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Razing Rage in Harlem

By: John Mazor

October 29th, 2007

Dozens of angry residents and business owners turned out in Harlem yesterday to protest a redevelopment plan that will demolish 16 local stores.

Sigfeld Group and Kimco Realty Corp., a multinational real-estate firm, have a purchased a $50 million swath of property in the historic Harlem district around 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

Stores like Bobby’s Happy House, a music shop, and Manna’s Soul Food Restaurant are slated to give way to hotels, condos, office space and national retailers.

Business owners along the strip said they received news of the sale a couple of months ago and were told they had six months to vacate. “They offered me $5,000 for relocation costs,” said Vera Wilson, 52, who runs the House of Seafood on Frederick Douglas Boulevard. “What can I do with $5,000? Nothing.”

Wilson, who has run the restaurant for 13 years, said she and her eight employees have until Jan. 31 to get out.

Officials from Kimco and Sigfeld were not available for comment.

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