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Harlem is latest to feel boom.

Trickle-up effect, and it 's not just Magic Johnson

With the city's economic health near an all-time high, many developers are heeding the advice contained in the famous song "You Should Take the 'A' Train" by travelling "way up in Harlem" to pursue development interests.

"Harlem seems to be an especially hot topic right now," said Rebecca May, who helped to plan an Oct. 11 Association of Real Estate Women luncheon on the subject.

Several new developments have been completed recently, include Harlem USA, the new 275,000 square foot retail and entertainment complex at 125th Street. Other projects are underway, such as East River Plaza. The retail complex, in the former Washburn Wire Factory on FDR Drive between 116th and 119th Streets, will have a Home Depot, Costco, and five smaller stores.

Although some of these projects have been in the planning phases for decades, it wasn't until recently that projects have received the financing and other support necessary to come to life. All the activity, however, seems to be spurring discussion among real estate professionals about future business prospects in the neighborhood.

Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields discussed Harlem at a recent event held by the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York Inc. AREW decided to hold a panel on Harlem redevelopment efforts in keeping with its practice of featuring discussions on current issues.

"We try to get speakers who can talk about what's current in the industry," May said.

The AREW luncheon will feature a discussion called the "Rebirth of Harlem." Speakers will include Drew Greenwald, president of Grid Properties, co-developer of the recently opened $66 million retail and entertainment complex called Harlem USA, and Jeffrey Levine, president of Levine Builders, co-developer of Renaissance Plaza on Lenox Avenue, a mixed-use retail cooperative residential and parking garage complex.

Moderator for the event will be Diane Phillpotts, president of Harlem Community Development Corporation.

In June, Magic Johnson Theatres and Loews Complex Entertainment opened the new, 55,000-square-foot Magic Johnson Theater on Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 125th and 124th Streets. The nine-screen theater has a seating capacity of 2,700, according to theater officials.

The theater's design features a dramatic Art Deco lobby with three walls of glass, providing a view of Harlem and the Manhattan skyline in the background. The theater also features multiple indoor box office stations with computerized ticketing, an open manager's kiosk in the lobby, as well as an historical "Wall of Fame" that pays tribute to Hollywood legends, theater officials said.

Magic Johnson Theaters and Loews Cineplex Entertainment is a 50/50 partnership to develop theaters in urban locations throughout the United States. In addition to providing new theatrical entertainment, the theaters serve as a business stimulus, fostering local economic growth and financial empowerment. The theater is part of the newly developed Harlem USA complex, which many view as having provided the impetus for redevelopment on the entire block. The complex contains stores that typically have been located further south in Manhattan such as Old Navy, The Disney Store, HMV Records, and Modell's.

Harlem USA received a $3 million low-interest loan from the Metropolitan Economic Revitalization Fund, an $11.2 million loan from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and private funding.

"Our primary objective for this theater in Harlem is to have a positive impact on community pride and contribute to the economic growth in the area. We are confident the community will see results in the first year," said Kenneth Lombard, President of Magic Johnson Theaters/ Johnson Development Corporation when the theater opened.

Massey Knakal Realty Services recently announced the sale of a development site at 2191 Third Ave. for $1.3 million. The property, on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and 119th Street, consists of three vacant lots and a vacant, four-story retail building. The lot size is 106 by 80 feet with a footprint of 9,900 square feet and total buildable square footage of 33,656 square feet.

Gracious Thyme Catering, which purchased the site, will occupy the building and use the empty lots for parking. Massey Knakal represented the sellers and Brown Harris Stevens represented the purchasers.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 13, 2000
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