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Thread: Kalahari Condominium - West 116th Street - Harlem

  1. #1
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS

    Default Kalahari Condominium - West 116th Street - Harlem

    New Condos Inspired by Africa

    AFROCENTRIC DESIGN A rendering of the Kalahari condo complex, which is set to open in December 2007.

    November 12, 2006

    TUCKED between a rickety African market and a gleaming new luxury apartment building, the construction site on West 116th Street that will eventually be the Kalahari condominium complex is a kind of symbol for the social and economic forces shaping Harlem.

    The building, set to open in December 2007, signals encroaching gentrification: bamboo flooring, glass-enclosed showers and an on-site gym will separate the building from the Martin Luther King Jr. Towers, a public housing project across the street.

    But for all its bourgeois touches, the Kalahari also makes serious gestures toward an older Harlem.

    Nearly half of the 249 condos planned for the $119 million building have been set aside for moderate-income buyers. A family of four with a household income of $63,800 to $131,165 would qualify for one of the subsidized units. StreetSquash, a nonprofit organization that provides Harlem children with academic tutoring and squash instruction, is to spend $9 million on a community center in the rear of the building. And an independent film center at the site, to be called My Image, will focus on Latino and African diaspora movies.

    The developers — Full Spectrum of NY in Harlem, and L & M Equity Participants in Larchmont, N.Y. — have emphasized African-themed design for the structure, named after the desert in southern Africa.

    The facade will be covered in decorations inspired by South African Ndebele tribal designs. Adinkra symbols, West African icons representing concepts like wisdom, unity and perseverance, will adorn the columns. And a sculpture by El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist, is to hang in the lobby.

    Carlton Brown, chief operating officer for Full Spectrum, said culturally appropriate design is important in a place like Harlem, which he calls the “intellectual center” of black America. “A lot of what has been built in what is sometimes called the Second Harlem Renaissance has not addressed the cultural elements,” he said.

    Jack Travis, a cultural design consultant who worked with Fred Schwartz, the lead architect, on the African decorative flourishes, sees them as part of a search for an “Afrocentric” design.

    “It is an environment,” he said. “It is a small urban plan. And it is in a black community, which begs, desperately, for a cultural identity of buildings and spaces that reflect the notions and intentions of the people in the community.”

    But for all his enthusiasm, Mr. Travis acknowledges a certain irony in the appearance of Afrocentric design on a luxury condominium that represents, at least in part, a neighborhood’s gravitation beyond the means of blue-collar African-Americans.

    The irony is not lost on the locals, either. John Nelson, 54, an unemployed construction worker walking past the building recently, said he had little use for the Kalahari and its African stylings. “They going to do that for what?” he asked. “To get black people to come in the apartments?”

    “People in our category,” he said, “we can’t afford that.”

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    October 27, 2006:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Interlaken, Switzerland


    hm, i am technical drawer or whatever the right word is in english, but i think, this building is really ugly...

    what shall all this waves on the front be?! africa?^^

    there would be better associations with africa than some lines on the wall *gg*

  4. #4

    Default kalahari - W. 116th St.

    We've looked at this building. (I know, the facade is challenged, but it is green and our daughter has asthma). Slightly less than half of the units went in a lottery to middle income residents. That left about 130 units. New York City Condo Blog (I may have the wrong name) said that the building is virtually sold out, with a couple of two bedrooms and some penthouses remaining.

    Does anybody have any experience in this building?

  5. #5

    Default green building won't help that much with asthma

    I'm skeptical it matters that much - it might be a mild plus if they have an air filter built in but those are easy to buy these days. Green buildings are more about helping the planet.

    My understanding is asthma in East Harlem is bad because of truck pollution - I thought that was one of Bloomie's points for congestion pricing. I wonder if LIC or Jersey City might have cleaner air (though I'll admit 116th street is actually pretty fun - I like the shops on that street and the Latin flair)

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by investordude View Post
    My understanding is asthma in East Harlem is bad because of truck pollution - I thought that was one of Bloomie's points for congestion pricing.
    A couple years back, I took a class at the Columbia School of Public Health. I learned the air uptown is actually much better then in other parts of Manhattan. The reason asthma is more of a problem in Central and East Harlem is because of certain family and housing issues (heridetary issues, poor diet, pet and cockroach dander, etc.) among low-income people in public housing. The truck pollution claims are largely BS, though it is true that if you already have asthma, severe truck pollution can worsen asthma.

    For the most part, Upper Manhattan actually has less air pollution than the rest of the city. The incidence of asthma correlates strongly with the location of public housing units. Non-poor children who live uptown actually have low rates of asthma.

  7. #7

    Default i believe that

    I can believe that - cockroach feces is the number 1 cause of asthma in New York City is what I've read in the past. I'm just saying buying into a green building to reduce asthma sounds suspect - just buy into a building that's not rent controlled and that is well maintained and can afford an exterminator.

    But I'm sure the truck pollution in East Harlem doesn't help. If that's your top concern, I've got to believe places like LIC have cleaner air (though admittedly they aren't as much fun as 116th is)

  8. #8 Front_Porch's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Manhattan 90210


    priced out,

    I have a friend who is in the Kalahari's sister building, 1400 Fifth, and she loves it. For some reason I think that building sold much faster than the Kalahari did, but I don't know the back story -- Harlem is out of my territory.

    ali r.
    [downtown broker]

    PS: my computer system shows the building currently has 27 units for sale.
    Last edited by Front_Porch; November 9th, 2007 at 09:40 AM. Reason: I looked the building up in OLR and found lots of active listings

  9. #9


    Thanks, Front Porch.

    By the way, to the others who have responded, air purification is THE number one way to reduce asthma attacks (other than removing a known allergen or adding drugs). Taking showers before bed is the second (you remove allergens from your hair, asthma attacks are much more likely to occur in the middle of the night). We have three huge air purifiers in our small apartment, and it sounds as if we are living at JFK (on the ground, not in the terminal).

    After three very tough years we got our daughter's asthma under control. (I think this is also partly because we moved from a toxic forced air system to one with radiators and in-window air conditioners, not the height of luxury but better for many reasons for our daughter, i.e. our old building didn't change the system to air conditioning early enough, and we had to open the windows so she could sleep, but she has spring seasonal allergies, etc.). She has been asthma free, without drugs other than Zyrtec in the spring to keep those hyper-allergies at bay.

    But for 9/11 I wouldn't probably have known much about asthma. Now, as a parent, I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone who deals with this issue. The amount of school missed, the anxiety, the possible reprecussions from steroid use to combat the auto-immune issues, well, it's not pretty. Even if a green building doesn't give me a 100% (hell, even a 25%) improvement, I'll take it.

  10. #10


    I realized that I didn't truly respond to Investordude. This building (according to the marketers) has an amazing air filtration system. We'll see.

  11. #11

    Default i hope it works - air filtration sounds like what you need

    Sounds like your daughter is allergic to indoor pollutants. Hopefully the good air will help her.

  12. #12


    Thanks investordude,

    I think up to two thirds (roughly) of all asthma cases have some allergen compenent, either as a primary or secondary contributory cause. Outdoor allergens come right indoor with the person, pollen travels on clothing and hair. In extreme cases children need to change their clothes immediately upon entering the home.
    Do you know a number of people who seem to be getting seasonal allergies all of a sudden, or their allergies are getting worse? No coincidence. With global warming the experts predict a HUGE spike in the amount of seasonal allergens produced, and it's already begun.
    It's probably too early to tell how efficiently these early green buildings will be at removing airborn pollutants and allergens. Later buildings may be a better bet, but I think I migh try this one in the meantime.

  13. #13

    Default good luck with your purchase

    I hope it works out and helps, pricedout.

  14. #14
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Manhattan - UWS


    December 6, 2007:

  15. #15


    Nice to see such nice developments occurring in harlem. Harlem has amoung the best brownstones I have seen in the city.

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