Byline: Mark Tosh

NEW YORK — Hoping to lure national retail chains to Harlem, two developers have proposed building a 260,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex on West 125th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard.
About 15 to 20 specialty tenants are being wooed for the $56 million project, called Harlem USA.
The proposed four-level complex, which could open by mid-1998, would be one block west of Harlem Center Mall, another proposed retail development on West 125th Street and Lenox Avenue which is supported by Gov. George Pataki.
Harlem appears to be headed for a retail revival. Last December, a Fairway Market opened on 132nd Street and 12th Avenue, and Blockbuster Video plans to open a store on 125th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard.
The stores in Harlem USA would each occupy between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet, according to Drew Greenwald, president of Grid Properties Inc., one of the developers. He declined to name any prospective tenants, but said national specialty chains could be included. However, no big-box discount stores are being considered. “Negotiations have taken three times longer than they would have taken in any other place because it’s a new frontier,” he said.
Grid Properties and Gotham Organization, a second developer, are prepared to commit between $8 million and $10 million to the project and are working with a group of banks to finance the balance, Greenwald said. Under a best-case scenario, the groundbreaking could be by the end of the year, he said.
The Harlem Commonwealth Council is a non-profit community development group that owns the property where Harlem USA is proposed. Except for a Chemical Bank branch, the site is vacant, Greenwald said. He estimated that about 365,000 people reside within 1 1/2 miles of the proposed complex.
About 60,000 square feet of Harlem USA would go to a 2,700-seat multiplex cinema.

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