FOR RELEASE: June 19, 2003
General Motors Corporation Invests in Harlem Auto Mall
Four New GM Franchises To Be Developed
New York - General Motors today announced it has signed an agreement with Potamkin Auto Group of New York to invest in the new Harlem Auto Mall, which will be the largest auto sales and service center in New York City.
The mall, which will comprise an area just under the size of a city block, is in Harlem at 127th and 128th Streets, between Second and Third Avenues.
The development will include four General Motors franchises selling Chevrolet, Saturn, Cadillac and HUMMER vehicles. The project is estimated to bring between more than 200 new jobs to Harlem.
"We are extremely proud to have an agreement with the Potamkin Auto Group and the City of New York that will contribute significantly to Harlem's ongoing revitalization," said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. "These new GM franchises will play a role in GM's effort to better address the needs of buyers in this large and diverse market.
"This development also is strong proof our commitment to diversity and serving diverse markets goes beyond programs for our employees and for philanthropic groups. We're dedicated to providing products and services that a wide range of customers want, and to getting our fair share of the growing sales in these markets."
"We're looking forward to working closely with the Potamkins on this development, which will bring more than 200 new jobs to Harlem and add to the exciting economic growth initiatives started by city officials, elected representatives and community leaders," Wagoner said.
Robert Potamkin, president of The Potamkin Auto Group, said the mall will create opportunities for diversity-owned businesses and help attract more business for the surrounding communities.
"For more than three decades, the Potamkin family has been committed to customer service to New York consumers. By opening the Harlem Auto Mall, we will have a positive economic impact on one of New York's most historic communities," Potamkin said. "Beyond our commitment to local hiring and training members of the community for highly skilled, high paying jobs, we look forward to tapping into the potential that we see in this location. We are proud to be the first auto dealer to locate above 60th Street in New York, and are thrilled that GM has agreed to be part of this exciting opportunity."
"Potamkin would not have been able to make this dream a possibility without the help of all of New York's elected officials," said Alan Potamkin, chairman of the Potamkin Development Company. "We deeply appreciate the community support and the assistance of Andy Alper and Barbara Resnicow of the Economic Development Corporation, and the support of other elected officials like Congressman Charles Rangel, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and State Senator Olga Mendez, whose vision and foresight made this important project possible."
"New York City's long-term prospects are bright, and today's announcement is the latest proof," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "This is a truly exciting time for Harlem and this development will have a tremendous impact on the economic health of the area creating 250 new jobs with the potential for more as new franchises sign on.
"When organizations of the caliber of General Motors and Potamkin choose East Harlem for a major initiative, it's a sure sign that the neighborhood is maintaining its momentum toward becoming a major destination shopping location, as well as a place where people work, live and invest. I commend General Motors and Potamkin for their faith in the future of Harlem and their commitment to minority-owned businesses," said the Mayor.
The Cadillac and HUMMER franchises will be owned by Potamkin Cadillac HUMMER of Manhattan, LLC, an affiliate of The Potamkin Auto Group, which also owns six General Motors franchises on Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan. The new dealership will be developed in conjunction with the Potamkin's Minority Dealership Program, which began 20 years ago. To date, there have been seven minority partners, and by the completion of this project, there will be ten partners managing 21 franchises.
The Chevrolet and Saturn franchises are being developed in conjunction with GM's Minority Dealer Development Program and will be owned by an individual to be named later. The General Motors Minority Dealer Development Program was created in 1972, and is the first and longest running program of its kind in the automotive industry. GM has 379 minority-owned and operated dealerships, and has a very active program to increase the number of minority dealers in the GM network.
U. S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel said, "I welcome General Motors and the Potamkins to the Harlem -East Harlem community. It truly confirms the faith of corporate America in the continued growth and vitality of Upper Manhattan."
"This auto mall is another milestone in the journey by General Motors to improve diversity representation in GM dealerships," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of Rainbow Push. "We are proud that GM's leaders have adopted our recommendation and are building a dealership in Harlem."
Potamkin Development Company's responsibility includes purchasing the land, preparing the site and coordinating the construction of the dealerships.
Due to its proximity to the Triborough Bridge, FDR Drive and connecting roadways, 350,000 cars daily pass the site of the auto mall location. The auto district in New York City has moved over the years, first locating on Broadway and then moved to the East side in the 1920s. In the 1930s, it moved back to Broadway, and on to Seventh Avenue in the West in the 1950s and most recently to Eleventh Avenue.
"Locations, such as the Harlem Auto Mall site represent the future for auto retailing in New York City, drawing from all of Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Westchester County and lower Connecticut," said Alan Potamkin. "We are proud to be the first to move in that direction."
The Potamkin Auto Group was founded in 1954 by Victor Potamkin. Today, operating under the name of Planet Automotive, the company has annual sales of over $1.6 billion with seventy dealerships in eight states, including Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, California and Texas. Presently eight new auto dealerships in development are underway. Potamkin has relationships with most of the major domestic and foreign manufacturers and today owns/operates eight dealerships in New York City.
General Motors (NYSE: GM), the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, employs 342,000 people globally in its core automotive business and subsidiaries. Founded in 1908, GM has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in more than 190 countries. In 2002, GM sold more than 8.6 million cars and trucks, nearly 15 percent of the global vehicle market. GM's global headquarters is at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.