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Harlem renaissance bringing new development opportunities.

Actually, there are two Harlems: Central Harlem, and East Harlem. The various Heights, along the west side of Manhattan can be considered Harlem as well, but they are also identified by other location sites in the area: Columbia University, St. John the Divine, etc.

What has been happening in the other two lately has been considered, and is described, as a "Second Renaissance". But I think of it as something else: evolution. The first renaissance in the 1920s and 30s didn't include both Harlems, but Central Harlem only. It wasn't a re-birth, but a birth - of cultural identity, creativity, and self-worth. East Harlem didn't participate. At the time, it was home to the largest Italian community in the country.

Today, the residents of East Harlem are as determined as ever to work for the positive evolution of their neighborhoods. It's paying off. Harlem's first full-service supermarket, Pathmark, opened on Lexington Avenue and 125th Street in April 1999. Now, two retail and office buildings on opposite corners are under construction.

Although the original, Kmart, Costco, Home Depot project by the Blumenfeld Development Group is on hold, because of parking difficulties, a smaller Kmart project is proposed, limited to a single Kmart store and a few smaller stores along Second Avenue.

The developers of the new Harlem U.S.A. shopping center on 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard have said that they want to create a mall in East Harlem that would stretch over three blocks.

A group of wholesale flower dealers are thinking of putting up a modem building between East 127th and 128th Streets for a new Flower Market. The present Flower Market location, on Sixth Avenue, in the upper 20's, is also in the process of evolving into a neighborhood of high-rise multi-use buildings -- leaving little room for flowers. The new site would be accessible to the airports and the FDR Drive and would provide new jobs for the community.

There are other projects in discussion: one is the renovation and expansion of La Marqueta, the enclosed food market located underneath the elevated Metro North railroad tracks on Park Avenue, between 111th Street and 119th Streets.

UMEZ announced in March plans for Gotham Plaza, a 90,000 SF retail and office development on East 125th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues. Gotham joins the Gateway Building.

There has been question as to whether the national economic slowdown would bring an end to all of this. I don't think' so. Once one overcomes inertia and starts an objective rolling, it's very hard to stop. There are too many hopes and dreams for the future involved - ways will be found to continue.

At the beginning of the 21st century, New York City is experiencing a boom just as it did at the beginning of the 20th century. The city is growing again. Its population is in need of more space, more living quarters, more businesses. This time, the evolution, or renaissance, in Harlem isn't just limited to that area, but is part of the reawakening of the entire city; part of its evolution as Capital of the World.

There is a new migration of business and residents to the area. It is an exciting time and everyone involved will profit.

Starbucks Coffee, McDonald's, The Body Shop, Rite Aid, Old Navy, Duane Reade Drugs, EAB Bank, Sprint Wireless, Software, Etc. KEC, HMV, Modell's, Disney, Lane Bryant, Foot Locker, Burger King, Krispy Kreme, Sterling Optical, Domino's, GNC, Jennifer Convertibles/Jennifer Leather, Blimpie's, Popeye's Famous Fried Chicken, Blockbuster Video, Fairway, Chase Manhattan Bank, New York Sports Club, CVS Pharmacy, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream are all present or future tenants in Harlem.

Some of the above tenants will be in the Harlem USA mixed-use development project which is going up on State property at 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Blvd. Phase One, featuring the Magic Johnson multiplex theater, is in completion now. Modell's, Old Navy, Foot Locker, Chase Manhattan Bank, Disney, New York Sports Club, and HMV are already in place with others scheduled to move in in the very near future.

The Upper Manhattan Waterfront Development, which has been formed to develop Harlem's waterfronts on the Hudson River from 120th Street to 168th Street and the Harlem River from 106th Street to 155th Street, will certainly increase tourism in the area.

A present attraction is the four year old Harlem Jazz & Music Festival. At least a quarter of all tourists visiting New York, and that's a lot, state that their primary destination is Upper Manhattan. Tourism in Upper Manhattan produced $4.36 million in annual tax revenues in 1999 for New York City and provides 1,674 jobs each year.

All of the above are providing new business and job opportunities for residents.

Residential real estate is in demand as well, in areas like Strivers Row, Mount Morris Park, Hamilton Heights, and Hamilton Terrace. The Strivers Center includes a Harlem "Walk of Fame", renovated brownstones, rehabbed apartment buildings, new commercial and financial services, business service centers, professional offices, a religious center, and restaurants and night clubs.

Harlem is becoming a veritable Land of Opportunity... Harlem is part of New York City and, to quote historian, Kenneth T. Jackson, "Americans need New York, because New York is one of the few places in the country that allows difference to be celebrated, that allows people to reach their full potential. And that's in a sense what drives civilization, what drives freedom, what moves us forward, and what is really the hope of the future."
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:CONSOLO, FAITH HOPE
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 17, 2001
Words:920
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