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Mart 125 development moves ahead.

The city is seeking not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations for a development site in Harlem.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation, in conjunction with the City's Department of Cultural Affairs and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, recently issued a Request for Qualifications for not-for-profit organizations in connection with the proposed development of the Mart 125 site, a 10,000 s/f parcel at 260-262 West 125th Street.

The intent of the RFQ is to pre-qualify one or more not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations to be included in a Request for Proposals to be issued to real estate developers in early 2009. It is envisioned that potential developers will team with the pre-qualified not-for-profit organizations and incorporate their uses into proposals for development of the site.

"Identifying pre-qualified not-for-profits before issuing an RFP will ultimately expedite the redevelopment of this important site," said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. "Strategically located in the heart of the recently created Special 125th Street District, the Mart 125 project is intended to bring together the best of the cultural and development communities to spur the growth of 125th Street as a premier arts, culture and entertainment destination and as a center of economic development benefiting the local community and the City as a whole."

"The Mart 125 RFQ represents an important opportunity for New York City's cultural organizations, and marks a major milestone in our continuing efforts to develop space tailored to their needs," said DCA Commissioner Kate D. Levin. "We are helping to ensure that culture continues to play a critical role in the evolution of the 125th Street corridor, supporting and strengthening Harlem's creative community."

The site offers a tremendous opportunity to create public space that may include an arts and cultural venue, a multi-media information center and a unique dining establishment, as well as private uses.

It is expected that a real estate developer will construct the core and shell of the public space. The RFQ seeks qualifications and potential uses from not-for-profit organizations for the arts and cultural venue, which can range in size from 15,000 to 28,000 square feet.

A wide variety of organizations and uses will be considered, including but not limited to, theaters, live music venues, performance space, museums and galleries, and multimedia and multidisciplinary organizations. Preference will be given first to organizations currently located in Community Board 10, and second to organizations in Community Boards 9 and 11.

Council Member Inez Dickens, an African American legislator born and bred in Harlem, expressed her satisfaction at the timely release of the RFQ stating, "I am pleased that the RFQ for the development of permanent, cultural space in the 125th St. Mart has been released in an expeditious manner. The RFQ offers opportunity, and one major possible opportunity is for institutional ownership of cultural space. I want to strongly encourage indigenous organizations that have for many years embraced our magnificent culture and legacy to respond to the RFQ."

She added, "Currently, our fiscal climate is very difficult, but we are an enduring community and people because of our history and culture. I hope that interested grass roots, community organizations network to form consortiums enabling them to effectively address the requirements of the RFQ."

"UMEZ envisions Mart 125's transformation into a premier facility that will elevate Harlem as a cultural destination, attracting cultural consumers from across the street and around the world," said UMEZ President and CEO Kenneth Knuckles. "This proposed redevelopment will be the first new cultural facility on the street, and only the second in Harlem in decades."

Mart 125 is located directly across from the Apollo Theater and surrounded by other cultural venues including the Hip Hop Cultural Center, Victoria Theater. Ruth Williams Dance Foundation and the Studio Museum.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 27, 2008
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