National Urban League Headquarters + Civil Rights Museum Coming to Harlem




The state’s development corporation is planning to break ground on a 17-story mixed-use building to house New York’s first civil rights museum and the National Urban League’s new headquarters near the Adam Clayton Powell office building on 125th St., and will include at least 170 units of affordable housing, as well as office space and an Urban League conference center.

Harlem knew this was coming. Now an illustration for the National Urban League’s new Headquarters and Civil Rights Museum to be built on 125th Street near Lenox Avenue, bringing the League back home, where it was founded in 1910.

The $260 million,  17-story, mixed-use building will be home to not only the National Urbann League, but also house New York’s first civil rights museum. The 425,000 square-foot building will also include 170 units of affordable housing, with an entrance on 126th Street, and 90,000 square feet of retail space in addition to the 70,000 square-feet for offices, with entrances on 125th Street. Two non-profits will occupy space in the new building ~ Jazzmobile and 100 Black Men. The National Urban League will be signing a 99-year lease for the State-owned land.

The Civil Rights Museum will be the first in New York State, and will be designed to tell the story of civil rights advocacy in the North.

View from Lenox Avenue, along 125th Street, looking west with State Office Building in the background. Image via Google Maps

Comments from a few of the speakers at the press conference on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

“Equitable economic development means investing in every neighborhood and in organizations like the National Urban League that work every day to uplift others,” Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said.“We are proud to support this project that will keep NUL in New York and continue Harlem’s renaissance.”

RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal said: “The National Urban League holds an important place in our history, breaking down barriers and fighting for economic and social justice across the country. HCR is proud to see the organization’s headquarters return to its original home in Harlem, bringing with it quality affordable housing for more than 170 New Yorkers. This will move Governor Cuomo’s $20 billion Housing Plan forward and contribute to Harlem’s rebirth.”

“Harlem is where our work began more than a century ago and is very much our spiritual home,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “We are grateful to Governor Cuomo and the local elected officials who helped to make this possible. We are elated to be joining the vibrant Harlem community and moving into the next phase of our ever-expanding mission of advocacy and service.”

West 125th Street looking east toward Lenox Avenue. Image via Google Maps

“Bringing the National Urban League’s headquarters back to Harlem while maximizing the move to bring a host of amenities and a museum online will embed critical resources in the community,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “The epicenter of the Harlem Renaissance, this iconic New York City neighborhood has helped to define black culture in America and is most fitting to be the home of New York’s first civil rights museum.”

On Thursday, July 18, 2019, Empire State Development’s Board of Directors voted to approve a modified General Project Plan for the development and two grants from the New York City Regional Economic Development Council and the Restore New York Communities Initiative totaling $4.5 million for the project. New York State Homes and Community Renewal is also expected to provide financing to support the creation of affordable housing.

To make this project a reality, the National Urban League is partnering with BRP Companies, Taconic Investment Partners, L+M Development Partners, Dabar Development Partners and The Prusik Group, as well as 100 Black Men and Jazzmobile.

The current two-story site was home to a number of wonderful small shops, almost all relocated, and a second floor parking garage.

Stay tuned for groundbreaking and anticipated completion date.

Take a look at 125th Street in East Harlem ~ a work in progress.