Thursday, March 17, 2011
Cover of Bill ClintonClinton Foundation Is Moving Out of Harlem Office - NYTimes.com
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
When Bill Clinton officially began his post-presidency in Harlem in 2001, he was greeted with open arms — thousands of them. At a plaza near his new office, at 55 West 125th Street, a crowd of 2,000 residents and civic leaders gathered on a hot July afternoon to celebrate the arrival of a neighbor whose presence, two blocks from the landmark Apollo Theater, seemed to put a presidential stamp of approval on the neighborhood’s revival.
In his speech there in 2001, Mr. Clinton said, “Harlem always struck me as a place that was human and alive, where there was a rhythm to life and a song in the heart, where no matter how bad it was, people held up their heads and went on, and where, when things got good, people were grateful and cared about their neighbors.”
Nearly 10 years later, Mr. Clinton is leaving Harlem. Or, at least part of him is.
The William J. Clinton Foundation is moving most of its offices from Harlem to 77 Water Street in the financial district, in Lower Manhattan. But Mr. Clinton will keep a toehold in Harlem: his office as a former president will remain on the top floor of 55 West 125th Street.
The nonprofit foundation will occupy space on the 18th floor of 77 Water Street. The move will give the foundation more space — 25,227 square feet downtown versus 18,000 square feet uptown — and will help it cut costs. The foundation’s rent will be cheaper than the $40 a square foot it pays in the Harlem building, though it is unclear what the exact new rent will be, since the deal is not yet official, said a person familiar with both office locations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the details.
The foundation did not respond to requests for comment. CB Richard Ellis, the real estate brokerage firm representing the foundation, declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which oversees office space for former presidents, said that although the foundation was moving, the office space afforded Mr. Clinton as a former president would remain in the building in Harlem. The lease for that space — 8,715 square feet at the top of the 14-story building — was renewed in May 2010 and takes effect in August 2011, the spokeswoman, Emily Barocas, said. The 10-year lease expires in July 2021.
Ms. Barocas said the General Services Administration had no role in the foundation’s use of the Water Street space. The New York Post reported the move on Wednesday.
It remained unclear how Mr. Clinton would divide his time between the two offices. On 125th Street near his office, Harlem residents interviewed on Wednesday said Mr. Clinton had been a positive force in the neighborhood, although not a regularly visible one. Abuk Auk, 35, who works at a hair salon near 55 West 125th Street, said she saw Mr. Clinton walking into the building once years ago.
“We were so happy,” Ms. Auk said of Mr. Clinton’s arrival in Harlem in 2001. “We thought it was going to change everything for us.” She pointed across 125th Street at a row of shuttered storefronts and added: “You see those shops that are closed? It’s too bad he couldn’t do more to help small business here.”
Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright, a Democrat whose district includes the Harlem building, described Mr. Clinton as a great neighbor, adding that there were no sore feelings.
“We love him dearly,” Mr. Wright said. “The community will always love him. We would catch a glimpse of him from time to time, and that added a special flavor to the neighborhood. We wish him well.”
Harlem had not been the former president’s first choice. In February 2001, Mr. Clinton abandoned his plans to move into a skyscraper in Midtown after he was criticized for his decision to rent office space at one of Manhattan’s most lavish office towers. He had planned to rent the 56th floor of Carnegie Hall Tower for $738,700 a year, compared with the $210,000 asking rent in 2001 for the space in Harlem.
Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.