning idea and make it actually work?


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