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Clinton now doing The Harlem Shuffle.

If you can't take the heat, get out of midtown.

So that's what former president Bill Clinton did last week by opting for space sixty-eight blocks north of the Carnegie Hall Tower. And Clinton, hugely popular with minorities, was welcomed by scores of Harlem residents last week as he toured the area.

The space, located at 55 West 125th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenue, is $30 a SF. Clinton is reportedly looking at 7,000 SF of space here.

Instead of Carnegie Hall Tower's $738,000 a year, the new space will cost $500,000 less. Clinton reportedly toured several buildings in Harlem before setting his sights on this space.

Cogswell Realty Group owns the building, which was called "maybe the best privately-owned office building in Harlem" by The New York Times.

Arthur Stern of Cogswell Realty called the transaction, "complicated, with a lot of moving parts. It's hard to believe we're getting this many calls on a 7,000 SF lease."

"We are continuing to negotiate with the city right now," said Stern, Cogswell's CEO. He added that the General Services Administration is actively involved in the proceedings.

When asked how optimistic he was about Clinton moving in, he responded simply that "we'd all like to see this happen."

The space is now occupied by the ACS (Administration for Children's Services). As Real Estate Weekly went to press, Mayor Giuliani reportedly turned down two offers for the space. ACS would have to move from the 14th floor to a lower floor in order for Clinton to secure it.

"This will give even greater local and national exposure to a wonderful area of this city," said Scott Metzger, president of Janus Property Company. Metzger owns and manages residential and commercial properties on 125th Street and elsewhere in Harlem.

Clearly, those with real estate interests in the neighborhood are ecstatic over Clinton's latest and -- they hope, final -- choice of office space. According to one landlord on 125th Street, rents were already on the rise here.

"Every office building around wanted him to move there. I really believe this is great for the neighborhood," said Shirley Giscombe, vice president of Giscombe & Henderson Real Estate. Her firm owns two buildings in Harlem.

"The rents will go up but there is a limited inventory. It will get people to focus on what's here, which is an untapped market," said Stephen Snell, vice president of Emmes Realty Corporation, which owns several commercial properties in Harlem.

One woman who works at 271 West 125th street, a short distance west from Clinton's coveted office, suggested that the motive lay in public relations.

"It is definitely a great move on his part for Hillary's PR," said Sarah Massey, the communications director at WE ACT (West Harlem Environmental Action Committee), a non-profit environmental advocacy group.

Massey added that beyond pure PR, his move might "get the services that we need up here" and "clean up the area."

"And the real estate will probably go up in price, too," said Massey, who said that the demand for office space in upper Manhattan was, in her view, "low."

In a Feb. 14 letter to Mayor Giuliani, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields expressed "delight" at the former president's choice, calling his move "a vote of confidence in Northern Manhattan."

She closed her letter by offering to help the Mayor find ACS new space elsewhere in efforts to "resolve this matter amicably."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 21, 2001
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