A court ruling last year found that Citarella, which bought a collection of six buildings on West 125th Street and West 126th Street from the city for a song—$850,000—violated the terms of its 1999 purchase agreement with the city.
Citarella Owner Joseph Gurrera had promised to convert the buildings, called the Taystee Bakery Complex (the manufacturer closed its doors there in 1977), into warehouse, retail and office space by 2006.
Mr. Gurrera opened a retail store there in 2005, but has done nothing with the rest of the space. A State Supreme Court ordered Citarella to move out last year, but the company won an appeal, which is still pending. Mr. Gurrera declined to comment on the situation.
The city expects to win the appeal and will issue a Request for Expressions of Interest today.
“The opportunity to redevelop the former Taystee Bakery Complex represents a chance to bring economic activity and new jobs to West Harlem,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corp., in a prepared statement. “We look forward to reviewing the responses and moving as quickly as possible to reactivate this important site.”
The REIs are due on Jan. 19, 2011. The city is not requiring the 134,000-square-foot site be used for a specific purpose and even indicated that some of the buildings could be redeveloped for residential use—an idea Mr. Gurrera had proposed, according to earlier news reports. The city turned him down.
The Department of City Planning is currently conducting a rezoning study of the West Harlem neighborhood, which could result in a rezoning of the Taystee Bakery Complex to allow for some of the buildings to be converted to residential units.
In a statement, Community Board Nine Chair Larry English said the board “considers the Citarella properties to be one of the most viable and important development opportunities in West Harlem. CB9 will be working with the EDC to make sure any new development comports with the vision of the community.”