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NEW YORK-A nursery that has been serving East Harlem residents’ horticultural needs for well over a decade has finally purchased the 12,000 sf parcel it has been leasing from the city for 14 years. The greenery was able to buy the property from the city’s Economic Development Corp., which is responsible for the sale of city-owned land.

Now that Dimitri Galanos, owner of the eponymously named Dimitri Nurseries, owns the land, he is planning an 18-month, $200,000 renovation and expansion project. Improvements will include construction of a retail store and as well as landscaping projects including garden waterfalls and pathways.

“In order to make capital improvements to the property he needed to have title,” says EDC spokesperson Janel Patterson. “It’s a standard business practice.”

The nursery long has been known for its contributions to the East Harlem community. More than 80% of its employees live in the neighborhood, and Dimitri plans to add at least 30 new employees because of the expansion. In addition, Dimitri has developed gardens at The East Harlem School, participates in job-training programs and donates gardening supplies to local patrons.

Along with disposing of city-owned property, the EDC also provides incentives to small businesses in the industrial sector that might otherwise relocate to less-expensive accommodations.

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