The project will feature an 18,000-square-foot memorial and a large mixed-use development.

By Brendan Krisel, Patch Staff

The city is looking for nonprofit and cultural organizations to operate the memorial for a 17th-century African burial ground.

HARLEM, NY — The city is starting to accept bids for a long-planned project to redevelop the former 126th Street bus depot into a memorial for a historic African burial ground and a large mixed-use development, city officials announced Monday.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is kicking off the process with a "Request for Expressions of Interest" for the 18,000-square-foot memorial on East 126th Street between First and Second avenues. The city agency is looking to partner with a nonprofit or cultural organization to operate the memorial and an associated cultural center after its built, according to Monday's announcement.

Organizations interested in operating the cultural center would be responsible for programs such as arranging workshops, organizing speaking events and promoting visiting scholars studying topics such as the arts, culture, literacy and social justice. City officials envision a facility that may include a visitors center, exhibition space and community events space.

"The Harlem African Burial Ground Memorial and Cultural Education Center will honor East Harlem as a sacred place of historical learning and serve as an inspiration for both residents and visitors alike," EDC President and CEO James Patchett said in a statement.

The burial site's origins go back to when Harlem was just a village under Dutch rule in the 17th century. Back then, Harlem was known as "Nieuw Haarlem" and the Low Dutch Reformed Church of Harlem maintained separate cemeteries for people of European and African descent.