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National Urban League shows off new Harlem headquarters

National Urban League shows off new Harlem headquarters
National Urban League shows off new Harlem headquarters 02:11

NEW YORK - The National Urban League's new Empowerment Center is one of many shining new facades showing up on the main stretch of 125th Street.

The project is one of NUL president Marc Morial's proudest accomplishments.

"You invest in green-lining a community as opposed to red-lining a community," Morial said.

In the same neighborhood where members first met in 1910, the organization owns its new 17-story headquarters, which will include a conference center, Trader Joe's, Sephora and Pandora. Other as-yet unnamed yet aligned organizations will occupy offices as well.

"It's historic because no other civil rights mission-driven organization in American history has undertaken a project of this size, this dimension and this impact," said Morial.

The fourth floor will become the city's only museum dedicated to the fight for civil rights, inviting tourists to the area to experience every aspect of Harlem's history.

"We are going all the way up to the present," said chief curator Jennifer Scott. "We're including a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance as a part of this important civil rights history, and call people to participate and continue to fight for justice."

One story down, a sprawling space is taking shape for 1,000 employees. From the headquarters, they will oversee 92 affiliates around the country organizing 20,000 volunteers, serving 3 million people.

Above that will be 177 units of affordable housing, with rates ranging from 30-80% of the area median income.

"This is a model to be replicated," said building developer Meredith Marshall. "It's very difficult to finance affordable housing along with cultural institutions, office space in this environment and retail."

Marshall admits profit margins will be slim, but the community payoff will be priceless.

"This is not just any building," Morial added. "This is a special place, and we intend to make this hallowed ground, not only for the people of Harlem but for people across the United States."

Expect completed construction next year.

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