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Old 04-28-2001, 12:13 AM
Jose's Avatar
Jose Jose is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: East Harlem/El Barrio/Spanish Harlem
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Talking East River Plaza

Never in my community activist years have I seen so much community dissention as when the East River Plaza Project vote came before the community board.

Opponents of the project were fiercely against having the ERP near their homes, while the rest of us couldn't wait to buy quality goods so near to home.

The ERP is still not complete and rumors abound. But the local community scene has quieted down some since Community Board # 11 and the Borough President voted for the project.

What was your position on this project? Where you for or against it?
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Old 11-07-2002, 04:23 PM
Chris Chris is offline
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I was wondering what the status of the East River project is? Where the tenants successful in stopping the project?
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Old 11-13-2002, 11:04 PM
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Jose Jose is offline
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No, the tenants were not. The project was slowed down some by let's say financial considerations, but all seems back on track. If anything stops the project it won't be the small number of activist against it. Money or the lack of it possible could. But as far as I know, te project is back on track.
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Old 06-23-2004, 01:56 PM
VirtualBoricua VirtualBoricua is offline
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NY Times Article on East River Plaza Development (June, 2004)

New Match for Developer of Harlem Project
NY Times, June 17, 2004

Nearly five years after city officials approved a plan to replace the abandoned Washburn Wire factory in East Harlem with a big-box shopping center, the project, East River Plaza, may be gaining momentum.

Last month, the original developer, the Blumenfeld Development Corporation of Syosset, N.Y., acquired a new partner, Forest City Ratner Companies, which has extensive experience in building projects in low-income neighborhoods in New York.

Forest City acquired its interest from Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, a real estate investment firm in Beverly Hills, Calif.

David Blumenfeld, a vice president of his family's company, said Forest City's experience in low-income neighborhoods would be more helpful to the $215 million project than the California firm's.

Forest City also developed the Harlem Center, a retail and office building on 125th Street, near Malcolm X Boulevard, and the Metrotech office complex in downtown Brooklyn. It is also a partner of The New York Times Company in developing the new Times headquarters on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

Richard Pesin, the Forest City executive vice president for retail development, would not say how much the company would invest in the East River shopping center. But Jeffrey H. Brotman, the chairman of Costco Wholesale Club, who has been talking to Forest City about opening a warehouse store at East River Plaza, said, "They are providing significant financial muscle now to take the project forward.''

That muscle would be welcome, said Charles A. Gargano, the chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation. He said much of the delay occurred because the original partnership had sought substantial public subsidies for the project without being willing to commit sufficient funds of its own.

Forest City, Mr. Gargano said, understands that the state requires a substantial capital investment from the developers.

East River Plaza, which is to stretch from 116th Street to 119th Street along Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, was approved by the City Council in 1999 but never got off the ground, in part because money was lacking to build a $45 million, 1,200-space parking structure. Initially, Mr. Blumenfeld said, prospective tenants refused to allow the developers to charge for parking but will now agree to fees of about $3 for two hours.

As originally conceived, the 450,000-square-foot complex included a Costco Wholesale Club and a Home Depot, as well as its more upscale brand, Expo Design Center. The East River stores would have been the first in Manhattan for both retailers. Instead Home Depot's Manhattan debut will be later this year in two other locations, on 23rd Street between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas, and in a new tower going up on 58th Street and Third Avenue.

Retailers' plans for the complex have changed, Mr. Blumenfeld said. Home Depot, he said, is close to signing a lease for 120,000 square feet, but the space will not include an Expo Design Center. Home Depot declined to comment.

And Costco, which still has no other Manhattan stores, had backed out of the project, Mr. Brotman said, but is reconsidering. I don't know if we can afford it," he said.

Mr. Pesin said he was talking to all the other big-box retail chains. Both developers said they did not anticipate making any changes that would force the project to seek new city approvals. But Jeffrey T. Blau, the president of the Related Companies, which had tried to buy out Canyon Capital, said that retailers might demand alterations that would require further environmental review.

Mr. Blumenfeld, who bought the foreclosed Washburn property 10 years ago, paying $3.1 million, has demolished most of the wire factory but has yet to acquire the last five parcels needed to complete the six-acre site. He said he expected the additional acquisition costs to total $2 million.

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