Harlem's Vacancies Filled With Cultural Institutions

Apollo theater in HarlemLast week New York's real estate news was all about Harlem, as the city planned a Jazz Museum, brokers and developers fought over "break-up" money, and The New York Times gave a eulogy for small churches.

And Emmitt Smith comes into the mix, too. Here's what's happening in Harlem:
The transformation of 125th street continues, this time across the street from the Apollo Theater. According to Crain's New York, the city is seeking developers to (finally) obliterate the two-decade-old vacated site of Mart 125 and fill the approximately 10,000-square-foot space with a couple of cultural landmarks: the National Jazz Museum and ImageNation Sol Cinema -- the nation's only movie theater dedicated to black and Latino films. This comes on the heels of the Emmitt Smith-turns-hotelier news: that the city gave the former football star nearly $20 million to build an upscale hotel in an empty lot on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue.

Farther south, the condo building-turned-youth-hostel-turned-vacant-site at 158 W 118th St. is the subject of a lawsuit in which Prudential Douglas Elliman is suing developers for terminating the sale of the building and stiffing them on $130,000 worth of broker's fees, according to The Real Deal. Among the unpaid fees is a $50,000 "break-up" fee written into the firm's contract should the developer turn out to be a commitment-phobe and run off with some other project, find somebody new, etc.

Meanwhile, The New York Times covered the downside of gentrification, where small churches with older members struggle to stay alive as a new wave of young residents populate the brownstones, not the pews. Decades ago, these churches ran soup kitchens and operated as community-building havens. They are now having trouble making rent as members of their congregations -- mostly seniors -- are either dying or moving to Southern states. The Times notes that larger churches aren't facing the same battle: They, in fact, are the cause of some of the neighborhood's socio-economic shift as they continue to build nonprofit housing and spur the local economy.

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