RFEI issued for vacant Corn Exchange building

Image: Courtesy of Cityland.

City is in process of reclaiming landmarked building after owner failed to redevelop property. On March 22, 2011, the City’s Economic Development Corporation issued a request for expressions of interest for the purchase and redevelopment of what remains of the landmarked Corn Exchange Building at the corner of East 125th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem. The Lamb & Rich-designed six-story building was built in 1884 and has deteriorated significantly over the years.

The building was abandoned in the 1970s and lost its two-story mansard roof after a fire in the late 1990s. EDC in 2000 selected Ethel Bates, under Corn Exchange LLC, to rehabilitate the building and establish a non-profit culinary school. EDC sold the building to Bates for $10,000 in 2003. Bates failed to redevelop the site in the required three year period, and EDC sued to reclaim the property in 2007. Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische awarded title of the building back to EDC in January 2009. 6 CityLand 33 (March 15, 2009). Bates has appealed the decision. While EDC’s lawsuit was pending, Landmarks filed a demolition by neglect lawsuit against Bates for failing to maintain the building, citing collapsed floors, missing windows, and water damage. Justice Gische, however, declined to order Bates to make immediate repairs, ruling that the court could not compel Bates to rehabilitate a building she no longer owned. Subsequently, the Department of Buildings in April 2009 issued an emergency violation citing dangerous conditions above the second floor and demolished the building’s top two floors.

EDC expects the appellate court to affirm the lower court’s decision to award title back to EDC and is seeking expressions of interest in order to expedite the property’s redevelopment. The 4,500 sq.ft. site is located in the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. The area’s C6-3 zoning permits commercial and residential uses at 6.0 and 7.52 FAR, respectively. EDC plans to sell the property “as is” and any proposed alterations to the building would require Landmarks’ review. The submission deadline for the RFEI is April 22, 2011.

EDC: Request for Expressions of Interest – Corn Exchange (March 22, 2011).

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