Emmitt Smith Tackles the Hotel Business

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Emmitt Smith, the NFL Hall of Fame running back who made his name with the Dallas Cowboys, is moving on to his next adventure after winning "Dancing With the Stars". The Wall Street Journal reports that Smith and a group of investors want to turn a vacant site on the corner of 125th St. and Lenox Ave. in New York City's Harlem borough into a 200-room Hyatt Hotel.

According to Curbed.com, the estimated $80 million dollar project may include a Whole Foods supermarket. Other sources site the potential for including a YMCA and cultural center along with other retail offerings.

Harlem is currently going through a rezoning and construction effort that hopes to bring new life to the vacant 125th St. area. Andrew Brent, a spokesman for Robert C. Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development, told The Wall Street Journal that "One of the goals of the Harlem rezoning was to spur investment, create jobs and bring vibrant retail amenities to currently vacant sites along the 125th Street corridor." Hope Knight, COO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Development Corp. stated "It really is an eyesore" and noted that Emmitt Smith and his investors have "a tremendous opportunity."

One of the major hurdles that Emmitt Smith and his group face is potential funding from New York City. They are seeking $19.8 million in federal tax-exempt financing to get the project kicked off. It looks as though the city will grant the request, but the catch is that construction must begin by the end of 2010, according to Curbed.com.
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