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Harlem HQ for civil rights org with 170 affordable apartments moves forward

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The development will be home to the National Urban League’s new headquarters, along with affordable housing

Courtesy of Empire State Development

A long-in-the-works plan to construct a new home for the National Urban League in Harlem is finally moving forward, more than six years after it was first announced.

According to the New York Daily News, Empire State Development and the project’s development team—which includes BRP Companies, Taconic Investment Partners, L+M Development Partners, Dabar Development Partners and the Prusik Group—are gearing up to break ground on the building, which will stand 17 stories and replace a parking garage and several small businesses on West 125th Street.

In additional to the National Urban League HQ, the development will include a new civil rights museum, office space, space for neighborhood nonprofits, and 170 affordable apartments, which will be available to those making between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income.

“Equitable economic development means investing in every neighborhood and in organizations like the National Urban League that work every day to uplift others,” ESD president Howard Zemsky said in a press release. “We are proud to support this project that will keep NUL in New York and continue Harlem’s renaissance.”

There’ve been some changes since the plan was first announced back in 2013: Initially, Hudson Companies was attached as the developer, with HOK brought on as architect. But the proposal faced pushback, both from local businesses that would be displaced by the project (most of which have now been relocated, per the Daily News), and from former state Sen. Bill Perkins—who is now the New York City Council member for district in which the project will be located.

The cost of the project has also gone up, from $225 million to $260 million. In addition to state funding, the project has received $4.5 million in grants from New York City Regional Economic Development Council and the Restore New York Communities Initiative.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that transferred the state-owned land earmarked for the project to ESD, and a modified general project plan was approved last week, effectively giving the whole thing the green light.