09 July 2010

Harlem Project gets Tax-Exempt Financing Approval

Crain's New York
The deal could bring a Hyatt hotel and Whole Foods to 125th Street.

A large hotel and retail development project in Harlem passed a major hurdle Tuesday, receiving approval for federal tax-exempt financing and winning the support of labor officials.

The project at 100 W. 125th St. is spearheaded by former Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals star Emmitt Smith, who is the chief executive and founder of a real estate development firm, ESmith Legacy Harlem LLC. It is the firm's first New York City project and could bring a Whole Foods to Harlem, as well as a Hyatt-branded hotel.

Mr. Smith's firm was approved for $19.7 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, distributed by the New York City Capital Resource Corporation.

At a hearing last Friday, only City Comptroller John Liu opposed the project, while ten others supported it. But last week other elected officials and community leaders expressed concern, questioning whether local residents would be hired for jobs at the hotel and retail shops.

According to people familiar with the project, the turning point was the developer agreeing to a deal with the Hotel and Motel Trades Council to recognize the union if a majority of workers sigh authorization cards.

According to the NYCCRC, the hotel and shops will create 129 construction jobs and 81 permanent jobs.

“The proposed development in Harlem would transform a vacant site into a vibrant mixed-use building that would serve both residents and visitors,” said NYCCRC chairman Seth Pinsky.

The funding is part of the federal Recovery Zone Bond program created last year by Congress and the president to stimulate economic activity in neighborhoods still struggling from the recession.

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