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June 20th, 2003, 10:58 AM


First New Auto Dealership Built North of 60th Street in 40 Years Will Create 250 Jobs in East Harlem

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was joined today by General Motors Corporation Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, Alan and Robert Potamkin and President and Founder Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Reverend Jesse Jackson to announce that General Motors (GM) has signed an agreement with Potamkin Auto Group of New York to invest in its new Harlem Auto Mall, a multi-dealer auto mall in East Harlem being developed by Potamkin Development Co. LLC. *Potamkin is acquiring this City-owned property with the assistance of tax-exempt Empowerment Zone bonds made available by the New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA). *In connection with this project, the City worked to find an alternative location for storing road salt used for snow emergencies, and the project will replace several neglected lots and abandoned buildings. When completed, the Harlem Auto Mall will be the largest auto sales and service center in New York City, and the first located above 60th Street in over 40 years. *To date, Chevrolet, Saturn, Cadillac and HUMMER have signed onto the site, which can accommodate up to six auto dealerships. *When these first four new franchises open in 2005, they are expected to create 250 jobs with the possibility of additional jobs once other franchises join. The Harlem Auto Mall will be located on the block bounded by East 127th and East 128th Streets and Second and Third Avenues.

“New York City’s long-term prospects are bright, and today’s announcement is the latest proof,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “It shows that Harlem’s renaissance has economic legs – this development will have a tremendous impact on the health of the area creating 250 new jobs with the potential for more as new franchises sign on. When organizations of the caliber of General Motors and Potamkin choose East Harlem for a major investment, it’s a sure sign that the neighborhood is maintaining its momentum toward becoming a major shopping destination as well as, a place where people want to work and live. *I commend General Motors and Potamkin for their faith in the future of Harlem and their commitment to minority-owned businesses.”

“This is a great day for the people of Harlem and East Harlem,” said Congressman Charles B. Rangel. “Bringing development and jobs to the area is always good for the community, but bringing projects like this that provide training programs, high salaries and management opportunities is even better. *I am pleased that I was able to play a part in getting this exciting project to this point, and I want to thank General Motors and Potamkin for their confidence in Harlem.”

“Over the past several years, we have witnessed a number of encouraging economic and social changes in Harlem,” said Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. *“It has
become a magnet for nationally known businesses such as Disney, H & M, Starbucks, Old Navy, Modell’s Sporting Goods, and Magic Johnson Multi-plex movie theatres. *These businesses are complemented by the opening of several bank branches, as well as the rehabilitation of Harlem’s housing stock and the development of smaller commercial stores. *This agreement between General Motors, Potamkin Auto Group of New York and the City creating a Harlem Auto Mall, which will bring over two hundred jobs to the area, marks another major boost for the Harlem community.”

Potamkin was selected to develop the City-owned property as a result of a Request for Proposals issued by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC). *In addition, the IDA is issuing $21 million in tax-exempt Empowerment Zone Facility Bonds on behalf of Potamkin to help finance its portion of the project. *Located in the East Harlem Empire Zone, as well as the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, the project may also be eligible for additional incentives, including federal and state employee wage tax credits.

General Motors plans to develop a Chevrolet and a Saturn franchise in conjunction with its Minority Dealer Development Program. *The GM program, the first of its kind in the automotive industry, has been in operation since 1972. *The focus of the program is to attract and select highly qualified minorities who have a track record of dealership, entrepreneurial or management success and help them become successful dealers. *The program includes selection, assessment, training, placement in a training dealership, financial assistance and assistance in finding a dealership to purchase. *GM has 383 minority-owned and operated dealerships throughout the United States.

Potamkin-owned dealerships, for Cadillac and HUMMER, will also be developed under Potamkin’s Minority Dealership Program, which has been in effect for 20 years. *Potamkin plans to construct a two-story building with about 70,000 square feet of space to accommodate up to four dealerships, including the Cadillac and HUMMER franchises. Two other Potamkin dealerships for the site are to be determined. GM has agreed to lease 31,000 square feet of property on the same block from Potamkin to construct a 90,000 square foot facility for its Chevrolet and Saturn dealerships.

“This development is a strong signal that General Motors commitment to diversity and serving diversity markets goes beyond programs for our employees and for philanthropic organizations,” said GM’s Rick Wagoner. “We are dedicated to delivering products and services that resonate with diverse audiences - and to getting our share of the growing percentage of auto sales from these audiences.”

“In our more than three decades in New York, Potamkin has always had a commitment to local hiring, and the Harlem Auto Mall will provide hundreds of highly skilled and high-paying jobs to the community,” said Robert Potamkin. *“We know that Upper Manhattan, and Harlem in particular, is an underserved marketplace and we are proud to be the first auto dealership complex to locate above 60th Street with General Motors as an anchor dealership. We deeply appreciate the support and assistance of the City’s Economic Development Corporation and the entire Harlem community.”

“This auto mall is another milestone in the journey by General Motors to improve diversity representation in GM dealerships,” said Reverend Jackson. “We are proud that GM’s leaders have adopted our recommendation and are building a dealership in Harlem.”

“The Harlem Auto Mall is a monumental project for the people of East Harlem and surrounding neighborhoods,” said EDC President Andrew M. Alper. “I am delighted that GM and Potamkin, with their impressive histories of developing successful minority-owned dealerships, have elected to extend that expertise and commitment north of 60th Street. By providing skilled jobs and professional training opportunities, these dealerships will surely grow and their employees, most of whom will come from this community, will prosper.”

The General Motors/Potamkin announcement is just one of several exciting initiatives going on in Harlem:

East Harlem Rezoning: *On Tuesday, June 17, the City Council’s Land Use committee passed the rezoning of 57 blocks of East Harlem, an area where the zoning has remained largely unchanged for over 40 years. *City Planning’s rezoning proposal increases the potential number of housing units in the rezoning area by 1,700 units. The rezoning is bounded by East 99th and 122nd Streets and First and Pleasant Avenues to the east, and a point 100 feet east of Lexington Avenue to the west. *The full Council will vote on the proposal next week.

West Harlem Piers: *In October 2002, the Mayor unveiled the West Harlem Master Plan, an in-depth study that incorporates guidelines for redeveloping the area bounded by 125th and 135th Streets, Broadway and the Hudson River in West Harlem. *Currently, EDC is finalizing the design on a park along the Hudson River between 129th and 133rd Streets. The park will include a recreational/fishing pier and a ferry/water taxi pier. Construction is expected to begin Spring 2004, and should be completed the following fall.

Housing Development: *The Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) has focused on redeveloping several main corridors such as 116th Street, Madison and Fredrick Douglass Boulevard. *Where there were once large swaths of vacant land and burnt out buildings, the City has developed plans and engaged private developers to build housing. *In 2002, HPD started construction on 2,241 units of housing in Harlem (both East and West Harlem). *787 of these units offer home ownership opportunities.

Malcolm X Boulevard Streetscape: *The Department of City Planning has developed a streetscape plan for 110th to 147th Street on Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Avenue). The City Planning proposal includes lighting, benches, and landscaping and directional signage to improve the pedestrian experience. *The City has received $1.6 million in Federal funding to implement the lighting.

Apollo Theater: *EDC is providing $6 million in support of the refurbishment of the exterior of the Apollo Theater over Fiscal Years 2003 and 2004.

Museum for African Art: *EDC has designated the Museum for African Art to develop a site on 110th Street and 5th Avenue. *The site plan is expected to include a new 60,000 square foot facility for the Museum for African Art and a residential tower.

Hua Li
July 5th, 2003, 11:31 PM
Thanks for the information. *It's exciting to see the new development in the area.

July 9th, 2003, 05:55 PM
Well, we need the jobs and tax revenue but I have really mixed emotions about having a huge automall in this neighborhood.

These types of developments are just so ugly and with all the traffic in/out they could make the area quite alienated for pedestrians. Infill housing would be a much better idea and certainly is badly needed.

On a final note I don't like the idea of encouraging more people in the city to purchase autos. Not only does it land a lot of less affluent NY'ers into debt (you know, 0 down and no payments until we decide to repo a few months down the road). And god knows, we don't need any more of these ridiculously proportioned Hummers cruising the streets, knocking off people's side mirrors!

*Sigh*-but it's better than leaving these lots and buildings abandoned. It's tough to argue with 250 new jobs in E. Harlem even if you don't like the development.