Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the groundbreaking for the National Urban League’s new headquarters in Harlem.
National Urban League organization was first established over a century ago. The Urban League Empowerment Center, on 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue, will also include the Urban Civil Rights Museum Experience and the National Urban League Institute for Race, Equity and Justice, plus affordable housing, office space and retail space.
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“For more than a century, the National Urban League has been vital in supporting the advancement of Black Americans and other historically underrepresented groups in New York State and across America, and has been particularly critical in helping get shots in arms as the state expands its vaccination effort,” Governor Cuomo said. “This project exemplifies the League’s mission that began more than a century ago in the same Harlem neighborhood, offering community support and education through affordable housing, lower-cost office space, and the state’s first museum dedicated to civil rights history. As the challenges and struggles surrounding the fight for equal rights continue to today, this new headquarters is even more vital and I’m very proud that it’s being built in New York.”
National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said, “New York City is where we were born, and I am proud that New York City is where we will stay. I am even more excited about the neighborhood economic development our new home represents. With affordable office space for non-profit organizations like One Hundred Black Men of New York, the United Negro College Fund New York, and the Harlem-based Jazzmobile, the Empowerment Center will be a hub and a catalyst for enterprise, creativity, activism, and advocacy.”
As part of the $242 million project, the National Urban League will build a nearly 42,000-square-foot national headquarters in the same neighborhood where it was founded by Ruth Standish Baldwin and Dr. George Edmund Haynes in 1910. The site will also house the 19,500-square-foot National Urban League Institute for Race, Equity and Justice conference center, and the nearly 21,500-square-foot Urban Civil Rights Museum Experience-New York’s first civil rights museum to share and illustrate the story of civil rights advocacy in the north.
To address the vital need for affordable housing, the project includes more than 170 residential units affordable to households earning between 30 percent and 80 percent of the Area Median Income and includes supportive housing for young adults aging out of foster care. Services and rental subsidies for the supportive units will be funded through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The supportive service provider is the New York Foundling.
In addition, the project will include below-market-rate office space for nonprofit groups including the New York chapter of 100 Black Men of America, the United Negro College Fund, and the Harlem-based Jazzmobile. Additional retail and Class A office space will invite future tenants who offer jobs and resources for the neighborhood. The retail portion will be anchored by Trader Joe’s and Target. The project is the result of a Request for Proposals originally issued by Empire State Development and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, seeking to redevelop an underutilized lot located at 121 West 125th Street, between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard.
The National Urban League’s project is being financed by New York State Homes and Community Renewal and supported by grants from Empire State Development. Other partners include the New York City Economic Development Corporation, BRP Companies, L+M Development Partners, Taconic Investment Partners, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Dabar Development Partners, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Harlem Community Development Corporation, and the Prusik Group.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Breaking ground on the Urban League Empowerment Center project in the neighborhood where the National Urban League was founded is a tremendous milestone in celebrating the achievements of this vitally important civil rights organization. This center will provide enhanced economic and cultural vitality to the community, and Empire State Development is proud of its role in supporting this historic project.”
RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said, “The start of construction on the $242 million Urban League Empowerment Center represents New York’s dedication to continuing the fight for equity, fair housing and social justice while honoring the legacy of the Civil Rights movement. Located in the heart of the historic Harlem neighborhood, the development will offer 170 much-needed affordable homes for New Yorkers, including supportive apartments for young adults transitioning from foster care. We are proud to be a part of this landmark development that will benefit the community for generations to come.”
Rachel Loeb, Acting President of New York City Economic Development Corporation, said, “Today’s groundbreaking is a major milestone for Harlem. By creating a permanent new home for the National Urban League, New York’s first Civil Rights Museum, more affordable housing, retail, additional space for community groups, and new jobs, we are building a stronger future for all New Yorkers. We are thrilled we played a role to bring this transformational project to life.”
This project furthers Governor Cuomo’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing, as reflected in the State’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing, including 6,000 units of supportive housing. The plan is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multifamily and single-family housing, community development, and rent stabilization.
Keeping the National Urban League in Harlem as it continues its mission to strengthen and vitalize urban neighborhoods is of paramount importance to me and the constituents I serve.
Congressmember Adriano Espaillat said, “Keeping the National Urban League in Harlem as it continues its mission to strengthen and vitalize urban neighborhoods is of paramount importance to me and the constituents I serve. The Urban League Empowerment Center will be an important part of the Harlem community as a cultural center that will celebrate the history of the civil rights movement and Black culture – while highlighting our accomplishments and the significant contributions we continue to make throughout our city, the state, and around the nation. I am proud to be a part of this historical milestone and look forward to the Center’s future.”
Today’s milestone is a celebration of the work that the National Urban League has done for over 100 years to protect the rights of the black and underserved urban communities across the country and I could not be happier to continue to call Harlem home to this important organization.
The Honorable Charles Rangel said, “Today’s milestone is a celebration of the work that the National Urban League has done for over 100 years to protect the rights of the black and underserved urban communities across the country and I could not be happier to continue to call Harlem home to this important organization. There has never been a greater need to invest in our urban centers, especially those that have traditionally been left behind and the Urban League Empowerment Center is a huge step in ensuring that we continue investing equitably in traditionally forgotten communities.”
The new Urban League Headquarters will be a proud achievement for New York State.
Senator Brian Benjamin said, “The new Urban League Headquarters will be a proud achievement for New York State. It will provide space for community groups, affordable housing, and retail stores – but most importantly it gives all of us a unique museum where we can respectfully remember civil rights struggles and celebrate important victories.”
Assemblymember Inez Dickens said, “Over the last century the National Urban League has served as a beacon that has upheld the principles of social and economic justice. This project is a game-changer. It will provide the community with affordable housing options, employment support, and wonderful retail space while at the same time honoring the history and legacy of Black Americans. Congratulations to all involved in this magnificent endeavor.”
Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of, NAACP New York State Conference, said, “The National Urban League has been at the forefront of the civil rights movement for over 100 years and has made critical investments in our urban centers to move our communities forward. After years of working with community leaders, elected officials, and advocates, I am elated that the National Urban League headquarters will be moving to Harlem, which will not only help revitalize Harlem, but will help support and serve the organization’s 90 Urban League affiliates and nearly 2 million people nationwide.”
Meredith Marshall, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of developer BRP Companies, said, “This groundbreaking brings us one step closer to the completion of this historic and transformative project. As a diverse development firm, we are particularly vested in the completion of this significant project for the Harlem community. None of this could’ve been possible without the partnership of the State, partnership of the City, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, L+M Development Partners, Taconic Partners, The Prusik Group, DabarDevelopment Partners, and the National Urban League.”
Margaret Anadu, Global Head of Sustainability and Impact for Asset Management at Goldman Sachs, said, “Reaching this important milestone is another step towards creating more opportunity and advancing civil rights in our city. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the National Urban League, BRP Companies, Dabar Development Partners, L+M Development Partners, Taconic Partners and other community leaders to bring more affordable housing, historic cultural space, and job opportunities to Harlem.”
Blair Duncan, president, and CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, said, “The National Urban League Headquarters’ return to Harlem—along with its civil rights experience museum, affordable housing, retail and commercial offices—brings a vibrant addition to the 125th Street corridor. This public-private partnership is especially rewarding to the Harlem community during these uncertain economic times, and UMEZ is proud to be part of the team of funders for this transformational project.”
The opening of the National Urban League Center is monumental for Harlem, the city and state of New York and certainly for the nation! As we celebrate our 56th anniversary, Jazzmobile is honored to have been chosen to bring its offices into the NULC.
Robin Bell-Stevens, Director of Jazzmobile, said, “The opening of the National Urban League Center is monumental for Harlem, the city and state of New York and certainly for the nation! As we celebrate our 56th anniversary, Jazzmobile is honored to have been chosen to bring its offices into the NULC. This move will enable us to increase our capacity, and we also look forward to presenting innovative programming in the Center.”
Michael J. Garner, Chairman, Corporate Board, One Hundred Black Men, New York City, said, “The Founding Chapter of the One Hundred Black Men of New York City eagerly awaits the construction of our new corporate headquarters on the famous 125th Corridor in Harlem. We are extremely pleased that we will be sharing this historic building with the National Urban League and we would like to personally thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Assemblywoman Inez E. Dickens, and New York State Senator Brian Benjamin, for their steadfast commitment and funding of this historic project.”
Photo credit: 1) Arva Rice. 2) Hazel Dukes.