Hudson taps HOK for massive Urban League development in Harlem

United Negro College Fund said to be in talks for large lease

TRD New York /
Mar.March 14, 2013 06:00 PM

Hudson Companies is tapping HOK Architects to design the new $225 million Urban League Empowerment Center in Harlem, the developer’s principal, David Kramer, told The Real Deal. HOK has released an additional rendering of the massive glass-walled facility, which towers above the area’s other structures, with three large garden terraces.

The developer has also brought on the Switzer Group to handle the interior design of the Urban League and Conference Center, Kramer added.

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled plans to transform the current 42,000-square-foot property into a 400,000-square-foot complex.

The center, located on 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Lenox Avenue, will serve as the 75,000-square-foot national headquarters for the National Urban League, a civil rights group. It will also feature New York State’s first-ever civil rights museum, as well as 114 units of affordable housing, retail space, a 225-car parking garage and a 45,000- to 50,000-square-foot conference center.

Although the Urban League was founded in Harlem in 1910, it is currently headquartered at 120 Wall Street, alongside the United Negro College Fund. Hudson is currently engaging in talks to provide the UNCF with 6,000 square feet of office space in the new facility, Kramer told The Real Deal, although other unnamed tenants that match the spirit of the complex are also in the running.

“We’re excited about the possibility of having UNCF join with the Urban League and the Museum of the Urban Civil Rights Experience to create a dream team Empowerment Center on 125th Street,” Kramer said.

The project is scheduled to break ground in 2015.

A representative for UNCF told The Real Deal that the group had recently renewed its lease for its current space. However, Kramer said that he was negotiating with the CEO of the Urban League, who had spoken with officials from UNCF about moving, and added that the group’s lease was short-term.

Founded in 1955, HOK is an international design firm employing 1,600 people in 24 offices across three continents. In New York, HOK has recently renovated 12 floors of 777 Third Avenue, modernized the Harlem Hospital and designed Canon’s headquarters.

The firm has also designed a civil rights center in Atlantic, known as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, where it focused on creating “living” space where visitors “experience content through interactive exhibitions and immersive activities,” according to its website.

HOK did not return The Real Deal’s request for comment.

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