New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Empire State Development Corporation’s Public Hearing on the Proposed Urban League Empowerment Center, 121 West 125 th Street


Empire State Development Corporation’s Public Hearing on the Proposed 

Urban League Empowerment Center, 121 West 125th Street

August 21, 2019


As a member of the City Council and a strong advocate of equitable affordable housing, good paying jobs, and the preservation of Harlem’s rich history, I join Governor Andrew Cuomo and my colleague Council Member Bill Perkins in supporting their plan to bring the National Urban League headquarters back to Harlem. I am equally supportive of the plan to build New York’s first civil rights museum the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum in Harlem, in recognition of Harlem’s  important place in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and continuing through today.


The project now includes 100% affordable housing, a national headquarters for the National Urban League and Conference Center, up to 70,000 square feet of quality office space, and below-market-rate space for two Harlem based nonprofit organizations: 100 Black Men and Jazzmobile. It will also support new jobs by adding approximately 90,000 square feet of retail space. My hope is that Empire State Development will continue its efforts to ensure that MWBE businesses are given a fair share of businesses that come into this new development.


New York City’s affordable housing crisis is impacting every community in our city including here in Harlem. I support these 171 affordable units available to those making between 40 to 80 percent of the area median income with 30% set aside for supportive housing. This translates to incomes of $29,880 to $59,760 for single individuals and $38,440 to $85,360 for a family of four.


Harlem has a rich history. Harlem shaped the language of the Civil Rights Movement. In Harlem, Marcus Garvey founded the United Negro Improvement Association, which was the first large scale movement for Black Self-Determination in America. Harlem was home to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Malcolm X, who each contributed critical elements to the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of his greatest speeches at Riverside Church on the edge of Harlem. It is only fitting that New York’s first Civil Rights museum lives in the heart of New York’s Civil Rights movement, Harlem.


I want to thank Empire State Development for its commitment to assist the current small business owners on 125th street by providing help to ensure local businesses flourish and thrive in Harlem. These business owners are hardworking who have invested in Harlem and should be able to reap the benefits of their hard investments.

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