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Two Developers Buy Sites in Harlem

Two Developers Buy Sites in Harlem

The Wall Street Journal 7/14/2011


Private developers will buy two sites on Harlem’s 125th Street that have been vacant for more than three decades, planning to provide space for tenants including creative companies and small manufacturers.

Janus Partners LLC and Monadnock Construction Inc. will invest $100 million in revitalizing the former Taystee Bakery complex on 125th and 126th streets between Morningside and Amsterdam avenues. Artimus will spend $16 million transforming the landmark Corn Exchange Building at 125th Street and Park Avenue.

The projects will create 530 permanent jobs and 570 construction jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new economic activity in Harlem, according to the city’s Economic Development Corp.

“When cities across the country are struggling to attract new development, to have not one, but two developments announced on the same day for main street Harlem speaks to the revitalization of the community,” said Seth Pinsky, the city agency’s president.

Developers will make the former baking plant into a 328,000-square-foot office and industrial space dubbed the CREATE @ Harlem Green. The developers expect to begin work in spring 2012.

“Our office is literally adjacent to the property,” said Jerry Salama, principal of Janus Partners, describing how they discovered the site. “We started working in Harlem in 1984 and it has transformed already, but it really isn’t a commercial center.”

The developers are already working to solicit interest from commercial tenants, including entrepreneurs, a dance company, nonprofits and small manufacturers. The Harlem Brewing Co. plans to move its production facility from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to CREATE @ Harlem Green, according to the Mr. Salama and the city agency.

The city rezoned the 125th Street corridor and its vicinity in April 2008 to promote residential and commercial development. Mr. Pinsky points to the West Harlem Piers Park and Columbia University’s expansion into the area as examples of the area’s revitalization.

But Harlem’s office market suffered a setback this year, because former President Bill Clinton plans to move most of his foundation’s offices at 55 West 125th St. to 77 Water St.

Artimus, a New York City-based developer, plans to rehabilitate the Corn Exchange Building, one of the few grand historic buildings left on the street, and reconstruct an additional six floors.

The development will provide about 22,000 square feet of office space and 9,000 square feet of retail space, according to the city. The developer didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The EDC conveyed the Taystee complex to an affiliate of grocery store Citarella in 2001, which failed to redevelop the site, so a court awarded title back to the agency in 2009. Similarly, it conveyed the Corn Exchange to a private company in 2003, but a court returned it to the agency.

After soliciting interest for new private developers, 16 proposals were received for the Taystee site and seven for the Corn Exchange, Mr. Pinsky said.