Vacant Harlem commercial complex to be revitalized

Uptown retail center will have national retail chain, local vendors and restaurant. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services sought approval for the disposition of Mart 125, the one-and-a-half story, 12,210-square-foot building, located at 260 West 125th Street across from the Apollo Theater. Mart 125 was originally built in the early 1980’s as a market for local Harlem vendors and businesses. Occupancy declined over the years and the building began to deteriorate. It is currently vacant.

DCAS would transfer Mart 125 to the New York City Economic Development Corporation for sale or long-term lease to a selected developer. The existing mezzanine in the building would be replaced by two new, internal floors, providing 10,000 sq.ft. each, and subdivided into smaller retail spaces ranging from 500 to 1,500 sq.ft. The revitalized Mart 125 would provide a total of 34,400 sq.ft. of retail space with the ground floor reserved for a national or regional retail chain and the third floor for restaurant use.

The Commission originally approved the disposition of Mart 125 to the EDC on September 2, 1998, but the application was rejected by Community Board 10, the Borough President and the City Council, all citing concerns for local vendors. Subsequently EDC, with the assistance of Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, issued a request for proposals, ultimately selecting, in January 2003, Harlem, LLC, a joint venture comprised of the FATA Organization, Chappel Ventures and Webb & Brooker.

At the March 30, 2005 Commission hearing, representatives from EDC and the developer detailed the local marketing efforts planned to promote Mart 125 and the strategy to attract local vendors and entrepreneurs. There were no speakers in opposition.

The Commission voted unanimously on April 27, 2005 to approve the application, with Chair Amanda M. Burden noting that Harlem’s 125th Street is one of the most famous streets in the world, and “this project will be an anchor for growth in the area.” Vice Chair Kenneth J. Knuckles further commented that Mart 125 “has sat vacant for too long.” The Commission stated that the business terms of the project were outside the scope of its review, but encouraged EDC to work with the developer to identify local businesses wishing to construct, promote or conduct business in Mart 125.

ULURP Process: The Department of Small Business Services, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on October 8, 2004. Community Board 10, by a vote of 25 to 5, recommended approval of the application on condition that the developer use locally based marketing and construction companies and that the partners in Harlem LLC have a meaningful voice in the tenant selection. Borough President C. Virginia Fields echoed the Community Board’s recommendations and added that Minority and Women Business Enterprises should be involved in all phases of the development.

CPC: Mart 125 (C 0505189 PPM – disposition of City-owned property) (April 27, 2005). CITYADMIN


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