Money from the enemy: State senator against nabe rebranding receives donation from “SoHa” firm

Artimus donated $2,500 to Sen. Brian Benjamin, a former developer

301 West 118th Street and Sen. Brian Benjamin (Credit: Twitter)
301 West 118th Street and Sen. Brian Benjamin (Credit: Twitter)

The state senator who’s waging a war against real estate firms that rebrand neighborhoods received $2,500 from a company that promoted South Harlem as “SoHa.”

The holding company for Artimus, the developer behind the luxury condo on West 118th Street that goes by SoHa 118, donated $2,500 to state Sen. Brian Benjamin in April, the Daily News reported. Around the same time, the newly-elected senator began a campaign against the use of SoHa to describe South Harlem. In June, he proposed a bill that would allow city governments to block new neighborhood names and would penalize brokers who promoted unsanctioned monikers.

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Benjamin, himself a former developer, told the Daily News that he only recently discovered that Artimus named the building SoHa 118 and intended to return the donation.

“I am very sensitive to the optics of all of this,” Benjamin said. “I’m going to make sure no one can question my sincerity and commitment to protecting Harlem.” [NYDN] — Kathryn Brenzel