Two nonprofit arts groups have been selected as part of the proposed Mart 125 redevelopment project. They are the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and ImageNation (independent cinema and progressive music established in 1997 to support progressive film and music for black and Latino people). Soul Cinema would be Harlem’s first and the nation’s only art-house movie theater dedicated to black and Latino films.
Photo: Hiroko Masuike
The jazz museum would use up to 10,000 square feet for a listening library and for performance, exhibition and office space, while ImageNation would create a theater of up to 2,000 square feet.
The project will have to attract interest from developers in order to move forward, and both institutions have announced plans to raise money.
Mart 125 opened in 1986. It was envisioned as a small-business incubator – creating entrepreneurs who would eventually start their own stores and perhaps own a stake in the Mart. The state reneted stalls to vendors and promissed management training, which never occured. The building began to deteriorate, and customer volume could not support the Mart, and stores begain having trouble paying the rent. The Giuliani administration evicted the vendors. The building has been empty since 2001.