1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: owner-cpeo-brownfields@igc.org (by way of "cpeo@cpeo.org" <cpeo@cpeo.org>)
Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 10:59:33 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Harlem Finally Rides the Economy's 'A' Train
For the complete article go to:

The following text are snippets from the article.


Original message from Alex Lantsberg from SAEJ
From: "alex lantsberg" <wideye@ziplink.net>

food for thought from a recent washington post.  seems like the issues
discussed here are exactly the types of challenges when discussing
brownfields and potentially undesirable effects of urban brownfields

alex lantsberg

Harlem Finally Rides the Economy's 'A' Train
As Crime Falls, a Retail Boom Arrives

By Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 5, 1999; Page A01 


NEW YORK, May 4—Starbucks will hold its grand opening in Harlem Wednesday,
bringing its yuppie coffee to America's best-known ghetto. A few blocks
east on 125th Street, there was a ribbon-cutting last week for a new
Pathmark, the first supermarket in a neighborhood with nearly the
population of the District. A few blocks west, developers are building
Harlem's first mall, featuring the Disney Store, HMV Records and a
nine-screen movie theater.

It may be too soon to call this a second Harlem Renaissance, but after
decades of decay, the emergence of $3.80 mocha frappuccinos and national
chain megastores on Harlem's main drag are not the only signs that this
onetime cultural and spiritual hub is on the upswing.

Crime is plummeting. Rents are skyrocketing. Upscale families are restoring
elegant brownstones, and not just in the black-bourgeois district called
"Strivers' Row." A government "empowerment zone" is pumping $550 million
into the area. Officials say Harlem has even surpassed the Empire State
Building as New York's No. 1 destination for foreign tourists ...

... Still, Harlem has plenty of critics unhappy with the pace and color of
progress. The empowerment zone's work has been delayed by political
battles, particularly the feud between Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and
Gov. George E. Pataki (R). Activists grumble that most of the major Harlem
projects are benefiting white developers and out-of-town megafirms such as
Walt Disney Co., rather than local entrepreneurs. And some critics warn
that the new retail projects and gentrification will not solve Harlem's
most serious problems: an uneducated work force, a lack of high-paying
jobs, an abundance of drug treatment centers, homeless shelters and halfway
houses ...

... The official vehicle for revitalizing Harlem has been the nation's
largest empowerment zone, which will ultimately provide $300 million in
cash and $250 million in tax breaks, all designed to attract capital to an
area that has been off-limits to investors. The zone got off to a slow
start because of political spats among federal, state and local officials,
but it is now investing $11 million in the $65 million Harlem USA mall
project, $2 million in a $23 million multiplex on 125th street and
additional money in a $100 million retail project on the East River. That
project, anchored by Home Depot and Costco, will be the largest in Harlem's
history, creating 2,000 jobs ...

... And there are still deep problems here. Unemployment is down, but down
to 15 percent, not including the large numbers of discouraged or
incarcerated workers. And gentrification is making affordable housing
increasingly scarce; last year, half the city's applications to convert
cheap single-room occupancies into apartment buildings came from Harlem.
The rate of homeownership in Harlem is still only 6 percent; nationally, it
is 66 percent.

"Gentrification is a two-edged sword," Perkins said. "I'm glad to see
Harlem USA; it's nice to have a mall. But that's not community investment.
That's not building a future."

 These conflicts are not just theoretical; they can bottle up development.
Racial and political disputes over the Pathmark project delayed it for a
decade, holding up more than 200 jobs for community residents. The
revitalization of the historic Apollo Theater on 125th Street, home of the
famous Amateur Night that launched the careers of so many black recording
stars, has been stalled by battles involving Rep. Charles B. Rangel
(D-N.Y.). The starkest example is the petty bickering that has stalled
Harlem Center, a plan for a $49 million retail and office project across
the street from Starbucks...


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