Building: The Private Way

One of the saddest blocks in Manhattan's East Harlem ghetto is East 102nd Street between First and Second avenues. It is populated by some heroin users, too many broken families, and a lot of ordinary low-income folk who have all but given up the fight for a better life. Rats roam urine-reeking hallways amid the litter of wine bottles, fallen plaster and broken wiring, and there are bitter memories of politicians' promises to clean up the mess.

If that seems a strange place for a major corporation to risk some of its reputation and $1,250,000 of its cash in an...

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