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Slow Going on Transformation of Harlem's Retail Row

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It's been exactly two years since the controversial rezoning of 125th Street ushered in a new era of balls-to-the-wall gentrification for the famed Harlem artery, or so we were told. It played out a bit differently, at least in the short term, as the credit crunch deflated a number of high-profile projects?like Harlem Park on the east side, and a long six-story office/retail development on the west side, the stalling of which gets broken down by the Wall Street Journal today. Shopping mall developer Kimco snapped up a strip of buildings on the corner of 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, home to many longtime retail tenants, and served up evictions to make way for demolition. Tenants sued and settled for more than $1 million, but they still had to clear out. The empty stores are still standing, and Kimco has invited at least one old tenant back. Wha happen?
Kimco "declined to elaborate on why it is exploring alternatives or to discuss its current plans for the site," the Journal writes, but brokers say there just isn't demand from "solid retailers," making financing an improbability. No one wants to join other nearby newbies like American Apparel? For shame, Forever 21, for shame! Meanwhile, back over on the east side, an update on the huge East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center. We recently noted new signs springing up on one of the lots, and the Journal says the city's official groundbreaking on the first phase of the mixed-use megaproject will happen in the spring. So maybe not all is frozen along ol' 125th?
· Developers Back Off on Grand Harlem Plans [WSJ]