Marriott Goes Uptown: Harlem gets its first major hotel since the Theresa

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Harlem Park principals: (l. to r.) Ray Caldiero, Michael Caridi,Eric Westbury, Jeffrey S. Fried.The Marriott Corp. is adding its world-renowned red logo to the Harlem landscape. It is the latest in a legion of top corporate brands to flock to an area considered New York City’s hottest residential, commercial and tourist community. The global hospitality icon is partnering with 1800 Park Ave. L.L.C., a new development entity, to build a 585,000-square-foot complex that will house a 14-floor, 208-room Marriott Courtyard hotel, office and retail facilities, a public park and a sidewalk café.

The Harlem Park Marriott Courtyard will be Marriott’s first hotel in upper Manhattan and its 3,000th hotel worldwide. It also will be Harlem’s first major hotel since the famed Theresa Hotel at 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (Seventh Avenue), where Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro stayed in 1960 and where Black Power leader Malcolm X held meetings of his Organization of Afro-American Unity. Known in its heyday as “the Waldorf of Harlem,” the Theresa closed in 1966.

The 125,000-square-foot Marriott Courtyard will have two main ballrooms, a swimming pool, a terrace and a state-of-the-art health spa. Other amenities include a four-story atrium above the main hotel entrance, a bar/restaurant and reception area with a view through the atrium, 38,000-square-feet of catering space and a jazz club. “We could not be more excited to be planting roots in this vibrant neighborhood,” says Eric M. Westbury, president and CEO of SBM Certificate Co., and the primary equity partner in the project. Webb & Brooker Inc., one of Harlem’s most venerable real estate firms, will be a leasing broker for the commercial space. The company has served the community since 1968.

The $190 million-plus Harlem Park complex is being built on the southwest corner of 125th Street and Park Avenue, on the site of a parking lot owned by the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the first quarter of 2004, with opening slated for December 2005. The project is expected to generate a little more than $28 million a year in revenue and provide 1,800 to 2,000 jobs.

Other investors in the project through 1800 Park Ave. L.L.C. include Kevin Liles, president of Def Jam Records; developer Michael Caridi, managing member of Majic Development Group L.L.C.; Raymond P. Caldiero, former vice president and assistant to the chairman of Marriott Corp., currently chairman of The Sequoia Group Inc., an investment firm; philanthropist Jacqueline Autry, widow of the late entertainer Gene Autry and honorary American League president of Major League Baseball; and Jeffrey S. Fried, founder of the sports and entertainment law firm Fried & Co. P.C.