After not receiving city stimulus funding from the Recovery Zone Bond program last year, businessman Laird and My Image Studios were not deterred. They continued talks and deliberations with private investors to close the deal, yet Laird says he cannot speak about plans to do something on a similar level in his home town due to "legal issues".
The Trentonian reached out to Laird to obtain clarification on what those legal issues were but did not receive a response as of this post.
Laird and his associates received new market tax credits as a way to help finance the 20,000 square feet center designed to highlight African and Latino art and culture, which will be located on the ground-floor retail space at the Kalahari Condominium, a 249-unit affordable housing development at 40 W. 116th Street, between Lenox and Fifth Avenues.
New market tax credits are designed to stimulate private investment in distressed urban and rural communities like Harlem and Trenton.
Goldman Sachs, an urban investment group, purchased the new market tax credits and issued them to BRP Development, a New York based construction company, who then provided them to Laird and area developer Full Spectrum NY to finance this project. Prudential, a financial services company, also played a key role in getting the project started by providing a loan.
Construction of the new facility began just this past Wednesday. Laird estimates that the project should create 50 jobs now and is expected to double that in the near future. The local entrepreneur said that the center should have a significant impact in the community.
The center will feature three performance centers that will hold 317 seats. It will also have a 7,000 square foot restaurant and lounge where people can enjoy cuisine from the Black community, Puerto Rican community, and the European community while they live entertainment from various artists and entertainers.
Laird said, "this center will not only provide more fun and entertainment, but it also provides more money and more skills to that community".
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