The city’s Economic Development Corp. issued on Monday a request for proposal seeking a developer to construct a new home for the National Jazz Museum and ImageNation Sol Cinema on a long-abandoned site in Harlem.
The city-owned 10,000-square-foot site was the former home of Mart 125 on 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass boulevards, across the street from the Apollo Theater. The RFP is the next step in the city’s long-running plans to redevelop the site.
Two years ago, the city issued a request for qualification to jumpstart the redevelopment of Mart 125. As a result of submissions to that request, the city last year selected the two cultural institutions—National Jazz Museum in Harlem and ImageNation Sol Cinema—to occupy the redeveloped Mart 125 site. The building will also be home to a new 800-square-foot NYC & Co. tourism center.
“The future Mart 125 site will build on the momentum that we’re seeing across Harlem, particularly 125th Street,” said EDC President Seth Pinsky. “With up to 67,000 square feet of space, we look forward to prospective developers’ proposals to turn this site into a vibrant cultural and commercial center.”
The developer will be responsible for demolishing the existing structure on the site as well as leasing the rest of the building once it is completed. The building will also include a 2,500-square-foot café or retail space. Submissions to the RFP are due July 30.
The city will select the best proposal based on a number of criteria including the overall economic impact of the developers’ plans for the site, proposed purchase price for the site, the bidders’ qualifications, the plans’ financial feasibility, design and conformity to the overall development of the Harlem neighborhood.
Built in the 1980s, Mart 125 was formerly a retail market where street vendors could come indoors and rent space. Eventually the vendors were not able to pay the rent and the building was shuttered in 2001.
There has been a lot of development activity in Harlem lately. The city recently said it would give $19.8 million in federal tax-exempt financing to former National Football League star Emmitt Smith to build a hotel at a long-vacant site on 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. Further east in the neighborhood, the city began construction of a 1.7-million-square-foot $700 million mixed-use development on three vacant East Harlem lots, which will become the East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center. That development is slated to be completed in 2016.