Clinton Likes Harlem Office Space

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Clinton said Tuesday he hopes to locate his offices in Harlem instead of the midtown high-rise that he ditched because of controversy over its cost.

``I have decided to locate my office in this building if we can work it out,'' he said outside an office building on the main thoroughfare of America's most famous black neighborhood.

A crowd of people shouted ``We love you!'' as they jostled to see and hear the former president, who has had strong support among black voters.

Clinton said that after the controversy over the high cost to taxpayers of a lease in midtown, he ``immediately thought'' of pursuing space in Harlem, where his administration created a federal empowerment zone that helped spur a commercial renaissance.

``I called Hillary and I asked my senator first how she would feel about me coming to Harlem, and she loved it,'' he said.

However, there was one potential obstacle to Clinton moving into the 14-story building. The top floor space he wants was rented in December by the city for the Administration for Children's Services, according to a source who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Asked about the potential conflict,Clinton said only: ``I hope that we can work the lease out and I hope they can work it out with the mayor. If they can work it out, I'll be here.''

Residents had mixed reaction to the news.

``I hope he comes. But I hope he doesn't bring the rest of rich white America with him,'' said Francois Jean, 31.

``I thought it was great when I heard about the most prominent Democrat moving into my neighborhood,'' said William Parker Sr., 72, a lifelong Harlem resident. ``But if he's going to bring this media madness with him, then I wish he would go downtown. I don't need this noise here on a Tuesday morning.''

A Clinton spokeswoman, Julia Payne, had said Monday that the former president wanted ``to go to a place where he could be a good neighbor and be welcomed by the neighborhood.''

Neither Clinton's office nor the owner of the Harlem building owner would comment on the price for about 8,000 square feet of office space in the building on 125th Street, also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The New York Times said the anual rent would be $210,000.

Clinton was originally eyeing office space in Carnegie Towers, next to Carnegie Hall on 57th Street, where the annual rent would have been about $800,000.

Harlem, an area of a half-million residents, has undergone a renaissance in recent years. National chains such as Starbuck's have opened outlets there, turn-of-the-century brownstones are being renovated and tourists come by the busload.


Diego Ibarguen and Dino Hazell contributed to this report.


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