All parties involved in the lease – New York City, the ex-president, the landlord of the 14-story building at 55 West 125th Street and the federal government – said they were "delighted the lease was finally signed."
Clinton is vacationing with his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, in the Dominican Republic, but his office said that he was happy the lease was signed and that he could move in, in July.
The base rent for the 8,300-square-foot office is $261,450 a year, but with the cost of tenant improvements prorated over 10 years plus electricity bills, the rent will cost taxpayers $354,000.
The GSA is scheduled to spend more than $300,000 on fixing up and decorating the office for Clinton. The penthouse office has a separate entrance and elevator and will consist of a reception area, a conference room, staff offices, Clinton's private office and 300 square feet for the Secret Service.
Clinton has hired architect Navid Magami of Greenberg Farrow and designer Sheila Bridges, whose latest clients included author Tom Clancy and rap mogul Sean Combs.
The ex-president was blasted by taxpayer watchdog groups earlier this year when he chose an 8,500-square-foot office on the 56th floor of Carnegie Hall Towers in midtown Manhattan that would have cost taxpayers $811,000 a year – more than the cost of the offices of all the other ex-presidents combined.
All presidents are given taxpayer-funded offices upon leaving the White House. All former presidents' offices are less expensive and smaller, about 4,000 to 6,000 square feet each.
While the $354,000-a-year Harlem office is about $500,000 less a year in rent, Clinton's office expense is still the highest of any ex-president and higher then the $228,000 a year budgeted by the U.S. Congress – a figure that Clinton had requested.
"I am very concerned that the GSA may enter a lease agreement for an amount that exceeds the amount of funding requested and appropriated by Congress," Rep. Ernest J. Istook, a Republican from Oklahoma, said in February.
The lease negotiation was complicated by the fact that the city's Administration for Children's Services had already leased the top floor of the building before Clinton was urged take a look at the place, located near the Apollo Theater, by Rep. Charles Rangel.
However, a deal was struck by the city and the federal government that allowed Clinton the penthouse office. The city got four floors plus the mezzanine for its field office, for a $750,000 saving over the life of the lease.
After decades of false starts, three years ago several economic revitalization projects got off the ground in Harlem, including the $65 million Harlem USA complex and a $15 million Pathmark supermarket.
Last week, about a dozen black protesters staged a demonstration against Clinton moving into the Harlem neighborhood because they felt it would displace blacks out of the area. However, most people interviewed have welcomed the ex-president to Harlem.
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