EMPOWERMENT ZONE LENDS $4.7MILLION
TO TOURO COLLEGE FOR A NEW
CAMPUS ON WEST 125TH STREET
LANDMARK BUT VACANT HARLEM
DEPARTMENT STORE REVITALIZED
From left to right: Robert Walsh, New York City Commissioner for Small Business Services; Mel Ness, chief financial officer for Touro College; Akiva Kobre, chief administrative officer for Touro College; Kenneth J. Knuckles, president and chief executive officer of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone; Johnny C. Rivera, District Director for Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.); Eileen Mildenberger, Chief Operating Officer for the Empire State Development Corporation; Neel Gandhi, senior loan officer for the Empowerment Zone; Paul Quintero, the Empowerment Zone’s senior vice president for business investments
(212) 410-0030, ext. 234
New York, N.Y. March 28, 2005 – The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone today announced that it had awarded a $4.7 million loan to Touro College, which will use the money to build a 50,000-square-foot campus on West 125th Street. The new campus, one of 30 Touro campuses in New York City, will be located in the building that housed Blumstein’s Department Store, an 80-year fixture in Harlem until it closed in 1978. The campus will include a comprehensive undergraduate college and a division of Touro’s graduate school of education and psychology.
The space that the college will be taking has been vacant since Blumstein’s went out of business. The college’s plans represent the latest in a series of moves that have revitalized 125th Street, bringing in people and investment into a once blighted area. Much of the growth has been financed or encouraged by the Empowerment Zone, which made an $11.3 million loan to help finance the construction of the Harlem USA retail building at 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in 1999 and many subsequent loans in the area.
“We’re not just building new buildings on 125th Street – though we have done that,” said Kenneth J. Knuckles, the president and chief executive officer of the Empowerment Zone. “We’re revitalizing long-vacant space, stabilizing cultural organizations and harnessing Harlem’s untapped labor force. There are examples of each of these programs right here on 125th Street, as well as throughout the Empowerment Zone.”
“The fact that Touro College took space on 125th Street is further evidence that this is one of the primary commercial corridors in the city,” Knuckles continued. “With each new presence on 125th Street, momentum builds and perceptions change.”
The new campus will employ 156 people and serve 1,000 undergraduates and 300 graduate students per year. “Education is the ladder for men and women to raise their economic and social status,” said Dr. Bernard Lander, president and founder of Touro College. “Touro is committed to reaching out to potential students where they reside. Consequently the Touro Campus is spread throughout the city, including a campus in East Harlem. I am very happy that we are now establishing a second and even larger campus in Central Harlem. For me, this is the realization of a profound wish to participate in the improvement of the lives of Harlem residents.”
The same year that Blumstein’s went out of business, Touro opened a branch at 123rd Street and Second Avenue in the Taino Towers complex. More than 40 percent of the students at the Taino campus live in Upper Manhattan, and 80 percent of its payroll is generated by employees who live in Upper Manhattan. The Empowerment Zone and Touro College expect similar figures for the West Harlem campus, which will be twice the size of the one in Taino Towers.
“Because we anticipate that such a large percentage of students at Touro will be residents of Upper Manhattan, this investment is even more attractive than most,” Knuckles said, noting that in the long term the loan would help improve the chances of Upper Manhattan residents to enter the job market. “Here, not only are we contributing to the immediate economic revitalization of Harlem’s most prominent commercial stretch, but we are investing in the advancement of the people in our communities.”
Robert W. Walsh, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services, said: “The Empowerment Zone is an important partner in executing the Bloomberg Administration’s five-borough economic development strategy to make New York City more livable, more business friendly and more economically diverse. We have been working hand in hand with the Empowerment Zone through our Workforce1 Career Center and our NYC Business Solution Center on 125th Street to help people find jobs and help businesses find employees. Touro College is a welcome addition to what is fast becoming one of the most thriving commercial strips in the City.”
The Empowerment Zone was represented by Chadbourne & Parke, L.L.P., an international corporate law firm based in Midtown. Touro College was represented by Snitow Kanfer Holtzer & Millus L.L.P.