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Harlem arts/culture center back on track

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Harlem arts/culture center back on track

| architecture | October 11, 2011

After a multi-month effort, financing is secured to build a 20,000-square-foot African and Hispanic arts and culture center in ground-floor space on West 116th Street.

A long-planned African and Hispanic arts and culture center in Central Harlem is a go after all.

Developer, Full Spectrum of NY, and its partner, My Image Studios Inc., recently closed on the financing to begin construction of the 20,000-square-foot center dubbed MIST, which stands for My Image Studios, said Roland Laird, CEO of My Image Studios. BRP Community Development agreed to allocate $21 million in New Market Tax Credits to build the center, which will be located on the ground-floor retail space at the Kalahari Condominium, a 249-unit affordable housing development at 40 W. 116th St., between Lenox and Fifth avenues.

New Market Tax Credits are designed to stimulate private investment in distressed urban and rural areas. Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group bought the tax credit and as a result provided debt and equity financing for the project. In addition, the Prudential Insurance Company of America also provided a loan, he said. Last year, the developers had hoped to get funding from city stimulus funding via the Recovery Zone bond program but that deal fell through.

“It has been a long process and we hope this center will be a transformative project in Harlem,” said Mr. Laird. “We can’t wait for it to open.”

Construction work is expected to begin Wednesday. The developers hope to open the new center in April of next year. It is expected to create 80 permanent jobs and 140 construction jobs.

The center will feature three performance spaces that will have a total of 317 seats as well as post-production facilities and a state-of-the-art, 7,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge. Mr. Laird said he is in discussions with Telemundo, the Spanish language television network, and other media companies about programming at the space.

“Investing in this retail space is a continuation of the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group’s commitment to the Kalahari and the neighborhood,” said a Goldman Sachs spokesman in a statement.

Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, along with Full Spectrum and L+M Equity Participants, developed the Kalahari Condominium, which was completed in 2008.

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After working at various design practices on a full-time and freelance basis, and starting his own design firm, David McFadden saw that there was a gap to be filled in the industry. In 1984, he created an expansive hub for architects and hiring firms to sync up, complete projects, and mutually benefit. That hub was Consulting For Architects Inc., which enabled architects to find meaningful design work, while freeing hiring firms from tedious hiring-firing cycles. This departure from the traditional, more rigid style of employer-employee relations was just what the industry needed - flexibility and adaption to modern work circumstances. David has successfully advised his clients through the trials and tribulations of four recessions – the early 80’s, the early 90’s, the early 2000’s, and the Great Recession of 2007.

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